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Country Reports
IRAN, Landmine Monitor Report 1999


Mine Ban Policy

Iran has not signed the Mine Ban Treaty. Iran attended the treaty preparatory diplomatic meetings, and the Oslo negotiations, but only as an observer. It did not endorse the pro-treaty Brussels Declaration in June 1997. It came to the treaty signing conference in Ottawa in December 1997 as an observer, where it stated that it supported the efforts of the international community to ban landmines but before Iran could lend its support, it believed that “particular security concerns of states should be effectively addressed.”[39] Iran was absent from voting on the 1996 UN General Assembly resolution supporting negotiations of a total ban on antipersonnel mines, and was one of eighteen countries who abstained from voting on the 1997 UNGA resolution supporting the December treaty signing, and one of nineteen who abstained from voting on the 1998 UNGA resolution welcoming new signatories to the treaty and urging its full implementation.

Iran is not a party to the 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW). At the CCW Review Conference in Vienna in 1995, the Iranian representative stated that while the total elimination of mines backed by a comprehensive verification mechanism was the ideal, it did not seem realistic at present. He further called for a ban on undetectable mines and stated that future mines should be self-destructing.[40] Iran is a member of the Conference on Disarmament.

Production, Transfer, and Stockpiling

The U.S. Army indicates that Iran produced a copy of the U.S. M18A1 Claymore mine during the Shah’s reign but its current production status is unknown.[41] The Iranian Defence Industries Organization lists two antipersonnel mines produced by Iran: the YM-1 antipersonnel mine, and the Pedal Mine No. 4 (which appears to be a copy of the Israeli No. 4 mine).[42]

Iran is believed to have been a significant exporter of antipersonnel mines. At the signing of the Ottawa Convention in December 1997, the Iranian Ambassador stated that Iran does not export antipersonnel landmines.[43] At the UN General Assembly in November 1998, the Iranian Ambassador stated: “We have declared a moratorium on the export of antipersonnel landmines and expedited the process of accession to the strengthened Protocol II of the 1980 CCW.”[44] However, there is no legislation in place barring export of antipersonnel mines. Although Iran has stated that it no longer exports landmines, Afghanistan’s Taleban has accused Iran of supplying landmines and other weapons to the opposition.[45] In addition, the Iranian No. 4 Pedal mine has been found recently in Sudan, on the border with Uganda.[46]

Iran has also imported significant amounts of landmines. Between 1969 and 1978, Iran imported between 1.5 and 2.5 million antipersonnel landmines from the United States, primarily the M2, M14, M16A1, and M16A2 types.[47]

There is no reliable information on the current size or composition of Iran’s mine stockpile.

Mine Action

Iran has a serious problem with landmines. The Iranian government reports that sixteen million landmines were laid in Iran during the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-1988 and the southern provinces in particular are severely affected.[48]

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) began discussions with Iran in 1996 to develop a mine action program. UNDP initially invested $200,000, leading to a $3 million commitment from the Iranian government. Plans are underway to survey and mark mined areas and begin mine clearance. (See also the UNDP report).

Iran reports a lack of minefield maps and clearance equipment and places great emphasis on the international community’s responsibility for transfer of technology and facilitation of demining. A total of 1.2 billion rials ($400,000) were allocated to clearing the Kordestan province in 1998.[49] Estimates of how many mines have been cleared vary. In 1995, the Deputy Foreign Minister of Iran stated that of the sixteen million mines littering Iran, only 200,000 had been cleared. By 1997, the Iranian army cleared an additional 7,600 square kilometers (2,900 square miles).[50] At the November 1998 General Assembly, the Iranian Ambassador stated that since the end of the Iran-Iraq war, Iran had been able to destroy about 6.2 million mines and “unexploded devices.”[51]

Estimates of civilian casualties also vary. The government states that thousands of civilians are injured or killed each year and that on the border with Iraq alone, dozens of people are killed each year.[52] Villagers and shepherds often come into contact with landmines left over from the Iran-Iraq war. In December 1998, four shepherds were killed in a landmine blast in southwestern Iran.[53] The U.S. government lists 6,000 landmine casualties for Iran for an unspecified period of time.[54]


[39] Statement by H.E.S. M.H. Adeli, Ph.D. Ambassador of I.R. Iran in Ottawa Reflecting the Positions of Islamic Republic of Iran (as the Observer) in the Signing Conference of Anti-Personnel Land Mines Treaty, Ottawa 1-4 December 1997.

[40] Review Conference of the States Parties to the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects, Summary Record of the 4th Meeting, CCW/Conf.I/SR.4, 3 October 1995.

[41] U.S. Army Engineer Center, Mine Recognition and Warfare Handbook, Ft. Leonard Wood, November 1990, 102-3. Obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by Human Rights Watch.

[42] Defence Industries Organization Military Products Brochure, Islamic Republic of Iran.

[43] Statement by Amb. Adeli, Ottawa, 1-4 December 1997.

[44] Statement by H.E. Mr. Hadi Nejadj-Hosseinian Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations before the Fifty-Third Session of the United Nations General Assembly on the Agenda Item 42: Assistance in Mine Clearance, 17 November 1998.

[45] “Afghan Taleban Say Seize Iran-supplied Mines,” Reuters, 4 December 1998.

[46] Human Rights Watch, Sudan: Global Trade, Local Impact: Arms Transfers to All Sides in the Civil War in Sudan, Vol. 10, No. 4(A), August 1998, p. 20.

[47] One official U.S. source cites the 2.5 million figure, with a breakdown of sales year by year: U.S. Army, Armament, Munitions, and Chemical Command (USAMCCOM), Letter to Human Rights Watch, 25 August 1993, and attached statistical tables, provided under the Freedom of Information Act. Another official source gives the 1.5 million figure, without further details: Defense Security Assistance Agency, “US Landmine Sales by Country,” March 1994.

[48] Cited by the United Nations and the U.S. Department of State. See United Nations, Country Report: Iran, at http://www.un.org/Depts/Landmine/country/iranisla.htm, and Hidden Killers: The Global Landmine Crisis, U.S. Department of State, 1998.

[49] “Iran Steps up Mine-Clearing Efforts in Kordestan Province,” BBC Monitoring Service, 29 June 1998.

[50] United Nations, Country Report: Iran.

[51] Statement by H.E. Mr. Hadi Nejadj-Hosseinian to UNGA, 17 November 1998.

[52] United Nations, Country Report: Iran.

[53] “Landmine Explodes in Iran Killing and Wounding Four,” Agence France Press, 27 December 1998.

[54] Hidden Killers: The Global Landmine Crisis, U.S. Department of State, 1998, A-4.