Korea, Democratic People's Republic of

Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 05 September 2023

Summary: Non-signatory North Korea has not shown any interest in the Convention on Cluster Munitions, or taken any steps to join it. North Korea has never participated in a meeting of the convention, and was absent from the vote on a key United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolution promoting the convention in December 2022. North Korea denounced a decision by the United States (US) to transfer cluster munitions to Ukraine in July 2023.

North Korea has produced cluster munitions and stockpiles them. It is not known to have used or exported cluster munitions.

Policy

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) has not acceded to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

North Korea did not participate in the Oslo Process that created the convention.

North Korea has never attended a meeting of the convention or commented on its position on acceding to it.

North Korea has never condemned use of cluster munitions in Syria, Ukraine, or in other conflicts. However, in July 2023, Minister of Foreign Affairs Choe Son Hui issued a statement denouncing a US decision to transfer cluster munitions to Ukraine, calling it “[a] dangerous criminal act to bring a new calamity to the world.”[1] North Korea did not explicitly refer to cluster munitions in the statement, but said: “The U.S. has made a very dangerous choice by offering deadly weapons to Ukraine.”

In December 2022, North Korea was absent from the vote on a key UNGA resolution urging states outside the Convention on Cluster Munitions to “join as soon as possible.”[2] It has been absent from the vote on the annual UNGA resolution promoting the convention since it was first introduced in 2015.

North Korea is not party to the Mine Ban Treaty or the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW).

Use, production, transfer, and stockpiling

North Korea is not known to have used or exported cluster munitions, but it has produced and may have acquired them, and possesses a stockpile.

According to Jane’s Information Group, North Korea has produced and possesses submunition warheads for 122mm, 170mm, and 240mm rockets. North Korea has exported this rocket system, but it is not known if transfers have included the cluster munition variant.[3] The North Korean Air Force is also listed as a stockpiler of KMGU dispensers (which deploy submunitions), RBK-500 cluster bombs, and unspecified types of anti-armor and anti-runway cluster bombs.[4]



[2]Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA Resolution 77/79, 7 December 2022.

[3] Terry J. Gander and Charles Q. Cutshaw, eds., Jane’s Ammunition Handbook 2001–2002 (Surrey: Jane’s Information Group, 2001).

[4] Robert Hewson, ed., Jane’s Air-Launched Weapons, Issue 44 (Surrey: Jane’s Information Group, 2004), p. 841.