By J C Suresh
TORONTO | WASHINGTON, DC (IDN) —In yet another move to reverse former President Barack Obama’s strategies for a more humane world, the Trump administration is poised to rescind his predecessor’s 2014 directive to no longer “produce or otherwise acquire any anti-personnel landmines,” known as APLs, according to several media reports. APLs are small explosive devices placed under, on, or near the ground. The new policy would reportedly lift current restrictions on deploying landmines outside the Korean Peninsula.
“The resumption of the use of anti-personnel land mines and continued stockpiling and production of these indiscriminate weapons is militarily unnecessary and dangerous,” says Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association.
“If the Trump administration seeks to reverse the Obama-era policy on anti-personnel mines, Congress should respond by imposing a ban on the deployment of any type of anti-personnel land mine in new theaters of operation,” Kimball states.
More than 160 nations have signed the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, which prohibits the use, development, production, stockpiling or transfer of anti-personnel land mines, which pose a serious threat to civilian populations caught up in conflict and war, often for years after fighting has stopped.
The United States is not a signatory to the treaty and continues to stockpile millions of APLs. The last time the United States used anti-personnel mines in a substantial way was in Iraq and Kuwait in 1991. The only exception was the use of a single antipersonnel mine in Afghanistan in 2002.
“The world has rejected landmines because they are indiscriminate and disproportionately harm civilians, who make up the vast majority of landmine casualties,” said Jeff Abramson, a senior fellow with the Arms Control Association and coordinator of the Forum on Arms Trade.
“Technical solutions to make landmines self-destruct or otherwise labeled as ‘smart’ have failed to work as advertised and been rejected by the 164 counties, including all U.S. NATO allies, that have joined the Mine Ban Treaty.”
“The world has moved on from the use of landmines. The United States should too,” Abramson said. [IDN-InDepthNews – 30 January 2020]
Useful links: The Ottawa (Land Mine) Treaty at a Glance, January 2018
“Mine Ban Treaty Members Reaffirm Goals,” Arms Control Today, January/February 2020
United States Mine Ban Policy, Landmine and Cluster Munitions Monitor, October 2018
U.S. Landmine Policy, Forum on the Arms Trade, January 2020
Image: Blast mine – American M14, Source: Wikimedia Commons.
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