United States

Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 07 February 2024

Summary: Non-signatory the United States (US) has not taken any steps to join the Convention on Cluster Munitions, as it sees military utility in cluster munitions. The US has never participated in a meeting of the convention, even as an observer. The US abstained from voting on a key United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolution promoting the convention in December 2022.

A November 2017 policy directive issued under President Donald Trump allows US forces to use cluster munitions that result in more than 1% unexploded ordnance (UXO). The US last used cluster munitions during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, with the exception of a single attack in Yemen in 2009. The US last budgeted funds to produce new cluster munitions in 2007 but is aggressively pursuing replacements. The US stockpiles cluster munitions, and in July 2023 the administration of President Joe Biden announced that the US will transfer potentially hundreds of thousands of its artillery-delivered cluster munitions to Ukraine for use in the war with Russia.


The United States of America has not acceded to the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The US has not taken any steps to join the convention because, in its view, cluster munitions provide “a vital military capability.”[1] 

National policy 

As of July 2023, the Biden administration has not indicated if it will review the November 2017 policy directive on cluster munitions issued by former president Trump. The 2017 policy replaced a July 2008 Department of Defense policy directive on cluster munitions, issued under President George W. Bush, and abandoned its requirement that the US no longer use cluster munitions that result in more than a 1% UXO rate by the end of 2018.[2]

The 2017 policy requires the Department of Defense to “program for capabilities to replace cluster munitions” that do not meet the 1% UXO standard.[3] However, to “meet immediate warfighting demand” the policy gave combatant commanders (the heads of various combatant commands with geographic and other areas of responsibility) the authority to approve employing (using) cluster munitions “that do not meet the standards prescribed by this policy for procuring new cluster munitions” as well as to accept transfers of those cluster munitions.[4]

In July 2023, the Biden administration announced that the US would transfer its stocks of artillery-delivered cluster munitions to Ukraine for use in the war with Russia. (See Transfers section).

US and the Convention on Cluster Munitions

The US did not participate, even as an observer, in the 2007–2008 Oslo Process that created the Convention on Cluster Munitions.[5] However, US Department of State cables made public by Wikileaks show how the US attempted to influence its allies, partners, and other states during the process in order to affect the outcome of the negotiations, especially with respect to the issue of “interoperability” (joint military operations between the US and States Parties to the convention).[6]

The US has never participated in a meeting of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, even as an observer. The US was invited to, but did not attend, the convention’s Tenth Meeting of States Parties held in Geneva in August–September 2022. 

In December 2022, the US abstained from the vote on a key UNGA resolution that urged states outside the Convention on Cluster Munitions to “join as soon as possible.”[7] The US has abstained from voting on the annual UNGA resolution promoting the convention since it was first introduced in 2015. The US explained in 2015 that it considers the resolution to apply “only to those States Parties to this convention.”[8] In its most recent comment on the resolution, in November 2019, the US again stated that it does not accept that the convention “represents an emerging norm.”[9]

The US expressed deep alarm at Russia’s use of cluster munitions in Ukraine in 2022.[10]However, the US backtracked on a comment from one senior official who criticized cluster munitions as unacceptable weapons that “have no place on the battlefield.”[11]

There has been widespread criticism of the July 2023 announcement by the Biden administration that the US will transfer cluster munitions to Ukraine. On 13 July 2023, 147 congressional representatives (98 Republicans and 49 Democrats) voted to prohibit the sale and transfer of cluster munitions to Ukraine, but the measure did not pass as 276 representatives voted against it.[12] The original amendment sought to prohibit cluster munition transfers to any country and was accompanied by a letter from Sara Jacobs, Ilhan Omar, and 17 other House Democrats renouncing the US transfer of cluster munitions.[13](See Transfers section). 

The US is not party to the Mine Ban Treaty but has participated as an observer at Mine Ban Treaty meetings since 2009. In June 2022, the US announced a new policy re-aligning its position with major requirements of the treaty, and committing to “undertake diligent efforts to pursue materiel and operational solutions to assist in becoming compliant with and ultimately acceding” to the Mine Ban Treaty.[14] 

The US is party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW), but has not proposed further CCW deliberations on cluster munitions since States Parties to the CCW failed to adopt a draft protocol on cluster munitions in 2011.[15] This effectively concluded CCW consideration on the matter, leaving the Convention on Cluster Munitions as the sole international instrument dedicated to ending the suffering caused by these weapons.


The last US use of cluster munitions was during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, with the exception of a single attack in Yemen in December 2009.[16] Neither the US nor the Yemeni government has publicly denied US responsibility for the 2009 attack.[17]

In 2016, the United States Air Force (USAF) said that it had not used cluster munitions in aerial operations against the Islamic State in Iraq, Libya, and Syria.[18] The US provided logistical support to a Saudi Arabia-led coalition that used US-supplied cluster munitions in Yemen in 2015–2017.

The US has used cluster munitions in past conflicts in several countries and areas: Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Vietnam (1960s–1970s); Grenada and Lebanon (1983); Libya (1986); Iran (1988); Iraq, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia (1991); Bosnia and Herzegovina (1995); Serbia, Montenegro, and Kosovo (1999); Afghanistan (2001–2002); Iraq (2003); and Yemen (2009).[19]


The US Department of Defense could not confirm whether the US still produces cluster munitions as of December 2018, telling a US media outlet that it “is not aware of any U.S. industry production of cluster munitions.”[20]  However, several research and development programs are underway that may result in the production of new weapons that are not compliant with the Convention on Cluster Munitions. (See Replacements for cluster munitions section).

Since 2005, all submunitions produced by the US must have a failure rate of less than 1%, according to a 2001 policy issued by Secretary of Defense William Cohen.[21] The US last budgeted funds to produce new cluster munitions in 2007.[22] Since then, the US has manufactured cluster munitions only for each foreign sales order in accordance with the contractual delivery schedule.

The US government has not taken any steps to prohibit US production of cluster munitions since 2016, when the sole remaining US producer, Textron Systems Corporation, announced an end to its production.[23] In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on 30 August 2016, Textron Systems Corporation said it had discontinued production of the CBU-105 cluster bomb because of reduced orders, stating that “the current political environment has made it difficult” to obtain sales approvals.[24]

US defense contractor Northrop Grumman announced in January 2021 that it was ending participation in a US government contract to test the shelf-life of stocks of cluster munitions.[25] The company, which does not make cluster munitions, inherited the stockpile management contract after acquiring US company Orbital ATK.

In the past, before the adoption of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, the US licensed the production of cluster munitions with Japan, the Netherlands, Pakistan, South Korea, and Türkiye.

Replacements for cluster munitions

The US military is developing several replacements for ground-launched cluster munitions that could not meet the requirements of the cluster munition reliability policy of the Department of Defense, namely M483A1 and M864 155mm artillery projectiles, which contain M42/M46 dual-purpose improved conventional munitions (DPICM) and M26 rockets containing M77 DPICM. The first of these replacements, the Alternative Warhead variant for the Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS), began production in 2015 and contains 160,000 pre-formed tungsten fragments, but no explosive submunitions.

