United States

Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 27 August 2019

Summary: Non-signatory the United States (US) sees military utility in cluster munitions and has taken no steps to accede to the convention. The US has never participated in a meeting of the convention, even as an observer. The US abstained from the vote on a key United Nations (UN) resolution promoting the convention in December 2018.

A November 2017 policy reversed a long-standing policy requiring the US to not use cluster munitions that result in more than 1% unexploded ordnance (UXO) after 2018. The US last used cluster munitions in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, with the exception of a single attack in Yemen in 2009. The US last budgeted funds to produce new cluster munitions in 2007 and has only manufactured cluster munitions for foreign sales since then. Recipients of US cluster munitions must agree not to use them in civilian areas.


The United States of America has not acceded to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

The US has not taken any steps to join the convention over the past decade because, in its view, cluster munitions provide “a vital military capability.”[1] In November 2017, the Trump administration replaced a July 2008 Department of Defense policy directive on cluster munitions issued under President George W. Bush.[2] The Trump policy abandons the requirement that the US no longer use cluster munitions that result in more than a 1% UXO rate by the end of 2018.[3]

The 2017 policy requires the Department of Defense to “program for capabilities to replace cluster munitions” that do not meet the 1% UXO standard.[4] However, to “meet immediate warfighting demand” the policy gives Combatant Commanders (the heads of various combatant commands with geographic and other areas of responsibility) authority to approve employing cluster munitions “that do not meet the standards prescribed by this policy for procuring new cluster munitions” as well as to accept transfers of those cluster munitions.[5]

Trump administration officials have not made any public remarks commenting on the new policy or cluster munitions more generally since the 2017 release.

Senators Dianne Feinstein of California called the 2017 cluster munition policy “unbelievable” and “a shame,” while Patrick Leahy of Vermont criticized the Pentagon for “perpetuating the use of an indiscriminate weapon that has been shown to have high failure rates, with devastating consequences for civilians.”[6] Human Rights Watch (HRW), chair of the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC), condemned the 2017 policy and called the US “embrace” of “notoriously unreliable cluster munitions…a gigantic step backward.”[7] A March 2018 Government Business Council report said that by continuing to rely on cluster munitions, the 2017 policy “exposes the US military to international backlash and hampers America’s ability to remain on the cutting edge of defense technology.”[8] The Heritage Foundation has recommended that Congress support the new policy.[9]

The US did not participate, not even as an observer, in the 2007–2008 Oslo Process that resulted in the Convention on Cluster Munitions.[10] However, US Department of State cables made public by Wikileaks show how the US attempted to influence its allies, partners, and other states during the process in order to affect the outcome of the negotiations, especially with respect to the issue of “interoperability” (joint military operations between the US and States Parties to the convention).[11] A Congressional Research Service report found that “U.S. officials were concerned that early versions of the [draft treaty text] would prevent military forces from non-states parties from providing humanitarian and peacekeeping support and significantly affect NATO military operations.”[12]

The US has never participated in a meeting of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. It was invited to, but did not attend, the convention’s Eighth Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in September 2018.

In December 2018, the US abstained from the vote on a UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution that urges states outside the convention to “join as soon as possible.”[13]

The US has abstained from voting on the annual UNGA resolution promoting the convention since it was first introduced in 2015. In a 2015 explanation of the vote, the US said it considers the resolution to be “applicable only to those States Parties to this convention.”[14] The US argued that “when used in accordance with international humanitarian law, cluster munitions with a low unexploded ordnance rate provide key advantages against certain types of legitimate military targets and can produce less collateral damage than high-explosive, unitary weapons.[15]

During the 2018 session of the UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, the US repeated that it does not accept that the convention “represents an emerging norm.”[16]

However, the US has voted in favor of UNGA resolutions condemning the use of cluster munitions in Syria, most recently in December 2018.[17]

In previous years, Senators Feinstein and Leahy have introduced legislation encouraging the US to accede to the Convention on Cluster Munitions as soon as possible.[18]

The US is not a party to the Mine Ban Treaty, but since 2009 has participated as an observer in Mine Ban Treaty meetings. In 2014, the US banned production and acquisition of antipersonnel landmines as well as use, except on the Korean Peninsula.[19]

The US is a party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW). The US has not proposed any further CCW work on cluster munitions since states failed to adopt a draft CCW protocol on cluster munitions in 2011.[20] This effectively concluded CCW deliberations on the matter, leaving the Convention on Cluster Munitions as the sole international instrument dedicated to ending the suffering caused by these weapons.


Under the 2017 policy, any US cluster munition use that exceeds the 1% UXO rate must be approved by a Combatant Commander.[21]

The last significant US use of cluster munitions was during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. There does not appear to have been any US use of cluster munitions since then with the exception of a single attack in Yemen in December 2009.[22] Neither the US nor the Yemeni government has publicly denied US responsibility for the 2009 attack.[23]

According to a US Air Force spokesperson, neither the US nor other members of the international coalition used cluster munitions in the air war against the non-state armed group Islamic State in Iraq, Syria, and Libya.[24] The US has provided logistical and other support to a Saudi Arabia-led coalition of states that has used US cluster munitions in Yemen since 2015.

The US used cluster munitions in several conflicts in the past: Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Vietnam (1960s and 1970s); Grenada and Lebanon (1983); Libya (1986); Iran (1988); Iraq, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia (1991); Bosnia and Herzegovina (1995); Serbia, Montenegro, and Kosovo (1999); Afghanistan (2001 and 2002); Iraq (2003); and Yemen (2009).[25]


Since 2005, all submunitions produced by the US must have a failure rate of less than 1%, according to a 2001 policy issued by Secretary of Defense William Cohen.[26] The US last budgeted funds to produce new cluster munitions in 2007.[27] Since then, it has manufactured cluster munitions only for each foreign sales order in accordance with the delivery schedule.

The US government has not taken any steps to prohibit US production of cluster munitions since 2016, when the sole remaining US producer, Textron Systems Corporation, announced an end to its production.[28] In a 30 August 2016 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Textron said it discontinued production of the CBU-105 cluster bomb because of reduced orders, stating that “the current political environment has made it difficult” to obtain sales approvals.[29]

In the past, before the adoption of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, the US licensed the production of cluster munitions with Japan, South Korea, the Netherlands, Pakistan, and Turkey.

Alternatives to cluster munitions

The Air Force, Army, and the Office of the Secretary of Defense continue research and development activities at the applied research level to develop alternatives to cluster munitions.[30]

Lockheed Martin is producing the Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System-Alternate Warhead (GMLRS-AW) for the US Army.[31] The GMLRS-AW has been manufactured for foreign military sales.[32]

The US Army initially awarded a $71 million contract in April 2018 to acquire 1,250 155mm BONUS artillery projectiles from a company in Sweden.[33] The BONUS projectile contains two sensor-fuzed submunitions and is not prohibited by the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Budget justification materials described the BONUS as “an effective bridging strategy to address critical capability gaps from the loss of DPICM and mitigates risks until the planned program of record is completed.” This procurement was expanded in March 2019 for the two subsequent fiscal years and now funds the acquisition of 2,274 projectiles for $186 million delivered through August 2022.[34]

The US Army has funded several research and development programs to “provide increased battlefield lethality with reduced unexploded ordnance (UXO) compliant with the Department of Defense (DoD) cluster munitions policy” such as the “Cannon-Delivered Area Effects Munitions (C-DAEM) Program.”[35] The C-DAEM program aims to replace the current US stockpile of 155mm DPICM “with DoD policy compliant munitions and address anti-armor and extended range capability requirements.” A total of $6 million was spent on C-DAEM in 2018–2019, while the Fiscal Year 2020 budget has requested $25 million annually for the system through 2024.[36]

In 2018, the US spent $2.5 million testing the 155mm M999 “Advance Anti-Personnel Munition” containing M99 explosive submunitions produced by Israel Military Industries.[37] In October 2018, an IMI official told The New York Times that each M999 shell contains nine submunitions with self-destruct features.[38] It is unclear if this weapon complies with the ban convention.


