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Country Reports


The Republic of Iraq has not signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions. On 18 March 2009, at a special event on the convention at the UN in New York, Iraq stated that the Cabinet had recently approved signature of the convention and that the necessary legal procedures were underway.[1]

Of the four international Oslo Process diplomatic conferences to develop the convention text, Iraq participated in one, in Vienna in December 2007.[2] It also attended the Belgrade Conference for affected states in October 2007, and a meeting in Beirut in November 2008.

Iraq attended the formal negotiations in Dublin in May 2008 as an observer, and stated that Iraq supported the negotiation of a legally-binding instrument on cluster munitions.[3] Iraq also attended the Oslo signing conference in December 2008 as an observer. It stated that Iraq was one of the countries in the world most affected by explosive remnants of war and that that Iraqi civilians continue to live with the daily threat of unexploded ordnance. Iraq welcomed the adoption of the convention and stated it would sign as soon as possible, after the completion of national and constitutional processes.[4]

In January 2009, Iraqi Minister of the Interior Jawad Alpolani confirmed to campaigners that Iraq would be able to sign the convention soon.[5] As noted above, in March 2009, Iraq reported that the Cabinet had approved signature and legal procedures had begun.[6]

Iraq is not party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons.

Use, Production, Stockpiling, and Transfer

There is no definitive evidence that Iraq used cluster munitions in the past. Coalition forces used large numbers of cluster munitions in Iraq in 1991 and 2003. The United States, France, and the United Kingdom 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 dual purpose improved conventional munition (DPICM) submunitions were used in the conflict.[7] In the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the US and UK used nearly 13,000 cluster munitions containing an estimated 1.8 to 2 million submunitions.[8]

The current status of production facilities is not known, but the capability was likely destroyed in 2003. Prior to 2003, Iraq was active in acquiring surface-to-surface rockets with submunitions. This included joint development of the M-87 Orkan (known in Iraq as Ababil) with Yugoslavia.[9] It also imported ASTROS cluster munition rockets from Brazil.[10]

Iraq produced two types of cluster bombs called the NAAMAN-250 and NAAMAN-500.[11] Jane’s Information Group lists it as also possessing KMG-U dispensers (which deploy submunitions) and CB-470, RBK-250, RBK-275, and RBK-500 cluster bombs.[12]

Additionally, a number of SAKR rockets and CB-250 bombs modified to deliver chemical and biological agents were found by UN weapons inspectors in the arsenal of Iraq.[13]

[1] CMC, “Report on the Special Event on the Convention on Cluster Munitions, United Nations, New York, 18 March 2009”; CMC, “Laos Ratifies Cluster Bomb Ban Treaty,” Press release, 19 March 2009, www.stopclustermunitions.org.

[2] It did not participate in the initial meeting in Oslo in February 2007 or subsequent meetings in Lima and Wellington.

[3] Although Iraq was not a negotiating state, it shared its view that there should be no exclusions from the definition of a cluster munition based on technical criteria, noting that technologically advanced weapons had caused suffering when used against the people of Iraq. Statement of Iraq, Committee of the Whole, Dublin Diplomatic Conference on Cluster Munitions, 26 May 2008. Notes by Landmine Action.

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

[5] CMC, “CMC Newsletter,” January 2009, 13 February 2009, www.stopclustermunitions.org. In October 2008, during the Global Week of Action on cluster munitions, Iraqi campaigners launched a media campaign to raise awareness of the issue of cluster munitions and to encourage Iraq to sign the convention. Campaigners organized a workshop and sent letters to government officials and Iraqi missions worldwide. CMC, “Global Week of Action to Ban Cluster Bombs, 27 October – 2 November 2008,” www.stopclustermunitions.org.

[6] CMC, “Report on the Special Event on the Convention on Cluster Munitions, United Nations, New York, 18 March 2009”; and CMC, “Laos Ratifies Cluster Bomb Ban Treaty,” Press release, 19 March 2009, www.stopclustermunitions.org.

[7] Human Rights Watch, “Cluster Munition Information Chart,”March 2009, www.hrw.org; and Human Rights Watch, World Report 2004 (New York: Human Rights Watch, 2004), pp. 253–254.

[8] Human Rights Watch, Off Target: The Conduct of the War and Civilian Casualties in Iraq (New York: Human Rights Watch, 2003).

[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] 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 Magazine, 2 September 1991, www.time.com.

[11] Jane’s Air-Launched Weapons, Issue 24, July 1996.

[12] Ibid., 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, maic.jmu.edu. The KMG-U and RBKs were likely produced in the Soviet Union.

[13] Chile produced the CB-250. UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, “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.