The US Army has budgeted nearly $500 million during 2022–2028 for researching and developing replacements for 155mm artillery projectiles containing older DPICM (M42/M46). In 2018, two parallel research and development tracks began to develop Cannon-Delivered Area Effects Munitions (C-DAEM) as “policy-compliant munitions.”[26]

The first of the replacements is called “C-DAEM Armor” and is designated XM1180. This is an extended-range, presumably unitary, guided projectile with advanced components including a seeker, shaped charge warhead, and military-grade GPS. C-DAEM Armor is intended to destroy moving self-propelled howitzers, infantry fighting vehicles, and tanks. Assuming the success of the research and development program, the decision to “type classify” the projectile will occur in 2026, with a decision on whether to enter full production planned for 2028.[27] The US Army is requesting $57 million in the 2024 budget for the eventual procurement of 250 projectiles.[28] Under earlier decisions in this replacement program, the US procured 3,676 BONUS Mk2 projectiles in 2019–2021 from BAE Systems AB, Sweden, totaling $209 million.[29]

The second project in the replacement program is called “C-DAEM DPICM Replacement.” This is intended to attack targets ranging from personnel to soft-skinned vehicles. The US Army has approved the Israeli-designed M999 advanced antipersonnel munition, designated XM1208, as the solution for this requirement. The XM1208 projectile dispenses nine M99 “advanced submunitions.”[30] Hardware and some components for this projectile are being imported from Israel in cooperation with the Israeli Ministry of Defence. [31]

The US Army has also initiated two other longer-range research and development tracks to enhance the performance of the GMLRS missile. A total of $327 million is being requested from 2022–2028 for this program. The first project within the program covers the development of a modified enhanced alternative warhead in addition to other modifications that improve effectiveness against “light and medium armored targets,” with the objective to include these modifications in the 2026–2027 production run. A second project will attempt to integrate a “Sensor Fuzed Weapon” (type not specified) for delivery by the GMLRS missile by 2030. Another program will “determine the feasibility and effectiveness of utilizing GMLRS rockets to dispense anti-armor submunitions for engaging medium and heavy armor targets.”[32] 


Export moratorium language has been included in the annual US Department of Defense budget each year since 2009.[33] The provision of military assistance for cluster munitions, the issuing of defense export licenses for cluster munitions, and the sale or transfer of cluster munitions or cluster munitions technology is prohibited unless “the submunitions of the cluster munitions, after arming, do not result in more than 1 percent unexploded ordnance across the range of intended operational environments.” In addition, any agreement “applicable to the assistance, transfer, or sale of such cluster munitions or cluster munitions technology” must specify that the munitions “will only be used against clearly defined military targets and will not be used where civilians are known to be present or in areas normally inhabited by civilians.”

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA)—the US government agency that administers weapons transfers—issued a memorandum on 19 May 2011 regarding the sale of cluster munitions that incorporates these legal requirements into DSCA policy, by adding them to the Security Assistance Management Manual. According to the memorandum, “the only cluster munition with a compliant submunition (one that does not result in more than 1% UXO across the range of intended operational environments) is the CBU-97B/CBU-105, Sensor Fuzed Weapon (SFW).”[34]

On 7 July 2023, US officials announced that President Biden had signed a waiver allowing the US to transfer to Ukraine an unspecified quantity of US stocks of cluster munitions that have a higher than 1% failure rate.[35] In July 2023, The Washington Post reported that there was no waiver provision on the 1% limit that Congress had placed on cluster munition dud rates, written into Department of Defense appropriations since 2017. Biden could bypass this, according to a White House official, under the Foreign Assistance Act, which allows the president to furnish assistance, regardless of appropriations or arms export restrictions, as long as he determines and notifies Congress that it is “vital to the security of the interests of the United States.”

According to the Department of Defense, “155mm artillery rounds” will be transferred, including ones that deliver what it called “highly effective and reliable” DPICM.[36]

The US has not named the specific types of DPICM projectiles or the quantities to be provided. Department of Defense officials claim the DPICM submunitions “have a dud rate less than 2.35 percent” but say that the testing data behind this figure is “classified.”[37] From congressional briefings, it appears that the US will transfer 155mm M864 cluster munition artillery projectiles that each contain 72 DPICM submunitions, as well as 155mm M483A1 artillery projectiles that each contain 88 DPICM submunitions. The two types of projectiles deliver M42 and M46 DPICM submunitions. Historic data for these submunitions shows that they have a failure rate of 6–14%; often higher in operations due to wind, soft soil, dense vegetation, and other delivery factors.[38]

As of 9 July 2023, world leaders from 19 countries had expressed concern over cluster munitions after the US decision to transfer stocks to Ukraine, including: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Cambodia, Canada, Costa Rica, France, Germany, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Lao PDR, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, the Philippines, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom (UK). The US decision to transfer cluster munitions to Ukraine received worldwide media coverage and has been criticized by US congressional representatives, United Nations (UN) spokespersons, and the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC).

Previous transfers

Previously, the last congressional sales notification for CBU-105 Sensor Fuzed Weapons was in July 2015. Congressional notifications show that the US had concluded agreements from 2008–2015 to sell the CBU-105 to India,[39] Oman,[40] Saudi Arabia,[41] Singapore,[42] South Korea,[43] Taiwan,[44] and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).[45]

In May 2016, a senior Department of Defense official said that the end-use provision of its 2012 agreement with Saudi Arabia and “a handful of other cases” was “incomplete.”[46] The Saudi Arabia-led coalition’s use of the CBU-105 in Yemen in 2015–2016 raised serious questions about whether the transfer requirements were being met.[47] In May 2016, the administration of President Barack Obama suspended US transfers of cluster munitions to Saudi Arabia after reports of their use in civilian areas in Yemen.[48]

While the historical record is incomplete, in the past, the US transferred hundreds of thousands of cluster munitions containing tens of millions of submunitions to at least 30 countries: Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Morocco, the Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Spain, Thailand, Türkiye, the UAE, and the UK.[49]

In 2012, Chile’s Ministry of National Defense provided information showing that Chile transferred one 250kg cluster bomb and one 500kg cluster bomb to the US in 1991.[50]


A 2004 Department of Defense report to the US Congress detailed a stockpile of 5.5 million cluster munitions of 17 different types, containing approximately 728.5 million submunitions, as listed in the following table. That total does not appear to be a full account of cluster munitions available to US forces, as it apparently does not include US cluster munition stocks located in foreign countries or stockpiled as part of the War Reserve Stocks for Allies (WRSA).[51]

Although it is outdated, the list from 2004 remains the most detailed public account of US cluster munition stocks.

US stockpile of cluster munitions (as of 2004)[52]


Number of submunitions per munition

Munitions in active inventory

Submunitions in active inventory

Munitions in total inventory

Submunitions in total inventory










































































Mk-20 Rockeye
















































Grand Total





Note: ATACMS=Army Tactical Missile System; MLRS=Multiple Launch Rocket System; APICM=Antipersonnel Improved Conventional Munition; CBU=Cluster Bomb Unit; CEM=Combined Effects Munition; WCMD=Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser; SFW=Sensor Fuzed Weapon; JSOW=Joint Standoff Weapon.

Stockpile destruction 

All cluster munition stocks that exceed or do not satisfy operational planning requirements were removed by the service and combatant commands from the active inventory by June 2009.[53]

In March 2019, the Department of Defense budget stated, “Currently, there are approximately 93,766 tons of cluster munitions” in the demilitarization account known as B5A. It also stated that another 203,024 tons of cluster munitions in the US remained outside of B5A. The Department of Defense budget for 2022 no longer details the amount of cluster munitions.

In April 2022, Expal USA was awarded a contract for the demilitarization and disposal of cluster munitions.[54] 

Since 2007, there has been a separate funding source for the destruction of Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) rockets and Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) missiles, with special destruction facilities for MLRS rockets at the Anniston Defense Munitions Center in Alabama and the Letterkenny Munitions Center in Pennsylvania.[55]

Recent funding for the destruction of cluster munitions (US$ million)[56]


Previous years

FY 2021

FY 2022

FY 2023


Cluster munitions (non-rockets)





Cluster munition rockets





          Note: FY=Fiscal Year. 

