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Biden Admin Limits Use of Landmines

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Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley speaking to a committee. | Image by Sarahbeth Maney, The New York Times

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The Biden Administration announced last week that it would limit the use of anti-personnel landmines by the U.S. military.

The new policy will exclude the demilitarized zone (DMZ) on the border between North and South Korea.

Bonnie Jenkins, an undersecretary of state, stated, “The United States’ new policy on anti-personnel land mines is centered on people, the communities, and the individuals worldwide who seek peace and security,” per NPR.

Over 7,000 people worldwide are killed by anti-personnel mines every year, most of them civilians, and many are children, according to The Washington Post.

The new U.S. policy concerning anti-personnel landmines was summed up by Stanley Brown, deputy assistant secretary of the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs.

Brown stated, “The United States will not develop, produce, or acquire anti-personnel landmines, not export or transfer anti-personnel landmines except when necessary for activities related to mine destruction or removal and for the purpose of destruction.”

The statement continued, “They will not use anti-personnel landmines outside the Korean Peninsula, they will not assist, encourage, or induce anyone outside the context of the Korean Peninsula to engage in activity that would be prohibited by the Ottawa Convention, and undertake to destroy anti-personnel landmines and their stockpiles not required for the defense of the Korean Peninsula.”

The Ottawa [Treaty] is an international agreement to ban the use and distribution of anti-personnel landmines, signed by 40 nation-states and acceded to by 124 others.

China, Iran, Israel, North and South Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the United States, among others, have not acceded to the treaty.

The U.S. military currently has a stockpile of over 3 million anti-personnel landmines, many of which feature self-deactivation or self-destruction capabilities, according to The Washington Post.

In April, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley discussed anti-personnel landmines with the Senate Armed Services Committee.

He said they are “very effective” in Ukraine’s current defensive war against Russia. General Milley discussed concerns about anti-personnel landmines harming civilians and stated that the U.S. military is working on developing more sophisticated mines that could deactivate on their own.

General Milley stated, “The reason we’re developing a newer one is so they time out and they don’t present harm after the conclusion of hostilities. And they would self-detonate or self-destroy or become inert at the end of hostilities.”

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