United States

Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 13 September 2021


Non-signatory the United States (US) has not taken any steps to join the Convention on Cluster Munitions, as it sees military utility in cluster munitions. The US has never participated in a meeting of the convention, even as an observer. It abstained from voting on a key United Nations (UN) resolution promoting the convention in December 2020.

In November 2017, the US reversed a long-standing policy requiring its forces to not use cluster munitions that result in more than 1% unexploded ordnance (UXO) after 2018. The US last used cluster munitions during 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 since then has only manufactured them for foreign sales. Research and development programs for the replacing of artillery-delivered submunitions commenced in 2018.


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 because, in its view, cluster munitions provide “a vital military capability.”[1]

National policy

As of July 2021, the administration of President Joseph R. Biden has not reviewed or amended US policy on cluster munitions issued in November 2017. The policy issued under President Donald J. Trump abandoned a requirement that the US no longer use cluster munitions that result in more than a 1% UXO rate by the end of 2018.[2] It replaced a July 2008 Department of Defense policy directive on cluster munitions issued under President George W. Bush.[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) the authority to approve employing (using) 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]

The Biden administration has not yet commented on cluster munitions or the 2017 policy, which was widely condemned when it was issued.[6]

Following the 2017 policy, the Congressional Research Service recommended in February 2019 that the US Congress consider “how this U.S. policy reversal on the military use of cluster munitions will be perceived by the international community.”[7]

US and the Convention on Cluster Munitions

The US did not participate, even as an observer, in the 2007–2008 Oslo Process that resulted in the Convention on Cluster Munitions.[8] 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).[9]

The US has never participated in a meeting of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, even as an observer. The US was invited, but did not attend, the first part of the convention’s Second Review Conference held virtually in November 2020.

In December 2020, the US abstained from the vote on a UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution that urged states outside the Convention on Cluster Munitions to “join as soon as possible.”[10] The US has abstained from voting on the annual UNGA resolution promoting the convention since it was first introduced in 2015. The US explained in 2015 that it considers the resolution to apply “only to those States Parties to this convention.”[11] In October 2019, the US again stated that it does not accept that the convention “represents an emerging norm.”[12] The US did not comment on the 2020 UNGA resolution supporting the convention

The US has voted in favor of UNGA resolutions condemning the use of cluster munitions in Syria, most recently in December 2020.[13]

In previous years, Senators Dianne Feinstein and Patrick Leahy have introduced legislation encouraging the US to accede to the Convention on Cluster Munitions as soon as possible.[14]

The US is party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW), but it has not proposed further CCW deliberations on cluster munitions since CCW States Parties failed to adopt a draft protocol on cluster munitions in 2011.[15] This effectively concluded CCW consideration on the matter, leaving the Convention on Cluster Munitions as the sole international instrument dedicated to ending the suffering caused by these weapons.

The US is not a party to the Mine Ban Treaty, but it has participated as an observer in Mine Ban Treaty meetings since 2009.


Under the 2017 policy, any US cluster munition use that exceeds the 1% UXO rate must be approved by a combatant commander.[16]

The last US use of cluster munitions was during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, with the exception of a single attack in Yemen in December 2009.[17] Neither the US nor the Yemeni government has publicly denied US responsibility for the 2009 attack.[18]

In 2016, the US Air Force (USAF) said it had not used cluster munitions in the air war against the Islamic State during operations in Iraq, Syria, and Libya.[19] The US provided logistical and other support to a Saudi Arabia-led coalition of states that used US-supplied cluster munitions in Yemen in 2015–2017.

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 (2001–2002); Iraq (2003); and Yemen (2009).[20]

In December 2019, the New York Times published an investigation documenting fratricidal cluster munition deaths among US troops in Iraq and other countries as well as at US training ranges.[21]


The US Department of Defense could not confirm whether the US still produces cluster munitions as of December 2018, telling a US media outlet that it “is not aware of any U.S. industry production of cluster munitions.”[22]

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.[23] The US last budgeted funds to produce new cluster munitions in 2007.[24] 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.[25] In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on 30 August 2016, 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.[26]

US defense contractor Northrop Grumman announced in January 2021 that it was ending participation in a US government contract to test the shelf life of stocks of cluster munitions.[27] The company, which does not make cluster munitions, inherited the stockpile management contract after acquiring US company Orbital ATK.