Export moratorium language has been included in the annual budget each year.[39] The provision of military assistance for cluster munitions, the issuing of defense export licenses for cluster munitions, or the sale or transfer of cluster munitions or cluster munitions technology is prohibited unless “the submunitions of the cluster munitions, after arming, do not result in more than 1 percent unexploded ordnance across the range of intended operational environments.” In addition, any agreement “applicable to the assistance, transfer, or sale of such cluster munitions or cluster munitions technology” must specify that the munitions “will only be used against clearly defined military targets and will not be used where civilians are known to be present or in areas normally inhabited by civilians.”

On 19 May 2011, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA)—the US government agency that administers weapons transfers—issued a memorandum on the sale of cluster munitions that incorporates these legal requirements into DSCA policy by adding them to the Security Assistance Management Manual. According to the memorandum, “the only cluster munition with a compliant submunition (one that does not result in more than 1% UXO across the range of intended operational environments) is the CBU-97B/CBU-105, Sensor Fuzed Weapon (SFW).”[40]

The last congressional sales notification for CBU-105 Sensor Fuzed Weapons was in July 2015. Congressional notifications show that the US has concluded agreements from 2008 until 2015 to sell CBU-105 to India,[41] Oman,[42] Saudi Arabia,[43] Singapore,[44] South Korea,[45] Taiwan,[46] and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).[47]

In May 2016, a senior Department of Defense official said the end-use provision of its 2012 agreement with Saudi Arabia and “a handful of other cases” was “incomplete.”[48] The use of US-manufactured and -supplied CBU-105 in 2015 and 2016 raised serious questions about whether the transfer requirements were being met.[49] In May 2016, the Obama administration suspended transfers of cluster munitions to Saudi Arabia after reports of their use in civilian areas in Yemen.[50]

While the historical record is incomplete, in the past, the US transferred hundreds of thousands of cluster munitions containing tens of millions of submunitions to at least 30 countries: Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, South Korea, Morocco, the Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, the UAE, and the United Kingdom (UK).[51]

In 2012, Chile’s Ministry of National Defense provided information showing that Chile transferred one 250kg cluster bomb and one 500kg cluster bomb to the US in 1991.[52]


A 2004 Department of Defense report to the US Congress detailed a stockpile of 5.5 million cluster munitions of 17 different types containing about 728.5 million submunitions, as listed in the following table. That number does not appear to be a full account of cluster munitions available to US forces, as it apparently does not include US cluster munitions stocks located in foreign countries or stockpiled as part of the War Reserve Stocks for Allies (WRSA).[53]

While outdated, the 2004 list remains the most detailed public account of US cluster munition stocks.

US stockpile of cluster munitions (as of 2004)[54]


Number of submunitions per munition

Munitions in active inventory

Submunitions in active inventory

Munitions in total inventory

Submunitions in total inventory










































































Mk-20 Rockeye
















































Grand Total





Stockpile destruction

All cluster munition stocks that exceed or do not satisfy operational planning requirements were removed by the service and combatant commands from the active inventory by June 2009.

The now-reversed 2008 policy required that the Department of Defense relinquish more than 99.9% of its cluster munition stocks by the end of 2018, as only the CBU-105 Sensor Fuzed Weapon met the less than 1% percent UXO requirement.

According to a March 2019 Department of Defense budget request “Currently, there are approximately 93,766 tons of cluster munitions” in the demilitarization account known as ‘B5A.’” The document states that an additional 203,024 tons of cluster munitions remain in CONUS outside the B5A, while another 91,362 cluster munitions are “OCONUS” or not scheduled for destruction.

Recent funding for the destruction of cluster munitions (millions of US dollars)[55]


Previous Years

FY 2018

FY 2019

FY2020 (request)

Cluster munitions (non-rockets)





Cluster munition rockets





Note: FY = Fiscal year.

Previously, US budget materials released in February 2018 stated that there were “approximately 122,083 tons of cluster munitions in the demil stockpile” and another “188,787 tons remaining in [the continental US] outside the B5A and another 127,972 [outside the continental US].”[56]

US company General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems has described its US-based demilitarization facility as “the largest cluster munitions disposal facility in the world.”[57] In 2013 and 2015, the company was awarded contracts to demilitarize US cluster munitions and other weapons.[58] In June 2014, General Dynamics completed the destruction of Canada’s stockpile of 12,597 M483A1 projectiles and 1,108,536 DPICM submunitions at its facility outside Joplin, Missouri.[59]

Since fiscal year 2007, there has been a separate funding source for the destruction of multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) rockets and ATACM missiles, with special destruction facilities for MLRS rockets at the Anniston Defense Munitions Center in Alabama and the Letterkenny Munitions Center in Pennsylvania. The army requested $109 million for the destruction of 98,904 M26 MLRS rockets from fiscal year 2007 to fiscal year 2012.[60]

Foreign stockpiling and transit

The US appears to have removed its cluster munition stocks from the territories of at least two States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The US removed its stockpiled cluster munitions from Norway in 2010.[61] The UK announced in 2010 that there were now “no foreign stockpiles of cluster munitions in the UK or on any UK territory.”[62]

The US has stockpiled and may continue to store cluster munitions in countries including Convention on Cluster Munitions States Parties Afghanistan, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Spain, and in non-signatories Israel, Qatar, and perhaps Kuwait. This information is contained in the following US Department of State cables released by Wikileaks in 2010–2011:

  • In Afghanistan, the “United States currently has a very small stockpile of cluster munitions,” according to a December 2008 cable.[63]
  • Germany has engaged with the US on the matter of cluster munitions that may be stockpiled by the US in Germany, according to a December 2008 cable.[64]
  • In Israel, US cluster munitions are “considered to be under U.S. title” until they are transferred from the War Reserve Stockpiles for use by Israel in wartime.[65]
  • Italy, Spain, and Qatar are identified in a November 2008 cable as “states in which the US stores cluster munitions,” even though apparently, Qatar “may be unaware of US cluster munitions stockpiles in the country.”[66]
  • Japan “recognizes U.S. forces in Japan are not under Japan’s control and hence the GOJ [Government of Japan] cannot compel them to take action or to penalize them,” according to a December 2008 cable.[67]
  • The US may store clusters munitions in Kuwait, according to a May 2007 cable.[68]

[1] Josh Rogin, “The Trump administration cancels a plan to curtail the use of cluster bombs,” The Washington Post, 30 November 2017. The 30 November 2017 policy expresses the Department of Defense view of cluster munitions as “legitimate weapons with clear military utility…providing distinct advantages against a range of threats in the operating environment.” It claimed that “the use of cluster munitions may result in less collateral damage than the collateral damage that results from the use of unitary munitions alone.”

[2] During his administration, President Barack Obama never amended the Bush policy directive on cluster munitions.