Foreign stockpiling and transit

The US appears to have removed its cluster munition stocks from the territories of at least two States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The US removed its stockpiled cluster munitions from Norway in 2010,[57] while the UK announced in 2010 that there were now “no foreign stockpiles of cluster munitions in the UK or on any UK territory.”[58]

The US has stockpiled, and may continue to store cluster munitions, in countries including States Parties Afghanistan, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Spain, and in non-signatories Israel, Qatar, and possibly Kuwait. This information is contained in the following US Department of State cables released by Wikileaks in 2010–2011:

  • In Afghanistan, the “United States currently has a very small stockpile of cluster munitions,” according to a December 2008 cable.[59]
  • Germany has engaged with the US on the matter of cluster munitions that may be stockpiled by the US in Germany, according to a December 2008 cable.[60]
  • In Israel, US cluster munitions are “considered to be under U.S. title” until they are transferred for use by Israel in wartime.[61]
  • Italy, Qatar, and Spain are identified in a November 2008 cable as “states in which the US stores cluster munitions,” even though apparently, Qatar “may be unaware of US cluster munitions stockpiles in the country.”[62]
  • Japan “recognizes U.S. forces in Japan are not under Japan’s control and hence the GOJ [Government of Japan] cannot compel them to take action or to penalize them” in relation to possible storage of cluster munitions, according to a December 2008 cable.[63]
  • The US may store clusters munitions in Kuwait, according to a May 2007 cable.[64]

[1] Josh Rogin, “The Trump administration cancels a plan to curtail the use of cluster bombs,” The Washington Post, 30 November 2017. The November 2017 policy expresses the Department of Defense view of cluster munitions as “legitimate weapons with clear military utility…providing distinct advantages against a range of threats in the operating environment.” It claimed that “the use of cluster munitions may result in less collateral damage than the collateral damage that results from the use of unitary munitions alone.”

[2] The memorandum on Department of Defense policy is dated 19 June but was not formally released until 9 July 2008. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, “Memorandum for the Secretaries of the Military Departments, Subject: DOD Policy on Cluster Munitions and Unintended Harm to Civilians,” 19 June 2008.

[3] Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, “Memorandum for the Secretaries of the Military Departments, Subject: DoD Policy on Cluster Munitions,” 30 November 2017.

[4] The 2017 policy stipulates that cluster munitions procured by the US in the future must meet at least one of three criteria: a) Not more than one percent of submunitions or submunition warheads, once properly dispensed from the non-reusable canister or delivery body, fail to detonate; b) Each submunition or submunition warhead has [four key] characteristics; and c) The munition is not prohibited by the Convention on Cluster Munitions as of the date of this policy. The four key characteristics are: 1) Each submunition or submunition warhead is equipped with an internal power source that is essential for arming and detonation. The submunition or submunition warhead is not designed to be detonated by mechanical means alone; 2) Each submunition or submunition warhead is equipped with at least one automatically functioning, electronic self-destruct mechanism that is in addition to the primary arming and detonation mechanism that is designed to destroy the submunition or submunition warhead on which it is equipped, if the submunition or submunition warhead is not detonated by the primary arming and detonation mechanism; 3) Each submunition or submunition warhead that does not detonate or self-destruct is, once armed, rendered inoperable in 15 minutes or less by means of the irreversible exhaustion of a component (e.g., power source) that is essential to the operation of the submunition or submunition warhead; and 4) Each submunition or submunition warhead that does not arm after being deployed from the non-reusable canister or delivery body cannot be subsequently armed or detonated by incidental handling, contact, or movement. Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, “Memorandum for the Secretaries of the Military Departments, Subject: DoD Policy on Cluster Munitions,” 30 November 2017.

[5] For details on US policy and practice regarding cluster munitions 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. 251–260.

[6] The diplomatic cables also showed that the US has worked extensively to influence national implementation legislation and interpretation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, including on issues of foreign stockpiling and transit. As of July 2012, Wikileaks had made public a total of 428 cables relating to cluster munitions originating from 100 locations for the period from 2003 to 2010. Previously, Cluster Munition Monitor 2011 reviewed a total of 57 US diplomatic cables on cluster munitions from 24 locations, released by Wikileaks as of early August 2011.

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

[8] Statement of the US, UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 4 November 2015.

[9] Statement of the US, UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 6 November 2019.  

[10] Statement by Amb. Sheba Crocker, Permanent representative of the US to the United Nations (UN) in Geneva, Human Rights Council Urgent Debate on the Human Rights Situation in Ukraine, 3 March 2022.

[11] CSPAN (cspan), “.@USAmbUN Linda Thomas-Greenfield at #UNGA: ‘Now, at more than any other point in recent history, the United Nations is being challenged. If the United Nations has any purpose, it is to prevent war, it is to condemn war, to stop war. That is our job here today.’” 2 March 2022, 16:28 UTC. Tweet.

[14] The White House press release, “FACT SHEET: Changes to U.S. Anti-Personnel Landmine Policy,” 21 June 2022.

[15] Throughout the CCW negotiations, the US supported the main tenets of the proposed protocol, including an exemption for cluster munitions meeting a manufacturer-stated 1% failure rate and several optional safeguards; a prohibition on use and transfer of all cluster munitions produced before 1980; and a 12-year transition period during which states could continue to use all cluster munitions.

[16] The last time the US used cluster munitions was on 17 December 2009, when at least five TLAM-D cruise missiles, each containing 166 BLU-97 submunitions, were used in attack on an “alleged al-Qa’ida training camp” at al-Ma‘jalah, in Abyan governorate in southern Yemen, that killed 55 people, including 14 women and 21 children. The remnants in the photographs included images of the propulsion system, a BLU-97 submunition, and the payload ejection system, the latter of which is unique to the TLAM-D cruise missile. See, Amnesty International, “Images of missile and cluster munitions point to US role in fatal attack,” 7 June 2010; and “U.S. missiles killed civilians in Yemen, rights group says,” CNN, 7 June 2010. Cluster munition remnants were never cleared and have killed four more civilians and wounded 13 others since the attack. The most recent casualty was on 24 January 2012, when a boy brought home a BLU-97 submunition that exploded, killing his father and wounding the boy and his two brothers. Those affected by the cluster munition strike on al-Ma‘jalah have not received any compensation for the casualties caused or damaged property. See, HRW, “Between a Drone and Al-Qaeda: The Civilian Cost of US Targeted Killings in Yemen,” 22 October 2013.

[17] In December 2010, Wikileaks released a US Department of State cable dated 21 December 2009 that acknowledged the US had a role in the 17 December strike. The cable said that Yemeni government officials “continue to publicly maintain that the operation was conducted entirely by its forces, acknowledging U.S. support strictly in terms of intelligence sharing. Deputy Prime Minister Rashad al-Alimi told the Ambassador on December 20 that any evidence of greater U.S. involvement, such as fragments of U.S. munitions found at the sites, could be explained away as equipment purchased from the U.S.” See, “ROYG [Republic of Yemen Government] looks ahead following CT operations, but perhaps not far enough,” US Department of State cable dated 21 December 2009, released by Wikileaks on 4 December 2010.

[18] Thomas Gibbons-Neff, “Why the last U.S. company making cluster bombs won’t produce them anymore,” The Washington Post, 2 September 2016. A USAF Central Command spokesperson said in July 2016, “We have not employed cluster munitions in Operation Inherent Resolve. This includes both U.S. and coalition aircraft.” Email from Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Writer, The Washington Post, 27 July 2016. See also, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, “Despite denial, ‘growing evidence’ Russia is using cluster bombs in Syria, report says,” The Washington Post, 28 July 2016.

[19] For historical details on the use of cluster munitions by the US, see ICBL, Cluster Munition Monitor 2010 (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, October 2010), p. 262. See also, the Timeline of Use contained in Cluster Munition Monitor 2018’s Ban Policy chapter. CMC, Cluster Munition Monitor 2018 (Geneva: ICBL-CMC, August 2018).