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

Replacements for cluster munitions

The US Army continues a research and development program to replace existing cluster munitions used in 155mm artillery systems. The Cannon-Delivered Area Effects Munitions (C-DAEM) is an advanced component development project working on concepts and prototypes to replace existing dual-purpose improved conventional munition (DPICM) projectiles. The effort was funded to US$58 million in fiscal years 2020 and 2021 with the aim of informing “the Army's cluster munition replacement strategy.”[28] Under decisions earlier in this program, the US decided to procure 3,676 BONUS Mk2 sensor fuzed projectiles[29] in fiscal years 2019–2021 from BAE Systems AB, Sweden, for $199 million.[30]

Lockheed Martin continues to produce the Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System-Alternate Warhead (GMLRS-AW) for the US Army and Marine Corps.[31] The GMLRS-AW is also manufactured for foreign military sales.[32] In April 2020, Lockheed Martin vice president Jarrod P. Agen told media that the company “does not develop or produce cluster munitions, as defined in the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions.”[33] The fiscal year 2022 Department of Defense budget requests funding for 5,286 GMLRS-AW rockets with the objective of ultimately acquiring over 66,000 of this type of rocket.[34]


Export moratorium language has been included in the annual budget each year.[35] 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.”

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA)—the US government agency that administers weapons transfers—issued a memorandum on 19 May 2011 regarding 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).”[36]

The last congressional sales notification for CBU-105 Sensor Fuzed Weapons was in July 2015. Congressional notifications show that the US had concluded agreements from 2008 until 2015 to sell CBU-105 to India,[37] Oman,[38] Saudi Arabia,[39] Singapore,[40] South Korea,[41] Taiwan,[42] and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).[43]

In May 2016, a senior Department of Defense official said that the end-use provision of its 2012 agreement with Saudi Arabia and “a handful of other cases” was “incomplete.”[44] The Saudi-led coalition’s use of CBU-105 in 2015 and 2016 raised serious questions about whether the transfer requirements were being met.[45] In May 2016, the Obama administration suspended transfers of cluster munitions to Saudi Arabia after reports of their use in civilian areas in Yemen.[46]

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, Morocco, the Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, the UAE, and the United Kingdom (UK).[47]

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.[48]


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).[49]

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

US stockpile of cluster munitions (as of 2004)[50]


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.[51]

In March 2019 the Department of Defense budget stated, “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 in the US remain in outside the B5A, while another 91,362 cluster munitions are outside of the US or not scheduled for destruction. The fiscal year 2022 budget materials no longer details the amounts of cluster munitions and other types of conventional ammunition, but 342,791 tons of conventional ammunition and 35,913 tons of missiles are awaiting destruction as of March 2021.

Since the 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 at the Letterkenny Munitions Center in Pennsylvania.[52]

Recent funding for the destruction of cluster munitions (US$ million)[53]


Previous Years

FY 2019

FY 2020

FY 2021

FY 2022


Cluster munitions (non-rockets)






Cluster munition rockets






Note: FY=Fiscal year.


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,[54] while the UK announced in 2010 that there were now “no foreign stockpiles of cluster munitions in the UK or on any UK territory.”[55]

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.[56]
  • 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.[57]
  • In Israel, US cluster munitions are “considered to be under U.S. title” until they are transferred from the WRSA for use by Israel in wartime.[58]
  • 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.”[59]
  • 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.[60]
  • The US may store clusters munitions in Kuwait, according to a May 2007 cable.[61]

[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] 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.

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

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

[6] 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.” See, Office of US Senator for California Dianne Feinstein, “Feinstein Opposes Pentagon’s Reversal of Cluster Munitions Policy,” 30 November 2017. Human Rights Watch (HRW), chair of the CMC, condemned the 2017 policy and called the US “embrace” of “notoriously unreliable cluster munitions…a gigantic step backward.” See, HRW, “US Embraces Cluster Munitions,” 1 December 2017. Since 2014, HRW has chaired the US Campaign to Ban Landmines and also US non-governmental organization (NGO) activities against cluster munitions on behalf of the CMC.

