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Country Reports
Download PDF of country response to Human Rights Watch letter.


The Republic of Turkey has not signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions. It has produced, exported, and imported cluster munitions, and has a stockpile.

Turkey is party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW), but has not joined Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War.

Cluster Munition Ban Policy

In a letter to Human Rights Watch in March 2009, Turkey stated that it “attaches importance to the restriction of the use of cluster munitions” and shares the “humanitarian concerns behind the efforts limiting the indiscriminate use of cluster munitions.” Turkey stated that while it was “not making use of cluster munitions,” its primary aim is to fulfill its obligations under the Mine Ban Treaty. “Therefore, for the time being, we are not considering to sign the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions,” it said.[1]

At the Third Review Conference of the CCW in November 2006, Turkey did not support a proposal for a mandate to negotiate a legally-binding instrument “that addresses the humanitarian concerns posed by cluster munitions.”[2]

Turkey did not attend the first two international meetings of the Oslo Process in Oslo in February 2007 and Lima in May 2007. It did participate in the regional conference in Brussels in October and the two subsequent international conferences to develop the text of the convention in Vienna in December 2007 and Wellington in February 2008.

During the Vienna conference, Turkey stated that it favored a balanced approach to cluster munitions, taking into account both military and humanitarian concerns.[3] Turkey stated that it supported civil society assuming a role in the future convention similar to the one it played in monitoring the Mine Ban Treaty, though this should be contingent on the consent of the state concerned.[4]

At the Wellington conference, Turkey raised concerns over the implications of the future convention for “interoperability” (joint military operations with states not party).[5] Turkey supported a provision for retaining cluster munitions for training and research purposes.[6] Turkey said that the proposed timeframe for the destruction of cluster munition stockpiles must be realistic, based on its experience with destruction of its stockpiles of antipersonnel mines under the Mine Ban Treaty.[7] At the conclusion of the conference, Turkey did not join other states in subscribing to the Wellington Declaration, indicating a state’s intention to participate fully in the formal negotiations in Dublin on the basis of the Wellington text.

At a January 2008 session of the CCW, Turkey said it viewed the CCW and Oslo Processes as complementary and was supportive of an instrument in the CCW on cluster munitions.[8] In April, Turkey submitted a proposal for the main elements of a CCW protocol on cluster munitions.[9] During the same session, Turkey stated that a transition period is needed permitting states to use, stockpile, and possess cluster munitions “when strictly necessary,” as any restrictions on cluster munitions would require a new procurement process and the allocation of resources for alternative weapons.[10]

In May 2008, Turkey attended the negotiations of the Convention on Cluster Munitions in Dublin only as an observer, and as such did not join the 107 states that endorsed the convention text at the conclusion. At the time, a Turkish official defended Turkey’s position, saying, “In a war against a legitimate enemy, cluster munitions remain to be the most effective weapons against area targets, and we’ve got a lot of these munitions in our stocks. Unless you find a viable option to cluster munitions, you can’t simply rule out their use.” Instead of banning cluster munitions, the objective should be to make them safer for civilians, the official stated.[11]

Turkey participated in an Oslo Process regional conference in Sofia in September 2008 aimed at promoting signature of the convention. However, in December 2008, Turkey attended the Oslo signing conference only as an observer.

At the opening of the CCW session in November 2008, when the CCW negotiations on cluster munitions were scheduled to conclude, Turkey stated that it appreciated the standards reached in the Oslo Process, but cautioned that the CCW was a different setting which included major stockpilers and producers; it said a CCW protocol on cluster munitions would allow states not ready to join the Convention on Cluster Munitions “to engage themselves in the same direction.” It went on to say that “parallel processes do not need to overlap each other entirely. Furthermore, we need to see whether or not initiatives conducted outside the scope of the UN do contribute to the stability and effectiveness of global disarmament goals.”[12] When the CCW states failed to reach consensus, Turkey stated it supported the continuation of work in the CCW in 2009.[13]

During the Oslo Process there were domestic demands for Turkey to support a prohibition. Member of Parliament Ufuk Uras, chairperson of the Freedom and Solidarity Party, was especially active in pushing the government, as was the Initiative for a Mine-Free Turkey on the civil society side.[14] In October 2008, the Ban Bus, a mobile advocacy initiative to promote awareness on cluster munitions and the convention, stopped in Istanbul during its trip through 18 European countries. The Initiative for a Mine-Free Turkey held a widely covered press conference calling Turkey to go to Oslo to sign the convention.[15]

Use, Production, Transfer, and Stockpiling

In March 2009, Turkey stated that it “is not making use of cluster munitions.”[16] It is not known if or how often Turkey may have used cluster munitions in the past. In January 1994, the Turkish air force carried out an attack on the Zaleh camp of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) in northern Iraq near the Iranian border.[17] Turkish television reported that United States-supplied cluster bombs were used.[18]

Turkey has produced, imported, and exported cluster munitions and has a stockpile.