[3] The memorandum on Department of Defense policy is dated 19 June but was not formally released until 9 July 2008. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, “Memorandum for the Secretaries of the Military Departments, Subject: DOD Policy on Cluster Munitions and Unintended Harm to Civilians,” 19 June 2008.

[4] Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, “Memorandum for the Secretaries of the Military Departments, Subject: DoD Policy on Cluster Munitions,” 30 November 2017.

[5] The 2017 policy stipulates that cluster munitions procured by the US in future must meet at least one of three criteria: a) Not more than one percent of submunitions or submunition warheads, once properly dispensed from the non-reusable canister or delivery body, fail to detonate; b) Each submunition or submunition warhead has [four key] characteristics; and c) The munition is not prohibited by the Convention on Cluster Munitions as of the date of this policy. The four key characteristics are 1) Each submunition or submunition warhead is equipped with an internal power source that is essential for arming and detonation. The submunition or submunition warhead is not designed to be detonated by mechanical means alone; 2) Each submunition or submunition warhead is equipped with at least one automatically functioning, electronic self-destruct mechanism that is in addition to the primary arming and detonation mechanism that is designed to destroy the submunition or submunition warhead on which it is equipped, if the submunition or submunition warhead is not detonated by the primary arming and detonation mechanism; 3) Each submunition or submunition warhead that does not detonate or self-destruct is, once armed, rendered inoperable in 15 minutes or less by means of the irreversible exhaustion of a component (e.g., power source) that is essential to the operation of the submunition or submunition warhead; and 4) Each submunition or submunition warhead that does not arm after being deployed from the non-reusable canister or delivery body cannot be subsequently armed or detonated by incidental handling, contact, or movement. Deputy Secretary of Defense Shanahan, “Memorandum for the Secretaries of the Military Departments, Subject: DoD Policy on Cluster Munitions,” 30 November 2017.

[6] Ibid. See, “Feinstein Opposes Pentagon’s Reversal of Cluster Munitions Policy,” Office of United States Senator for California Dianne Feinstein, 30 November 2017. Senators Feinstein and Leahy introduced legislation—S.897—in April 2017 that encouraged the US to accede to the Convention on Cluster Munitions as soon as possible.

[7] HRW, “US Embraces Cluster Munitions,” 1 December 2017. Since 2014, HRW has chaired the US Campaign to Ban Landmines and also the US NGO activities against cluster munitions on behalf of the CMC.

[8] The report was sponsored by Orbital ATK, a US company that produced a key component for US cluster munitions until 2016. Igor Geyn, “Modernizing the U.S. Munitions Arsenal,” Government Business Council, 23 March 2018.

[9] Frederico Bartels, “The 2019 NDAA Must Continue to Rebuild the Military and Make It More Efficient,” The Heritage Foundation, 9 February 2018. See also, Thomas Wilson and James Di Pane, “Pentagon’s Decision to Keep Cluster Bombs Preserves Military Readiness, Lethality,” The Daily Signal, 28 December 2017.

[10] For details on US policy and practice regarding cluster munitions through early 2009, see HRW and Landmine Action, Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, May 2009), pp. 251–260.

[11] The diplomatic cables also show how the US has worked extensively to influence national implementation legislation and interpretation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, including on issues of foreign stockpiling and transit. As of July 2012, Wikileaks had made public a total of 428 cables relating to cluster munitions originating from 100 locations for the period from 2003 to 2010. Previously, Cluster Munition Monitor 2011 reviewed a total of 57 US diplomatic cables on cluster munitions from 24 locations, cables released by Wikileaks as of early August 2011.

[12] Andrew Feickert and Paul K. Kerr, “Cluster Munitions: Background and Issues for Congress,” Congressional Research Service, 29 April 2014.

[13]Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA Resolution 73/54, 5 December 2018.

[14] Statement of the US, UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 4 November 2015.

[15] Ibid. See also, statement of the US, UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 31 October 2016.

[16] Statement of the US, UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 6 November 2018.  

[17]Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic,” UNGA Resolution 73/182, 17 December 2018. The US voted in favor of similar resolutions in 2013–2017.

[19] Statement of the US, Mine Ban Treaty Third Review Conference, Maputo, 27 June 2014. See also, HRW, “US: A Step Closer to Landmine Treaty,” 6 October 2014.

[20] Throughout the CCW negotiations, the US supported the main tenants of the proposed protocol, including an exemption for cluster munitions meeting a manufacturer-stated 1% failure rate and several optional safeguards; a prohibition on use and transfer of all cluster munitions produced before 1980; and a 12-year transition period during which states could continue to use all cluster munitions.

[21] Combatant Commander is the title of a major military leader of US Armed Forces, either of a large geographical region or of a particular military function, formerly known as a commander-in-chief.

[22] The last time the US used cluster munitions was on 17 December 2009, when at least five TLAM-D cruise missiles, each containing 166 BLU-97 submunitions, were used in attack on an “alleged al-Qa’ida training camp” at al-Ma‘jalah in Abyan governorate in southern Yemen that killed 55 people, including 14 women and 21 children. The remnants in the photographs included images of the propulsion system, a BLU-97 submunition, and the payload ejection system, the latter of which is unique to the TLAM-D cruise missile. Amnesty International, “Images of Missile and Cluster Munitions Point to US Role in Fatal Attack in Yemen,” 7 June 2010. See also, “U.S. missiles killed civilians in Yemen, rights group says,” CNN, 7 June 2010. Cluster munition remnants were never cleared and have killed four more civilians and wounded 13 others since the attack, most recently in January 2012. The most recent casualty was on 24 January 2012, when a boy brought home a BLU-97 submunition that exploded, killing his father and wounding the boy and his two brothers. Those affected by the cluster munition strike on al-Ma‘jalah have not received any compensation for the casualties caused or damaged property. See, HRW, “Between a Drone and Al-Qaeda,” 22 October 2013.

[23] In December 2010, Wikileaks released a US Department of State cable dated 21 December 2009 that acknowledged the US had a role in the 17 December strike; the cable said that Yemeni government officials “continue to publicly maintain that the operation was conducted entirely by its forces, acknowledging U.S. support strictly in terms of intelligence sharing. Deputy Prime Minister Rashad al-Alimi told the Ambassador on December 20 that any evidence of greater U.S. involvement, such as fragments of U.S. munitions found at the sites, could be explained away as equipment purchased from the U.S.” See, “ROYG [Republic of Yemen Government] looks ahead following CT operations, but perhaps not far enough,” US Department of State cable SANAA 02230 dated 21 December 2009, released by Wikileaks on 4 December 2010.

[24] Thomas Gibbons-Neff, “Why the last U.S. company making cluster bombs won’t produce them anymore,” The Washington Post, 2 September 2016. A US Air Forces Central Command spokesperson said in July 2016, “We have not employed cluster munitions in Operation Inherent Resolve. This includes both U.S. and coalition aircraft.” Email from Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Writer, The Washington Post, 27 July 2016. See also, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, “Despite denial, ‘growing evidence’ Russia is using cluster bombs in Syria, report says,” The Washington Post, 28 July 2016.

[25] For historical details on the use of cluster munitions by the US, see, ICBL, Cluster Munition Monitor 2010 (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, October 2010), p. 262. See also the Timeline of Use contained in Cluster Munition Monitor 2018’s Ban Policy Overview.