[7] Congressional Research Service, “Cluster Munitions: Background and Issues for Congress,” 22 February 2019.

[8] 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.

[9] The diplomatic cables also showed that 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, released by Wikileaks as of early August 2011.

[10]Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA Resolution 75/62, 7 December 2020.

[11] Statement of the US, UN General Assembly (UNGA) First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 4 November 2015.

[12] Statement of the US, UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 6 November 2019.

[13]Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic,” UNGA Resolution 75/193, 16 December 2020. The US voted in favor of similar resolutions related to Syria in 2013–2019.

[14] See, for example, S.897 – Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act of 2017, introduced to Congress by Senator Dianne Feinstein on 7 April 2017.

[15] Throughout the CCW negotiations, the US supported the main tenets 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.

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

[17] 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. See, Amnesty International, “Images of Missile and Cluster Munitions Point to US Role in Fatal Attack in Yemen,” 7 June 2010; and “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. 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.

[18] 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.

[19] Thomas Gibbons-Neff, “Why the last U.S. company making cluster bombs won’t produce them anymore,” The Washington Post, 2 September 2016. A USAF 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.

[20] 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.

[21] John Ismay, “America’s Dark History of Killing Its Own Troops With Cluster Munitions,” The New York Times, 4 December 2019.

[22] Stéphanie Fillion, “The US, Reversing Course on Cluster Bombs, Is Testing New Ones in Israel,” PassBlue, 28 December 2018.

[23] 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 reached “full rate production,” i.e. production for use in combat, during the first quarter of the fiscal year 2005, were required to meet the new standard. According to a Pentagon report to Congress on cluster munitions in October 2004, submunitions procured in past yearswere 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.

[24] 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.

[25]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.

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

[27] Marcus Weisgerber, “Northrop Grumman says it will walk away from cluster bomb contract,” Defense One, 28 January 2021.

[28] Future decisions on this program are scheduled to occur by fiscal year 2024. Department of Defense Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Budget Estimates, May 2021, “Army Justification Book Volume 2a of 2, Research, Development, Test & Evaluation, Army RDT&E − Volume II, Budget Activity 4,” pp. 180–187.

[29] 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.”

[30] Department of Defense Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Budget Estimates, May 2021, “Army Justification Book Volume 1 of 1, Procurement of Ammunition, Army,” pp. 333–334.

[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.

[33] Tim Gray, “How to invest in the Military-Industrial Complex,” The New York Times, 15 April 2020.

[34] Department of Defense Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Budget Estimates, May 2021, “Justification Book of Missile Procurement, Army,” pp. 109–118.

[35] 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, 2020 (p. 346).

[36] 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.

[37] 510 CBU-105 announced in 2008 for estimated $375 million. DSCA press release, “India – CBU-105 Sensor Fuzed Weapons,” Transmittal No. 08-105, 30 September 2008.

[38] 32 CBU-105 announced in 2012. Department of Defense, ‘‘Arms Sales Notification,’’ Transmittal No. 12-66, 31 December 2012.

[39] 1,300 CBU-105 announced in 2010 and 404 CBU-105 in 2011. DSCA press release, “Saudi Arabia – F-15SA Aircraft,” Transmittal No. 10-43, 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 press release, “Saudi Arabia – F-15SA Aircraft,” Transmittal No. 10-43, 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 press release, “Saudi Arabia – CBU-105 Sensor Fuzed Weapons,” Transmittal No. 10-03, 13 June 2011.

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

[41] 367 CBU-105 announced 2012 and two CBU-105 in 2015; DSCA press release, “Republic of Korea – CBU-105D/B Sensor Fuzed Weapons,” Transmittal No. 12-23, 4 June 2012; and Department of Defense, ‘‘Arms Sales Notification,’’ Transmittal No. 15-33, 21 July 2015.

