Mine Ban Policy

Last updated: 16 November 2021


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]

In November 2020, Iran repeated its earlier objections to the Mine Ban Treaty, stating that “the Convention focuses mainly on humanitarian concerns and does not adequately take into account the legitimate military requirements of some countries, particularly those with long land borders, for their responsible and limited use of mines to defend their territory. Because of the difficulty of monitoring extensive sensitive areas or permanent warning system, unfortunately, anti-personnel mines continue to be an effective means for those countries to ensure the minimum security requirements of their borders.”[2]

As it has done in previous years, on 7 December 2020, Iran abstained from voting on annual United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 75/52, which calls for universalization and full implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty.

On 4 April 2021, Iran’s defense minister noted that landmines laid during its 1980–1988 war with Iraq have had major social, economic, and environmental impacts; but did not comment on Iran’s policy toward the Mine Ban Treaty.[3] On 2 May 2017, Iran’s Ministry of Defense commemorated International Mine Awareness Day at a meeting in Tehran, during which Iran’s defense minister conveyed a request for more international assistance in mine clearance.[4]

Iran has not attended any meetings of the Mine Ban Treaty held in the past decade. Iran’s only attendance was at the intersessional meetings held in 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 told the Monitor that legislation to join the CCW and its Amended Protocols I and V was before the Iranian parliament.[5]

Production, transfer, stockpiling, and use

The Monitor has not reported any new use of antipersonnel mines by Iranian forces since 1999.

In October 2015, several newspapers published reports alleging new use of antipersonnel mines by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) on the border with northern Iraq. Eyewitnesses reportedly observed mine-laying operations, and media reports stated that the Kurdish authorities warned inhabitants of Penjwen, Sulaymaniyah governorate, not to approach the border due to new mine use. The allegations stated that the mines were laid to prevent incursion by Kurdish militants and smugglers.[6] The Monitor has been unable to verify these reports.

The director of the Islamic Republic of Iran Mine Action Center (IRMAC) told the Monitor in 2005 that Iran neither uses nor produces landmines.[7] 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.”[8] 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.[9]

Iran is thought to possess a large stockpile of antipersonnel landmines, but no official information is available on its size or composition.

Iran exported a significant number of antipersonnel mines in the 1990s and earlier. An export moratorium was issued in 1997, but it is not known whether 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.”[10]

There is evidence that Iran has both produced and exported antipersonnel mines during the past 15 years. Iranian antipersonnel mines were seized in Afghanistan in 2008,[11] Tajikistan in 2007,[12] and Somalia in 2006.[13] 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.[14] As of August 2020, Iran’s Ministry of Defense Export Center advertised the availability of the YM-IV bounding, fragmentation antipersonnel mine; and the YM-I-S, a self-neutralizing antipersonnel blast mine.[15]

In previous years, seven Iranian Kurdish armed groups pledged not to use antipersonnel mines by signing the Geneva Call Deed of Commitment. These include the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI), three factions of the Komala Party, the Kurdistan Democratic Party-Iran (KDP), the Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK), and the Kurdistan Freedom Party. The three factions of the Komala Party stated that they had used antipersonnel mines sporadically in the past.[16]

[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] Islamic Republic of Iran, Explanation of Vote on Resolution L.26, 75th Session, UN General Assembly (UNGA) First Committee, New York, 6 November 2020. UNGA, video record at 02:41:15. This statement is identical to one Iran made the previous year, as well as in 2013. See, Islamic Republic of Iran, “Explanation of Vote on the Draft Resolution L.3,” UNGA First Committee, New York, 1 November 2013. Iran made virtually the same statement during previous votes.

[3]Iran Biggest Victim of Landmines: Defense MinisterTasnim News Agency, 5 April 2021.

[4] Amir Mehdi Kazemi, “Iran marks International Mine Awareness Day,” Press TV, 3 May 2017. International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) representatives and military attaches from other countries attended.

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

[6]The Iranian army is laying mines on the borders with Kurdistan-Iraq,” Al Araby, 25 October 2015; and “Iran is planting mines along the border with the Kurdistan region,” Iraq News Agency, 26 October 2015 (no longer available online).

[7] Interview with Hossein Vaziri, IRMAC, Tehran, 28 August 2005. He did not state when Iran allegedly stopped using and producing mines, nor whether 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.

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

[9] Information provided to the Monitor and ICBL by the HALO Trust, Danish Demining Group (DDG), 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.

[10] Letter from the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Human Rights Watch (HRW), 1 February 2006.

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

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

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

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

[16] Geneva Call press release, “The Komalah–the Kurdistan Organization of the Communist Party of Iran and the Komala Party of Kurdistan Prohibit the Use of Anti-Personnel Mines,” 7 April 2009; Geneva Call press release, “The Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan Prohibits the Use of Anti-Personnel Mines,” 16 June 2009; and Geneva Call press release, “The Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan Prohibits the Use of Anti-Personnel Mines,” 5 December 2007. Previously, the Monitor had not identified any Kurdish armed group in Iran as a landmine 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; and, Geneva Call press release, “Iran: a Kurdish armed movement takes official commitments to reinforce the protection of civilian,” 28 June 2015. 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 had never used antipersonnel mines.