Donald Trump lifts restrictions on US military use of landmines
Donald Trump has lifted restrictions on the use of anti-personnel landmines by the US military.
The moratorium was signed by Barack Obama in 2014, and brought the US closer to the international Ottawa Convention which outlawed the use of anti-personnel landmines. Obama didn't sign the Ottawa Convention to allow the US to continue using land mines on the Korean peninsula, but Trump's new policy would allow the US military to use land mines in future conflicts. The new policy will only permit landmines that self-destruct or self-deactivate after 30 days.
Before the decision was announced, a leaked document from the US State Department suggested Donald Trump planned to end a moratorium on the production and use of anti-personnel landmines. The documents were obtained by the Vox website.
The US continues to stock landmines, despite not having used them in conflict since 1991, and according to the Cluster Munition Ban monitor has not budgeted funds to produce landmines for the US military's use since 2007, though they have been produced for export. However in 2018 the New York Times reported that the US military was researching new anti-vehicle landmines which are designed to be manually operated.
One of the key landmine producers in the US is Textron Defence Systems, who have shipped CBU-105 landmines to a number of countries including India, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and the United Arab Emirates. However Textron stopped production in 2016, citing “the current political environment has made it difficult” to continue production.
Commenting on the possible changes, Adotei Akwei, Amnesty International USA spokesperson, said “There is a reason why the use of antipersonnel landmines is illegal: they can’t distinguish between fighters and ordinary people, and often continue to kill and maim for years after conflicts end. This decision is consistent with an administration that has proven itself indifferent to human lives and suffering by withdrawing from the global Arms Trade Treaty and more recently by easing oversight of US arms exports. It shows that the Trump administration is either ignorant of or unconcerned with the consequences of driving the world towards more irresponsible arms exports and inhumane weapons like landmines.”