[42] 64 CBU-105 announced in 2011. These were to be included as associated parts in the sale of F-16A/B aircraft. DSCA press release “Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States – Retrofit of F-16A/B Aircraft,” Transmittal No. 11-39, 21 September 2011.

[43] 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.

[44] 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 from Brian P. McKeon, Principle Deputy Under Secretary of Defense, to Senator Patrick Leahy, 20 May 2016.

[45] 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.

[46] 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.

[47] 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, by 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.

[48] 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.

[49] 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. Under the WRSA 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 one billion submunitions. See, US Army Material Systems Analysis Activity, “Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) Study,” April 1996.

[50] 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 vessels 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).

[51] 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% UXO requirement.

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

[53] Department of Defense Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Budget Estimates, May 2021, “Army Justification Book Volume 1 of 1, Procurement of Ammunition, Army,” pp. 637–642.

[54] 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.

[55] 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.

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

[57] 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.

[58]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.

[59]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.

[60]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.

[61] 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: 15 November 2021


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

Landmine policy announced by the administration of President Donald Trump on 31 January 2020, which is detailed below, has taken the US off the path toward joining the Mine Ban Treaty.[1]

President Joe Biden has yet to comment on the US position on banning antipersonnel landmines or accession to the Mine Ban Treaty since becoming president. US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the United Nations (UN) Security Council on 8 April 2021 that “President Biden believes we need to curtail the use of landmines” and “has been clear that he intends to roll back” the Trump administration policy.[2]

After becoming the first country to call for the “eventual elimination” of antipersonnel mines in September 1994, the US participated in the Ottawa Process to ban landmines. Yet it did not adopt or sign the Mine Ban Treaty in 1997. That year, the Clinton administration set the goal for the US to join the treaty in 2006. The Bush administration reversed this objective in 2004.[3] Policy announced by the Obama administration in 2014 brought US policy further in line with the Mine Ban Treaty,[4] but the Trump administration later firmly rejected the notion of US accession to the treaty.

The US has participated as an observer in meetings of the Mine Ban Treaty since the Second Review Conference in 2009.[5] The US was present at the treaty’s Fourth Review Conference in Oslo in November 2019, but did not make a statement. On 7 December 2020, the US abstained from voting on UN General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 75/52, calling for universalization and full implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty. The US has abstained from every annual Mine Ban Treaty resolution at the UNGA since 1998.

The US is party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) and provided an annual transparency report for Amended Protocol II on landmines on 29 April 2021.

2020 landmine policy

The 2020 landmine 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.[6] 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, the Obama administration issued a US landmine policy banning production and acquisition of antipersonnel mines, as well as halting their use by the US anywhere except in the Korean Peninsula.[7]

The 2020 policy makes no distinction between antipersonnel and antivehicle mines, though a White House spokesperson stated that antipersonnel landmines are the focus of the new policy. The Mine Ban Treaty prohibits antipersonnel mines, but not antivehicle mines or command-detonated (remote-controlled) mines. It comprehensively bans all types of victim-activated explosive devices, regardless of their predicted longevity, delivery method, or type of manufacture (improvised or factory-made).

A Department of Defense factsheet issued alongside the policy, entitled “Strategic Advantages of Landmines,” asserts that landmines are “a vital tool in conventional warfare” that provide “a necessary warfighting capability…while reducing the risk of unintended harm to non-combatants.” Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) prepared by the Department of Defense for the policy announcement assert that the US needs landmines because “the strategic environment has changed” since 2014, with “the return of Great Power Competition and a focus on near-peer competitors” or adversaries. Defense officials announcing the policy told media that they could envision the US using landmines in a variety of theaters against a range of adversaries, such as Russia and China.[8]

The Trump administration’s decision to reverse US prohibitions and limits on landmine use was widely condemned and criticized, including by states such as France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, and Switzerland.[9] During the 2020 presidential election campaign, Biden pledged that as president he would “roll back this deeply misguided decision.”[10] He criticized the “reversal of years of considered decisions by Democratic and Republican presidents” to curtail the use of landmines and said the 2020 policy “will put more civilians at risk of being injured by unexploded mines, and is unnecessary from a military perspective.”