[20] Stéphanie Fillion, “The US, Reversing Course on Cluster Bombs, Is Testing New Ones in Israel,” PassBlue, 28 December 2018.

[21] Secretary of Defense William Cohen, “Memorandum for the Secretaries of the Military Departments, Subject: DoD Policy on Submunition Reliability (U),” 10 January 2001. In other words, submunitions that reached “full rate production,” i.e. production for use in combat, during the first quarter of the fiscal year 2005, were required to meet the new standard. According to a Pentagon report to Congress on cluster munitions in October 2004, submunitions procured in past yearswere exempt from the policy, though “Future submunitions must comply with the desired goal of 99% or higher submunition functioning rate or must receive a waiver.” Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology and Logistics), Department of Defense, “Report to Congress: Cluster Munitions,” October 2004, p. ii.

[22] For details on US production of cluster munitions in 2005–2007, see HRW and Landmine Action, Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, May 2009), pp. 257–258; and ICBL, Cluster Munition Monitor 2010 (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, October 2010), p. 263.

[23]Last US cluster-bomb maker to cease production,” Agence France-Presse (AFP), 1 September 2016. A rocket motor for the BLU-108 canisters contained in the CBU-105 was manufactured by Orbital ATK (formerly Alliant Techsystems) of Hopkins, Minnesota, but only for that purpose. The CBU-105 was assembled at McAlester Army Ammunition Plant in Oklahoma. Kevin Jackson, “Visit brings flashbacks for Army energy executive,” US Army, 22 April 2014.

[24] Marjorie Censer, “Textron to discontinue production of sensor-fuzed weapon,” Inside Defense, 30 August 2016.

[25] Marcus Weisgerber, “Northrop Grumman Says It Will Walk Away From Cluster Bomb Contract,” Defense One, 28 January 2021.

[26] Department of Defense Fiscal Year 2024 Budget Estimates, RDT&E – Volume II, Budget Activity 5B, “Cannon-Delivered Area Effects Munitions,” March 2023, Vol. 3B, pp. 154–163.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Department of Defense Fiscal Year 2024 Budget Estimates, “Procurement of Ammunition, Army,” March 2023, Vol. 1, p. 425.

[29] The BONUS projectile contains two sensor-fuzed submunitions and is not prohibited by the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Budget justification materials described the BONUS as “an effective bridging strategy to address critical capability gaps from the loss of DPICM and mitigates risks until the planned program of record is completed.” Department of Defense, Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Estimates, “Army Justification Book Volume 1 of 1, Procurement of Ammunition, Army,” May 2021, pp. 333–334.

[30] Joint Program Executive Office Armaments and Ammunition, “C-DAEM DPICM Replacement (XM1208),” undated.

[31] Department of Defense Fiscal Year 2024 Budget Estimates, RDT&E – Volume II, Budget Activity 5B, “Cannon-Delivered Area Effects Munitions,” March 2023, Vol. 3B, pp. 154–163.

[32] Department of Defense Fiscal Year 2024 Budget Estimates, RDT&E – Volume III, Budget Activity 7, “Guided Multiple-Launch Rocket System (GMLRS),” March 2023, Vol. 4B, pp. 301–308.

[33] US Congress, Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2009 (P.L. 111-8). The same export moratorium language has been included in the annual Consolidated Appropriations Act since then. See, US Congress, Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020, p. 346.

[34] It also stated that the CBU-107 Passive Attack Weapon, which contains non-explosive metal rods, is not captured by the ban. DSCA, “Guidance on the Sale of Cluster Munitions, DSCA Policy 11-33,” 19 May 2011. An additional memorandum aimed at increasing oversight of sales was issued in 2016. See, DSCA, “Revision of the Mandatory Note for Sales of Cluster Munitions with Submunitions with a Confirmed 99% or Higher Tested Rate, DSCA Policy 16-29, E-Change 313,” 23 May 2016.

[36] Department of Defense press release, “Biden Administration Announces Additional Security Assistance for Ukraine,” 7 July 2023.

[38] John Ismay, “Cluster Weapons U.S. Is Sending Ukraine Often Fail to Detonate,” The New York Times, 8 July 2023; and Karen DeYoung, Alex Horton, and Missy Ryan, “Biden approves cluster munition supply to Ukraine,” The Washington Post, 6 July 2023.


[39] 510 CBU-105 announced in 2008 for an estimated $375 million. DSCA press release, “India – CBU-105 Sensor Fuzed Weapons,” Transmittal No. 08-105, 30 September 2008.

[40] 32 CBU-105 announced in 2012. Department of Defense, “36(b)(1) Arms Sales Notification,” Transmittal No. 12-66, 31 December 2012.

[41] 1,300 CBU-105 announced in 2010 and 404 CBU-105 in 2011. DSCA press release, “Saudi Arabia – F-15SA Aircraft,” Transmittal No. 10-43, 20 October 2010. The completion date for this transfer was the end of 2015. “US Department of Defense Contract Announcement, No. 593-13,” 20 August 2013; and DSCA press release, “Saudi Arabia – CBU-105 Sensor Fuzed Weapons,” Transmittal No. 10-03, 13 June 2011.

[42] Three CBU-105 announced in 2014. Department of Defense, “36(b)(1) Arms Sales Notification,” Transmittal No. 13-67, 21 January 2014.

[43] 367 CBU-105 announced 2012 and two CBU-105 in 2015; DSCA press release, “Republic of Korea – CBU-105D/B Sensor Fuzed Weapons,” Transmittal No. 12-23, 4 June 2012; and Department of Defense, “36(b)(1) Arms Sales Notification,” Transmittal No. 15-33, 21 July 2015.

[44] 64 CBU-105 announced in 2011. These were to be included as associated parts in the sale of F-16A/B aircraft. DSCA press release “Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States – Retrofit of F-16A/B Aircraft,” Transmittal No. 11-39, 21 September 2011.

[45] The contract for the sale was signed in November 2007. Textron Inc., “Q2 2010 Earnings Call Transcript,” 21 July 2010; and Textron Defense Systems press release, “Textron Defense Systems and UAE Armed Forces Sign Sensor Fuzed Weapon Contract,” 13 November 2007. Also, the US Congress was notified in June 2007 of a proposed commercial sale of “technical data, defense services, and defense articles to support the sale of the Sensor Fuzed Weapons” to the UAE. Jeffrey T. Bergner, Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs, Department of State, to Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Transmittal No. DDTC 017-07, 7 June 2007.

[46] The provision states that the purchaser agree the CBU-105 “will only be used against clearly defined military targets and will not be used where civilians are known to be present,” but failed to include the rest of the legislatively-mandated phrase “or in areas normally inhabited by civilians.” The official said the Department of Defense was pursuing an amendment to the agreement to “remedy this specific error.” Letter from Brian P. McKeon, Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense, to Senator Patrick Leahy, 20 May 2016.

[47] HRW documented six instances of CBU-105 use in Yemen by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in 2015–2016. In at least three attacks, HRW found that some submunitions or “skeet” either did not disperse from the BLU-108 canister, or dispersed but did not explode, therefore failing to function as intended and exceeding the 1% UXO rate. See, HRW, “Yemen: Saudis Using US Cluster Munitions,” 6 May 2016.

[48] According to Foreign Policy, a senior US official said the administration acknowledged reports that the weapons had been used “in areas in which civilians are alleged to have been present or in the vicinity,” and added, “We take such concerns seriously and are seeking additional information.” John Hudson, “White House Blocks Transfer of Cluster Bombs to Saudi Arabia,” Foreign Policy, 27 May 2016.