The Turkish company Makina ve Kimya Endustrisi Kurumu (MKEK) has produced under license M483A1 155mm artillery projectiles with dual purpose improved conventional munition (DPICM) submunitions.[19] It is unclear if this projectile is still in production. MKEK now produces an extended range M396 155mm projectile which contains self-destructing M85 DPICM submunitions.[20]

The firm Roketsan has produced the TRK-122 122mm rocket, which contains 56 M85 DPICM submunitions.[21] Turkey sold 3,020 of the TRK-122 122mm rockets to the United Arab Emirates in 2006–2007.[22]

A media article in August 2008 reported that Turkey and Pakistan were looking at potential cooperation in the “production of cluster bombs with 300–400 bomblets each for different missions,” as well as “the sale and production of 122 millimeter short-range and long-range multiple rocket launcher ammunition.”[23]

The US supplied Turkey with 3,304 Rockeye cluster bombs, each with 247 submunitions, at some point between 1970 and 1995.[24] In 1995, the US announced that it would provide Turkey with 120 ATACMS missiles with submunitions for its Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) launchers.[25] Turkey also possesses US-supplied M26 rockets, each with 644 submunitions, for its MLRS. The US announced in October 2004 its intent to transfer to Turkey two CBU-103 Combined Effects Munitions cluster bombs, each with 202 submunitions, and two AGM-154 Joint Stand-Off Weapons (JSOW), each with 145 submunitions.[26] In September 2005, it announced the proposed sale of another 50 CBU-103 and 50 JSOW.[27]

Slovakia reported the export of 380 AGAT 122mm rockets, each containing 56 submuntions, to Turkey in 2007.[28]

[1] Letter from Amb. Tomur Bayer, Director-General, International Security Affairs, 2 March 2009.

[2] Proposal for a Mandate to Negotiate a Legally-Binding Instrument that Addresses the Humanitarian Concerns Posed by Cluster Munitions, Presented by Austria, Holy See, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, and Sweden, Third Review Conference of the States Parties to the CCW, Geneva, CCW/CONF.III/WP.1, Geneva, 25 October 2006.

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

[4] Statement of Turkey, Session on Transparency and Compliance, Vienna Conference, 7 December 2007. Notes by CMC/WILPF.

[5] Statement of Turkey, Session on Definition and Scope, Wellington Conference on Cluster Munitions, 18 February 2008. Notes by CMC.

[6] Statement of Turkey, Session on Storage and Stockpile Destruction, Wellington Conference, 21 February 2008. Notes by CMC.

[7] Ibid. Turkey failed to meet its four-year deadline for stockpile destruction under the Mine Ban Treaty.

[8] Statement of Turkey, First 2008 Session of the CCW Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on Cluster Munitions, 14 January 2008. Notes by WILPF.

[9] Proposal for Main Elements of a Draft CCW Protocol on Prohibitions or Restrictions of Cluster Munitions, Submitted by Turkey, CCW/GGE/2008-II/WP.6, 8 April 2008. The restrictions and prohibitions consisted of Turkey’s view of the relevant elements of existing international humanitarian law.

[10] Statement of Turkey, Second 2008 Session of the CCW GGE on Cluster Munitions, 8 April 2008. Notes by Landmine Action.

[11] “Turkey, US won’t join cluster bomb ban,” Turkish Daily News, 30 May 2008.

[12] Statement of Turkey, Fifth 2008 Session of the CCW GGE on Cluster Munitions, 3 November 2008. Notes by Landmine Action.

[13] Statement of Turkey, 2008 Meeting of the States Parties to the CCW, 13 November 2008. Notes by Landmine Action.

[14] ICBL, “Cluster Bombs Can Be Banned – List of Events Worldwide,” 5 November 2007, www.icbl.org; and “Record of General Assembly,” Turkey Grand National Assembly, 16 April 2008, www.tbmm.gov.tr.

[15] CMC, “The Ban Bus in Turkey, 18 October 2008,” 21 October 2008, www.stopclustermunitions.org.

[16] Letter from Amb. Tomur Bayer, International Security Affairs, 2 March 2009.

[17] The PKK is currently listed as a terrorist organization by the European Union, NATO, the US, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia.

[18] It stated, “Fifty F-16 and F-4 warplanes, one reconnaissance plane, and five helicopters took part in the operation. The warplanes made 52 sorties during close to 30 minutes. They dropped a total of 132 bombs, including cluster bombs and 500- and 2000-pound bombs.” Human Rights Watch, “U.S. Cluster Bombs for Turkey?” Vol. 6, No. 19, December 1994, www.hrw.org, citing Foreign Broadcast Information Network, Western Europe, FBIS-WEU-94-0919, 28 January 1994, p. 26, from Ankara TRT Television Network in Turkish, 11:00 GMT, 18 January 1994.

[19] Leland S. Ness and Anthony G. Williams, eds., Jane’s Ammunition Handbook 2007–2008 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2007), pp. 635–636.

[20] MKEK, “155 mm M396 ERDP Ammunition,” undated, www.mkek.gov.tr.

[21] Roketsan, “122 mm Artillery Weapons Systems, Extended Range Rockets and 122 mm MBRL System,” undated, www.roketsan.com.tr; and Leland S. Ness and Anthony G. Williams, eds., Jane’s Ammunition Handbook 2007–2008 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2007), p.702.

[22] Turkey, UN Register of Conventional Arms, Submission for Calendar Year 2006, 22 March 2007, and submission for Calendar Year 2007, 7 July 2008.

[23] “Turkey to upgrade Pakistani F-16s as US sanctions ease,” Today’s Zaman, 8 August 2008, www.todayszaman.com.

[24] 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.

[25] Congressional Record, “Proposed Sale of Army Tactical Missile System to Turkey,” 11 December 1995, p. E2333, www.fas.org. Each ATACMS missile contains 300 or 950 submunitions.

[26] US Defense Security Cooperation Agency, Department of Defense, “Notifications to Congress of Pending US Arms Transfers,” No. 05-12, 7 October 2004.

[27] US Defense Security Cooperation Agency, “Turkey—Munitions and Aircraft Components for F-16 Aircraft,” Press release, Transmittal No. 05-29, 8 September 2005, www.dsca.mil; and US Defense Security Cooperation Agency, “Turkey—AGM-154A/C Joint Standoff Weapons,” Press release, Transmittal No. 05-33, 6 September 2005, www.dsca.mil.

[28] Slovakia, UN Register of Conventional Arms, Submission for Calendar Year 2007, 12 June 2008.