Mine Ban Policy

Last updated: 18 October 2017


The Islamic Republic of Iran has not acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty. It has cited its perceived need for antipersonnel mines on its borders as the main reason for not joining the treaty. [1]

Iran did not make any public statements about its mine ban policy in 2016 or early 2017. On 2 May 2017, Iran’s Ministry of Defense commemorated International Mine Awareness Day in Tehran. The meeting was addressed by Iran’s Defense Minister. Iran asked for more international assistance in mine clearance.[2]

Previously, in 2013, Iran stated that it, “shares the humanitarian concerns, of States parties to the anti-personnel mines Convention.” It continued, “however, the anti-personnel mines Convention focuses mainly on humanitarian concerns while neglecting or not adequately taking into account legitimate military requirements of many countries, particularly those with long land borders, for the use of [antipersonnel landmines] in defending their territories. Due to the difficulties of monitoring sensitive extensive areas by established and permanent guarding posts of effective warning systems, landmines continue to be the effective means, for those countries, to ensure the minimum security requirement of their borders.” The statement added, “international cooperation should be promoted to speed up mine-clearance activities for reducing civilian casualties.”[3]

In 2013, the commander of the national police force stated in an interview with Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA) that the police supports the clearance efforts of the Ministry of Defence and does not use antipersonnel landmines as a means of border obstruction or in the struggle against traffic in narcotics, as the use of antipersonnel mines generates long-term problems.[4] In April 2016, a representative of Iran reiterated to the Monitor that Iran has not used mines against narcotic traffickers, but noted that police had lost their lives to mines while combatting drug trafficking on the Afghanistan and Pakistan borders.[5]

Iran has not attended any international meetings on the mine ban in the past decade. Its only attendance was at the intersessional meetings of May 2001.

Iran is not party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions. It is also not party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW). However, in April 2016, a representative of Iran stated to the Monitor that legislation to join the CCW and its Amended Protocols I & V was then before the Iranian parliament.[6]

Production, transfer, stockpiling, and use

The Landmine Monitor has never previously reported any new use of antipersonnel landmines by Iranian forces. In October 2015, several newspapers published a report that alleged new use of antipersonnel mines by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps on the border of Iran and northern Iraq. Eyewitnesses reportedly observed the mine-laying operation, and media reports state that the Kurdish authorities warned the inhabitants of the Penjwen area of Sulaymaniyah governorate not to approach the border due to new mine use. The allegation states that the mines were laid to prevent incursion by Kurdish militants and smugglers. [7] The Monitor is not in a position to verify this allegation.

Previously, in 2005, the director of the Islamic Republic of Iran Mine Action Center (IRMAC) told the Monitor that Iran neither uses nor produces mines. [8] In September 2002, the Ministry of Defense declared, “The Islamic Republic of Iran, since the termination of its war [1988], has not produced anti-personnel mines.” [9] The Monitor received information in 2002, 2003, and 2004 that demining organizations in Afghanistan were removing and destroying many hundreds of Iranian YM-I and YM-I-B antipersonnel mines, date stamped 1999 and 2000, from abandoned Northern Alliance frontlines.[10]

Iran is thought to have a large stockpile of antipersonnel mines, but no official information is available on its size and composition.

Iran exported a significant number of antipersonnel mines in the 1990s and earlier. An export moratorium was instituted in 1997, but it is not known if it is still formally in effect. In February 2006, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated, “It has been several years since Iran voluntarily halted export of anti-personnel mines.”[11] There is evidence that Iran has both produced and exported antipersonnel mines in the past decade. Iranian antipersonnel mines have been seized in Afghanistan in 2008,[12] Tajikistan in 2007,[13] and Somalia in 2006.[14] The Monitor addressed a letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 27 April 2011 to inquire on these matters, but did not receive a response. In October 2014, the Monitor received a copy of an English language foreign sales brochure of Iran Ammunition Industries Group that included two types of antipersonnel landmines among other weapons.[15] As of September 2016, Iran’s Ministry of Defence Export Center advertises the availability of the YM-IV, a bounding, fragmentation antipersonnel mine, and the YM-I-S, a self-neutralizing antipersonnel blast mine.[16]

Eight Iranian Kurdish armed groups have pledged not to use antipersonnel mines by signing the Geneva Call Deed of Commitment. These include the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI) in December 2007; three factions of the Komala Party in April and June 2009 (the Kurdistan Organization of the Communist Party of Iran, the Komala Party of Kurdistan, and the Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan); the Kurdistan Democratic Party-Iran (KDP) and the Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK) and its armed wing the Liberation Forces of Eastern Kurdistan, in April 2010; and the Kurdistan Freedom Party in June 2015.[17] The three factions of the Komala Party stated that they had used antipersonnel mines sporadically in the past.[18]

[1] In a February 2006 letter to the Monitor, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated, “Due to our expansive borders and problems resulting from narcotics and terrorist trafficking, our defense institutions are considering the use of landmines as a defensive mechanism.”        

