Mine Ban Policy

Last updated: 15 October 2020


The Islamic Republic of Iran has not acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty. It has cited its perceived need for antipersonnel mines on its borders as the main reason for not joining the treaty.[1]

In November 2019, Iran repeated its earlier objections to the Mine Ban Treaty, stating, “the Convention focuses mainly on humanitarian concerns and does not adequately take into account the legitimate military requirements of many countries, in particular those with long land borders, for the responsible unlimited use of mines to defend their territories. Because of the difficulties related to monitoring extensive sensitive areas by established and permanent guard posts and effective warning systems, unfortunately, anti-personnel mines continue to be an effective means for those countries to ensure the minimum security requirements of their borders.”[2]

On 2 May 2017, Iran’s Ministry of Defense commemorated International Mine Awareness Day in Tehran. The meeting was addressed by Iran’s Defense Minister. Iran asked for more international assistance in mine clearance.[3]

Iran has not attended any international meetings on the Mine Ban Treaty in the past decade. Iran’s only attendance was at the intersessional meetings held in May 2001.

Iran is not party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions. It is also not party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW). However, in April 2016, a representative of Iran told the Monitor that legislation to join the CCW and its Amended Protocols I and V was before the Iranian parliament.[4]

Production, transfer, stockpiling, and use

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

In October 2015, several newspapers published a report that alleged new use of antipersonnel landmines by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) on Iran’s border with northern Iraq. Eyewitnesses reportedly observed the mine-laying operation, and media reports stated that the Kurdish authorities warned inhabitants of the Penjwen area of Sulaymaniyah governorate not to approach the border due to new mine use. The allegation stated that the mines were laid to prevent incursion by Kurdish militants and smugglers.[5] The Monitor has been unable to verify this allegation.

The director of the Islamic Republic of Iran Mine Action Center (IRMAC) told the Monitor in 2005 that Iran neither uses nor produces landmines.[6] In September 2002, the Ministry of Defense declared, “The Islamic Republic of Iran, since the termination of its war [1988], has not produced anti-personnel mines.”[7] The Monitor received information in 2002, 2003, and 2004 that demining organizations in Afghanistan were removing and destroying many hundreds of Iranian YM-I and YM-I-B antipersonnel mines, date-stamped 1999 and 2000, from abandoned Northern Alliance frontlines.[8]

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

Iran exported a significant number of antipersonnel mines in the 1990s and earlier. An export moratorium was instituted in 1997, but it is not known if it is still formally in effect. In February 2006, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated, “It has been several years since Iran voluntarily halted export of anti-personnel mines.”[9]

There is evidence that Iran has both produced and exported antipersonnel mines in the past decade. Iranian antipersonnel mines have been seized in Afghanistan in 2008,[10] Tajikistan in 2007,[11] and Somalia in 2006.[12] The Monitor addressed a letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 27 April 2011 to inquire on these matters, but did not receive a response. In October 2014, the Monitor received a copy of an English-language foreign sales brochure of Iran Ammunition Industries Group that included two types of antipersonnel landmines among other weapons.[13] As of August 2020, Iran’s Ministry of Defence Export Center advertises the availability of the YM-IV, a bounding, fragmentation antipersonnel mine, and the YM-I-S, a self-neutralizing antipersonnel blast mine.[14]

In previous years, seven Iranian Kurdish armed groups have pledged not to use antipersonnel mines by signing the Geneva Call Deed of Commitment. These include the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI), three factions of the Komala Party, the Kurdistan Democratic Party-Iran (KDP), the Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK), and the Kurdistan Freedom Party. The three factions of the Komala Party stated that they had used antipersonnel mines sporadically in the past.[15]

[1] In a February 2006 letter to the Monitor, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated, “Due to our expansive borders and problems resulting from narcotics and terrorist trafficking, our defense institutions are considering the use of landmines as a defensive mechanism.”

[2] Islamic Republic of Iran, Explanation of Vote on Resolution L.45, 74th Session, UN General Assembly (UNGA) First Committee, New York, 5 November 2019. UNGA, Official Records, A/C.1/74/PV24, p. 35. This statement is identical to one it made six years previous, in 2013. See Islamic Republic of Iran, “Explanation of Vote on the Draft Resolution L.3,” UNGA First Committee, New York, 1 November 2013. Iran made virtually the same statement during previous votes.

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

[4] Ibid.

[5]The Iranian army is laying mines on the borders with Kurdistan-Iraq,” Al Araby Algaded, 25 October 2015; and “Iran is planting mines along the border with the Kurdistan region,” Iraq News Agency, 26 October 2015. (translated from Arabic by the Monitor).

[6] Interview with Hossein Vaziri, IRMAC, Tehran, 28 August 2005. He did not state when Iran allegedly stopped using and producing mines, nor if there is a formal policy or law prohibiting use and production. Iran has manufactured several types of antipersonnel mines, including the YM-I, Mk. 4, and a Claymore-type mine.

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

[8] Information provided to the Monitor and the ICBL by HALO Trust, Danish Demining Group, and other demining groups in Afghanistan. Iranian antipersonnel and antivehicle mines were also part of a shipment seized by Israel in January 2002 off the coast of the Gaza Strip.

[9] Letter to Human Rights Watch, 1 February 2006, transmitting the response of the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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

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

[12] “Report of the Monitoring Group on Somalia pursuant to Security Council resolution 1676 (2006),” S/2006/913, 22 November 2006, p. 62.

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

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

[15] Geneva Call press release, “The Komalah–the Kurdistan Organization of the Communist Party of Iran and the Komala Party of Kurdistan Prohibit the Use of Anti-Personnel Mines,” 7 April 2009; Geneva Call press release, “The Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan Prohibits the Use of Anti-Personnel Mines,” 16 June 2009; and Geneva Call press release, “The Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan Prohibits the Use of Anti-Personnel Mines,” 5 December 2007. Previously, the Monitor had not identified any Kurdish armed group in Iran as a landmine user. However, the PDKI destroyed a stockpile of 392 antipersonnel mines in August 2008. Geneva Call, “Communiqué: Iranian Kurdish Organizations Prohibit the Use of Anti-Personnel Mines,” 21 April 2010. See also, Geneva Call press release, “Iran: a Kurdish armed movement takes official commitments to reinforce the protection of civilian,” 28 June 2015.The KDP is a splinter faction of the PDKI, and PJAK is affiliated with the Kurdish Workers Party of Turkey. Geneva Call informed the Monitor that the KDP stated that it had not used mines after it split from the PDKI in 2006. The PJAK stated that it has never used antipersonnel mines.