[26] Secretary of Defense William Cohen, “Memorandum for the Secretaries of the Military Departments, Subject: DoD Policy on Submunition Reliability (U),” 10 January 2001. In other words, submunitions that reach “full rate production,” i.e. production for use in combat, during the first quarter of fiscal year 2005 must meet the new standard. According to an October 2004 Pentagon report to Congress on cluster munitions, submunitions procured in past yearsare exempt from the policy, but, “Future submunitions must comply with the desired goal of 99% or higher submunition functioning rate or must receive a waiver.” Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology and Logistics), Department of Defense, “Report to Congress: Cluster Munitions,” October 2004, p. ii.

[27] For details on US production of cluster munitions in 2005–2007, see, HRW and Landmine Action, Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, May 2009), pp. 257–258; and ICBL, Cluster Munition Monitor 2010 (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada: October 2010), p. 263.

[28]Last US cluster-bomb maker to cease production,” AFP, 1 September 2016. A rocket motor for the BLU-108 canisters contained in the CBU-105 was manufactured by Orbital ATK (formerly Alliant Techsystems) of Hopkins, Minnesota, but only for that purpose. The CBU-105 was assembled at McAlester Army Ammunition Plant in Oklahoma. Kevin Jackson, “Visit brings flashbacks for Army energy executive,” AMC, 22 April 2014.

[29] Majorie Marjorie Censer, “Textron to discontinue production of sensor-fuzed weapon,” Inside Defense, 30 August 2016.

[30] See for example, US Air Force, “Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation Budget Item Justification, Applied Research: Program Element Number PE 0602602F: Conventional Munitions,” February 2011, p. 6; US Army, “Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation Budget Item Justification, Applied Research: Program Element Number 0602624A: Weapons and Munitions Technology,” February 2011, p. 5; and Office of the Secretary of Defense, “Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation Budget Item Justification, Applied Research: Program Element Number 0602000D8Z: Joint Munitions Technology,” February 2011, p. 13.

[31] According to budget justification materials from March 2019, “GMLRS Alternative Warhead (AW) was developed as a non-cluster munition to engage the same target sets as DPICM.” The Department of Defense’s 2017 budget includes funds to support the acquisition of 1,068 GMLRS-AW, with a total procurement objective of 43,560 warheads. Department of Defense, “Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 President's Budget Submission,” February 2016; “U.S. Army Awards $1.13 Billion Contract to Lockheed Martin for GMLRS Production, Support Equipment,” iConnect007, 3 April 2019.

[34] Department of the Army, “Justification Book of Procurement of Ammunition, Army FY2020 Procurement of Ammunition, Army,” pp. 341–349 and 312.

[38] John Ismay, “With North Korean Threats Looming, the U.S. Army Pursues Controversial Weapons,” The New York Times Magazine, 30 October 2018.

[39] Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2009 (P.L. 111-8). The same export moratorium language has been included in the annual Consolidated Appropriations Act since then. See, Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018 (P.L. 115-141).

[40] It also stated that the CBU-107 Passive Attack Weapon, which contains non-explosive metal rods, is not captured by the ban. DSCA, “Guidance on the Sale of Cluster Munitions, DSCA Policy 11-33,” Memorandum, Washington, DC, 19 May 2011. An additional memorandum aimed at increasing oversight of sales was issued in 2016. See, DSCA, “Revision of the Mandatory Note for Sales of Cluster Munitions with Submunitions with a Confirmed 99% or Higher Tested Rate, DSCA Policy 16-29, E-Change 313,” Memorandum, Washington, DC, 23 May 2016.

[41] 510 CBU-105 announced in 2008 for estimated $375 million. DSCA news release, “India – CBU-105 Sensor Fuzed Weapons,” Transmittal No. 08-105, Washington, DC, 30 September 2008.

[42] 32 CBU-105 announced in 2012. Arms Sales Notification, Department of Defense, Transmittal No. 12-66, 31 December 2012.

[43] 1,300 CBU-105 announced in 2010 and 404 CBU-105 in 2011. DSCA news release, “Saudi Arabia – F-15SA Aircraft,” Transmittal No. 10-43, Washington, DC, 20 October 2010. The completion date for this transfer was the end of 2015. “US Department of Defense Contract Announcement, No. 593-13,” 20 August 2013; DSCA news release, “Saudi Arabia – F-15SA Aircraft,” Transmittal No. 10-43, Washington, DC, 20 October 2010. The completion date for this transfer was the end of 2015; “US Department of Defense Contract Announcement, No. 593-13,” 20 August 2013; and DSCA news release, “Saudi Arabia – CBU-105 Sensor Fuzed Weapons,” Transmittal No. 10-03, Washington, DC, 13 June 2011.

[44] Three CBU-105 announced in 2014. Arms Sales Notification, Department of Defense, Transmittal No. 13-67, 21 January 2014.

[45] 367 CBU-105 announced 2012 and 2 CBU-105 in 2015; DSCA press release, “Republic of Korea – CBU-105D/B Sensor Fuzed Weapons,” Transmittal No. 12-23, Washington, DC, 4 June 2012; and Arms Sales Notification, Department of Defense, Transmittal No. 15-33, 21 July 2015.

[46] 64 CBU-105 announced in 2011. These were to be included as associated parts in the sale of F-16A/B aircraft. DSCA news release “Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States – Retrofit of F-16A/B Aircraft,” Transmittal No. 11-39, 21 September 2011.

[47] The contract for the sale was signed in November 2007. Textron Inc., “Q2 2010 Earnings Call Transcript,” 21 July 2010; and Textron Defense Systems press release, “Textron Defense Systems and UAE Armed Forces Sign Sensor Fuzed Weapon Contract,” 13 November 2007. Also, the US Congress was notified in June 2007 of a proposed commercial sale of “technical data, defense services, and defense articles to support the sale of the Sensor Fuzed Weapons” to the UAE. Jeffrey T. Bergner, Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs, US Department of State to Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the US House of Representatives (Transmittal No. DDTC 017-07), 7 June 2007.

[48] The provision states that the purchaser agree the CBU-105 “will only be used against clearly defined military targets and will not be used where civilians are known to be present” but failed to include the rest of the legislatively-mandated phrase “or in areas normally inhabited by civilians.” The official said the Department of Defense was pursuing an amendment to the agreement to “remedy this specific error.” Letter to Senator Leahy, from Brian P. McKeon, Principle Deputy Under Secretary of Defense, 20 May 2016.

[49] HRW documented six instances of CBU-105 use in Yemen by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in 2015 and 2016. In at least three attacks, it found that some submunitions or “skeet” did not disperse from the BLU-108 canister or dispersed but did not explode, failing to function as intended and exceeding the 1% UXO rate. HRW, “Yemen: Saudis Using US Cluster Munitions,” 6 May 2016.

[50] According to Foreign Policy, a senior US official said the administration acknowledged reports that the weapons had been used “in areas in which civilians are alleged to have been present or in the vicinity,” and added, “We take such concerns seriously and are seeking additional information.” John Hudson, “White House blocks transfer of cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia,” Foreign Policy, 27 May 2016.

[51] US-supplied cluster munitions have been used in combat by Colombia, by Israel in Lebanon and Syria, by Morocco in Western Sahara and Mauritania, by the UK and the Netherlands in the former Yugoslavia, Saudi Arabia on Yemen, and by the UK in Iraq. In July 2013, mine clearance operators in Yemen shared photographic evidence with the Monitor of cluster munition remnants, including several types of US-manufactured submunitions, in Saada governorate in northwestern Yemen near the border with Saudi Arabia. The contamination apparently dates from conflict in 2009–2010 between the government of Yemen and rebel Houthi forces, but it is not possible to determine definitively the actor responsible for the use.

