Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 03 July 2018

Summary: Non-signatory India acknowledges the humanitarian concerns over cluster munitions, but views them as legitimate weapons if used in accordance with international humanitarian law. It has not commented on its position on accession to the ban convention. India abstained from voting on a key United Nations (UN) resolution on the convention in December 2017 and has never attended a meeting of the convention.

India produces and exports cluster munitions and imported them as recently as 2013. India is not known to have used cluster munitions. It has not disclosed information on its stockpiled cluster munitions.


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

India has never made a statement detailing its position on acceding to the ban convention. It has acknowledged humanitarian concerns at the “irresponsible use” of cluster munitions, but views them as “legitimate” weapons if used in accordance with international humanitarian law.[1]

India did not participate in the Oslo Process that produced the Convention on Cluster Munitions.[2]

India has never participated in an international or regional meeting of the convention. It was invited to, but did not attend, the convention’s Seventh Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in September 2017.

In December 2017, India abstained from the vote on a key UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution on the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which urges states outside the convention to “join as soon as possible.”[3] India abstained from votes on previous resolutions promoting implementation and universalization of the convention in 2015 and 2016.

India is not party to the Mine Ban Treaty.

India is a party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) and its Protocol V on explosive remnants of war.[4] India still expresses regret at the 2011 failure of the CCW to adopt a protocol on cluster munitions, which effectively ended the CCW’s deliberations on the matter, leaving the Convention on Cluster Munitions as the sole international instrument dedicated to ending the suffering caused by these weapons. India has not proposed any further CCW work on cluster munitions since 2011.[5]

Use, production, transfer, and stockpiling

The Monitor has not been able to verify any use of cluster munitions by India, but it imports, produces, and exports cluster munitions.


India has produced cluster munitions delivered by ground-launched artillery projectiles, rockets, and missiles. It is not known to have developed or produced air-dropped cluster munitions.

State-owned India Ordnance Factories advertised in 2006 its capacity to produce for export 130mm and 155mm artillery projectiles containing dual-purpose improved conventional munition (DPICM) submunitions equipped with a self-destruct feature.[6] These ground-delivered cluster munitions were supposed to be produced at Khamaria Ordnance Factory near Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh as the result of a transfer of production technology from Israel Military Industries, but there are doubts about whether this capacity has been active in recent years.[7] In response to a Right to Information request, a Ministry of Defense official stated in 2012 that India does not produce 130mm and 155mm artillery containing DPICM submunitions, but acknowledged a 130mm version was being developed.[8]

The Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) of India’s Ministry of Defense has produced a cargo rocket containing antitank/antimaterial submunitions for the 214mm Pinaka multi-barrel rocket launcher system.[9] In June 2015, a DRDO official told media that submunition warheads for the Pinaka system had been tested at a firing range in Pokhran, Rajasthan.[10] Other sources claim that warheads containing submunitions were developed for the Agni, Dhanush, and Prithvi ballistic missile systems.[11]


India has imported cluster munitions from the United States (US) and other countries. The US announced a sale to India in 2008 of 510 air-delivered CBU-105 Sensor Fuzed Weapons.[12] In 2010, US arms manufacturer Textron announced a US$258 million contract to provide India with 512 CBU-105.[13]

Jane’s Information Group lists India as possessing KMG-U dispensers, as well as United Kingdom (UK)-made BL755, BLG-66 Belouga made in France, and Soviet-produced RBK-250-275, and RBK-500 cluster bombs.[14] In 2006, India bought 28 launch units for the Russian-produced 300mm Smerch multi-barrel rocket launchers with rockets equipped with dual-purpose and sensor-fuzed submunitions.[15]

In February 2017, a private Indian arms manufacturer had components for cluster munition weapons listed within their sales catalog on display at the IDEX military trade event in Abu Dhabi.[16] In June 2018, the same manufacturer displayed components for cluster munitions at the Eurosatory defense trade event in Paris. Event organizers requested that they alter their display, but the caption “Cargo Ammunition for 130 & 155mm Gun - bomblet assembly” remained visible at the event.[17]

In February 2017, Russia displayed its RBK-500U SPBE-K cluster bomb, which contains 15 SPBE-K sensor-fuzed submunitions, at a military exhibition in Bangalore called “Aero India 2017.”[18] In February 2013, Textron displayed the CBU-105 at an arms fair in Bangalore, India.[19]

According to NGO PAX’s 2017 report “Worldwide Investments in Cluster Munitions: a shared responsibility,” the State Bank of India is involved in investments in the production of cluster munitions.[20]

[1] Statement of India, Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) Fourth Review Conference, Geneva, 14 November 2011. India has often made similar statements in the past. Statement of India, CCW Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on Cluster Munitions, Geneva, 30 August 2010. Notes by Action on Armed Violence (AOAV); and statement of India, CCW GGE on Cluster Munitions, Geneva, 12 April 2010. Notes by AOAV.

