U.S. Conventional Weapons Destruction Program in Iraq
Iraq is one of the most severely landmine- and unexploded ordnance-affected nations in the world, a consequence of over three decades of conflict dating back to the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s. Since 2003, the United States has invested more than $200 million in Conventional Weapons Destruction programs in Iraq aimed at clearance and safe disposal of landmines, unexploded ordnance and excess weapons and munitions. Directed through several Iraqi and international partner organizations, this assistance has made significant progress toward restoring Iraqi access to land and infrastructure, developing Iraqi capacity to manage such programs independently and protecting Iraqi communities from potential risks.
During Fiscal Year 2010, the Department of State’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs provided nearly $25 million in Iraq for conventional weapons destruction efforts that:
- Cleared landmines and unexploded ordnance from more than 18 million square meters across Iraq, boosting economic and agricultural development throughout the nation.
- Provided mine- and unexploded ordnance- risk education to nearly 35,000 Iraqi men, women and children. This includes an innovative program through the nongovernmental organization “Spirit of Soccer” to train male and female soccer coaches and to teach youth about the potential risks, which they in turn can spread throughout their communities.
Other State Department-funded partners in Iraq include:
- Danish Demining Group, which cleared unexploded ordnance in southern Iraq to improve socio-economic development opportunities.
- Iraq Mine/Unexploded Ordnance Clearance Organization (IMCO), which expanded its operations to southern Iraq and destroyed excess Iraqi armaments and munitions.
- Information Management and Mine Action Programs, which provided prosthetic training and equipment in northern Iraq, as well as information technology support to the Government of Iraq to build its own conventional weapons destruction capabilities.
- Marshall Legacy Institute, which continued its programs to train and field mine detection dogs and launched a new “Children Against Mines” Program.
- MAG (Mines Advisory Group), which conducted a combination of mine/unexploded ordnance risk education, minefield and battle-area clearance operations, explosive ordnance disposal, and small arms and light weapons destruction missions throughout the country.
- Montgomery Village Rotary Foundation, which continued to provide prosthetic training and equipment to doctors delivering services to underserved communities in southern Iraq.
- Norwegian People’s Aid, which provided technical support to the Regional Mine Action Center – South to develop local Iraqi humanitarian mine action expertise.
- RONCO Consulting Corporation, which provided management and operational training to IMCO as it expanded operations in southern Iraq.
- United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Mine Action Team – Iraq , which provided institutional development support to the Government of Iraq to support training senior and mid-level Iraqi military and civilian personnel at the U.S. Department of Defense’s Humanitarian Demining Training Center at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.
Despite progress, much work remains ahead. As much as 1,730 square kilometers of land in Iraq are still believed to contain as many as 20 million landmines and millions more pieces of unexploded ordnance, according to the United Nations. Roughly 90 percent of this area is located in agricultural lands, making clearance an economic necessity as well as a security priority.
The United States is the world’s single largest financial supporter of efforts to clear UXO and landmines. Since 1993, the United States has provided more than $1.8 billion toward landmine and UXO clearance and conventional weapons destruction in 81 countries. To learn more about the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement's conventional weapons destruction programs, visit 2009-2017.state.gov/t/pm/wra.