Washington’s statement came amid reports of the use of such mines by Russia during the fighting in Ukraine.
The administration of President Joe Biden has announced that it will restrict the use of anti-personnel mines by the U.S. military, which will bring Washington’s policy closer to an international treaty banning these deadly explosive devices.
The announcement marked a rejection of the less strict policy of the previous President Donald Trump and was adopted following an analysis that lasted more than a year.
Anti-personnel mines are buried in the ground or scattered on the surface and can pose a deadly threat to the civilian population for a long time after the end of hostilities.
Under the new policy, the U.S. will limit the use of such mines to efforts to help South Korea defend against a potential North Korean invasion.
Thus, the United States will not fully meet the requirements of the Ottawa Convention – the 1997 treaty on the elimination of anti-personnel mines.
The announcement appeared against the background of the use of such mines by Russia during its invasion of Ukraine.
“The world has once again witnessed the devastating consequences that anti–personnel mines can lead to in the context of Russia’s brutal and unprovoked war in Ukraine, where Russia’s use of these and other munitions has caused great damage to the civilian population and civilian objects,” said Adrienne Watson, a representative of the National Security Council.
The United States has an arsenal of 3 million anti-personnel mines. According to the new policy, mines that are not needed to protect South Korea will be destroyed. The Pentagon has not yet answered the question whether any mines will be written off.
Russia, like the United States, is not a party to the convention, and the human rights organization Human Rights Watch said that it documented the use of mines by Moscow during the invasion of Ukraine.
Colombia’s ambassador to the UN agencies in Geneva, Alicia Arango Olmos, who is leading the global campaign against the use of anti-personnel mines, called on Russia to stop their use.
“Anti–personnel mines only lead to casualties, they do not solve any problems,” she said in April.
Her office welcomed the U.S. statement.
“We welcome this timely decision and thank the United States for its commitment to the principles of the [Ottawa] Convention,” her office said in a tweet.