Last Updated: 23 August 2014

Cluster Munition Ban Policy


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 cited its 2012 ratification law in its initial Article 7 report provided in June 2014.[1] It is not known if specific legislative measures will be undertaken to implement the Convention on Cluster Munitions.[2]

Iraq participated in some meetings of the Oslo Process that created the convention, but attended both the formal negotiations in Dublin in May 2008 and the Convention on Cluster Munitions Signing Conference in Oslo in December 2008 as an observer.[3] In December 2008, Iraq pledged to sign the convention as soon as possible after completing national and constitutional processes.[4] It subsequently signed the convention at the UN in New York in November 2009.

Iraq has continued to engage in the work of the Convention on Cluster Munitions since 2008. Iraq has attended every Meeting of States Parties of the convention, including the Fourth Meeting of States Parties in Lusaka, Zambia in September 2013, where it made a statement on Universalization. Iraq has participated in all of the convention’s intersessional meetings in Geneva, including in April 2014.

Iraq voted in favor of UN General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 68/182 on 18 December 2013, which expressed “outrage” at Syria’s “continued widespread and systematic gross violations of human rights…including those involving the use of…cluster munitions.”[5]

The Iraqi Alliance for Disability and other civil society groups have continued to campaign in support of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Iraq is a State Party to the Mine Ban Treaty. It is not party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons.

Production, transfer, and stockpiling

In its initial Article 7 report provided 27 June 2014, Iraq declared that it does not produce cluster munitions.[6] Previously, in 2011, Iraq informed the Monitor that “There are no facilities that produce cluster munitions in Iraq.”[7]

Prior to 2003, Iraq produced two types of cluster bombs: the NAAMAN-250 and NAAMAN-500.[8] It was also involved in joint development of the M87 Orkan (known in Iraq as Ababil) with Yugoslavia.[9]

In the Article 7 report, Iraq declared that it does not stockpile any cluster munitions, including for research and training and research purposes.[10]

Under the stockpiling section of the report, Iraq lists 92,092 munitions destroyed from 2003–2013 (prior to the convention’s entry into force) and 6,489 munitions destroyed in 2013, but these are likely cluster munition remnants destroyed in the course of clearance.[11] Previously, in June 2011, Iraq stated that its civil defense team had destroyed 20,819 “cluster items” in 2009–2010, and the Ministry of Defense had destroyed 6,265 “cluster items” in 2010.[12]

In the past, Iraq imported ASTROS cluster munition rockets from Brazil.[13] Jane’s Information Group in 1996 listed Iraq as possessing KMG-U dispensers (which deploy submunitions) and CB-470, RBK-250, RBK-250-275, and RBK-500 cluster bombs.[14] A type of rocket–delivered dual-purpose improved conventional munition (DPICM) submunition of Chinese origin, called Type-81, was found and documented by American deminers in Iraq in 2003 and the United States (US) military’s unexploded ordnance identification guide lists the Chinese 250kg Type-2 dispenser as being present in Iraq.[15]


Iraq may have used cluster munitions in the past. According to one source, Iraq used air-dropped cluster bombs against Iranian troops in 1984.[16]

Coalition forces used large numbers of 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 surface-launched artillery and rocket systems is not known, but an estimated 30 million or more DPICM submunitions were used in the conflict.[17] 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.[18]


[1] Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form A, 27 June 2014. The Article 7 report covers the period from 1 November 2011 to 31 March 2014.

[2] Ratification legislation, Law No. 89, was adopted by the Council of Representatives (parliament) and published in the Official Gazette on 15 October 2012.

[3] For details on Iraq’s cluster munition policy and practice through early 2009, see Human Rights Watch and Landmine Action, Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, May 2009), pp. 211–212.

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

[5]Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic,” UNGA Resolution 68/182, 18 December 2013. Iraq voted in favor of a similar resolution on 15 May 2013.

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

[7] “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 Human Rights Watch (HRW) Arms Division, 11 May 2011.

[8] 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.

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

[10] Iraq stated “not applicable.” Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form C and E, 27 June 2014.

[12] Presentation of Iraq, Convention on Cluster Munitions Intersessional Meetings, Geneva, 28 June 2011.

[13] 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.

[14] 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.

[15] 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.”

[16] 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.

[17] 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] HRW, Off Target: The Conduct of the War and Civilian Casualties in Iraq (New York: HRW, 2003).