When the Oslo Convention, the central treaty on the prohibition of cluster munitions worldwide, entered into force on 1 August 2010, the Federal Republic of Germany undertook to refrain from using, developing or acquiring cluster munitions and to destroy all stockpiles within eight years.
During the Cold War, the Bundeswehr possessed more than half a million cluster munition shells of various types, with a total of over sixty million explosive submunitions.
The last Bundeswehr cluster bombs were destroyed today. At the behest of the Federal Ministry of Defence, firms specialised in explosive ordnance disposal have destroyed a total of 50,000 tonnes of cluster munitions in Germany over the past few years.
Defence Minister von der Leyen made the following statement in this regard:
The German Government has fulfilled its obligations almost three years more quickly than required under the Convention. The destruction of such a massive amount of munitions is another milestone in our work towards worldwide disarmament. Germany has thereby once again demonstrated its capabilities and experience in explosive ordnance disposal and has drawn attention to our responsible actions in the field of security policy.
The Bundeswehr never used cluster munitions itself. Cluster munitions are hazardous above all because a considerable percentage fail to explode and thus endanger civilians long after the end of any given armed conflict.
Federal Foreign Minister Steinmeier stated the following:
Cluster munitions cause immeasurable suffering around the world. It is good news that the last German stockpiles of cluster munitions have been permanently destroyed today. However, the use, clearance and disposal of cluster munitions still pose a great challenge around the globe. The German Government will continue to help other countries destroy their stockpiles and clear their territory of explosive mines and munitions. Our goal is and remains a worldwide ban on cluster munitions.