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The US bans the manufacture and use of anti-personnel mines except in defense of South Korea

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A poster warns of the danger of mines at Bagram Air Base (Afghanistan), which was abandoned by the US on March 22 before the Taliban arrived.Mikhail Metzel (AP)

The United States government has announced a significant change in its policy on anti-personnel mines, banning their manufacture and use worldwide except for the Korean Peninsula. The decision reverses the Donald Trump administration’s doctrine on this matter and is in line with that of the rest of NATO member countries, as well as with the majority of the rest of the world, the more than 160 signatory countries to the Ottawa Convention. a 1997 international agreement banning the use, stockpiling, manufacture and transfer of anti-personnel mines. Washington’s move supports the main requirements of the convention but does not imply ratification of the treaty. China, India and Russia are not included either.

With this change, Washington definitively dismisses the “disproportionate impact” of this type of weaponry on civilian populations, which would have been evident in Russia’s “brutal” offensive against Ukraine. “The government’s actions today are in stark contrast to Russia’s actions in Ukraine, where there is compelling evidence that Russia is irresponsibly using explosive munitions, including landmines,” said State Department’s Stanley Brown. “Russia’s use of explosive ordnance is causing significant harm to civilians and damaging vital civilian infrastructure,” the official added.

Aside from South Korea, where there will be no changes due to its “unique circumstances,” Washington reserves the ability to export and transfer this type of weaponry “if necessary for mine detection and removal activities.” “. With this in mind, the US authorities are committed to stepping up their demining work and attention to victims. The White House recalled in the statement that since 1993, the United States has provided $4,200 million in aid to more than a hundred countries for demining and artifact destruction.

For her part, US National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson underscored that by taking this step, the Joe Biden administration is committed to solidifying the United States’ role “as a global leader in limiting the harmful effects of anti-Semitism.” -Personnel mines around the world. “We will continue this important work as we take another step to reclaim American leadership on the world stage,” Watson concluded, recalling the $4.2 billion made available to more than a hundred countries to “make the… promote international peace and security through conventional weapons extermination programs.

During the Cold War, the US placed thousands of mines in the Demilitarized Zone between the two Koreas, the buffer zone that separated the two countries since the end of the war in 1953, as a deterrent against a possible ground invasion of the North. The Seoul government, one of Washington’s staunchest allies in Asia, took control of the minefields in 1991.

Biden is making good on one of his campaign promises by reversing Trump-era policies he once described as “reckless.” The measure effectively returns to guidelines set in 2014 by the administration of Barack Obama, also a Democrat, which banned the use of anti-personnel mines except in defense of South Korea. The Trump administration eased those restrictions in 2020, citing a new focus on “strategic major power competition with major militaries,” an apparent nod to China.

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International human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch have hailed Washington’s decision as a reasonable, if insufficient, step in the right direction. The International Campaign to Ban Anti-Personnel Mines has in recent years denounced a worrying trend in the use of this type of weapon, which not only poses an immediate threat but also, in the medium and long term, as many of them remain abandoned, undermines farmland, thoroughfares and civilian areas and therefore continue to kill many years after the end of the conflict, as evidenced by the more than 7,000 deaths and injuries in 54 countries and territories in 2020. At least half of these victims were children.

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Source elpais.com

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