Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 04 August 2016

Summary: State Party Iraq ratified the convention on 14 May 2013. Iraq has participated in all of the convention’s annual meetings and voted in favor of a UN resolution on the convention in December 2015. In its initial transparency report for the convention provided in June 2014, Iraq confirmed that it no longer uses, produces, transfers, or stockpiles cluster munitions. It is not retaining any cluster munitions for research or training.


The Republic of Iraq signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 12 November 2009, ratified on 14 May 2013, and the convention entered into force for the country on 1 November 2013.

Iraq has reported its 2012 ratification law under national implementation measures for the convention.[1] It has also reported disability rights laws and a September 2014 law approving ratification of the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW). It is not known if specific implementation legislation will be undertaken to enforce the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Iraq submitted its initial Article 7 transparency report for the convention in June 2014 and provided annual updated reports on 29 April 2015 and 10 June 2016.[2]

Iraq participated in some meetings of the Oslo Process that created the Convention on Cluster Munitions, but attended both the formal negotiations in Dublin in May 2008 and the Oslo Signing Conference in December 2008 as an observer.[3] At the Oslo Signing Conference, Iraq pledged to sign the convention as soon as possible after completing national and constitutional processes.[4] It subsequently signed the convention at the UN in New York in November 2009.

Iraq participated in the convention’s First Review Conference in Dubrovnik, Croatia in September 2015. In an address to the high-level segment of the meeting, Iraq reaffirmed its commitment to fully implement the convention.[5] It said that “the security situation” and operational response to Daesh (IS) non-state armed groups has affected its ability to clear areas contaminated by cluster munition remnants and appealed for international support and assistance.

Iraq has attended every Meeting of States Parties of the convention as well as intersessional meetings in Geneva in 2011–2015.

On 7 December 2015, Iraq voted in favor of a UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution on the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which urges states outside the convention to “join as soon as possible.”[6]

The Iraqi Alliance for Disability and other civil society groups continue to campaign in support of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Iraq is a State Party to the Mine Ban Treaty.

Production and transfer

In its initial Article 7 report provided on 27 June 2014, Iraq declared that it does not produce cluster munitions.[7] Previously, in 2011, Iraq informed the Monitor that “There are no facilities that produce cluster munitions in Iraq.”[8] Prior to 2003, Iraq produced two types of cluster bombs: the NAAMAN-250 and NAAMAN-500.[9] It was also involved in joint development of the M87 Orkan cluster munition rocket (known in Iraq as Ababil) with Yugoslavia.[10] In the past, Iraq imported ASTROS cluster munition rockets from Brazil.[11] In 1996, Jane’s Information Group listed Iraq as possessing KMG-U dispensers (which deploy submunitions) and CB-470, RBK-250, RBK-250-275, and RBK-500 cluster bombs.[12] A type of rocket-delivered dual-purpose improved conventional munition (DPICM) submunition of Chinese origin, called Type-81, was cleared in Iraq in 2003 by American deminers and the United States (US) military’s unexploded ordnance identification guide lists the Chinese 250kg Type-2 dispenser as present in Iraq.[13]


Iraq may have used cluster munitions in the past. According to one source, Iraq used air-dropped cluster bombs against Iranian troops in 1984.[14]

Coalition forces used large numbers of cluster munitions in Iraq in 1991 and 2003. The US, France, and the United Kingdom (UK) dropped 61,000 cluster bombs containing some 20 million submunitions on Iraq and Kuwait in 1991. The number of cluster munitions delivered by surface-launched artillery and rocket systems is not known, but an estimated 30 million or more DPICM submunitions were used in the 1991 conflict.[15] During the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the US and UK used nearly 13,000 cluster munitions containing an estimated 1.8 million to 2 million submunitions.[16]

Stockpiling and destruction

In its Article 7 reports, Iraq has declared that it does not stockpile cluster munitions.[17]

Photographs published by the official media office in Kirkuk in January 2015 show forces of the Islamic State (IS) unearthing at least 34 BKF cartridges containing AO-2.5RT submunitions that had been buried in the ground.[18] The exact date, location, and circumstances of this discovery are unclear, but it indicates that burial was used a method to dispose of stocks in Iraq in the past.