[52] Monitor notes on Chilean Air Force document signed by Chair of the Joint Chief of Staff of the Air Force, “Exports of Cluster Bombs authorized in the years 1991–2001,” dated 23 June 2009, taken during Monitor meeting with Juan Pablo Jara, Desk Officer, Ministry of National Defense, Santiago, 11 April 2012.

[53] The 2004 report lists 626,824,422 submunitions in the “Active Inventory” and 728,527,689 in the “Total Inventory.” Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology and Logistics), Department of Defense, “Report to Congress: Cluster Munitions,” October 2004. The report lists 626,824,422 submunitions in the “Active Inventory” and 728,527,689 in the “Total Inventory.” Under the War Reserve Stocks for Allies program, munitions are stored in foreign countries, but kept under US title and control, then made available to US and allied forces in the event of hostilities. In 1994, the stockpile, including WRSA, consisted of 8.9 million cluster munitions containing nearly 1 billion submunitions. See, US Army Material Systems Analysis Activity, “Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) Study,” April 1996.

[54] Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology and Logistics), Department of Defense, “Report to Congress: Cluster Munitions,” October 2004. This accounting appears to exclude holdings of TLAM-D cruise missiles, a weapon found on some US Navy surface and submarines, which deliver BLU-97 submunitions. US Navy Fact File, “Tomahawk Cruise Missile,” 14 August 2014. The 2004 Department of Defense report also does not include artillery-fired SADARM cluster munitions (thought to number 715).

[57] See, General Dynamics website, “About Munition Services,” undated.

[58] On 18 February 2015, General Dynamics was awarded a $9.3 million contract to demilitarize 3,248 cluster bomb units and other high explosive cartridges. See, Department of Defense, “Contracts,” Release No. CR-031-15, 18 February 2015. On 29 August 2013, General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems was awarded a $11.7 million contract for the destruction of 49,387 rounds of Improved Conventional Munitions and 5,192 Cluster Bomb Units. The contract was for $11,714,490. Department of Defense, “Contracts,” No. 625-13, 29 August 2013.

[59] Canada reported in 2015 that General Dynamics in Joplin was “one of two companies that were compliant from 6 bidders.” It stated Canada’s demilitarization strategy was to award a service contract through an open completion to a company that had demilitarized the same cluster munitions within the last five years, from US stockpiles. Canada, Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form B, 29 April 2015.

[60] Department of the Army, “Procurement of Ammunition, Committee Staff Procurement Backup Book,” February 2011, pp. 729–730.

[61] According to a Norwegian official: “After the adoption of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, Norway discussed with the USA the issue of their stockpile of cluster munitions on Norwegian territory. Norway offered to destroy these cluster munitions together with our own stockpiles. However, the USA decided to remove their stocks, something which happened during the spring of 2010.” Email from Ingunn Vatne, Senior Advisor, Department for Human Rights, Democracy and Humanitarian Assistance, Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 1 August 2012. According to a US cable dated 17 December 2008, the US stockpile in Norway was thought to consist of “2,544 rounds” of “D563 Dual Purpose Improved Conventional Munitions (DPICM)” and “2,528 rounds” of “D864 Extended Range Dual Purpose ICM.” See, “Norway Raises Question Concerning US Cluster munitions,” US Department of State cable 08OSLO676 dated 17 December 2008, released by Wikileaks on 1 September 2011.

[62] Section 8 of the UK’s legislation states that its foreign secretary may grant authorization for visiting forces of states not party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions to “possess cluster munitions on, or transfer them through, UK territory.” In November 2011, UK officials stated that the only such authorization given to date was provided by former Foreign Secretary David Miliband to the US Department of State to permit the US to transfer its cluster munitions out of UK territory. Statement by Jeremy Browne, Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, House of Commons Debate, Hansard, Written Answers (London: Her Majesty’s Stationary Office, 1 November 2011), Column 589W.

[63]Demarche to Afghanistan on Cluster Munitions,” US Department of State cable 08STATE134777 dated 29 December 2008, released by Wikileaks on 2 December 2010.

[64] A US cable dated 2 December 2008 citing a discussion between US officials and Gregor Köbel, then-Director of the Conventional Arms Control Division of the German Federal Foreign Office, states “Koebel stressed that the US will continue to be able to store and transport CM [Cluster Munitions] in Germany, noting that this should be of ‘no concern whatsoever to our American colleagues.’” See, “MFA Gives Reassurances on Stockpiling of US Cluster Munitions in Germany,” US Department of State cable 08BERLIN1609 dated 2 December 2008, released by Wikileaks on 1 September 2011. See also, “Demarche to Germany Regarding Convention on Cluster Munitions,” US Department of State cable 08STATE125631 dated 26 November 2008, released by Wikileaks on 1 September 2011.

[65]Cluster Munitions: Israeli’s Operational Defensive Capabilities Crisis,” US Department of State cable 08TELAVIV1012 dated 7 May 2008, released by Wikileaks on 1 September 2011.

[66]Demarche to Italy, Spain and Qatar Regarding Convention on Cluster Munitions,” US Department of State cable 08STATE125632 dated 26 November 2008, released by Wikileaks on 30 August 2011.

[67]Consultations with Japan on Implementing the Oslo Convention on Cluster Munitions,” US Department of State cable 08TOKYO3532 dated 30 December 2008, released by Wikileaks on 1 September 2011.

[68] The cable contains the text of a message sent from a US military advisor to UAE authorities concerning a transfer of “ammunition immediately via US Air Force aircraft from Kuwait stockpile to Lebanon.” About the items to be transferred, the cable states: “The United States will not approve any cluster munitions or white phosphorus.” See, “Follow-up on UAE Response to Lebanese Request for Emergency Aid,” US Department of State cable 07ABUDHABI876 dated 24 May 2007, released by Wikileaks on 1 September 2011.

Mine Ban Policy

Last updated: 19 March 2020


The United States of America (US) has not acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty.

On 21 January 2020, the US Department of Defense announced that President Donald Trump ordered the rollback of US prohibitions on landmine production and use.[1] The new policy allows the US to develop, produce, and use landmines as long as they are “non-persistent,” that is, equipped with self-destruct and self-deactivation features. The policy abandons the previous constraint on using antipersonnel mines only on the Korean Peninsula and instead permits the US to use them anywhere in the world.

Previously, in 2014, President Barack Obama announced new US landmine policy measures banning production and acquisition of antipersonnel mines as well as halting their use by the US anywhere except the Korean Peninsula.[2] While the Obama administration brought US policy further in line with the Mine Ban Treaty, it did not take any measures towards US accession.[3]

Under the 2014 policy, the US committed to not use antipersonnel landmines outside of the Korean Peninsula and not to assist, encourage, or induce other nations to use, stockpile, produce, or transfer antipersonnel mines outside of Korea.[4] It also committed to no future production or acquisition of antipersonnel mines.[5]

The 2014 policy announcement followed more than two decades of efforts by Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont and NGOs organized under the US Campaign to Ban Landmines (USCBL).

The US was the first country to call for the “eventual elimination” of antipersonnel mines in September 1994 and it participated in the Ottawa Process that led to the creation of the treaty, yet did not sign it in 1997. After the treaty was adopted in 1997, the Clinton administration set the US goal of joining it in 2006, but the Bush administration then reversed that objective in 2004.[6]

In 2009, the US participated as an observer in the Mine Ban Treaty’s Second Review Conference in Cartagena in 2009 and since then it has attended the Third Review Conference in Maputo in June 2014, the Fourth Review Conference in Oslo in November 2019, and every Meeting of States Parties. The US also participates in the treaty’s intersessional meetings in Geneva, most recently in June 2019.

