WASHINGTON – The United States took a major humanitarian step forward today, announcing that it would not use land mines in warfare, except on the contentious Korean peninsula.
The U.S. State Department announced Tuesday that it will not use land mines outside of the Korean Peninsula, “where our actions are governed by the unique situation there.”
The U.S. remains, technically, in a state of war with North Korea (DPRK), even though major hostilities ceased in 1953. Hostile rhetoric, threats and actions from various DPRK leaders has kept the region on high alert for decades. The DPRK has a 2 million man army poised near the pro-west South Korea, and could invade at anytime.
This policy change announced today builds on prior commitments from the Obama administration, “including our announcement in June, in which we stated we will no longer produce or acquire anti-personnel land mines” and “underscored its commitment to the spirit and humanitarian aims of the Ottawa Convention”, the treaty that prohibits the use, stockpiling, production, and transfer of anti-personnel land mines.
According to Human Rights Watch, antipersonnel landmines are weapons that cannot discriminate between a civilian or a soldier, and wind up killing and maiming civilians that step on them or pick them up long after a conflict. The 1997 Mine Ban Treaty comprehensively bans the use, production, stockpiling, and transfer of antipersonnel mines, and requires states to destroy their stockpiles and clear all mined areas as well as assist landmine survivors. A total of 162 states have joined the Mine Ban Treaty and are making progress in achieving a mine-free world. The United States has yet to sign the Mine Ban Treaty.