[2] Amir Mehdi Kazemi, “Iran marks International Mine Awareness Day,” Press TV, 3 May 2017. ICRC and Military Attaches from other countries attended.

[3] Delegation of the Islamic Republic of Iran, “Explanation of Vote on the Draft Resolution L.3,” UNGA First Committee, New York, 1 November 2013. It made virtually the same statement during previous votes.

[5] Monitor interview with Nassereddin Heidari, Minister, Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Geneva, 13 April 2016. Notes by Landmine Monitor.

[6] Ibid.

[7]لجيش-الإيراني-يزرع-ألغاما-على-الحدود-مع-كردستان-العراق,” Al Araby Algaded, 25 October 2015. See also, “ايران تزرع الغاما على امتداد الحدود مع اقليم كردستان,” Iraq News Agency, 26 October 2015. In Arabic, translation by Landmine Monitor.

[8] Interview with Hossein Vaziri, IRMAC, Tehran, 28 August 2005. He did not state when Iran allegedly stopped using and producing mines, nor if there is a formal policy or law prohibiting use and production. Iran has manufactured several types of antipersonnel mines, including the YM-I, Mk. 4, and a Claymore-type mine.

[9] Letter to the Monitor from the Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the UN in New York, 6 September 2002.

[10] Information provided to the Monitor and the ICBL by HALO Trust, Danish Demining Group, and other demining groups in Afghanistan. Iranian antipersonnel and antivehicle mines were also part of a shipment seized by Israel in January 2002 off the coast of the Gaza Strip.

[11] Letter to the Monitor (Human Rights Watch), 1 February 2006, transmitting the response of the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

[12] One report cites 113 mines recovered, including 50 antipersonnel mines. “Landmine deport smuggled from Iran discovered,” Pajhwok Afghan News, 25 January 2008. See also, “Iranian Land Mines Found in Taliban Commander’s House,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), 25 January 2008.

[13] Tajikistan Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form B2, 3 February 2008.

[14] “Report of the Monitoring Group on Somalia pursuant to Security Council resolution 1676 (2006),” S/2006/913, 22 November 2006, p. 62.

[15] Brochure included technical specifications for a YM-I-T plastic self-neutralizing antipersonnel mine, and a YM-IV bounding antipersonnel mine.

[16] Ministry of Defence Export Center [MINDEX], “Bounding Mines,” and “Self Neutralized Mines,” undated.

[17] Geneva Call, “Iran: a Kurdish armed movement takes official commitments to reinforce the protection of civilian,” Press Release, 28 June 2015. Geneva Call states that the group is not currently using antipersonnel landmines. It is not known if the group possesses a stockpile or was a past user. While created by Iranian Kurds, the group is carrying out its armed activities in Iraq alongside Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces.

[18] Geneva Call, “The Komalah–the Kurdistan Organization of the Communist Party of Iran and the Komala Party of Kurdistan Prohibit the Use of Anti-Personnel Mines,” Press Release, Geneva, 7 April 2009; Geneva Call, “The Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan Prohibits the Use of Anti-Personnel Mines,” Press Release, Geneva, 16 June 2009; and Geneva Call, “The Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan Prohibits the Use of Anti-Personnel Mines,” Press Release, Geneva, 5 December 2007. Previously, the Monitor had not identified any Kurdish armed group in Iran as a mine user. However, the PDKI destroyed a stockpile of 392 antipersonnel mines in August 2008. Geneva Call, “Communiqué: Iranian Kurdish Organizations Prohibit the Use of Anti-Personnel Mines,” 21 April 2010. The KDP is a splinter faction of the PDKI, and PJAK is affiliated with the Kurdish Workers Party of Turkey. Geneva Call informed the Monitor that the KDP stated that it had not used mines after it split from the PDKI in 2006. The PJAK stated that it has never used antipersonnel mines.