Cluster Munition Ban Policy
Non-signatory Iran acknowledges the humanitarian concerns raised by cluster munitions, but has not acceded to the Convention on Cluster Munitions due to its long-held objections. Iran has participated in one meeting of the convention, in 2011. Iran abstained from voting on a key United Nations (UN) resolution promoting the convention in December 2021.
Iran is not known to have used cluster munitions, but has imported them and may have also produced them. Iran likely stockpiles cluster munitions, but has not shared information on the types and quantities in its possession.
The Islamic Republic of Iran has not acceded to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
Iran has acknowledged the humanitarian concerns raised by cluster munitions, but has not taken any steps to accede to the convention due to various long-standing objections. In November 2021, Iran repeated previous statements that it “cannot support an instrument negotiated outside the United Nations that disregards the security concerns and interests of many states.” In Iran’s view, to be “effective,” a convention to regulate cluster munitions must include “the major producers and former users of these munitions.” Iran has also objected to certain provisions of the convention, such as Article 21 on joint military operations with states not party.
Iran did not participate in the Oslo Process that created the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
Iran attended the convention’s Second Meeting of States Parties in Beirut, Lebanon in September 2011 as an observer. This remains its only participation in a meeting of the convention. Iran was invited to, but did not attend, the convention’s Second Review Conference held in November 2020 and September 2021, and the intersessional meetings held in May 2022.
In December 2021, Iran abstained from the vote on a United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolution, which urged states outside the convention to “join as soon as possible.” Iran has abstained from voting on the annual UNGA resolution since it was first introduced in 2015.
Iran is not party to the Mine Ban Treaty or the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW).
Iran is not known to have used cluster munitions.
Cluster munitions were used in Iran during the Iran-Iraq War in 1980–1988. According to one source, during the war, Iraq used air-dropped cluster bombs in 1984 against Iranian troops. A United States (US) Navy aircraft used 18 Mk-20 Rockeye bombs in attacks on Iranian Revolutionary Guard speedboats and an Iranian Navy ship on 18 April 1988.
More evidence has emerged that suggests Iran may produce cluster munitions. In August 2021, Iranian state-owned media reported that the domestically produced Qadr S ballistic missile, which has a range of 2,000km, carries a cluster munition warhead. The type of submunition carried by the Qadr S missile has not been publicly disclosed.
In previous years, several western media outlets have reported that Iran’s missiles may include cluster munition variants, such as the Zolfaghar short-range ballistic missile. In 2015, Iran displayed “a variant of the Fateh missile with 30 submunitions, each weighing approximately 20 pounds.”
Iran also produces various types of unguided 122mm, 240mm, and 333mm rockets, but it is not known if these include submunition payloads.
Transfer and stockpiling
Iran has imported cluster munitions and likely possesses a stockpile, but has never shared information on the types and quantities possessed. Jane’s Information Group has listed Iran as possessing KMGU dispensers that deploy submunitions, PROSAB-250 cluster bombs, and United Kingdom (UK)-made BL755 cluster bombs. Additionally, Iran possesses Grad 122mm surface-to-surface rockets.
 In 2012, Iran said that its experience of being contaminated by cluster munition remnants means it “shares the humanitarian aspects” of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. It stated that “we ourselves are faced with a huge problem of contaminated lands due to the leftover mines and cluster munitions and other explosive remnants of war already used by Saddam’s army.” Statement of Iran, United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 1 November 2012.
 Explanation of Vote by Iran, UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 2 November 2022. Similarly worded explanations have been made by Iran in previous years, including in 2017 and 2019–2020.
 Statement by Gholamhossein Dehghani, Director-General for Political International Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran, Convention on Cluster Munitions Second Meeting of States Parties, Beirut, 13 September 2011.
 Interview with Reza Najafi, Director for Disarmament and International Security, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran, in New York, 23 October 2012.
 Later, in 2012, Iran acknowledged this was its first participation in a meeting of the convention and described its presence as an indication of support for Lebanon, as “the main victims of cluster bombs used by Zionist regime” in 2006. Statement of Iran, UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 1 November 2012.
 “Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA Resolution 76/47, 6 December 2021.
 Explanation of Vote by Iran, UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 31 October 2017, pp. 20–29.
 Statement by Gholamhossein Dehghani, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran, Convention on Cluster Munitions Second Meeting of States Parties, Beirut, 13 September 2011.
 Anthony H. Cordesman and Abraham R. Wagner, Lessons of Modern War Volume II: The Iran-Iraq War (Boulder: Westview Press, 1990), p. 210. The bombs were reportedly produced by Chile.
 Memorandum from the Commanding Officer of the USS Enterprise (CVN-65) to the Director of Naval History (OP-09BH), “1988 Command History,” 27 February 1989, p. 20.
 “Qadr missile; symbol of achieving new missile capabilities,” Iran Press News Agency, 18 August 2021.
 “Iran shows off its missiles in display of strength,” Sky News, 21 September 2016.
 Shahryar Pasandideh, “Iran’s Missile Forces Are Increasing in Range, Accuracy and Lethality,” World Politics Review, 14 October 2015.
 International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), The Military Balance 2011 (London: Routledge, 2011), p. 309; and Colin King, ed., Jane’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal 2007–2008, CD-edition (Surrey: Jane’s Information Group, January 2008).
 Robert Hewson, ed., Jane’s Air-Launched Weapons, Issue 44 (Surrey: Jane’s Information Group, 2004), p. 840.
 IISS, The Military Balance 2011 (London: Routledge, 2011), p. 309; and Colin King, ed., Jane’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal 2007–2008, CD-edition (Surrey: Jane’s Information Group, January 2008).