[49] US-supplied cluster munitions have been used in combat by Colombia; by Israel in Lebanon and Syria; by Morocco in Western Sahara and Mauritania; by the UK and the Netherlands in the former Yugoslavia; by Saudi Arabia in Yemen; and by the UK in Iraq. In July 2013, mine clearance operators in Yemen shared photographic evidence with the Monitor of cluster munition remnants, including several types of US-manufactured submunitions, in the northwestern governorate of Saada near the border with Saudi Arabia. The contamination apparently dates from conflict in 2009–2010 between the government of Yemen and rebel Houthi forces, but it is not possible to determine definitively the actor responsible for this use.

[50] Monitor notes on Chilean Air Force document signed by Chair of the Joint Chief of Staff of the Air Force, “Exports of Cluster Bombs authorized in the years 1991–2001,” dated 23 June 2009, taken during Monitor meeting with Juan Pablo Jara, Desk Officer, Ministry of National Defense, Santiago, 11 April 2012.

[51] The 2004 report lists 626,824,422 submunitions in the “Active Inventory” and 728,527,689 in the “Total Inventory.” Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology and Logistics), Department of Defense, “Report to Congress: Cluster Munitions,” October 2004. Under the WRSA program, munitions are stored in foreign countries but kept under US title and control, and are to be made available to US and allied forces in the event of hostilities. In 1994, the stockpile, including WRSA, consisted of 8.9 million cluster munitions containing nearly one billion submunitions. US Army Material Systems Analysis Activity, “Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) Study,” April 1996.

[52] Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology and Logistics), Department of Defense, “Report to Congress: Cluster Munitions,” October 2004. This accounting appears to exclude holdings of TLAM-D cruise missiles, a weapon found on some US Navy surface vessels and submarines, which deliver BLU-97 submunitions. US Navy, “Tomahawk Cruise Missile,” 14 August 2014 (no longer available online). The 2004 Department of Defense report also does not include artillery-fired SADARM cluster munitions (thought to number 715).

[53] The now-reversed 2008 policy required that the Department of Defense relinquish more than 99.9% of its cluster munition stocks by the end of 2018, as only the CBU-105 Sensor Fuzed Weapon met the less than 1% UXO requirement.

[54]Contract Award: Expal USA (Hooks, Texas) – $28,830,008,” Defense Daily, 15 April 2022.

[55] Department of the Army, “Procurement of Ammunition, Committee Staff Procurement Backup Book,” February 2011, pp. 729–730.

[56] Department of Defense, Fiscal Year 2023 Budget Estimates, “Army Justification Book Volume 1 of 1, Procurement of Ammunition, Army,” April 2022, pp. 723–726.

[57] According to a Norwegian official: “After the adoption of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, Norway discussed with the USA the issue of their stockpile of cluster munitions on Norwegian territory. Norway offered to destroy these cluster munitions together with our own stockpiles. However, the USA decided to remove their stocks, something which happened during the spring of 2010.” Email from Ingunn Vatne, Senior Advisor, Department for Human Rights, Democracy and Humanitarian Assistance, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway, 1 August 2012. According to a US cable dated 17 December 2008, the US stockpile in Norway was thought to consist of “2,544 rounds” of “D563 Dual Purpose Improved Conventional Munitions (DPICM)” and “2,528 rounds” of “D864 Extended Range Dual Purpose ICM.” See, “Norway Raises Question Concerning US Cluster munitions,” US Department of State cable 08OSLO676 dated 17 December 2008, released by Wikileaks on 1 September 2011.

[58] Section 8 of the UK’s legislation states that its foreign secretary may grant authorization for visiting forces of states not party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions to “possess cluster munitions on, or transfer them through, UK territory.” In November 2011, UK officials stated that the only such authorization given to date was provided by former foreign secretary David Miliband to the US Department of State, to permit the US to transfer its cluster munitions out of UK territory. Statement by Jeremy Browne, Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), House of Commons Debate, Written Answers, November 2011, Column 589W.

[59]Demarche to Afghanistan on Cluster Munitions,” US Department of State cable 08STATE134777 dated 29 December 2008, released by Wikileaks on 2 December 2010.

[60] A US cable dated 2 December 2008 citing a discussion between US officials and Gregor Köbel, then-Director of the Conventional Arms Control Division of the German Federal Foreign Office (GFFO), states, “Koebel stressed that the US will continue to be able to store and transport CM [Cluster Munitions] in Germany, noting that this should be of ‘no concern whatsoever to our American colleagues.’” See, “MFA Gives Reassurances on Stockpiling of US Cluster Munitions in Germany,” US Department of State cable 08BERLIN1609 dated 2 December 2008, released by Wikileaks on 1 September 2011. See also, “Demarche to Germany Regarding Convention on Cluster Munitions,” US Department of State cable 08STATE125631 dated 26 November 2008, released by Wikileaks on 1 September 2011.

[61]Cluster Munitions: Israeli’s Operational Defensive Capabilities Crisis,” US Department of State cable 08TELAVIV1012 dated 7 May 2008, released by Wikileaks on 1 September 2011.

[62]Demarche to Italy, Spain and Qatar Regarding Convention on Cluster Munitions,” US Department of State cable 08STATE125632 dated 26 November 2008, released by Wikileaks on 30 August 2011.

[63]Consultations with Japan on Implementing the Oslo Convention on Cluster Munitions,” US Department of State cable 08TOKYO3532 dated 30 December 2008, released by Wikileaks on 1 September 2011.

[64] The cable contains the text of a message sent from a US military advisor to UAE authorities concerning a transfer of “ammunition immediately via US Air Force aircraft from Kuwait stockpile to Lebanon.” Regarding the items to be transferred, the cable states: “The United States will not approve any cluster munitions or white phosphorus.” See, “Follow-up on UAE Response to Lebanese Request for Emergency Aid,” US Department of State cable 07ABUDHABI876 dated 24 May 2007, released by Wikileaks on 1 September 2011.

Mine Ban Policy

Last updated: 11 December 2023


The United States of America (US) has not acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty.

On 21 June 2022, the administration of President Joe Biden realigned US landmine policy with most provisions of the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, and again set the goal of ultimately joining it.[1]

The policy commits the US not to use antipersonnel landmines anywhere in the world, except on the Korean Peninsula.[2] Under the policy, the US will destroy antipersonnel mine stockpiles that are “not required for the defense of the Korean Peninsula.” The US will also not develop, produce, or acquire antipersonnel mines. The policy explicitly requires the US “not [to] assist, encourage, or induce anyone, outside the context of the Korean Peninsula, to engage in activity that would be prohibited” by the Mine Ban Treaty.

The US was the first country to call for the “eventual elimination” of antipersonnel landmines, in September 1994, and participated in the 1996–1997 Ottawa Process that created the treaty. It did not adopt or sign the Mine Ban Treaty in 1997, but the Clinton administration set the goal for the US to join the treaty in 2006. The Bush administration reversed that objective in 2004.[3] In 2014, the Obama administration issued a US landmine policy banning the production and acquisition of antipersonnel landmines, as well as halting their use by US forces anywhere except on the Korean Peninsula.[4] This brought US policy further in line with the Mine Ban Treaty. However, the Trump administration firmly rejected the notion of US accession to the treaty in January 2020, undoing years of incremental steps by the US to align its policy and practice with the Mine Ban Treaty.[5]

The US has participated as an observer at meetings of the Mine Ban Treaty since the Second Review Conference in Cartagena in 2009.[6] The Biden administration announced its new policy at the Mine Ban Treaty’s intersessional meetings held in Geneva in June 2022.[7] The US attended the Twentieth Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in November 2022, where it criticized Russia’s use of antipersonnel mines and booby-traps in Ukraine.[8]

On 7 December 2022, the US abstained from voting on annual United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 77/63, which called for universalization and full implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty.[9] The US has abstained from every annual UNGA resolution promoting the treaty since 1998.

