Türkiye

Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 05 September 2023

Summary: Non-signatory Türkiye acknowledges the humanitarian concerns raised by cluster munitions but has not taken any steps to join the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Türkiye has participated as an observer in meetings of the convention, most recently the Tenth Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in August–September 2022. Türkiye abstained from voting on an important United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolution promoting the convention in December 2022.

Türkiye states that it has not used, produced, imported, or transferred cluster munitions since 2005, and does not intend to do so in the future. It has denied allegations that it transferred cluster munition projectiles to Ukraine in late 2022. Türkiye possesses a stockpile of cluster munitions, but has not shared information on the types and quantities in its possession, or on any plans for their destruction.

Policy

The Republic of Türkiye has not acceded to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Türkiye has stated that it shares humanitarian concerns over the “indiscriminate use” of cluster munitions, but has not taken any steps to accede to the convention.[1] In August 2022, Türkiye told the convention’s States Parties that “we are not yet in a position at this stage to assume additional responsibilities regarding cluster munitions.”[2]

Türkiye has provided several reasons for not joining the convention, including concerns over its ability to meet the convention’s eight-year deadline for destroying stockpiled cluster munitions. Türkiye has stressed that its position on cluster munitions aligns with the convention’s strict prohibitions on any use, production, and transfer.[3] Yet Türkiye has not elaborated how its policies, practices, and doctrine have changed in this regard, or detailed any measures that are in place to prevent these activities in the future.

Türkiye attended several diplomatic conferences of the Oslo Process that created the Convention on Cluster Munitions. However, it participated only as an observer in the formal negotiations in Dublin in May 2008 and raised “interoperability” concerns over the potential use of cluster munitions by states not party during joint military operations. Türkiye attended the Oslo Signing Conference in December 2008 as an observer and did not explain why it was not signing the convention.[4]

Türkiye has participated as an observer at most meetings of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.[5] Most recently, Türkiye participated in the Tenth Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in August–September 2022, as well as the intersessional meetings held in May 2022.

In December 2022, Türkiye abstained from voting on an important UNGA resolution that urged states outside the Convention on Cluster Munitions to “join as soon as possible.”[6] Türkiye has not explained why it has continuously abstained from the vote on the annual UNGA resolution promoting the convention since it was first introduced in 2015.

In August 2022, Türkiye told States Parties that it was “deeply concerned about the use of cluster munitions against civilians and condemn[s] such actions wherever it occurs.”[7] Türkiye has condemned the use of cluster munitions on several occasions in the past.[8] It has voted in favor of UNGA resolutions expressing outrage at the use of cluster munitions in Syria.[9]

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

Use

Since 2009, Turkish officials have repeatedly said Türkiye has not used and does not intend to use cluster munitions.[10] In 2021 and 2022, Türkiye informed the president of the Convention on Cluster Munitions that “Turkey has never used, produced, imported or transferred cluster munitions since 2005, nor does it intend to do so in the future.”[11]

A 2008 United States (US) Department of State cable claimed that the Turkish Armed Forces have “a de facto moratorium on the use of cluster munitions” but that “Turkey’s military doctrine continues to call for the use of cluster munitions in the event of an ‘all-out war.’”[12]

There is some evidence to indicate that Türkiye may have used cluster munitions at least once in the past, in 1994.[13]

Production

Türkiye states that it has not produced cluster munitions since 2005, prior to the adoption of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.[14]

At least two Turkish companies produced ground-delivered cluster munitions in the past:

  • Makina ve Kimya Endüstrisi Kurumu (MKEK) produced an extended range M396 155mm artillery projectile containing self-destructing M85 dual-purpose improved conventional munition (DPICM) submunitions.[15] It also produced M483A1 155mm artillery projectiles with DPICM submunitions, under license from the US.[16]
  • Roketsan produced the now discontinued TRK-122 122mm rocket, which contains 56 M85 DPICM submunitions.[17]

Türkiye states that it does not intend to produce cluster munitions in future, but it has not foresworn any future production or reported on steps taken to dismantle or convert production facilities.