On 12 December 2019, the US abstained from voting on UN General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 74/61 calling for universalization and full implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty, as it has done for every Mine Ban Treaty resolution since 1998.

The US is party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) and its Amended Protocol II on landmines and Protocol V on explosive remnants of war. It submitted its annual national report for Amended Protocol II on 12 April 2019, as required under Article 13.


The last US use of antipersonnel mines was in Iraq and Kuwait in 1991 with the exception of the use of a single antipersonnel mine in Afghanistan in 2002.[7]

US forces in Afghanistan reportedly used Claymore directional fragmentation mines in 2009 and 2010, which are not prohibited under the Mine Ban Treaty if used in command-detonated mode.[8]

The current Trump administration policy allows for use of “non-persistent” landmines anywhere in the world, replacing the 2014 policy restricting US use of antipersonnel landmines to the Korean Peninsula. The new policy states that the US views “area denial systems” as a key component in strategy against “near-peer adversaries.”

The Department of Defense has long cited the need for the US to use antipersonnel mines on the Korean Peninsula in the event of an invasion by North Korea. Moreover, in the event of active hostilities, the current arrangement for a joint combined command structure would put a US general in charge of South Korean military forces. If the US were party to the Mine Ban Treaty, this means the US would violate the Mine Ban Treaty’s prohibition on assisting any prohibited activities.[9]

Numerous retired US military officers have questioned the utility of antipersonnel landmines in South Korea and elsewhere, citing the overwhelming technological superiority of other weapons in the US-South Korean arsenal in comparison with North Korea’s as sufficient to compensate for not using mines. In addition, a former commander of US forces in South Korea, the late Lt. Gen. James Hollingsworth, said in 1997 that antipersonnel landmines’ “minimal” utility to US forces is “offset by the difficulty…[they] pose to our brand of mobile warfare…Not only civilians, but US armed forces, will benefit from a ban on landmines. US forces in Korea are no exception.”[10]

After two South Korean soldiers on patrol were maimed by antipersonnel landmines that South Korea accused North Korea of laying in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in August 2015, Major General Koo Hong-mo of South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff described the mine-laying incident as “unthinkable for a normal military.”[11]

The US maintains no minefields anywhere in the world. The landmines already emplaced in and near the DMZ between North and South Korea are the responsibility of South Korean forces and not the US. The US cleared and destroyed the landmines laid around its Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba in 1999.[12]


Since 23 October 1992, US law has prohibited any exports of antipersonnel mines through a moratorium that has since been extended multiple times.[13] The 2020 Trump administration policy states that it “will not seek to transfer landmines except as provided for under US law.”

The US exported antipersonnel landmines including more than 5.6 million antipersonnel mines to 38 countries between 1969 and 1992. Deminers in at least 28 mine-affected countries have reported the presence of US-manufactured antipersonnel mines, including non-self-destructing and self-destructing/self-deactivating types.


The US last produced antipersonnel mines in 1997.[14] Under the Trump administration policy, the US may acquire “on/off” area denial systems that can be remotely activated to address an imminent or probable threat and de-activated when the threat subsides. US defense officials commenting on the new policy told media that the US has a sufficient inventory of so-called smart landmines that there is no need to restart production immediately.

No antipersonnel mines or other victim-activated munitions are being funded in the FY2021 ammunition procurement budgets of the US Armed Services or Defense Department. The last time the US produced antipersonnel mines was in 1997, when it manufactured 450,000 ADAM and 13,200 CBU-89/B Gator self-destructing/self-deactivating antipersonnel mines for $120 million. The last non-self-destruct antipersonnel mines were procured in 1990, when the US Army bought nearly 80,000 M16A1 antipersonnel mines for $1.9 million.

Previously, the 2014 policy announced a detailed study of alternatives to antipersonnel mines that was completed in 2018 and formed the basis of the Trump administration policy, according to the Department of Defense.

The US had previously announced that it was modernizing its Volcano vehicle and helicopter landmine dispenser system and from 2023 it intended to field a “Gator Landmine Replacement” networked munition system to “use non-lethal means to keep civilians away from dangerous areas.”[15] Both systems reportedly comply with the Mine Ban Treaty. The 2020 policy does not appear to abandon the search for alternatives to antipersonnel mines, as it states that “the Military Departments should explore acquiring landmines and landmine alternatives that could further reduce the risk of unintended harm to noncombatants.”


In 2014, the Department of Defense disclosed that the US has an “active stockpile of just more than 3 million anti-personnel mines.”[16] This is a significant reduction from the previous number reported in 2002 of approximately 10.4 million antipersonnel mines.[17]

The US stockpile consists mostly of remotely-delivered mines that are scattered over wide areas by aircraft or tube artillery and equipped with self-destruct features designed to blow the mine up after a pre-set period of time, as well as self-deactivating features. Various types of antipersonnel mines are stockpile according to the following table, which is significantly out of date.

US stockpiles of antipersonnel mines in 2010[18]

[quantity of antipersonnel mines in each]

Inside the US

Outside the US


Antipersonnel mines


Antipersonnel mines

M692 Artillery Delivered Antipersonnel Mine [36]





M74 Ground Emplaced Mine Scattering System [5]










Volcano (in M87 dispenser only) [1]





M86 Pursuit Deterrent Munition [1]





M131 Modular Pack Mine System [4]










Grand Total


Note: * The accounting for GATOR includes CBU-89 [22], CBU-104 [22], and CBU-78 [15] air-dropped bombs.

Stockpile destruction

The shelf-life of existing antipersonnel mines stockpiled by the US decreases over time in part because batteries embedded inside the mines deteriorate as they age. The 2014 policy precludes the US from extending or modifying the life of the batteries in its stockpiled antipersonnel mines.[19]

A Defense Department spokesperson stated in 2014 that the existing antipersonnel mine stocks “will start to decline in their ability to be used about[sic]—starting in about 10 years. And in 10 years after that, they’ll be completely unusable.”[20] In 2014, a US official said the US would not extend the shelf-life of existing systems, for example, by replacing their batteries, which have a shelf-life of 36 years.

According to the 2020 policy, the Department of Defense will “maintain a robust stockpile surveillance program to ensure the operational quality and reliability of landmines, particularly the reliability of self-destruction mechanisms and self-deactivation features.” A Department of Defense fact sheet claims that “reliability of safety features of the landmines in the operational inventory is very high.”

The previous 2014 policy committed the US to destroy its antipersonnel mine stockpiles “not required for the defense of the Republic of Korea.” In 2015, the Secretary of State said the US “will begin destroying its anti-personnel landmine stockpiles not required for the defense of the Republic of Korea.”[21] It is unclear how many landmines were destroyed prior to the 2020 policy change.

In 2014, Expal USA—the US subsidiary of Spanish defense company Expal—won a contract to destroy Gator and Volcano mines at its facility in Marshall, Texas.[22] The estimated completion date was June 2020 according to Maxam, the multinational company that owns Expal.[23]

General Atomics built the US Army a special “munitions cryofracture demilitarization facility” at the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant in Oklahoma to destroy US stocks of ADAM mines through disassembly and cryofracture.[24] The destruction process started in December 2004 and was supposed to conclude by June 2018, but it is unclear if this deadline was met.[25]

Since 2011, at least 96 M86 Pursuit Deterrent Munitions and 40 M74 antipersonnel mines as well as other “problematic munitions” have been destroyed in a static detonation chamber built to destroy US stocks of chemical weapons.[26]


In 2020, the US said a small quantity of “persistent mines” (non-self-destructing) are retained for demining and counter-mine testing and training.[27]

[2] It’s unclear if the 2014 landmine policy was codified as a presidential directive like previous landmine policies announced in 1996, 1998, and 2004.