[2] After the Convention on Cluster Munitions was adopted in May 2008, India sent a representative to a regional meeting on cluster munitions held in Lao PDR in October 2008. For more details on India’s policy and practice regarding cluster munitions through early 2009, see Human Rights Watch and Landmine Action, Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, May 2009), pp. 208–210.

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

[4] Statement by Amb. Hamid Ali Rao, Permanent Mission of India, Conference on Disarmament, CCW GGE on Cluster Munitions, Geneva, 7 July 2008. He said that “until [cluster munitions] can be replaced by other alternatives which are cost effective and perform the required military tasks, [cluster munitions] will continue to find a place in military armories as both point target as well as area target weapons.”

[5] Statement of India, CCW Fifth Review Conference, Geneva, 12 December 2016.See also, statement of India, CCW Meeting of the High Contracting Parties, Geneva, 12 November 2015; statement of India, CCW Meeting of the High Contracting Parties, Geneva, 13 November 2014; and statement of India, CCW Meeting of the High Contracting Parties, Geneva, 14 November 2013.

[6] The 130mm projectile contains 24 submunitions, and the 155mm projectile contains 49 submunitions. See, India Ordnance Factories website.

[7] “Ordnance Board to produce ‘cargo ammunition’ with Israeli company,” The Hindu (online edition), 2 August 2006.

[8] According to the response, India did not produce any cluster munitions in 2011. Response to Right to Information request submitted by Control Arms Foundation of India from T.J. Konger, Director and Central Public Information Officer, Ordnance Factory Board, Ministry of Defence, 6 June 2012.

[9] Leland S. Ness and Anthony G. Williams, eds., Jane’s Ammunition Handbook 2007–2008 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2007), p. 715.

[11] Duncan Lennox, ed., Jane’s Strategic Weapons Systems 46 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, January 2007), pp. 49–56 and 85–87; and Duncan Lennox, ed., Jane’s Strategic Weapons Systems 42 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, January 2005), pp. 85–87.

[12] US Defense Security Cooperation Agency, Department of Defense, “India: CBU-105 Sensor Fuzed Weapons,” Transmittal No. 08-105, Press Release, 30 September 2008. The US has attached a term to the transfer, in compliance with Public Law 110-161 (26 December 2008), which requires that the submunitions have a 99% or higher reliability rate and stipulates that “the cluster munitions will only be used against clearly defined military targets and will not be used where civilians are known to be present.”

[13] Craig Hoyale, “India signs Sensor Fused Weapon deal,” Flightglobal, 10 December 2010; and Craig Hoyale, “AERO INDIA: Textron launches production of CBU-105 sensor fuzed weapon for India,” Flightglobal, 10 February 2011.

[14] Robert Hewson, ed., Jane’s Air Launched Weapons, Issue 44 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2004), p. 840. While there is no information about specific transfers, the manufacturers are the UK (BL-755), France (BLG-66), and Russia/USSR (RBKs).

[15] “India, Russia sign $500 mn [sic] rocket systems deal,” Indo-Asian News Service (New Delhi), 9 February 2006. Each Smerch rocket can carry five sensor-fuzed submunitions and either 72 or 646 dual-purpose high explosive submunitions.

[16] Hyderabad Precision Mfg. Co. Pvt. Ltd.brochure/information, obtained from IDEX February 2017, on file in Omega Research Foundation archive.

[17] See, Omega Research, also Hyderabad Precision Mfg. Co. Pvt. Ltd.brochure/information, obtained from Eurosatory, June 2018, on file in Omega Research Foundation archive.

[18] Rahul Udoshi, Janes 360, “Aero India 2017: Bazalt pushes bombs and rockets to India,” 15 February 2017.

[19] Photographs from Aero India 2013 sent to Control Arms Foundation of India by a journalist at the event. Email from Binalakshmi Neepram, Director, Control Arms Foundation of India, 6 February 2013.