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US rolls back more permissive 2020 anti-personnel landmine policy, again limits use to Korean Peninsula

Shown here is a US Army Standoff Activated Volcano Obstacle mock-up during Saber Junction 2017 in Germany. On 21 June 2022 the US announced it would revert back to an Obama-era policy restricting the use of anti-personnel landmines to the Korean Peninsula. (US Army)

Washington is reverting to an Obama administration era policy that restricts the use of anti-personnel landmines to the Korean Peninsula.

“At the president's direction, the United States will align its policy concerning use of these weapons outside of the Korean Peninsula with key provisions of the Ottawa Convention, the international treaty prohibiting the use, stockpiling, production, and transfer of anti-personnel landmines,” National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a 21 June announcement.

She noted that President Joe Biden will “prohibit” the development, production, and acquisition of anti-personnel landmines prohibited under the Ottawa Convention but did not announce that the US would sign onto the treaty.

The president “will direct the Department of Defense to undertake diligent efforts to pursue alternatives to anti-personnel landmines that would be compliant with and ultimately allow the United States to accede to the Ottawa Convention, while ensuring our continued ability to respond to global contingencies,” Watson added.

Several countries began signing on to a treaty banning anti-personnel landmines in 1997 and it went into effect in 1999. Often referred to as the Ottawa Convention, 164 countries have signed it, although others – including the China, India, Iran, North Korea, Russia, South Korea, and United States – have not. In 2014 the Obama administration announced that it would not use such weapons outside the Korean peninsula and would destroy stockpiles that are not required there.

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