On 6 May 2020, Senator Patrick Leahy, Representative Jim McGovern, and more than 100 other members of Congress wrote to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper expressing disappointment at the policy reversal, and provided three pages of questions regarding future plans for the development and use of antipersonnel mines.[11] The Department of Defense provided a detailed 12-page response in September 2020.

On 28 April 2021, a sign-on letter from the US Campaign to Ban Landmines (USCBL) and its allies strongly encouraged President Biden to adopt a policy that sets the United States on course not just to “curtail the use of landmines,” but to ban their use, production, acquisition, and transfer and swiftly accede to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty.[12]

An official stated in April 2021 that the Department of Defense was considering “whether or not further review of our landmine policy is warranted.”[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.[14] 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.[15]

The 2020 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. It abandons the previous constraint on using antipersonnel landmines only on the Korean Peninsula, and instead permits the US to use them anywhere in the world.

The policy lowers the authorization for use of landmines to the level of a four-star general acting as a regional commander. Previous policy—since 1996—required authorization at the presidential level. The Department of Defense said in September 2020 that “the President, as the Commander in Chief of the U.S. Armed Forces, could either specifically authorize or restrict the use of anti-personnel landmines.”

According to FAQs prepared by the Department of Defense for the 2020 policy announcement, “Commanders will only approve the use of landmines when necessary for mission success in major contingencies or other exceptional circumstances.” This “exceptional circumstances caveat…indicates the tool [landmines] will not be a default option.” The FAQs also state that “anti-personnel landmines will be used in situations where they are most appropriate, can be used within the confines of DoD’s [Department of Defense’s] policy and when alternatives are not viable.” In September 2020, the Department of Defense stated that the requirement to only use antipersonnel landmines “when necessary for mission success in ‘major contingencies’ and ‘other exceptional circumstances’ indicates that the use of landmines will not be a default option.”[16]

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 that the US would violate the treaty’s prohibition on assisting any prohibited activities.[17]

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 Korea arsenal compared to North Korea’s weapons, as sufficient to compensate for not using mines. In addition, a former commander of US forces in South Korea, the late Lieutenant-General 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.”[18]

The US maintains no minefields, anywhere in the world. The landmines already emplaced in and near the demilitarized zone (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.[19]


Since 23 October 1992, US law has prohibited any exports of antipersonnel mines through a comprehensive moratorium that has since been extended multiple times.[20] The 2020 policy states that the US “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.[21] Under the Trump administration policy, the US may acquire “area denial systems” or landmines that have an “on/off” feature, allowing them to be remotely activated to address an imminent or probable threat, and then deactivated when the threat subsides.

No antipersonnel landmines, or other victim-activated munitions, are funded in the ammunition procurement budgets of the US Armed Services or Defense Department for fiscal year 2022.

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 a total of US$120 million. The last non-self-destructing antipersonnel mines were procured in 1990, when the US Army bought nearly 80,000 M16A1 antipersonnel mines for a total of $1.9 million.

Alternatives to antipersonnel mines

For more than 20 years, the US has spent in excess of two billion dollars to develop and produce weapons systems that could be considered alternatives to antipersonnel mines.[22] The 2020 policy does not appear to abandon that long-standing research, 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 a September 2020 reply to Congress, the Department of Defense refused to answer if its future “terrain shaping area denial munitions” would be consistent with the Mine Ban Treaty definition of an antipersonnel mine. However, it also stated that the Volcano air and ground dispensers “will use common anti-tank landmines and common anti-personnel landmines with three self-destruct times.” The Department of Defense argued that antipersonnel mines are necessary in ‘mixed systems’ to “discourage and delay adversaries from hand clearing of minefields intended to block, fix, or channel enemy tanks and vehicles.”

In the Fiscal Year 2022 budget request—the first prepared by the Biden Administration—there is no reference to the 2020 Trump landmine policy aside from an assertion that the programs being funded will be compliant with US national landmine policy, whatever that is at the time.

Existing programs are in the advanced concept development and prototype stage of the research and development cycle, and decisions to produce any systems will not be made before 2023.