The US is party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW), and provided a transparency report for CCW Amended Protocol II on landmines on 29 August 2022. The US is not party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

The 2022 US landmine policy has been warmly welcomed by Colombia as president of the Mine Ban Treaty, and by States Parties including Australia, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Slovenia, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom (UK). The new policy came after years of pressure from Congressional representatives and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).[10] In January 2022, the United States Campaign to Ban Landmines (USCBL) sent a letter to President Biden, signed by 37 organizations, urging “immediate action to ban the use of antipersonnel landmines without geographic exceptions, and to set the U.S. on a short direct path to join the Mine Ban Treaty by 2023.”[11] In January 2023, Legacies of War became Chair of the USCBL with its director, Sera Koulabdara, representing the organization in this role.[12]

On 21 September 2022, ranking members of the Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees of the Senate and House of Representatives sent a letter to the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff expressing their concerns over the new landmine policy and requesting further information.[13]



Under the 2022 landmine policy announced by the Biden administration, the US has committed to not use antipersonnel landmines anywhere in the world, except on the Korean Peninsula.[14]

Upon making the 2022 policy announcement, US officials confirmed that the last US use of antipersonnel mines was in Iraq and Kuwait during the 1991 Gulf War, with the exception of the use of a single antipersonnel mine in Afghanistan in 2002.[15]

The Department of Defense has long cited the need for the US to use antipersonnel mines on the Korean Peninsula in the event of an invasion of South Korea by North Korea, and has expressed concern that in the event of active hostilities, the current arrangement for a joint combined command structure would put a US general in charge of South Korean military forces.[16] Yet numerous retired US military officers, including those who commanded forces in South Korea, have said that using antipersonnel mines there is of little or no military value.[17]

Unlike the previous policy, the 2022 policy does not exempt “non-persistent” antipersonnel mines equipped with self-destruct and self-deactivation features from the prohibition on use outside of the Korean Peninsula. This reflects how the US has come to accept that the Mine Ban Treaty comprehensively bans all types of victim-activated explosive devices, regardless of their predicted longevity, delivery method, or type of manufacture (improvised or factory-made).[18]

The US maintains no minefields, anywhere in the world. Since October 1991, the landmines already emplaced in and near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating North Korea and South Korea have been under the responsibility of South Korean forces, not US forces.[19] The US cleared and destroyed the landmines laid around its naval base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba in 1999.[20]



Since 23 October 1992, US law has prohibited the export of antipersonnel landmines through a comprehensive moratorium, which has since been extended multiple times.[21] The 2022 policy continues this long-standing practice by stating that the US will not export or transfer antipersonnel mines “except when necessary for activities related to mine detection or removal, and for the purpose of destruction.”[22]

Upon announcing the 2022 policy, US officials clarified that the “Claymore mines that were transferred by the U.S. Government to Ukraine are command-detonated with a person in the loop who can actually detonate them,” which is permitted under the Mine Ban Treaty.[23]

Between 1969 and 1992, the US exported more than 5.6 million antipersonnel landmines to 38 countries. Deminers in at least 28 countries have reported clearing US-manufactured antipersonnel mines, including non-self-destructing and self-destructing/self-deactivating types.



The US last produced antipersonnel mines in 1997.[24] The Trump administration policy allowed the US to acquire landmines, but this never happened. The 2022 policy recommits the US to not develop, produce, or acquire antipersonnel mines, as it had previously pledged in 2014.

No antipersonnel landmines, or other victim-activated munitions, are funded in the ammunition procurement budgets of the US Armed Services or Department of Defense for fiscal year 2023 or requested for fiscal year 2024.

In 1997, when the US last produced antipersonnel mines, it manufactured 450,000 ADAM and 13,200 CBU-89/B Gator self-destructing/self-deactivating antipersonnel mines. The last non-self-destructing antipersonnel mines were procured in 1990, when the US Army bought nearly 80,000 M16A1 antipersonnel mines.


Alternatives to antipersonnel mines

Over more than 20 years, the US has spent in excess of $2 billion to develop and produce weapons systems that could be considered alternatives to antipersonnel landmines.[25] The 2022 policy will continue that work by stating that the US “will undertake diligent efforts to pursue materiel and operational solutions to assist in becoming compliant with and ultimately acceding to the Ottawa Convention, while ensuring our ability to respond to contingencies and meet our alliance commitments.”

The US has undertaken programs to develop alternatives to landmines, including the XM-7 Spider Networked Munition and the IMS Scorpion. Both initially had the potential for victim-activated features, thereby making them antipersonnel mines, but the Department of Defense later indicated that they would be command-detonated and not victim-activated. The XM-7 Spider Networked Munition has been produced and used in combat, while the IMS Scorpion project was cancelled.



In June 2022, US officials said that the US has approximately three million stockpiled antipersonnel landmines.[26] That total has not changed since 2014, when the Department of Defense disclosed that the US had an “active stockpile of just over 3 million anti-personnel mines.”[27]

Previously, in 2002, the US said it had a stockpile of around 10.4 million antipersonnel mines.[28]      

The US stockpile mostly consists of remotely-delivered mines that are scattered over a wide area by aircraft or tube artillery, and equipped with self-destruct features designed to blow the mine up after a pre-set period of time, as well as self-deactivating features. Various types of antipersonnel landmines are stockpiled by the US. The following table details the latest publicly available data on the types and quantities possessed, dating from 2010.

   US stockpiles of antipersonnel mines in 2010[29]


[quantity of antipersonnel mines in each]





Stockpiled inside the US

M692 Artillery Delivered Antipersonnel Mine [36]






Volcano, in M87 dispenser only [1]



M86 Pursuit Deterrent Munition [1]



M131 Modular Pack Mine System [4]






Stockpiled outside the US

M692 Artillery Delivered Antipersonnel Mine [36]



M74 Ground Emplaced Mine Scattering System [5]






Volcano, in M87 dispenser only [1]



M86 Pursuit Deterrent Munition [1]



M131 Modular Pack Mine System [4]






Total (antipersonnel mines stockpiled)



*The accounting for GATOR includes CBU-89 [22], CBU-104 [22], and CBU-78 [15] air-dropped bombs.


Stockpile destruction

The existing US stockpile of antipersonnel mines is expected to expire—meaning that the mines will become unusable—by the early 2030s, in part because their shelf-life, of 36 years, decreases over time as batteries embedded inside the mines deteriorate with age.

The 2014 policy precluded the US from extending or modifying the life of the batteries in its stockpiled antipersonnel mines.[30] The 2022 policy is understood to be continuing this practice.

A Department of Defense spokesperson stated in 2014 that the existing antipersonnel mine stocks “will start to decline in their ability to be used about[sic]…starting in about 10 years. And in 10 years after that, they’ll be completely unusable.”[31]

The 2014 policy committed the US to destroy antipersonnel mines that were “not required for the defense of the Republic of Korea.”[32] In 2014, Expal USA (the US subsidiary of Spanish defense company Expal) won a contract to destroy GATOR and Volcano mines at its facility in Marshall, Texas.[33] The estimated completion date was June 2020, according to MAXAM, the multinational company that owns Expal.[34]

General Atomics built the US Army a special “munitions cryofracture demilitarization facility” at the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant in Oklahoma, to destroy US stocks of ADAM mines through disassembly and cryofracture.[35] The destruction process started in December 2004 and was supposed to have concluded by June 2018, but it is unclear whether this deadline was met.[36]

Since 2011, at least 96 M86 Pursuit Deterrent Munitions and 40 M74 antipersonnel mines, as well as other “problematic munitions,” have been destroyed in a static detonation chamber built to destroy US stocks of chemical weapons.[37]

It is unclear how many landmines were destroyed by the US prior to the 2020 policy change under the Trump administration.



