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The US military wants to get rid of its stockpile of landmines

It also wants to join a global treaty banning them.

Image: landmine via Shutterstock

THE UNITED STATES has signalled its intent to eliminate its stockpile of anti-personnel landmines and eventually join a global treaty banning them, boosting efforts to rid the world of the weapons.

The high-profile announcement was made at a conference in Mozambique’s capital Maputo aimed at ultimately ensuring no armed forces use anti-personnel mines by 2025.

The number of people killed or maimed by APLs fell in 2012, according to the global watchdog Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor, but still reached 4,000. In many cases, the mines are leftovers from wars that ended decades earlier.

“The United States took the step of declaring it will not produce or otherwise acquire any anti-personnel landmines in the future, including to replace existing stockpiles as they expire,” National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement.

In 2009, Washington said it was reviewing its position on landmines but — along with rivals China and Russia — has failed to sign the Ottawa Convention that bans the use of APLs and envisions their eventual elimination.

Arch-foe

Nuclear powers India and Pakistan have also not signed up, nor has arch-foe Iran.

Long-standing critics of the US policy say Washington’s rivals are waiting on the United States to move before they do likewise.

The White House gave no timeline as to when it might eventually sign the treaty, but Hayden said the US delegation in Maputo “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.”

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Risks

“We are conducting a high fidelity modeling and simulation effort to ascertain how to mitigate the risks associated with the loss of APL,” she said.

“Other aspects of our landmine policy remain under consideration.”

The United States has provided more than $2.3 billion in aid since 1993 in more than 90 countries for conventional weapons destruction programs, Hayden noted.

The US stockpile is believed to consist of about nine million self-destruct anti-personnel mines, Human Rights Watch said, cautiously welcoming Washington’s announcement.

© AFP 2014

Read: 349 US planes with war munitions allowed to land at Shannon. Zero were refused >

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