One program relates to a stand-off wireless communications activation system for Volcano, called SAVO. It allows for three existing remote activation systems to deploy (fire and scatter) existing Volcano mine cannisters: one with five antivehicle mines and one antipersonnel mine (called M87) as well as the antivehicle mine only variant (called M87A1). Under this program, items such as the M7 Spider Networked Munition would be able to give the command to fire and deploy Volcano mines from their cannisters (either M87 or M87A1) but would not be able to control the lifespan of the mines or turn them “on/off.” This is a $4 million program in Fiscal Year 2022, with the goal of developing an initial operating capability by 2023 and a full inventory by 2026.[23]

A second program relates to the “terrain shaping” obstacle system called CTSO, with two projects in the advanced development and prototype phase. CTSO is a $40 million program, with decisions to be made in 2025–2026.[24] The first project is a resurrection of a weapon concept conceived in the 1970s and developed over the ensuing decades, called “Wide Area Munition,” which was also at one point called the M93 Hornet system. The current iteration is known as the XM-204 Interim Top-Attack Munition. This is a hand emplaced antivehicle explosive munition; essentially a single sensor-fuzed warhead, mated to a seismic detection/cueing sensor, that jumps into the air and operates like SADARM/SFW in attacking the top side of armored vehicles.[25]

The second project within CTSO relates to the Common Anti-Vehicular Munition, which is being designed to be capable of both top and bottom attack, meaning that it could be delivered in the air or emplaced on the ground. Few details about this project are available, but it is believed to be a continuation of a “Gator Landmine Replacement” networked munition system to “use non-lethal means to keep civilians away from dangerous areas.”[26]

Previously, the US undertook alternatives programs, including the XM-7 Spider Networked Munition and the IMS Scorpion. Both initially had the potential for victim-activated features, thereby making them antipersonnel mines, but the Department of Defense later indicated that they would be command-detonated and not victim-activated. The XM-7 Spider Networked Munition has been produced and used in combat, while the IMS Scorpion project was cancelled.


In 2014, the Department of Defense disclosed that the US has an “active stockpile of just more than 3 million anti-personnel mines.”[27] This is a significant reduction from the previous total, reported in 2002, when the US had a stockpile of around 10.4 million antipersonnel mines.[28] The 2020 policy announcement did not provide an updated number of antipersonnel landmines still stockpiled by the US.

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 stockpiled, according to the following table, which lists the latest publicly available figures dating from 2010.

US stockpiles of antipersonnel mines in 2010[29]


[quantity of antipersonnel mines in each]

Stockpiled inside the US

Stockpiled outside the US









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]










Total (antipersonnel mines stockpiled)


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

Stockpile destruction

The existing US stockpile of antipersonnel mines is expected to expire—meaning that the mines will become unusable—by the early 2030s; in part because their shelf-life, of 36 years, decreases over time as batteries embedded inside the mines deteriorate with age. The 2014 policy precluded the US from extending or modifying the life of the batteries in its stockpiled antipersonnel mines.[30]

A Department of Defense 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.”[31]

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 factsheet claims that the “reliability of safety features of the landmines in the operational inventory is very high.”

The 2014 policy committed the US to destroy antipersonnel mines that were “not required for the defense of the Republic of Korea.’’[32] 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.[33] The estimated completion date was June 2020, according to MAXAM, the multinational company that owns Expal.[34]

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.[35] The destruction process started in December 2004 and was supposed to have concluded by June 2018, but it is unclear whether this deadline was met.[36]

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.[37]

It is unclear how many landmines were destroyed prior to the 2020 policy change.


In 2020, the US said that a small quantity of “persistent mines” (non-self-destructing) are retained for demining and counter-mine testing and training.[38]

[1] Statement from the White House Press Secretary, 31 January 2020; and US Department of Defense, “Memorandum: DoD Policy on Landmines,” 31 January 2020.

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

[5] The US attended the Second Review Conference in Cartagena in November 2009. Since then, it has participated in every Meeting of States Parties, the Third Review Conference in Maputo in June 2014, and intersessional meetings, most recently in June 2020.

[6] Statement from the White House Press Secretary, 31 January 2020; and US Department of Defense, “Memorandum: DoD Policy on Landmines,” 31 January 2020.