Transfer

Türkiye has imported and exported cluster munitions, but claims not to have done so since 2005.[18]

US defense officials alleged in June and July 2023 that certain unnamed countries had supplied cluster munitions to Ukraine.[19] This followed a January 2023 report by a US media outlet which alleged that Türkiye transferred some of its stockpiled cluster munitions to Ukraine in November 2022.[20] Senior Turkish officials denied the allegation, which has been republished widely. The Turkish president’s spokesperson, Ibrahim Kalin, told a media briefing, “We don’t have cluster munitions and we haven’t provided them to Ukraine.”[21]Ukraine’s ambassador to Türkiye, Vasyl Bodnar, denied the alleged transfer as “Russian propaganda.”[22]

Previously, Türkiye sold 3,020 TRK-122 122mm rockets to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in 2006–2007.[23]

States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions have reported transferring cluster munitions to Türkiye in the past; before they joined the convention. Slovakia reported a transfer of 380 AGAT 122mm rockets, each containing 56 submunitions, to Türkiye in 2007.[24] Chile’s Ministry of National Defense has provided the Monitor with a document detailing the export of four CB-250 cluster bombs to Türkiye in 1996.[25]

The US has also provided Türkiye with cluster munitions in the past. In 2004, the US announced the sale to Türkiye of two CBU-103 Combined Effects Munitions cluster bombs, each with 202 submunitions, and two AGM-154 Joint Stand-Off Weapons (JSOW), each with 145 submunitions.[26] In 2005, the US announced another sale to Türkiye of 50 CBU-103 and 50 JSOW.[27] In 1995, the US announced that it would provide Türkiye with 120 ATACMS missiles with submunitions for its M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS).[28] Türkiye also possesses US-supplied M26 rockets, each with 644 submunitions, for its MLRS. The US supplied Türkiye with 3,304 Rockeye cluster bombs, each containing 247 submunitions, between 1970 and 1995.[29]

Stockpiling

Türkiye possesses cluster munitions, but has not shared information on the quantities stockpiled or indicated if it plans to destroy any of them.



[1] In 2009, Türkiye said that it shares the “humanitarian concerns behind the efforts limiting the indiscriminate use of cluster munitions” and “attaches importance to the restriction of the use of cluster munitions” but could not consider accession until its Mine Ban Treaty obligations are fulfilled. Letter from Amb. Tomur Bayer, Director-General, International Security Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to Human Rights Watch (HRW), 2 March 2009. Türkiye completed the destruction of its stockpiled antipersonnel landmines in 2011.

[2] Statement of Türkiye, Convention on Cluster Munitions Tenth Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 30 August 2022.

[3] Letter to Amb. Aidan Liddle of the United Kingdom (UK), President of the Convention on Cluster Munitions Tenth Meeting of States Parties, from Amb. Sadik Arslan, Permanent Representative of Türkiye to the United Nations (UN) in Geneva, 5 October 2021; and statement of Türkiye, Convention on Cluster Munitions Tenth Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 30 August 2022.

[4] For details on Türkiye’s cluster munition policy and practice through early 2009, see HRW and Landmine Action, Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, May 2009), pp. 246–249.

[5] Türkiye attended every Meeting of States Parties in 2010–2018, the First Review Conference in September 2015, the Second Review Conference in September 2021, and intersessional meetings in 2013–2015 and 2022.

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

[7] Statement of Türkiye, Convention on Cluster Munitions Tenth Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 30 August 2022.

[8] Statement of Türkiye, Convention on Cluster Munitions intersessional meetings, Geneva, 23 June 2015. Notes by HRW; and statement of Türkiye, Convention on Cluster Munitions Fifth Meeting of States Parties, San Jose, 3 September 2014. Notes by HRW.

[9]Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic,” UNGA Resolution 75/193, 16 December 2020. Türkiye voted in favor of similar UNGA resolutions on Syria in 2013–2018.

[10] In June 2010, a government official told the Monitor that “Turkey does not use, transfer, produce or import cluster munitions.” In August 2011, another official stated to the Monitor that, “Turkey no longer produces, transfers, exports or imports cluster munitions; has not produced cluster munitions since 2005; and has never used cluster munitions in the past.” Emails from İsmail Çobanoğlu, Permanent Mission of Türkiye to the UN in New York, 24 June 2010; and from Ramazan Ercan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 8 August 2011.

[11] Letter to Amb. Aidan Liddle of the UK, President of the Convention on Cluster Munitions Tenth Meeting of States Parties, from Amb. Sadik Arslan, Permanent Representative of Türkiye to the UN in Geneva, 5 October 2021; and statement of Türkiye, Convention on Cluster Munitions Tenth Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 30 August 2022.

[12]Turkey Shares USG Concerns About Oslo Process,” US Department of State cable dated 12 February 2008, released by Wikileaks on 20 May 2011.

