U.S. Cluster Munition Coalition Condemns Fourth Transfer of U.S. Cluster Munitions

Wednesday, March 13, 2024
The U.S. Cluster Munition Coalition (USCMC) once again condemns the actions of President Biden in transferring internationally prohibited cluster munitions to another country. The USCMC firmly opposes any transfers of these weapons to any party, including Ukraine. Following the widespread condemnation by the international community and civil society to President Biden’s decision to transfer these prohibited weapons three times in 2023, the USCMC is appalled by the Biden administration’s decision to initiate yet another transfer of these indiscriminate weapons.
According to the announcement, the transfer includes 155mm artillery rounds, including DPICM (cluster munitions). The United States stockpiles 155mm M864 cluster munition artillery projectiles that each contain 72 DPICM submunitions, and 155mm M483A1 artillery projectiles that each contain 88 DPICM submunitions. However, the exact type and quantity of cluster munitions transferred is not specified by the announcement.
Cluster munitions are not a “winning weapon” and will only cause greater suffering to civilians, especially children, today and for decades to come. Cluster munitions are indiscriminate weapons that blanket large areas, contaminating land and inflicting disproportionate harm on civilians. The 2023 Cluster Munition Monitor report found that there were at least 1,172 new cluster munition casualties globally in 2022, the highest annual number of cluster munition casualties since at least 2010. There were 890 casualties recorded in Ukraine alone. In 2022, civilians accounted for approximately 95% of all cluster munition casualties. Children account for roughly half of the casualties from cluster munition remnants.
As the U.S. Cluster Munition Coalition noted in a June 14, 2023 letter to President Biden, “Any claims of potential tactical benefits of the transfer and subsequent use of cluster munitions by Ukraine in the defense of its territory, dismisses both the substantial danger that cluster munitions pose to civilians, and the international consensus on their prohibition.
A total of 123 countries, including the vast majority of NATO member states, have prohibited cluster munitions by signing or ratifying the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which bans the use, production, transfer, and stockpiling of these weapons. In December 2023, the last state party with stockpiles of cluster munitions destroyed them.
The United States transferred cluster munitions delivered by ballistic missiles (ATACMS) to Ukraine last October and transferred cluster munitions delivered by 155mm artillery projectiles in July and September 2023. The 2023 transfers of U.S. cluster munitions to Ukraine prompted criticism from more than two dozen world leaders and top officials. This latest transfer will only erode the global norm against their use, further endangering civilians worldwide.
Following the 2023 decision to transfer cluster munitions, the U.S. Cluster Munition Coalition appealed to the Biden administration to answer basic questions regarding the transfer of cluster munitions to Ukraine. However, the administration did not provide written public answers to these questions.
The U.S. Cluster Munition Coalition urges the United States to change course and end its complicity in the use of these globally prohibited, devastating, and indiscriminate weapons. The U.S. Cluster Munition Coalition calls on President Biden to immediately halt the transfer of these banned weapons given the significant humanitarian, human rights, and political risks involved. Further, the U.S. Cluster Munition Coalition reiterates its longstanding call for the United States to end the use, transfer, and stockpiling of cluster munitions, to swiftly join the Convention on Cluster Munitions, and to encourage its partners and allies to do the same.

The U.S. Cluster Munition Coalition is a coalition of non-governmental organizations working to achieve a comprehensive U.S. ban on cluster munitions as well as U.S. accession to the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions, which more than 120 nations have joined. Our coalition also calls for sustained U.S. government financial support for the clearance of cluster munition remnants and assistance for victims of the weapons.
Experts for Contact:
Sera Koulabdara [email protected] Chair, U.S. Cluster Munition Coalition and CEO, Legacies of War
Mary Wareham [email protected] Deputy Arms Director, Human Rights Watch
Titus Peachey [email protected] Steering Committee Member, U.S. Cluster Munition Coalition and Emeritus Board Chair, Legacies of War
Daryl G. Kimball [email protected] Executive Director, Arms Control Association
Jeff Meer, [email protected] U.S. Executive Director, Humanity & Inclusion