Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 19 June 2019

Summary: State Party Iraq ratified the convention on 14 May 2013. It has participated in every annual meeting of the convention, most recently in September 2018. Iraq voted in favor of a key United Nations (UN) resolution on the convention in December 2018.

In June 2014, Iraq confirmed that it no longer uses, produces, transfers, or stockpiles cluster munitions and 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 and other relevant legislation under its national implementation measures for the convention. [1] Iraq has not enacted specific implementation legislation to enforce its implementation of the convention’s provisions. [2]

Iraq provided its initial Article 7 transparency report for the convention in June 2014 and has provided annual updated reports since then, most recently in April 2019. [3]

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. [4] At the Oslo Signing Conference, it pledged to sign the convention as soon as possible after completing national and constitutional processes. [5] Iraq subsequently signed the convention at the UN in New York in November 2009.

Iraq has participated in every meeting of the convention, most recently the Eighth Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in September 2018. [6] It served as the convention’s co-coordinator on international cooperation and assistance in 2015–2017.

In December 2018, Iraq voted in favor of a UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution promoting implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. [7] It has voted in favor of the annual UNGA resolution promoting the convention since it was first introduced in 2015.

The Iraqi Alliance for Disability campaigns in support of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Iraq is a State Party to the Mine Ban Treaty. It is also a party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW).

Production and transfer

In its initial Article 7 report provided in June 2014, Iraq declared that it does not produce cluster munitions. [8] Previously, in 2011, Iraq informed the Monitor that “There are no facilities that produce cluster munitions in Iraq.” [9]

Prior to 2003, Iraq produced two types of air-dropped cluster bombs: the NAAMAN-250 and NAAMAN-500. [10] It was also involved in a joint project with Yugoslavia to develop the M87 Orkan cluster munition rocket (known in Iraq as Ababil). [11]

In the past, Iraq imported ASTROS cluster munition rockets from Brazil. [12] 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. [13] The United States (US) military’s unexploded ordnance identification guide lists the Chinese 250kg Type-2 dispenser as present in Iraq. [14]


The last alleged use of cluster munitions in Iraq was a report that Islamic State (IS) forces used cluster munition rockets containing DPICM-type submunitions against Iraqi government forces near Mosul in February 2017, killing one soldier. [15] The Monitor could not independently verify this evidence and confirm the use allegation.

Coalition forces used 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 ground-launched artillery and rocket systems is not known, but an estimated 30 million or more DPICM submunitions were used in the 1991 conflict. [16] 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. [17]

Iraq may have used cluster munitions in the past. According to one source, Iraq used air-dropped cluster bombs against Iranian troops in 1984. [18]

Stockpiling and destruction

Iraq reports that it does not possess any cluster munitions. [19]

Iraq has not provided information on the discovery or seizure of stocks or caches of cluster munitions in its annual transparency reports. Photographs published by the official media office in Kirkuk in 2015 showed IS forces unearthing at least 34 BKF cartridges containing AO-2.5RT submunitions that had been buried. [20] The exact date, location, and circumstances of this discovery were unclear, but burial was a common method for disposing of weapons stocks in Iraq in the past.

Iraq states that it is not retaining any cluster munitions for research or training purposes. It previously said it would retain a small quantity of 25 inert submunitions with no explosive content. [21] However, in 2016, Iraq no longer reported the inert submunitions, but instead wrote “not applicable” in its Article 7 report. [22]

 [1] Ratification legislation, Law No. 89, was adopted by the Council of Representatives (parliament) and published in the Official Gazette on 15 October 2012. It has also reported disability rights laws and a September 2014 law approving ratification of the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW). Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form A, 27 June 2014.

 [2] The 2018 transparency report does not report any new legislative measures, but notes that the Cabinet in April 2017 issued instructions for the Ministries of Defense, Interior, and Environment (Mine Action Directorate) to facilitate the registration of mine action operators. Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form A, April 2018.

 [3] The initial report covers activities in the period from entry into force on 1 November 2013 to 31 March 2014 and the annual update provided on 29 April 2015 covers the period from 1 April 2014 to 31 December 2014. The subsequent reports cover the previous calendar year.

 [4] 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.

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

 [6] Iraq has attended every Meeting of States Parties of the convention as well as the First Review Conference in 2015 and intersessional meetings in 2011–2015.

 [7] “Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA Resolution 73/54, 5 December 2018.

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

 [9] “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.

 [10] 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.

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

 [12] 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.

 [13] 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.

 [14] 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.

 [15] Nabih Bulos, “Islamic State fires cluster bombs at Iraqi government forces,” Los Angeles Times, 21 February 2017.

 [16] 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.

 [18] 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. 

 [19] The June 2015 report states that Iraq had 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 were 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. See also, Statement of Iraq, Convention on Cluster Munitions Seventh Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 5 September 2017.

 [20]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.

 [22] Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form C, 10 June 2016.