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Biden will move to limit use of land mines

President Biden decided on Tuesday to restrict the use of landmines by the United States military, in accordance with the 1997 Ottawa Treaty.

Anti-personnel mines that detonate on contact to kill disproportionately impact children and civilians, the White House said when announcing new policies that reverse former President Trump’s move to relax restrictions on landmines.

Under the new policy, the US will restrict the use of such explosives except on the Korean peninsula, where US officials said a commitment to defend South Korea against its northern counterpart prevents them from banning the use of landmines there.

The Ottawa Convention of 1997 banned the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel landmines.

President Biden decided on Tuesday to restrict the use of landmines by the US military, in accordance with the 1997 Ottawa Treaty

President Biden decided on Tuesday to restrict the use of landmines by the US military, in accordance with the 1997 Ottawa Treaty

A mine warning sign is seen in front of buildings destroyed by Russian shelling, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in Borodyanka, Kiev region, Ukraine on April 7

A mine warning sign is seen in front of buildings destroyed by Russian shelling, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in Borodyanka, Kiev region, Ukraine on April 7

Smoke rises after an explosion during a mine clearance mission by members of a mine clearance team of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine near the village of Hryhorivka, Zaporizhzhya region, on May 5, 2022

Smoke rises after an explosion during a mine clearance mission by members of a mine clearance team of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine near the village of Hryhorivka, Zaporizhzhya region, on May 5, 2022

A column of smoke rises over a field after a controlled detonation of explosives, Sumy region, northeast Ukraine, on June 17

A column of smoke rises over a field after a controlled detonation of explosives, Sumy region, northeast Ukraine, on June 17

Senior State Department official Stanley Brown said the policy contrasted with Russia’s extensive use of landmines.

“Today’s actions by the government are in stark contrast to Russia’s actions in Ukraine, where there is compelling evidence that Russian forces are irresponsibly using explosive munitions, including land mines,” Brown said.

The United States will also work to destroy all anti-personnel mine stocks except those necessary for the defense of South Korea.

Brown told reporters there are an estimated 3 million landmines in the stockpile.

A recent report by Human Rights Watch found that Russia is using landmines banned under international law, while Ukraine has adhered to the Ottawa Convention and has not deployed the devices.

The report found that Russia has used state-made landmines used for the first time in combat with Ukraine, including the POM-3 anti-personnel mine, which can cause lethal damage up to 15 meters away from the impact.

An explosion occurs during a mine clearance mission in one of the settlements hit by Russian artillery fire, Zaporizhzhya region, southeastern Ukraine on April 22

An explosion occurs during a mine clearance mission in one of the settlements hit by Russian artillery fire, Zaporizhzhya region, southeastern Ukraine on April 22

A man looks at the wreckage of an exploded minivan near Donetsk, Ukraine.  Four Ukrainian civilians were killed when a minivan carried them over a landmine as they waited to leave separatist-held territory in eastern Ukraine

A man looks at the wreckage of an exploded minivan near Donetsk, Ukraine. Four Ukrainian civilians were killed when a minivan carried them over a landmine as they waited to leave separatist-held territory in eastern Ukraine

Unexploded ordnance lies in a crater before a controlled detonation at a special landfill site during a mine clearance mission in the suburb of Kiev on May 27

Unexploded ordnance lies in a crater before a controlled detonation at a special landfill site during a mine clearance mission in the suburb of Kiev on May 27

Landmine use in Russia is also taking its toll on Ukraine’s crop yields – using agricultural vehicles on rural roads and trails has suddenly become a risky activity.

The United States last used anti-personnel landmines in 1991 during the Gulf War, Brown said, with the exception of a single incident in Afghanistan around 2002.

During the Persian Gulf War in 1991, the US dropped 117,634 land mines, mostly from aircraft, in Kuwait and Iraq.

Former US President Donald Trump eased restrictions on the US military’s use of anti-personnel mines in 2020, arguing that the previous policy could put US troops at a “serious disadvantage” in a move criticized by gun control proponents .

The administration of President Barack Obama said in 2014 it would no longer produce or otherwise acquire antipersonnel mines, including to replace existing US stockpiles.

The United States had also banned the use of the weapons outside the Korean peninsula.

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