In 2020, the US said that a small quantity of “persistent mines” (non-self-destructing) had been retained for demining and counter-mine testing and training.[38]

[1] The White House press release, “Fact Sheet: Changes to U.S. Anti-Personnel Landmine Policy,” 21 June 2022.

[2] Ibid.

[3] US Department of State, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, “New United States Policy on Landmines: Reducing Humanitarian Risk and Saving Lives of United States Soldiers,” 27 February 2004.

[4] The White House, “Remarks by the President at Clinton Global Initiative,” 23 September 2014; The White House, “Fact Sheet: Changes to U.S. Anti-Personnel Landmine Policy,” 23 September 2014; statement by Amb. Douglas Griffiths, Mine Ban Treaty Third Review Conference, Maputo, 27 June 2014; and The White House, “Fact Sheet: Changes to U.S. Anti-Personnel Landmine Policy,” 27 June 2014.

[5] The White House, “Statement from the Press Secretary,” 31 January 2020; and US Department of Defense, “Memorandum: DoD Policy on Landmines,” 31 January 2020.

[6] Since attending the Second Review Conference in November 2009, the US has participated in every Meeting of States Parties, as well as the Fourth Review Conference held in Oslo in 2019 and the Third Review Conference in Maputo in June 2014. The US regularly attends intersessional meetings of the Mine Ban Treaty.

[7] Statement of the US, Mine Ban Treaty intersessional meetings, Geneva, 21 June 2022.

[8] US Department of State, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (StateDeptPM), “This morning in Geneva PM’s Steve Costner told the Ottawa Convention meeting of States Parties that ‘we join other delegations in condemning Russia’s war against Ukraine, both the original invasion in 2014 and the full-scale invasion in February of this year as well as Russia’s numerous violations of international humanitarian law, and its misuse of explosive weapons, including landmines.” 25 November 2022, 12:47 UTC. Tweet.

[10] See, for example, Letter from Senator Patrick Leahy, on behalf of 21 Members of Congress, to President Joe Biden, 22 June 2021.

[11] Letter from the USCBL, to President Joe Biden, 30 January 2022.

[13] Congressional Research Service, “U.S. Antipersonnel Landmine Use Policy,” updated 29 September 2022.

[14] The White House press release, “Fact Sheet: Changes to U.S. Anti-Personnel Landmine Policy,” 21 June 2022.

[15] The use of an antipersonnel mine in Afghanistan was disclosed as part of the June 2014 policy announcement. “And since the Ottawa Convention came into force in 1999, we are—or since 1991, excuse me—we are aware of only one confirmed operational employment by U.S. military forces, a single munition in Afghanistan in 2002.” US Department of State, “Daily Press Briefing,” 27 June 2014. In 1991, in Iraq and Kuwait, the US used 117,634 antipersonnel mines, mostly air-delivered. US General Accounting Office, “GAO-02-1003: MILITARY OPERATIONS: Information on US use of Land Mines in the Persian Gulf War,” September 2002, Appendix I, pp. 8–9.

[16] Choe Sang-Hun, “U.S. and South Korea Agree to Delay Shift in Wartime Command,” The New York Times, 24 October 2014.

[17] Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation (VVAF), “In Its Own Words: The U.S. Army and Antipersonnel Mines in the Korean and Vietnam Wars,” July 1997.

[19] Michael Crowley and John Ismay, “Biden Bans Most Antipersonnel Land Mine Use, Reversing Trump-Era Policy,” The New York Times, 21 June 2022.

[20] Beginning in 1961, the US emplaced approximately 50,000 antipersonnel and antivehicle mines along the perimeter of its facilities at Guantanamo Bay. Letter from Dr. George R. Schneiter, Director, Strategic and Tactical Systems, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, to HRW, 21 March 2000.

[21] Previously, on 26 December 2007, the comprehensive US moratorium on the export of antipersonnel mines was extended for six years until 2014. Public Law 110-161, Fiscal Year 2008 Consolidated Appropriations Act, Section 634(j), 26 December 2007, p. 487.

[22] The White House press release, “Fact Sheet: Changes to U.S. Anti-Personnel Landmine Policy,” 21 June 2022.

[25] HRW, “Clinton’s Landmine Legacy,” 9 July 2000.

[28] Information provided by the US Armed Services in Spring/Summer 2002. Cited in US General Accounting Office, “GAO-02-1003: MILITARY OPERATIONS: Information on U.S. use of Land Mines in the Persian Gulf War,” September 2002, Appendix I, pp. 39–43. See also, ICBL, Landmine Monitor Report 2009: Toward a Mine-Free World (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, October 2009).

[29] Data on types and quantities is from a 2010 Department of Defense document on file at HRW. Also listed in this document are 7.2 million antipersonnel mines designated as: “Unserviceable and Suspended” (190,458), “Former WRSA-K [War Reserve Stocks for Allies–Korea]” (520,050), and “demil” (6,528,568), which presumably means in the demilitarization account awaiting destruction.

[30] A US official confirmed to HRW that the US would not extend the shelf-life of existing systems, for example, by replacing their batteries. Monitor meeting with US Delegation, Mine Ban Treaty Third Review Conference, Maputo, 27 June 2014. Notes by HRW.

[31] US Department of Defense, “Department of Defense Press Briefing by Rear Adm. Kirby in the Pentagon Briefing Room,” 27 June 2014. In 2010, the Department of Defense indicated that the batteries in self-destructing and self-deactivating mines have a shelf-life of 36 years and estimated that the shelf-life of batteries in the existing stockpile of antipersonnel mines would expire between 2014 and 2033. This is according to a 2010 Department of Defense document on file at HRW.

[32] In 2015, US Secretary of State John Kerry said that the US “will begin destroying its anti-personnel landmine stockpiles not required for the defense of the Republic of Korea.” US Embassy in Georgia, “Statement by Secretary Kerry: UN International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action (April 3),” 3 April 2015.

[33] US Army, Award Notice on “Conventional Ammunition Demilitarization,” 22 December 2014. In July 2010, the US Army issued a notice for contractors “for potential demilitarization” of the munitions. US Army, Notice on “Family of Scatterable Munitions (FASCAM) Demil,” 13 July 2010.

[34] MAXAM press release, “EXPAL USA receives $156 million U.S. army contract,” 16 June 2015. See also, LinkedIn, “Expal USA,” undated (no longer available online).

[35] General Atomics, “McAlester Army Ammunition Plant,” undated.

[37] Presentation by Timothy K. Garrett, Site Project Manager, Anniston Chemical Agent Disposal Facility, US Army Chemical Materials Agency, “Preparing to Process Problematic Munitions,” undated.

[38] Presentation by US Department of Defense officials to civil society organizations, 13 February 2020.

Support for Mine Action

Last updated: 14 November 2023

In 2022, the United States (US) contributed some US$310.2 million in mine action support to 27 countries and one other area.[1] This represents a significant 59% increase from the $194.5 million provided in 2021.

US support to mine action was distributed among the following regions: Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asia ($104.3 million, or 34%, across five recipient countries/areas); East and South Asia and the Pacific ($101.1 million, or 32%, across eight recipient countries); the Middle East and North Africa ($58.7 million, or 19%, across seven recipient countries); the Americas ($24.6 million, or 8%, to one recipient country); and Sub-Saharan Africa ($21.4 million, or 7%, across seven recipient countries).

