Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 02 August 2018

Summary: Non-signatory Egypt has not taken any steps to accede to the convention because it sees military utility in cluster munitions and objects to certain provisions of the convention as well as the process that created it. Egypt abstained from voting on a key United Nations (UN) resolution on the convention in December 2017. It has participated in several meetings of the convention, but not since 2013.

Egypt is a producer, importer, and exporter of cluster munitions. It possesses a stockpile, but claims to have not used cluster munitions. In February 2018, Amnesty International condemned new use of cluster munitions in the Sinai by the Egyptian Air Force. Cluster Munition Monitor has not been able to conclusively confirm new use by Egyptian forces on the basis of available evidence.


The Arab Republic of Egypt has not acceded to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Egypt has not taken any steps to accede, because it sees military utility in cluster munitionsand has long-held objections to certain provisions of the convention and the fast-track process that created it.[1]

Egypt participated in the Oslo Process that created the convention, including the negotiations in Dublin in May 2008 as an observer, but it did not attend the Oslo Signing Conference in December 2008.[2] Egypt expressed concern in October 2008 over both the “substantive content” of the convention and “the process which led to its conclusion outside the framework of the United Nations.”[3]

Egypt has participated in a couple of the convention’s meetings, but not since 2013.[4]

In December 2017, Egypt abstained from voting on a UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution that urges states outside the Convention on Cluster Munition “to join as soon as possible.”[5] Egypt abstained from the votes on previous UNGA resolutions promoting the convention in 2015 and 2016.

Egypt is not party to the Mine Ban Treaty. Egypt signed the Convention on Conventional Weapons in 1981, but never ratified it.

Production, transfer, and stockpiling

Egypt is a producer and exporter of cluster munitions. It has also imported cluster munitions and possesses a stockpile.

Two state-owned Egyptian companies have produced ground-launched cluster munitions:

  • SAKR Factory for Developed Industries has produced two types of 122mm surface-to-surface rockets: the SAKR-18 and SAKR-36, containing 72 and 98 dual-purpose improved conventional munition (DPICM) submunitions, respectively.[6]
  • Heliopolis Company for Chemical Industries has produced 122mm and 130mm artillery projectiles, which contain 18 and 28 DPICM submunitions, respectively.[7] Heliopolis-made cluster munitions were displayed by Egypt’s Ministry of Military Production for sale at the international arms fair IDEX in Abu Dhabi in February 2017.[8]

Evidence indicates that Egypt exported or otherwise transferred cluster munitions to Syria in the past, most likely before the current conflict.[9] Human Rights Watch (HRW) and others documented Syrian government use of 122mm cluster munition rockets bearing the markings of the SAKR Factory for Developed Industries.[10] In September 2013, the state-owned company denied that it has provided SAKR rockets to the Syrian government.[11]

Egypt has imported a significant number of cluster munitions, primarily from the United States (US), which provided at least 760 CBU-87 cluster bombs (each containing 202 BLU-97 submunitions) as part of a foreign military sales program in the early 1990s.[12] Lockheed Martin Corporation was awarded a US$36 million contract to produce 485 M26A1 extended range rockets for its M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System in November 1991.[13] Egypt also received 1,300 Rockeye cluster bombs from the US between 1970 and 1995.[14]

KMG-U dispensers of Soviet-origin are in service for Egypt’s aircraft according to Jane’s Information Group.[15]


In February 2018, Amnesty International condemned new use of cluster munitions in the Sinai by the Egyptian Air Force. Amnesty cited evidence from two videos posted by Egyptian military social media accounts, including released on 9 February that showed US-made CBU-87 Combined Effects Munitions, each containing 202 BLU-97 bomblets, being loaded on to Egyptian aircraft.[16] A 20 February 2018 video posted on Twitter by the Egyptian Army’s official spokesperson shows a US made Mk-118 submunition used in Rockeye cluster bombs lying on the ground that Egyptian armed forces allege they found and destroyed in northern Sinai.[17]

As of 1 July 2018, Egyptian officials have not responded to requests from The New York Times, the Cluster Munition Coalition,or its chair Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and others to confirm or deny that the country’s armed forces uses cluster munitions in northern Sinai.[18]

Alleged use outside of Egypt

A November 2017 video released by the Egyptian Army shows a reported attack by the Egyptian Air Force on a convoy of trucks in Libya in which cluster munitions may have been used.[19]

Since March 2015, Egypt has participated in a Saudi Arabia-led joint military operation in Yemen against Houthi forces, also known as Ansar Allah, which has used cluster munitions. Egypt has not commented on evidence that the Saudi-led coalition has used cluster munitions in Yemen, while a December 2016 statement by the coalition forces did not deny the use of cluster munitions and argued that international law does not ban their use.[20]

Previously, during the Oslo Process, Egypt stated that it has never used cluster munitions.[21]

[1] For example, in September 2011, Egypt claimed the convention “will not hold states which are using cluster munitions responsible for their acts” or “hold them to account for clearing contaminated areas.” Statement of Egypt, Convention on Cluster Munitions Second Meeting of States Parties, Beirut, 14 September 2011.