[7] 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; 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.

[8] Jeff Seldin, “US Ends Self-Imposed Ban on Use of Landmines,Voice of America, 31 January 2020.

[9] MFA, Belgium (BelgiumMFA), “Anti-personnel mines do not make countries safe. Their use has been drastically reduced thanks to #MineBanTreaty, a cornerstone of humanitarian disarmament. We regret the new US landmine policy which is out of sync with global progress towards a mine-free world.” 4 February 2020, 18:43 UTC. Tweet; Annen, Niels (NielsAnnen), “Präsident Trumps Entscheidung, das Verbot zum Einsatz von Landminen zu ignorieren, ist ein schwerer Rückschlag für die langjährigen internationalen Bemühungen, diese tödliche Waffe zu ächten. @AuswaertigesAmt @GermanyUN.” (“President Trump's decision to ignore the landmine ban is a severe blow to longstanding international efforts to outlaw this deadly weapon”). 3 February 2020, 08:34 UTC. Tweet; Disarmament, NL-Amb (RobGabrielse), “The Netherlands is disheartened by the US’ decision to lift its 2014 policy on anti-personnel landmines. See also the statement by the Spokesperson of HR/VP Borrell Fontelles regarding this decision.” 4 February 2020, 19:38 UTC. Tweet; MFA, Norway (NorwayMFA), “#LandMines kill and mutilate thousands of civilians every year, most of them children. Norway is a strong supporter of the @MineBanTreaty. We call upon the US to respect the ban on anti-personnel mines, and to continue to support survey and clearance of mines - FM #EriksenSoreide.” 5 February 2020, 08:34 UTC. Tweet ; EDA-DFEA (EDA_DFAE), “La Suisse poursuit l'objectif d'un monde exempt de mines anti-personnel. C'est pourquoi le DFAE regrette l'annonce du président des Etats-Unis d'y recourir à nouveau.” (“Switzerland pursues the goal of a world free of anti-personnel mines. This is why the FDFA regrets the announcement of the President of the United States to use it again”). 7 February 2020, 14:15 UTC. Tweet; and European Union (EU), “Anti-personnel mines: Statement by the Spokesperson on the United States’ decision to re-introduce their use,” 4 February 2020.

[10] Alex Ward, ‘‘6 top 2020 Democrats vow to reverse Trump’s new landmine policy,” Vox, 6 February 2020.

[11] Letter to Mark Esper, US Secretary of State, from Senator Patrick Leahy and more than 100 other Congressional representatives, 6 May 2020.

[12] Letter to President Joe Biden from USCBL, ‘‘Building U.S. Landmines Policy Back and Better,’’ 28 April 2021.

[13] John Ismay and Rick Gladstone, “Biden Keeps Trump’s Policy Retaining Land Mines in U.S. Arsenal, for Now,” The New York Times, 6 April 2021.

[14] The use of a mine in Afghanistan was disclosed as part of the June 2014 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,” 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.

[15] C. J. Chivers, “Turning Tables, U.S. Troops Ambush Taliban with Swift and Lethal Results,” The New York Times, 17 April 2009; and “Taliban displays ‘US weapons,’Al Jazeera, 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. 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 on the Korean Peninsula. See ICBL, Landmine Monitor Report 2000: Toward a Mine-Free World (New York: HRW, August 2000), p. 346.

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

[18] HRW, Arms Project, and the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation (VVAF), “In Its Own Words: The U.S. Army and Antipersonnel Mines in the Korean and Vietnam Wars,” 1 July 1997.

[19] 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 HRW, 21 March 2000.

[20] 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.

[22] HRW, ‘‘Clinton’s Landmine Legacy,’’ 9 July 2000.

[23] Department of Defense Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Estimates, “Army Justification Book Volume 2a of 2, Research, Development, Test & Evaluation, Army RDT&E − Volume II, Budget Activity 4,” May 2021, pp. 80–94.

[24] Ibid., pp. 180–187.

[25] For visualizations, see: Joseph Trevithick, ‘‘The Army Wants Networked Mines That Leap Up To Attack The Tops Of Tanks,’’ The Drive, 6 April 2021.