[3] At that time officials articulated US aspirations to join the treaty. For example, a Department of State fact sheet issued for 2015’s Mine Action Day referred to the “ultimate goal” of US accession to the Mine Ban Treaty. US Department of State, “Fact Sheet: U.S. Global Leadership in Landmine Clearance and Conventional Weapons Destruction,” 3 April 2015.

[4] Office of the Press Secretary, “Remarks by the President at Clinton Global Initiative,” The White House, 23 September 2014; and Office of the Press Secretary, “Fact Sheet: Changes to U.S. Anti-Personnel Landmine Policy,” The White House, 23 September 2014.

[5] The June 27 landmine policy announcement was made by the US ambassador to Mozambique at the Mine Ban Treaty’s Third Review Conference and detailed in a White House fact sheet. Statement by Ambassador Douglas Griffiths, Mine Ban Treaty Third Review Conference, Maputo, 27 June 2014; and Office of the Press Secretary, “Fact Sheet: Changes to U.S. Anti-Personnel Landmine Policy,” The White House, 27 June 2014.

[6] See, US Department of State, “Fact Sheet: New United States Policy on Landmines: Reducing Humanitarian Risk and Saving Lives of United States Soldiers,” Washington, DC, 27 February 2004.

[7] The use of a mine in Afghanistan was disclosed as part of the June 27 policy announcement. “And since the Ottawa Convention came into force in 1999, we are—or since 1991, excuse me—we are aware of only one confirmed operational employment by U.S. military forces, a single munition in Afghanistan in 2002.” US Department of State, “Daily Press Briefing: June 27, 2014,” 27 June 2014. In 1991, in Iraq and Kuwait the US used 117,634 antipersonnel mines, mostly air-delivered. US General Accounting Office, “GAO-02-1003: MILITARY OPERATIONS: Information on US use of Land Mines in the Persian Gulf War,” September 2002, Appendix I, pp. 8–9.

[8] CJ Chivers, “Turning Tables, U.S. Troops Ambush Taliban with Swift and Lethal Results,” New York Times, 17 April 2009; and “Taliban displays ‘US weapons,’” Aljazeera, 10 November 2009. The use of Claymore mines in command-detonated mode, usually electrical or shock tube (non-electrical) detonation, is permitted by the Mine Ban Treaty, while use in victim-activated mode, usually with a tripwire, is prohibited. For many years, US policy and doctrine has prohibited the use of Claymore mines with tripwires, except in Korea. See, Landmine Monitor Report 2000, p. 346.

[9] Choe Sang-Hun, “U.S. and South Korea Agree to Delay Shift in Wartime Command,” New York Times, 24 October 2014.

[10] Human Rights Watch (HRW), Arms Project, and the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation, “In Its Own Words: The U.S. Army and Antipersonnel Mines in the Korean and Vietnam Wars,” July 1997.

[11] Jethro Mullen and Kathy Novak, “South Korea: Propaganda broadcasts at North to resume after landmines,” CNN, 10 August 2015. See also USCBL Web Post, “New mine-laying in Korea condemned,” 10 August 2015.

[12] Beginning in 1961, the US emplaced approximately 50,000 antipersonnel and antivehicle mines along the perimeter of its facilities at Guantanamo Bay. Letter from Dr. George R. Schneiter, Director, Strategic and Tactical Systems, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, to Human Rights Watch, 21 March 2000.

[13] On 26 December 2007, the comprehensive US moratorium on the export of antipersonnel mines was extended for six years until 2014. Public Law 110-161, Fiscal Year 2008 Consolidated Appropriations Act, Section 634(j), 26 December 2007, p. 487.

[15] Jen Judson, “US Army Dusting off Volcano Mine Dispensers,” DefenseNews, 21 December 2016.

[16] “We have an active stockpile of just over 3 million anti-personnel mines in the inventory.” US Department of Defense, “Department of Defense Press Briefing by Rear Adm. Kirby in the Pentagon Briefing Room,” 27 June 2014.

[17] Information provided by the US Armed Services in Spring/Summer 2002, cited in US General Accounting Office, “GAO-02-1003: MILITARY OPERATIONS: Information on U.S. use of Land Mines in the Persian Gulf War,” September 2002, Appendix I, pp. 39–43. See also, US entry in ICBL, Landmine Monitor Report 2009.

[18] Data on types and quantities from a 2010 Department of Defense document on file at HRW. Also listed in this document are 7.2 million antipersonnel mines that are “Unserviceable and Suspended” (190,458), “Former WRSA-K [War Reserve Stocks for Allies – Korea]” (520,050), and “demil” (6,528,568), which presumably means in the demilitarization account awaiting destruction.

[19] A US official confirmed to HRW that the US would not extend the shelf-life of existing systems, for example, by replacing their batteries. Meeting with US Delegation, Mine Ban Treaty Third Review Conference, Maputo, 27 June 2014. Unofficial notes by HRW.

[20] US Department of Defense, “Department of Defense Press Briefing by Rear Adm. Kirby in the Pentagon Briefing Room,” 27 June 2014. In 2010, the Department of Defense indicated that the batteries in self-destructing and self-deactivating mines have a shelf-life of 36 years and estimated that the shelf-life of batteries in the existing stockpile of antipersonnel mines would expire between 2014 and 2033. According to a 2010 Department of Defense document on file at HRW.

[21] Statement by John Kerry, US Secretary of State, 3 April 2015.

[22] US Army, Award Notice on “Conventional Ammunition Demilitarization,” 22 December 2014. In July 2010, the US Army issued a notice for contractors “for potential demilitarization” of the munitions. US Army, Notice on “Family of Scatterable Munitions (FASCAM) Demil,” 13 July 2010.

[23] MAXAM Press Release, “EXPAL USA receives $156 million U.S. army contract,” 16 June 2015. See also, LinkedIn, “Expal USA,” undated.

[24] General Atomics, “McAlester Army Ammunition Plant,” undated.

[26] Presentation by Timothy K. Garrett, Site Project Manager, Anniston Chemical Agent Disposal Facility, U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency, “Preparing to Process Problematic Munitions,” undated.

[27] Presentation by US Department of Defense officials to civil society organizations, 13 February 2020.

Support for Mine Action

Last updated: 19 November 2018

In 2017, the United States (US) contributed more than $309 million to 24 countries.[1] US funding doubled from 2016.

More than half of the US contribution ($169.6 million) went to mine action projects in Iraq and Syria. In comparison, this is $17 million more than its 2016 total contribution of $152.4 million. The US provided $106.6 million to activities in Iraq aimed at clearing Islamic State explosive remnants of war (ERW) in order to facilitate the restoration of critical infrastructure and services, as well as the safe return of displaced populations. This represents a tripling in its contribution to this country compared to the $30.9 million provided in 2016. In addition, the US contributed $63 million to support clearance in areas liberated from Islamic State in northeast Syria, as well as risk education activities. This is six-times higher than US funding provided to this country in 2016.