Iraq is not retaining any cluster munitions for research or training purposes. It has previously reported a small quantity of 25 inert submunitions with no explosive content.[19] In its June 2016 Article 7 report, it no longer reported the inert submunitions, but instead wrote “not applicable.”[20]

[1] Ratification legislation, Law No. 89, was adopted by the Council of Representatives (parliament) and published in the Official Gazette on 15 October 2012. Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form A, 27 June 2014.

[2] The initial report covers the period from entry into force on 1 November 2013 to 31 March 2014. The April 2015 report covers the period from 1 April 2014 to 31 December 2014. The 10 June 2016 covers calendar year 2015.

[3] For details on Iraq’s cluster munition policy and practice through early 2009, see Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Landmine Action, Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, May 2009), pp. 211–212.

[4] Statement of Iraq, Convention on Cluster Munitions Signing Conference, Oslo, 4 December 2008. Notes by Landmine Action.

[5] Statement of Iraq, Convention on Cluster Munitions First Review Conference, Dubrovnik, 11 September 2015.

[6]Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA Resolution 70/54, 7 December 2015.

[7] Iraq stated “not applicable” on the relevant forms. Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Forms D and E, 27 June 2014.

[8] “Steps taken by the designated Iraqi authorities with regard to Iraq’s ratification and implementation on the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” document provided with letter from the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Iraq to the UN in New York to HRW Arms Division, 11 May 2011.

[9] Robert Hewson, ed., Jane’s Air-Launched Weapons, Issue 24 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 1996). These are copies of Chilean cluster bombs.

[10] Terry J. Gandler and Charles Q. Cutshaw, eds., Jane’s Ammunition Handbook 2001–2002 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2001), p. 641.

[11] Jonathan Beaty and S.C. Gwynne, “Scandals: Not Just a Bank, You can get anything you want through B.C.C.I.—guns, planes, even nuclear-weapons technology,” Time, 2 September 1991.

[12] Robert Hewson, ed., Jane’s Air-Launched Weapons, Issue 24 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 1996), p. 840. The “Iraq Ordnance Identification Guide” produced for Coalition Forces also lists the Alpha submunition contained in the South African produced CB-470 as a threat present in Iraq. James Madison University Mine Action Information Center, “Iraq Ordnance Identification Guide, Dispenser, Cluster and Launcher,” January 2004, p. 6. The KMG-U and RBKs were likely produced in the Soviet Union.

[13] Colin King, ed., Jane’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal 2007–2008, CD-edition, 15 January 2008 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2008); and US Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technical Division, “Iraq Ordnance Identification Guide, Dispenser, Cluster and Launcher-2,” undated.

[14] Anthony H. Cordesman and Abraham R. Wagner, Lessons of Modern War Volume II: The Iran-Iraq War (Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1990), p. 210. The bombs were reportedly produced by Chile.

[15] Colin King, “Explosive Remnants of War: A Study on Submunitions and other Unexploded Ordnance,” commissioned by the ICRC, August 2000, p. 16, citing: Donald Kennedy and William Kincheloe, “Steel Rain: Submunitions,” U.S. Army Journal, January 1993.

[16] HRW, Off Target: The Conduct of the War and Civilian Casualties in Iraq (New York: HRW, 2003).

[17] The June 2015 report states that Iraq has no stockpiled cluster munitions and none were destroyed in the reporting period. Under the stockpiling section of the June 2014 report, Iraq listed 92,092 munitions destroyed from 2003–2013 (prior to the convention’s entry into force) and 6,489 munitions destroyed in 2013, but these are likely cluster munition remnants destroyed in the course of clearance. See, Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form B, 29 April 2015; and Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form B, 27 June 2014.

[18]Wilaayat Kirkuk Discovering a Large Amount of Containers of Cluster Bombs,” DAWLAH News, 6 January 2015. The cartridges are designed to be loaded into a KMGU dispenser and subsequently dispersed by an aircraft or helicopter. Each BKF cartridge contains 12 “pairs” of AO-2.5RT submunitions, which separate after being released into 24 individual submunitions.

[20] Ibid., 10 June 2016.