[26] Jen Judson, “US Army Dusting off Volcano Mine Dispensers,” Defense News, 21 December 2016.

[27] “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.

[28] 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: Toward a Mine-Free World (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, October 2009).

[29] 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.

[30] 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. Notes by HRW.

[31] 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.

[32] In 2015, US Secretary of State John Kerry said that the US “will begin destroying its anti-personnel landmine stockpiles not required for the defense of the Republic of Korea.” Statement by John Kerry, US Secretary of State, 3 April 2015.

[33] 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.

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

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

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

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

Support for Mine Action

Last updated: 18 November 2021

In 2020, the United States (US) contributed more than US$200million to 23 countries and one other area.[1] This represents a 14% increase from the $177 million provided in 2019.

US support to mine action was distributed among the following regions: East and South Asia and the Pacific ($74.5 million, 42%, five recipient countries), the Middle East and North Africa ($48.9 million, 28%, five recipient countries), the Americas ($24 million, 14%, one recipient country), Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asia ($14.5 million, 8%, six recipient countries), and Sub-Saharan Africa ($11.1 million, 6%, four recipient countries). A further $4.4 million (2%) designated as global was not earmarked for any state, area or region.

Contributions by recipient: 2020



Amount (US$)


Clearance and risk education



Clearance, risk education, and victim assistance



Clearance, risk education, and victim assistance



Clearance, risk education, and victim assistance



Clearance and risk education



Capacity-building, clearance, and risk education



Clearance and risk education





Sri Lanka

Clearance and risk education









Capacity-building, clearance, risk education, and victim assistance


Bosnia and Herzegovina

Clearance and risk education


Dem. Rep. of Congo

Clearance, risk education, and victim assistance



Clearance and risk education



Victim assistance


South Sudan

Clearance and risk education









Capacity-building, clearance, and risk education



Victim assistance






Victim assistance



Victim assistance






Mine action assistance approach

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

The US is not party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions nor the Mine Ban Treaty, but it has been the largest financial support to mine action since the 1990s.

At the UN Security Council Open Debate on Mine Action in April 2021, the US noted that its mine action assistance aimed at protecting civilians and creating a safe environment for people to live in; further adding it was following a “three-pronged approach” focusing on clearance, risk education programmes, and rehabilitation.”[2]

COVID-19 and mine action support

No USAID funding was diverted to address COVID-19, with the exception that a few programs were working with the Department of Health to support the development of accessible communications, while remaining within the scope of the initial activity of the contributions.[3]

The US also reported that in some instances mine action funds were used to assist COVID-19 related activities, such as the simultaneous provision of explosive ordnance risk education (EORE) and pandemic prevention messaging, or the delivery of medical supplies to hospitals through unused demining vehicles.[4] In May 2020, a US representative said that “where host governments are requesting the use of HMA [humanitarian mine action]-funded assets, and it can be done in a reasonable and minimally disruptive manner, we will consider it.”[5]

Five-year support to mine action

From 2016–2020, the cumulative US contribution for mine action totaled more than $1 billion. This represents 62% more than the $651.8 million provided in the previous five-year period from 2011–2015.

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

Summary of contributions: 2016–2020[6]


Amount (US$)

% change from previous year



















Note: N/A=not applicable.

[1] US Department of State Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA), “To Walk the Earth in Safety 2021,” 5 April 2021.

[2] Remarks by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, US Representative to the UN, UN Security Council Open Debate on Mine Action, New York, 8 April 2021.

[3] Email from Kirsten Lentz, Senior Technical Advisor, Rehabilitation, Technical Support Contract, USAID, Empowerment & Inclusion Division, 16 June 2020.

[4] US Department of State, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA), “To Walk the Earth in Safety (2021),” 5 April 2021.

[5] Wolfgang Bindseil and Ian Mansfield, “Mine Action in the Time of COVID-19: A Donor’s Perspective,” The Journal of Conventional Weapons Destruction,Vol. 24, Issue 2, December 2020.

[6] See previous Monitor reports.

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.