The UK has announced that it has finished destroying its entire stockpile of cluster munitions, more than five years ahead of the schedule set by the treaty that bans cluster munitions. The UK has also stated that it has “no plans” to retain any cluster munitions[1]

“This is one of the most significant moments in the life of the treaty banning cluster bombs and the movement to eliminate them” said Thomas Nash, Director of Article 36.

“When this campaign started in 2003, nobody would have believed you if you had said that in ten years the UK, one of the major users of cluster bombs, would have banned the weapon and destroyed every last one of them. It shows what is possible and what can be overcome when governments and organisations work together for a humanitarian purpose. The UK’s stockpile destruction should encourage other states to join the ban, should dispel any lingering notions that ‘major powers’ are not on board, but most importantly it means that millions of submunitions will never be used and will never pose a threat to life or limb” said Nash.

The UK is party to the 2008 Convention on Convention on Cluster Munitions which requires states to destroy stocks of the weapon within eight years of its entry into force.

The UK has destroyed its entire arsenal of the weapon, which consisted of 190,828 cluster munitions and 38,758,898 submunitions. This included a variety of bombs, rockets and projectiles and submunitions including the M85, M77 and M42 type. It is estimated to have cost £40 million[2] and has been carried out by facilities in Germany and Italy.  A significant number of the munitions were already scheduled for destruction before the treaty was developed, having been purchased but never considered appropriate for operational use.

The UK Ministry of Defence announced on 19 December 2013:

“Mr Steve Slack, Platform Senior Project Officer, UK Ministry of Defence Equipment and Support General Munitions Project Team, places the very last of 38,758,898 submunitions into the cryofracture destruction plant.

The last Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) M26 bomblet was destroyed at Esplodenti Sabino’s facility, Casalbordino Italy, on Tuesday 17th December 2013. This completes the disposal of the United Kingdom’s entire Cluster Munitions stockpile, a requirement of the Oslo Convention, 5 years ahead of the mandated timeline.”

The UK is a former producer and user of the weapon. It used cluster munitions in the Falkland Islands in 1982, in Iraq and Kuwait in 1991, in the former Yugoslavia (including Kosovo) in 1999, and in Iraq in 2003.

[1] Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form I, 30 April 2013,$file/UK+2012+CCM.pdf

[2] Announcement at Second Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, Sept. 2011,

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