Contributions by recipient: 2022



Amount (US$)


Capacity-building, clearance, risk education, victim assistance



Clearance, risk education, victim assistance



Capacity-building, clearance, risk education



Clearance, risk education



Capacity-building, clearance, risk education



Clearance, risk education, victim assistance



Clearance, risk education



Clearance, risk education


Sri Lanka

Clearance, risk education






Clearance, risk education


Bosnia and Herzegovina

Clearance, risk education, victim assistance









Clearance, risk education, victim assistance



Clearance, risk education, victim assistance





Democratic Republic of the Congo

Clearance, risk education



Capacity-building, clearance, risk education


South Sudan

Clearance, risk education



Capacity-building, clearance, risk education, victim assistance






Clearance, risk education






Victim assistance








Solomon Islands







Mine action assistance approach

The US allocates the majority of its mine action funding via the Department of State’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, under the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, within the framework of its conventional weapons destruction efforts. Additional funding is allocated through the Patrick Leahy War Victims Fund, under the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The US is not party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions or the Mine Ban Treaty, but it has been the largest source of financial support to mine action efforts since the 1990s.

At the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Open Debate on Mine Action in April 2021, the US noted that its mine action assistance aimed at protecting civilians and creating a safe environment for people to live in. The US further added that it was following a “three-pronged approach” focusing on support for clearance, risk education, and rehabilitation.[2]

Five-year support to mine action

From 2018–2022, the cumulative US contribution to mine action totaled more than $1 billion. This represents a 28% increase on the $847.4 million provided in the previous five-year period from 2013–2017. Annual US support has totaled more than $100 million since 2009.

Summary of contributions: 2018–2022[3]


Amount (US$)

% change from previous year



















Note: N/A=not applicable.


[1] US Department of State, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA), “To Walk the Earth in Safety: Fiscal Year 2022: 1 October 2021–30 September 2022,” 4 April 2023.

[2] Statement by Amb. Linda Thomas-Greenfield, US Representative to the United Nations (UN), UNSC Open Debate on Mine Action, New York, 8 April 2021. 

[3] See previous Support for Mine Action country profiles. ICBL-CMC, “Country Profiles: United States,” undated.

Casualties and Victim Assistance

Last updated: 19 June 2010


Thirty-seven US soldiers were killed by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Iraq and 132 in Afghanistan in 2009, compared to 131 soldiers killed in Iraq, and 72 in Afghanistan in 2008.[2] It was not known how many incidents were caused by victim-activated IEDs.[3] In addition, five US soldiers were killed or injured by mines or explosive remnants of war (ERW). One US soldier was killed by a mine in Afghanistan;[4] one US soldier was killed and two were injured by an item of ERW at Camp Hansen in Okinawa, Japan;[5] and one US soldier was killed by a mine in Baghdad, Iraq.[6]

Between 1999 and 2009, Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor recorded 212 US mine/ERW/IED casualties (83 killed, 129 injured).[7]

Victim Assistance

The total number of mine/ERW/IED survivors in the US is likely to number in the thousands. From 2001 to 1 March 2010, 967 soldiers lost at least one limb in Iraq and Afghanistan.[8]

Survivor needs

In 2009, the Joint Department of Defense/Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) Disability Evaluation System (DES) piloted a single disability examination at 21 sites to assess whether 337 injured active duty soldiers should be discharged from the military based on injuries, wounds, or illnesses incurred during their service. Based on the information collected, it assisted the pilot participants in transitioning to civilian life with access to the benefits and services available to them through the DVA.[9]

Victim assistance coordination

Government coordinating body/ focal point


Coordinating mechanism(s)



DVA 2006―2011 Strategic Plan


The DVA is the lead government agency that assists all veterans, including those disabled from mines/ERW/IEDs, with offices in each of the 50 states, the Philippines, and the territories of American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.[10] The DVA Office of Survivors Assistance is the primary advisor to the government on policies and programs affecting survivors and dependents of deceased veterans and service members.[11]

Survivor inclusion

In February 2009, Tammy Duckworth, a disabled US veteran, was appointed as an assistant secretary of the DVA, helping to “overhaul the agency” with a goal of reducing bureaucratic obstacles to disability benefits.[12]

Service accessibility and effectiveness

Victim assistance activities in 2009

Name of organization

Type of organization

Type of activity

Changes in quality/coverage of service in 2009



Advocacy, rehabilitation, disability benefits, medical, reintegration

Increased  the available number of prosthetic providers, and capacity of mental health services

Department of Labor


Economic inclusion

New employment project for disabled veterans

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans for America



No change

Wounded Warrior Project



No change


In 2009, the DVA increased the number of local accredited orthopedic and prosthetic providers to ensure decentralized access to physical rehabilitation care. As of March 2010, it had contracted more than 600 local orthopedic and prosthetic providers.[13] The DVA also added additional mental health clinicians and increased its psychological support capacity to treat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), though stigma around mental health prevented many veterans from accessing available services.[14]

In January 2009, the Department of Labor initiated the “America’s Heroes at Work” employment pilot project to coordinate employment opportunities for veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury and/or PTSD and document best practices to help employers hire, accommodate, and retain veterans in the workplace.[15]

In 2009, the Wounded Warrior Project identified a number of shortcomings in the DVA’s Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment program. These included insufficient, temporary support payments for disabled veterans; too few counselors attending to program participants; insufficient reimbursement of program participation expenses; and a lack of long-term measurement mechanisms to quantify program success.[16]

On 30 July 2009, the US signed the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, but had not ratified it as of June 2010.

[1] In 2009, no mine/ERW casualties were identified on US territory; three ERW casualties were identified in 2008. Previously, Landmine Monitor did not report such incidents. Steve Szkotak, “Civil War cannonball kills Virginia relic collector,” The Boston Globe (Chester), 2 May 2008, www.boston.com; and Chelsea J. Carter, “Military cracks down on scrap-metal scavengers,” The Seattle Times (Twentynine Palms), 13 May 2008, seattletimes.nwsource.com.

[2] “Iraq Coalition Casualty Count: IED Fatalities by Cause of Death,” icasualties.org.

[3] Like landmines, victim-activated explosive devices are triggered by the presence, proximity, or contact of a person or vehicle. Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor analysis of media reports and US Department of Defense casualty reports from 1 January to 31 December 2009.

[4] Stephanie Gaskell, “As family says goodbye to Bronx marine who fell in Afghanistan, brother blames himself for loss,” Daily News (New York), 9 January 2009, www.nydailynews.com.

[5] Eric Talmadge, “60 years after Second World War, Okinawa still rife with bombs,” Canada East, 3 May 2009, www.canadaeast.com.

[6] US Department of Defense, “DoD Identifies Army Casualty,” Press release, No. 224-09, 7 April 2009, www.defense.gov.

[8] “As amputee ranks grow, wounded warriors bond,” Watertown Daily Times, 25 March 2010; and Kimberly Hefling, “Military sees increase in wounded in Afghanistan,” Huffington Post, 11 November 2009, www.huffingtonpost.com.

[9] DVA, “Fiscal Year 2009 Performance and Accountability Report: VA’s Performance,” www4.va.gov, p.20.

[10] DVA, www.va.gov.

[11] DVA, Office of Survivors Assistance, www.va.gov/survivors.

[12] Ed O’Keefe, “She is the face of the new generation: At VA and among vets, Duckworth is trying to reshape perceptions,” Washington Post, 11 November 2009, www.washingtonpost.com.

[13] DVA, Prosthetic and Sensory Aids Service, Orthotic & Prosthetic Services, www.prosthetics.va.gov.

[14] Alex Parker, “Back home, veterans fight different kind of war,” Chicago Tribune, 6 November 2009, www.chicagotribune.com.

[15] US Department of Labor, “America's Heroes at Work Employment Pilot,” www.americasheroesatwork.gov.

[16] Wounded Warrior Project, “2010 Policy Agenda,” www.woundedwarriorproject.org, pp.13–14.