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Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has not signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Saudi Arabia has not made any public statements regarding its cluster munition policy. It attended the international preparatory conferences of the Oslo Process in Vienna in December 2007 and Wellington in February 2008, and attended as an observer the formal negotiations in Dublin in May 2008. It did not make any interventions during these meetings.[1]

Saudi Arabia is party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW), but has not joined Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War. Saudi Arabia has not participated actively in the CCW discussions on cluster munitions in recent years.

Both Saudi and United States forces used cluster munitions on the territory of Saudi Arabia in 1991 in response to an incursion by Iraqi armor units in the prelude to Operation Desert Storm. Human Rights Watch has been told that Saudi forces used cluster munition rockets from the Brazilian-produced ASTROS multiple launch rocket system[2] against Iraqi forces during the battle of Khafji in January 1991, leaving behind significant amounts of unexploded submunitions.[3]

Jane’s Information Group reports that British-produced BL-755 cluster bombs are in service with the Saudi air force.[4] The US transferred to Saudi Arabia 1,000 CBU-58 and 350 CBU-71 cluster bombs at some point between 1970 and 1995.[5] In 1991, the US announced its intent to transfer 1,200 CBU-87 Combined Effects Munitions cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia.[6] In addition, the US transferred 600 CBU-87 cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia as part of a larger arms sales package announced in 1992.[7]

Saudi Arabia is not known to have produced or exported cluster munitions.

[1] It did not endorse the Oslo Declaration pledging to conclude a new cluster munition treaty in 2008 or the Wellington Declaration committing to participate fully in the Dublin negotiations.

[2] Terry J. Gander and Charles Q. Cutshaw, eds., Jane’s Ammunition Handbook 2001–2002, (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2001), p. 630.

[3] Human Rights Watch interviews with former explosive ordnance disposal personnel from a Western commercial clearance firm and a Saudi military officer with first-hand experience in clearing dud dual-purpose bomblets from ASTROS rockets and dud bomblets from US Rockeye cluster bombs, names withheld, Geneva, 2001–2003.

[4] Robert Hewson, ed., Jane’s Air-Launched Weapons, Issue 44 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2004), p. 845.

[5] 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, 28 November 1995.

[6] US Defense Security Assistance Agency, Department of Defense, “Notifications to Congress of Pending US Arms Transfers,” 25 July 1991.

[7] US Defense Security Cooperation Agency, Department of Defense, “Notifications to Congress of Pending US Arms Transfers,” #92–42, 14 September 1992.