US support to mine action was distributed among the following regions: the Middle East and North Africa ($197.5 million, 64%), East and South Asia and the Pacific ($69.3 million, 22%), the Americas ($21 million, 7%), Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asia ($6.5 million, 2%), and Sub-Saharan Africa ($5.3 million, 2%). A further $9.5 million (3%) designated as global was not earmarked for any state or area or region.

The US allocates the majority of its mine action funding through the State Department’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (WRA). Additional funding is allocated through the Patrick Leahy War Victims Fund within the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance at US Agency for International Development (USAID).

Contributions by recipient: 2017



Amount ($)


Clearance and risk education



Capacity-building, clearance, and risk education



Clearance, risk education, victim assistance



Clearance, risk education, victim assistance



Clearance and risk education



Capacity-building and clearance











Sri Lanka

Clearance and risk education



Clearance and risk education



Clearance and risk education


Bosnia and Herzegovina

Clearance and risk education



Clearance and risk education



Clearance and risk education














Democratic republic of the Congo










Clearance and risk education





South Sudan

Clearance and risk education





From 2013–2017, the US contribution for mine action totaled approximately $847 million, this represents two-fifths more than the $599.1 million provided in the previous five-year period from 2008–2012.[2]

It is the ninth-consecutive year that the US support has totaled more than $100 million.

Summary of contributions: 2013–2017[3]


Amount ($)

% change from previous year




















[1] Email from Katherine Baker, Foreign Affairs Officer, Weapons Removal and Abatement, US Department of State, 8 and 24 October 2018.

[2] See, Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor, “Country Profile: United States: Support for Mine Action,” 22 November 2013.

[3] See previous Monitor reports. Totals for international support in 2015, 2014, and 2013 have been revised to include contributions that were not previously reported.

Casualties and Victim Assistance

Last updated: 19 June 2010


Thirty-seven US soldiers were killed by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Iraq and 132 in Afghanistan in 2009, compared to 131 soldiers killed in Iraq, and 72 in Afghanistan in 2008.[2] It was not known how many incidents were caused by victim-activated IEDs.[3] In addition, five US soldiers were killed or injured by mines or explosive remnants of war (ERW). One US soldier was killed by a mine in Afghanistan;[4] one US soldier was killed and two were injured by an item of ERW at Camp Hansen in Okinawa, Japan;[5] and one US soldier was killed by a mine in Baghdad, Iraq.[6]

Between 1999 and 2009, Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor recorded 212 US mine/ERW/IED casualties (83 killed, 129 injured).[7]

Victim Assistance

The total number of mine/ERW/IED survivors in the US is likely to number in the thousands. From 2001 to 1 March 2010, 967 soldiers lost at least one limb in Iraq and Afghanistan.[8]

Survivor needs

In 2009, the Joint Department of Defense/Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) Disability Evaluation System (DES) piloted a single disability examination at 21 sites to assess whether 337 injured active duty soldiers should be discharged from the military based on injuries, wounds, or illnesses incurred during their service. Based on the information collected, it assisted the pilot participants in transitioning to civilian life with access to the benefits and services available to them through the DVA.[9]

Victim assistance coordination

Government coordinating body/ focal point


Coordinating mechanism(s)



DVA 2006―2011 Strategic Plan


The DVA is the lead government agency that assists all veterans, including those disabled from mines/ERW/IEDs, with offices in each of the 50 states, the Philippines, and the territories of American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.[10] The DVA Office of Survivors Assistance is the primary advisor to the government on policies and programs affecting survivors and dependents of deceased veterans and service members.[11]

Survivor inclusion

In February 2009, Tammy Duckworth, a disabled US veteran, was appointed as an assistant secretary of the DVA, helping to “overhaul the agency” with a goal of reducing bureaucratic obstacles to disability benefits.[12]

Service accessibility and effectiveness

Victim assistance activities in 2009

Name of organization

Type of organization

Type of activity

Changes in quality/coverage of service in 2009



Advocacy, rehabilitation, disability benefits, medical, reintegration

Increased  the available number of prosthetic providers, and capacity of mental health services

Department of Labor


Economic inclusion

New employment project for disabled veterans

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans for America



No change

Wounded Warrior Project



No change


In 2009, the DVA increased the number of local accredited orthopedic and prosthetic providers to ensure decentralized access to physical rehabilitation care. As of March 2010, it had contracted more than 600 local orthopedic and prosthetic providers.[13] The DVA also added additional mental health clinicians and increased its psychological support capacity to treat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), though stigma around mental health prevented many veterans from accessing available services.[14]

In January 2009, the Department of Labor initiated the “America’s Heroes at Work” employment pilot project to coordinate employment opportunities for veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury and/or PTSD and document best practices to help employers hire, accommodate, and retain veterans in the workplace.[15]

In 2009, the Wounded Warrior Project identified a number of shortcomings in the DVA’s Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment program. These included insufficient, temporary support payments for disabled veterans; too few counselors attending to program participants; insufficient reimbursement of program participation expenses; and a lack of long-term measurement mechanisms to quantify program success.[16]

On 30 July 2009, the US signed the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, but had not ratified it as of June 2010.

[1] In 2009, no mine/ERW casualties were identified on US territory; three ERW casualties were identified in 2008. Previously, Landmine Monitor did not report such incidents. Steve Szkotak, “Civil War cannonball kills Virginia relic collector,” The Boston Globe (Chester), 2 May 2008, www.boston.com; and Chelsea J. Carter, “Military cracks down on scrap-metal scavengers,” The Seattle Times (Twentynine Palms), 13 May 2008, seattletimes.nwsource.com.

[2] “Iraq Coalition Casualty Count: IED Fatalities by Cause of Death,” icasualties.org.

[3] Like landmines, victim-activated explosive devices are triggered by the presence, proximity, or contact of a person or vehicle. Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor analysis of media reports and US Department of Defense casualty reports from 1 January to 31 December 2009.

[4] Stephanie Gaskell, “As family says goodbye to Bronx marine who fell in Afghanistan, brother blames himself for loss,” Daily News (New York), 9 January 2009, www.nydailynews.com.

[5] Eric Talmadge, “60 years after Second World War, Okinawa still rife with bombs,” Canada East, 3 May 2009, www.canadaeast.com.

[6] US Department of Defense, “DoD Identifies Army Casualty,” Press release, No. 224-09, 7 April 2009, www.defense.gov.

[8] “As amputee ranks grow, wounded warriors bond,” Watertown Daily Times, 25 March 2010; and Kimberly Hefling, “Military sees increase in wounded in Afghanistan,” Huffington Post, 11 November 2009, www.huffingtonpost.com.

[9] DVA, “Fiscal Year 2009 Performance and Accountability Report: VA’s Performance,” www4.va.gov, p.20.

[10] DVA, www.va.gov.

[11] DVA, Office of Survivors Assistance, www.va.gov/survivors.

[12] Ed O’Keefe, “She is the face of the new generation: At VA and among vets, Duckworth is trying to reshape perceptions,” Washington Post, 11 November 2009, www.washingtonpost.com.

[13] DVA, Prosthetic and Sensory Aids Service, Orthotic & Prosthetic Services, www.prosthetics.va.gov.

[14] Alex Parker, “Back home, veterans fight different kind of war,” Chicago Tribune, 6 November 2009, www.chicagotribune.com.

[15] US Department of Labor, “America's Heroes at Work Employment Pilot,” www.americasheroesatwork.gov.

[16] Wounded Warrior Project, “2010 Policy Agenda,” www.woundedwarriorproject.org, pp.13–14.