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IRAQ , Landmine Monitor Report 1999


Iraq did not participate in any of the diplomatic meetings of the Ottawa Process and did not sign the Mine Ban Treaty. Iraq is not a party to the 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons. Iraq became a member of the Conference on Disarmament (CD) in 1996. The Iraqi Ambassador to the UN urged the CD to launch negotiations on a global landmine ban in 1997.[1]

Iraq is both a producer and an exporter of antipersonnel mines. It is the only known mine exporter in the world that has not instituted an export ban or moratorium, or at least made a policy declaration of no current export. Iraq began producing mines in the 1970s. It has manufactured a copy of the Italian Valmara 69 bounding antipersonnel mine[2], at least one antipersonnel mine developed with Yugoslav assistance, one ex-Soviet model and two older Italian mine designs.[3] Though Iraq deployed enormous quantities of mines in Kuwait and Iraqi Kurdistan, the vast majority of mines used were imported. The U.S. Army and the Defense Intelligence Agency have identified antipersonnel mines from the following countries as having been used by Iraq in Iraqi Kurdistan, in Kuwait, on the borders with Kuwait and/or Saudi Arabia, or found in Iraqi stocks: Belgium, Canada, Chile, China, Egypt, France, Italy, Romania, Singapore, the former Soviet Union, and the United States.[4]

Two of the most common landmines found in Iraq are the Italian Valmara 69 and VS-50. In 1991, seven executives of the Italian producer Valsella were convicted of illegally exporting nine million landmines to Iraq between 1982 and 1985.[5] Iraq then began manufacturing copies of the Valsella mines.

Iraq is severely mine-affected as a consequence of the Gulf War, the Iran/Iraq War, and two decades of internal conflict (see section on Iraqi Kurdistan for a discussion of the mine situation in that region). In addition to the many millions of mines in Iraqi Kurdistan, it is estimated that millions more are planted on the borders with Iran and Kuwait, in rural farmland, around water sources, and elsewhere in Iraq.[6] Mine awareness and mine clearance programs appear to focus solely on Iraqi Kurdistan.


[1] Stephanie Nebehay, “Iraq Calls on Middle East States to Reveal Arms,” Reuters, 14 August 1997.

[2] Middle East Watch, Hidden Death: Land Mines and Civilian Casualties in Iraqi Kurdistan (New York: Human Rights Watch, October 1992), p. 40-41.

[3] U.S. Army Intelligence Agency - Foreign Science and Technology Center, Operation Desert Shield Special Report: Iraqi Combat Engineer Capabilities, Supplement 2: Barriers and Fortification Protection, 30 November 1990, AST-266OZ-131-90-SUP 2, p. 31.

[4] Human Rights Watch and Physicians for Human Rights, Landmines: A Deadly Legacy (New York: Human Rights Watch, October 1993), p. 104.

[5] Ibid, p. 198.

[6] U.S. Department of State, Hidden Killers, July 1993, p. 104; Hidden Killers, December 1994, p. 24.