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The Arab Republic of Egypt has not signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Egypt is not party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW), but regularly attends CCW meetings as an observer. Egypt is a producer, importer, and stockpiler of cluster munitions.

Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Egypt expressed interest in attending the first conference of the Oslo Process in February 2007 and was invited to participate by the government of Norway. During the conference, Egypt acknowledged that cluster munitions “have proven to cause high levels of civilian deaths and injury both during and after armed conflicts.” It stated its support for the Oslo Process as a “timely and necessary” initiative, but said that work should also continue in the CCW because “an inclusive approach—one that included major users and producers—offers the best way forward to reduce the humanitarian impact of these weapons and to guarantee the needed wide adherence and compliance.”[1]

Egypt suggested a “gradual and incremental process towards…regulating cluster munitions” and proposed three elements: a prohibition on use against civilian targets and in areas where civilians and combatants co-mingle; gradual disposal of stocks older than 20 years and those with high failure rates; and, post-conflict remedial measures with clear responsibility for users of the weapons for clearance and victim compensation.[2] At the conclusion, Egypt endorsed the Oslo Declaration, committing states to conclude a new convention prohibiting cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians in 2008.

Egypt attended all three of the subsequent international conferences to develop the convention text in Lima (May 2007), Vienna (December 2007), and Wellington (February 2008), as well as regional conferences in Livingstone (March/April 2008), and Beirut (November 2008). Egypt attended the formal negotiations in Dublin in May 2008 as an observer.

During the Lima conference, Egypt proposed that the future convention prohibit cluster munitions without self-destruct mechanisms immediately and other cluster munitions after a transition period. Egypt also proposed that states should destroy cluster munitions produced before 1988 within six to 11 years. Egypt called for strong provisions on the responsibilities of past users of cluster munitions, and proposed that users should bear the cost of clearance and compensation of civilian victims. [3]

At the Vienna conference, Egypt said that arguments for so-called smart cluster munitions were not convincing and would lead to a discriminating regime that would allow some countries to continue to use and produce munitions. It reiterated its call for users and producers to pay compensation to affected states. Egypt also stated that entry into force of the convention should explicitly depend on ratification by users and producers of cluster munitions.[4]

Following the Vienna conference, Egypt appeared to distance itself from the Oslo Process. It attended the Wellington conference, but did not endorse the Wellington Declaration, committing states to participate fully in the Dublin negotiations on the basis of the draft text. During the African regional conference in Livingstone, Egypt was the only country to refuse to endorse the Livingstone Declaration, which called for a comprehensive treaty with a prohibition that should be “total and immediate.”[5] Egypt chose to attend the Dublin negotiations as an observer, and did not make substantial contributions. Egypt did not attend the Signing Conference in Oslo in December 2008.

Use, Production, Stockpiling, and Transfer

Egypt has said that it has never used cluster munitions.[6] However, it does have a stockpile and has produced and imported the weapons. The Helipolis Company for Chemical Industries has produced 122mm and 130mm caliber artillery projectiles which contain 18 and 28 M42D dual purpose improved conventional munitions (DPICM) submunitions, respectively.[7] The SAKR Factory for Developed Industries has developed and produced two types of 122mm surface-to-surface rockets: the SAKR-18 and SAKR-36, containing 72 and 98 M42D submunitions respectively.[8] A number of SAKR rockets were found in Iraq’s arsenal by UN weapons inspectors, possibly indicating export by Egypt.[9]

Egypt is also a significant recipient of exports of cluster munitions, primarily from the United States. The US provided at least 760 CBU-87 cluster bombs, each containing 202 bomblets, to Egypt in the early 1990s.[10] Lockheed Martin Corporation was awarded US$36.1 million to produce 485 M26A1 Extended Range Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) rockets, each containing 644 submunitions, for Egypt in November 1991.[11] Between 1970 and 1995, the US supplied Egypt with 1,300 Rockeye cluster bombs, each containing 247 bomblets.[12] Jane’s Information Group also notes that KMG-U dispensers which deploy submunitions, likely produced by the Soviet Union, are in service for Egypt’s aircraft.[13]

[1] Statement by Ehab Fawzy, Deputy Assistant Foreign Minister for International Political Affairs, Oslo Conference on Cluster Munitions, 22 February 2007. Notes by CMC/WILPF.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Proposal by Egypt for the Amendment of the Lima Discussion Text, Lima Conference on Cluster Munitions, 23–25 May 2007,

[4] Statement of Egypt, Vienna Conference on Cluster Munitions, 5 December 2007. Notes by CMC/WILPF.

[5] Livingstone Declaration, Livingstone Conference on Cluster Munitions, 1 April 2008; CMC, “Report on the Livingstone Conference on Cluster Munitions, 31 March – 1 April 2008,” www.stopclustermunitions.org.

[6] Statement of Egypt, Oslo Conference on Cluster Munitions, 22 February 2007.

[7] Leland S. Ness and Anthony G. Williams, eds., Jane’s Ammunition Handbook 2007–2008 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2007), pp. 582, 589–590.

[8] Ibid, p. 707.

[9] The SAKR rockets were the “cargo variant” but had been modified by the Iraqis to deliver chemical weapons. “Sixteenth quarterly report on the activities of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission in accordance with paragraph 12 of Security Council resolution 1284 (1999),” S/2004/160, Annex 1, p. 10.

[10] One report indicates Egypt purchased 160 CBU-87 cluster bombs in 1991: “Dozen + Mideast Nations Bought Weapons since Gulf War,” Aerospace Daily, 10 December 1991. Another report indicates Egypt then purchased 600 CBU-87 cluster bombs in 1992: Barbara Starr, “Apache buy will keep Israeli edge,” Jane’s Defence Weekly, 1 October 1992.

[11] “US Army Aviation & Missile Command Contract Announcement: DAAH01-00-C-0044,” US Department of Defense, Press release, No. 575–01, 9 November 2001, www.defenselink.mil.

[12] US Defense Security Assistance Agency, Department of Defense, “Cluster Bomb Exports under FMS, FY1970-FY1995,” 15 November 1995, obtained by Human Rights Watch in a Freedom of Information Act request, November 28, 1995.

[13] Robert Hewson, ed., Jane’s Air-Launched Weapons, Issue 44 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2004), p. 838.