US says it will stop producing land mines

McClatchy Washington BureauJune 27, 2014 

The US announced today it will not produce or "otherwise acquire" any more anti-personnel landmines -- including not replacing existing stockpiles as they expire. But it stopped short of saying it would now sign a 1997 treaty that bans the use of land mines and requires countries to destroy existing stockpiles.

The U.S. at a meeting in Maputo, Mozambique, "made clear that we are diligently pursuing solutions that would be compliant with and ultimately allow the United States to accede to the Ottawa Convention," said National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden.

The U.S. is now conducting a "high fidelity modeling and simulation effort" to determine how to mitigate the risks associated with the loss of using landmines, Hayden said.

The United States is the world’s single largest financial supporter of humanitarian mine action, providing more than $2.3 billion in aid since 1993 in more than 90 countries for conventional weapons destruction programs, Hayden said.

The move follows previous US steps to end the use of all non-detectable mines and all persistent mines, which can remain active for years after the end of a conflict.

The Obama administration has been under pressure to join the convention, which both the Clinton and Bush administration rejected.

Physicians for Human Rights said the US has made progress by committing not to create more mines, but criticized it for falling short of signing the Mine Ban Treaty.

“The U.S. government’s announcement that it will stop producing landmines is a step in the right direction, but we remain concerned about anything less than a full commitment to sign the Mine Ban Treaty as soon as possible,” said Widney Brown, the group's director of programs. “The U.S. government has been missing a key opportunity to lead on a groundbreaking agreement that has achieved great success in preventing deaths of innocent victims, including many children.”

Brown noted the announcement came during a conference on the progress of the 1997 treaty which bans the use, trade, production, and stockpiling of antipersonnel mines and requires signatories to participate in demining and victim assistance efforts. To date, 161 countries have signed the treaty.

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