Thailand Received Cluster Munitions from the United States in 2002-2005

By Andrew Haag, Senior Associate, Arms Division of Human Rights Watch

On 26 November 2002, the United States and Thailand agreed to dissolve the United States War Reserve Stock in Thailand (WRS-THAI), superseding a separate 1987 agreement which created the stockpile that included large quantities of air-dropped and ground-launched munitions. While the US retained and removed a certain number of the weapons, Thailand received the majority of the stockpile, including all of the cluster munitions totaling 2,806 air- and ground-launched cluster munitions, containing 850,268 submunitions. At the time of the 2002 agreement, these munitions were held at the Korat Munitions Storage Area.

The types of cluster munitions transferred to Thailand in the agreement were:

Cluster Munition Quantity Submunition type (quantity per container) Quantity
CBU-52 100 BLU-61 (220) 22,000
CBU-58 200 BLU-63 (650) 130,000
CBU-71 800 BLU-87 (650) 520,000
CBU-87 74 BLU-97 (202) 14,948
Mk-20 Rockeye II 200 Mk-118 (247) 49,400
M449A1 432 M43A1 (60) 25,920
M483 1,000 M42 and M46 (88) 88,000
Totals 2,806   850,268

The 2002 agreement stated that Thailand could use cluster munitions for “internal security, for legitimate self-defense, for participation in regional or collective arrangements or for measures consistent with the Charter of the United Nations.”

In return, Thailand provided the United States with “certain support and services without charge.” However, the document outlining the agreement does not delineate what kind of support or services Thailand was to provide.

In February 2011, the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC), a government entity, claimed that Thai military forces had fired cluster munitions during fighting on the border at Preah Vihear. Separate missions by members of the Cluster Munition Coalition in February and April 2011 confirmed that ground-delivered cluster munitions were used by Thailand on Cambodian territory, including M42/M46-type and M85-type DPICM submunitions.”

Neither Thailand nor the United States has joined the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions, which requires states to destroy their stockpiled cluster munitions within eight years.The United States has not sold or transferred any cluster munitions with a more than one percent unexploded ordnance rate since 2008. It provides financial, technical, and other assistance to foreign governments to destroy such “excess and obsolete” stocks of cluster munitions, but it is not clear if it has provided such assistance to the government of Thailand.

Dud submunitions collected from a scrap metal salvage yard in Xiangkhouang, Laos in October 2008. © Mark Hiznay/Human Rights Watch

Dud submunitions collected from a scrap metal salvage yard in Xiangkhouang, Laos in October 2008. © Mark Hiznay/Human Rights Watch

Citation: An expended CBU-52 cluster bomb on display Xiangkhouang, Laos at the South East Asia Regional Confernece on the Convention on Cluster Munitions in October 2008. © Mark Hiznay/Human Rights Watch

An expended CBU-52 cluster bomb on display Xiangkhouang, Laos at the South East Asia Regional Confernece on the Convention on Cluster Munitions in October 2008. © Mark Hiznay/Human Rights Watch

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