[13] In January 1994, the Turkish Air Force carried out an attack on the Zaleh camp of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan, PKK) in northern Iraq, near the Iranian border. Turkish television reported that US-supplied cluster bombs were used. See, HRW, “U.S. Cluster Bombs for Turkey?,” December 1994, citing Foreign Broadcast Information Network, Western Europe, 28 January 1994, p. 26, from Ankara TRT Television Network, 18 January 1994.

[14] Email from Ramazan Ercan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 8 August 2011; and Monitor interview with Ramazan Ercan, Permanent Mission of Turkey to the UN in Geneva, Geneva, 7 April 2015.

[15] MKEK, “155 mm M396 ERDP Ammunition,” undated.

[16] Leland S. Ness and Anthony G. Williams, eds., Jane’s Ammunition Handbook 2007–2008 (Surrey: Jane’s Information Group, 2007), pp. 635–636.

[18] Letter to Amb. Aidan Liddle of the UK, President of the Convention on Cluster Munitions Tenth Meeting of States Parties, from Amb. Sadik Arslan, Permanent Representative of Türkiye to the UN in Geneva, 5 October 2021.

[19] In June 2023, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the US Armed Forces, Gen. Mark Milley, told media that “other European countries have provided some” cluster munitions to Ukraine in recent months. Ashley Roque, “White House weighing controversial cluster munitions deliveries to Ukraine,” Breaking Defense News, 30 June 2023; comments of Sabrina Singh, Deputy Press Secretary, US Department of Defense, in “Meet the Press NOW – July 13,” NBC News, YouTube.com, 14 July 2023; and US Department of Defense, “Transcript: Lt. Gen. Douglas A. Sims II (USA), Director for Operations, J-3, The Joint Staff; Brigadier General Pat Ryder, Pentagon Press Secretary, Hold a Press Briefing,” 13 July 2023.

[20] Jack Detsch and Robbie Gramer, “Turkey Is Sending Cold War-Era Cluster Bombs to Ukraine,” Foreign Policy, 10 January 2023.

[21]Ragip Soylu, “Russia-Ukraine war: Turkey denies supplying Kyiv with cluster munitions,” Middle East Eye, 14 January 2023.

[22] Mustafa Deveci, “Ukrainian envoy in Türkiye denies claims Ankara sending cluster bombs to Ukraine,” Anadolu Agency, 11 January 2023.

[23] Türkiye, UN Register of Conventional Arms, Submission for Calendar Year 2006, 22 March 2007; and Türkiye, UN Register of Conventional Arms, Submission for Calendar Year 2007, 7 July 2008.

[24] Slovakia, UN Register of Conventional Arms, Submission for Calendar Year 2007, 12 June 2008. In 2014, Slovakia reported that it prepared a contract in 2011 to produce 8,000 AGAT cluster munition rockets for Turkish company Roketsan, which supplies the Turkish Army, at a cost of €25.6 million. However, the transfer did not happen as the Turkish Ministry of National Defense did not sign-off on it, apparently due to financial and other reasons. “Draft Action Plan for the Implementation of the Commitments of the Slovak Republic under the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” attached to Letter No. 590.736/2014-OKOZ from Miroslav Lajčák, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, to Sarah Blakemore, CMC, 25 April 2014.

[25] “Exports of Cluster Bombs Authorized in the Years 1991–2001,” official document provided by the General Directorate of National Mobilization (Dirección General de Movilización Nacional, DGMN), within the Chilean Ministry of National Defense. The document was provided along with a letter from Brig.-Gen. Roberto Ziegele Kerber, Director-General of National Mobilization, Chilean Ministry of National Defense, 18 May 2012.

[26] Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), US Department of Defense, “Notifications to Congress of Pending US Arms Transfers,” No. 05-12, 7 October 2004.

[27] DSCA, US Department of Defense press release, “Turkey – Munitions and Aircraft Components for F-16 Aircraft,” Transmittal No. 05-29, 8 September 2005; and DSCA, US Department of Defense press release, “Turkey Wants the AGM-154A/C Joint Standoff Weapons,” Transmittal No. 05-33, 6 September 2005.

[28] US Congressional Record, “Proposed Sale of Army Tactical Missile System to Turkey,” 11 December 1995, p. E2333. Each ATACMS missile contains 300 or 950 submunitions.

[29] DSCA, US Department of Defense, “Cluster Bomb Exports under FMS, FY1970–FY1995,” obtained by HRW in a Freedom of Information Act request, 28 November 1995.