Iran

Mine Ban Policy

Last updated: 20 December 2023

Policy

The Islamic Republic of Iran has not acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty.

Iran has said that it cannot join the treaty as it sees military utility in antipersonnel landmines, especially on its borders.[1] At the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in November 2022, Iran expressed appreciation for the treaty, but repeated its long-held objections to it, arguing that the treaty “does not adequately take into account the legitimate military requirements of many countries, particularly those with long land borders, for their responsible and limited use of mines to defend their territory. Because of the difficulty related to monitoring extensive sensitive areas by established and permanent guarding posts or effective warning system, unfortunately, anti-personnel mines continue to be the effective means for those countries to ensure the minimum security requirements of their borders.”[2]

Iran participated as an observer at several meetings during the 1996–1997 Ottawa Process that created the Mine Ban Treaty, including the Oslo negotiations and the Ottawa Signing Conference.

Iran has not attended any meetings of the Mine Ban Treaty since then.

As it has done in previous years, on 7 December 2022, Iran abstained from voting on the annual UNGA resolution calling for universalization and full implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty.

Iran is not party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions or the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW).

Production, transfer, stockpiling, and use

There is substantial evidence that Iran has manufactured and exported antipersonnel landmines. However, the current status of production and transfers is unknown due to a complete lack of transparency from Iran.

In 2014, the Monitor received a copy of an English-language foreign sales brochure of Iran Ammunition Industries Group, which included two types of antipersonnel mines among other weapons.[3] As of August 2023, Iran’s Ministry of Defense Export Center advertised the availability of the YM-IV bounding fragmentation antipersonnel landmine and the YM-IB, a scatterable antipersonnel blast mine with a self-neutralizing feature.[4]

Iran exported a significant number of antipersonnel mines during the 1990s and earlier. There is evidence that Iran has transferred antipersonnel mines since the Mine Ban Treaty was adopted.

The Monitor received information in 2002–2004 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.[5] Iranian antipersonnel mines were seized in Afghanistan in 2008,[6] Tajikistan in 2007,[7] and Somalia in 2006.[8] Iranian-made landmines were sighted in Syria in 2021.[9] PMN pattern blast mines, of unknown manufacture, were reportedly stolen from Iranian stockpiles and purchased by the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) in neighboring Pakistan.[10]

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

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

In previous years, seven Iranian Kurdish armed groups pledged not to use antipersonnel mines.[11]



[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] Iran Explanation of Vote on Resolution L.40, UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, A/C.1/77/PV.28, New York, 1 November 2022, p. 36. Iran delivered identical statements during previous First Committee votes.

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

[4] Ministry of Defense Export Center (MINDEX), Anti-Personnel Jumping Mine YM-IV and Antipersonnel Mine YM-1B catalogue entries, both come in non-lethal smoke or flare versions, and an off-route antipersonnel landmine is also advertised.

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

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

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

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

[9] See, Calibre Obscura (CalibreObscura), “#Idlib: A rare look at an Iranian YM-1 AP mine in the hands of HTS/TvJ. This mine is essentially a copy of the Italian TS-50 and was supplied to the regime by #Iran before being captured/sold.” 30 November 2021, 08:23 UTC. Tweet; and Calibre Obscura (CalibreObscura), “New HTS video from #Idlib showing suppressed AM-50 pattern AMR, heavily modified/rebarreled/suppressed Mosin-Nagant, and what looks to be a TS-50 pattern AP mine, rather likely an Iranian copy, the YM-1.” 19 August 2021, 18:12 UTC. Tweet.

[10] Open-sourced information blog Calibre Obscura published photographs of PMN antipersonnel mines which it claimed the BLA purchased on the clandestine market in Iran. See, Calibre Obscura (CalibreObscura), “A collection of PMN pattern APERS mines (Very likely manufactured in Iran) obtained by the BLA in #Balochistan recently. These are used to target Pakistani forces, and cost $75 each from the Iranian black market.” 4 December 2020, 18:54 UTC. Tweet.

[11] Previously, seven Iranian Kurdish armed groups pledged not to use antipersonnel mines by signing the Geneva Call Deed of Commitment. These include the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI), three factions of the Komala Party, the Kurdistan Democratic Party-Iran (KDP), the Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK), and the Kurdistan Freedom Party. The three factions of the Komala Party have stated that they used antipersonnel mines sporadically in the past. Geneva Call press release, “The Kurdistan Organization of the Communist Party of Iran and the Komala Party of Kurdistan Prohibit the Use of Anti-Personnel Mines,” 7 April 2009; Geneva Call press release, “The Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan Prohibits the Use of Anti-Personnel Mines,” 16 June 2009; and Geneva Call press release, “The Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan Prohibits the Use of Anti-Personnel Mines,” 5 December 2007. Previously, the Monitor had not identified any Kurdish armed group in Iran as a landmine user. However, the PDKI destroyed a stockpile of 392 antipersonnel mines in August 2008. Geneva Call, “Communiqué: Iranian Kurdish Organizations Prohibit the Use of Anti-Personnel Mines,” 21 April 2010; and Geneva Call press release, “Iran: a Kurdish armed movement takes official commitments to reinforce the protection of civilian,” 28 June 2015. The KDP is a splinter faction of the PDKI, and PJAK is affiliated with the Kurdish Workers Party of Türkiye. Geneva Call informed the Monitor that the KDP stated that it had not used mines after it split from the PDKI in 2006. PJAK stated that it had never used antipersonnel mines.