[2] For details on Egypt’s cluster munition policy and practice through early 2009, see Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Landmine Action, Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, May 2009), pp. 197–199.

[3] Egypt’s explanation of vote, UN General Assembly (UNGA) First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, 30 October 2008.

[4] Egypt participated as an observer in the convention’s Second Meeting of States Parties in Beirut, Lebanon, in 2011 as well as intersessional meetings in Geneva in 2011 and 2013.

[5] “Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA Resolution 72/54, 4 December 2017.

[6] Leland S. Ness and Anthony G. Williams, eds., Jane’s Ammunition Handbook 2007–2008 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2007), p. 707. France declared that upon entry into force of the Convention on Cluster Munitions in 2010, France’s military retained six warheads for 122mm SAKR rockets containing a total of 588 submunitions. France, Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form C, 31 January 2011, p. 92.

[7] Leland S. Ness and Anthony G. Williams, eds., Jane’s Ammunition Handbook 2007–2008 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2007), pp. 582, 589–590.

[8] Brochure, Heliopolis Co. for Chemical Industries, National Organization for Military Production, Ministry of Military Production, Arab Republic of Egypt, pp. 8, 10, & 12. Shared by Omega Research via Twitter, 3 March 2017.

[9] HRW, “Syria: Army Using New Type of Cluster Munition,” 14 January 2013. In addition, a number of SAKR rockets were found in Iraq by UN weapons inspectors possibly indicating export activity. The SAKR rockets were the “cargo variant” but had been modified by the Iraqis to deliver chemical weapons. “Sixteenth quarterly report on the activities of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission in accordance with paragraph 12 of Security Council resolution 1284 (1999) S/2004/160,” Annex 1, p. 10.

[10] See, Brown Moses blog, “Evidence of New Grad Launched Cluster Munitions Used in Syria,” 15 December 2012; HRW Press Release, “Syria: Army Using New Type of Cluster Munition,” 14 January 2013; and The Rogue Adventurer blog, “Sakr 122mm Cargo Rockets & Submunitions in Syria,” 15 January 2013. It is not known if the 122mm rockets were the SAKR-18 or SAKR-36 type. See also, “Dael find a surface to surface missile did not explode Egyptian industry,” uploaded to YouTube on 8 November 2014.

[11] Facebook page of Sakr Factory for Developed Industries, 23 September 2014. See also, the iNewsArabia website.

[12] “Dozen + Mideast Nations Bought Weapons since Gulf War,” Aerospace Daily, 10 December 1991; and Barbara Starr, “Apache buy will keep Israeli edge,” Jane’s Defence Weekly, 1 October 1992.

[13] US Department of Defense Press Release, “US Army Aviation & Missile Command Contract Announcement: DAAH01-00-C-0044,” 9 November 2001.

[14] US Defense Security Assistance Agency, Department of Defense, “Cluster Bomb Exports under FMS, FY1970–FY1995,” 5 November 1995, obtained by HRW in a Freedom of Information Act request, 28 November 1995.

[15] Robert Hewson, ed., Jane’s Air-Launched Weapons, Issue 44 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2004), p. 838.

[16] Amnesty International, “Egypt: Cluster bomb video highlights human rights concerns in North Sinai,” 14 February 2018.

[17] Egyptian Army video, “Eleventh statement of the General Command of the Armed Forces,” 20 February 2018.

[18] See, Rick Gladstone and Nour Youssef, “Egypt Is Using Banned U.S.-Made Cluster Munitions in Sinai, Rights Group Says,” New York Times, 28 February 2018; “Is Egypt using cluster munitions? [Updated],” Cluster Munition Coalition, 1 March 2018; “Egypt's use of banned cluster bombs in Sinai confirmed,” Amnesty International, 28 February 2018.

[19] The Egyptian Army Facebook account posted the video which claims to show the destruction by the Egyptian Air Force of a 10-vehicle convoy en route from Libya to Egypt. The post alleges that the vehicles contained arms, ammunition, contraband, and insurgents, all of which it claims were totally destroyed in the attack.

[20] “International law does not ban the use of cluster munitions. Some States have undertaken a commitment to refrain from using cluster munitions by becoming party to the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions. Neither the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia nor its Coalition partners are State Parties to the 2008 Convention, and accordingly, the Coalition’s use of cluster munitions does not violate the obligations of these States under international law.” See, “Coalition Forces supporting legitimacy in Yemen confirm that all Coalition countries aren't members to the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” Saudi Press Agency, 19 December 2016.

[21] Statement by Ehab Fawzy, Oslo Conference on Cluster Munitions, Oslo, 22 February 2007. Notes by the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC)/Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.