October 3, 4: On September 23,the United States government announced a new policy with a commitment not to use antipersonnel landmines outside of the Korean Peninsula and not to assist, encourage, or induce other nations to use, stockpile, produce, or transfer antipersonnel mines outside of Korea.
On June 27, the US announced a policy foreswearing future production or acquisition of antipersonnel landmines. It said the Defense Department will conduct a detailed study of alternatives to antipersonnel mines and the impact of making no further use of the weapon.
A number of US officials commented on the policy, disclosing additional related information, including the Defense Department press secretary, Rear Adm.
This review looks at the major elements of both parts of the new policy, drawing on the various statements made in association with the US policy announcement and other official information reviewed by Human Rights Watch.
What is new about this landmine policy? The new elements in the landmine policy are 1 the ban on use of antipersonnel mines except on the Korean Peninsula; 2 the ban on production and acquisition of antipersonnel mines; 3 a study of the alternatives; and 4 the statement that the US will rejoin the path toward accession to the Mine Ban Treaty.
The US participated in the Ottawa Process, which led to the creation of the Mine Ban Treaty, but did not sign when the treaty was opened for signature in December The Clinton administration set the goal of joining in However, in the Bush administration announced a new policy that rejected both the treaty and the goal of the US ever joining.
The policy by the Obama administration once again sets the goal of joining the Mine Ban Treaty, but provides no time frame. That's what prompted action by President Clinton and by myself. Previous landmine policies announced in, and were all issued as presidential directives.
The Defense Department should immediately issue an administrative order permanently suspending all use of antipersonnel mines in combat or in training outside of Korea.
The directive for all theater commanders except Korea should override whatever contingency plan each theater commander is responsible for implementing with respect to antipersonnel mines.
How does the US policy affect US use of antipersonnel mines?
The policy announced June 27 did not address use of antipersonnel mines, which meant the landmine policy of President George W. How does the US policy affect the situation on the Korean Peninsula? The security of the Republic of Korea will continue to be a paramount concern as we move forward with these efforts.
The US was rebuffed by its closest military allies, which concluded that the humanitarian dangers of such mines outweighed any military utility and that permitting one geographic exception would encourage other nations to seek similar exemptions from the ban treaty.
Two concerns regarding the Korean Peninsula have emerged as sticking points during the US policy review. One relates to the arrangement for a joint combined command structure that would put a US general in charge of South Korean military forces in the event of active hostilities, and the potential problems that might cause if the US were party to the Mine Ban Treaty but South Korea were not.
A second concern is the possible need for the US to use antipersonnel mines in the event of an invasion by North Korea. When did the United States last use antipersonnel mines?
The report also found that the Defense Department did not provide any data to indicate, either directly or indirectly, that the US landmine use caused any enemy casualties, equipment loss, or maneuver limitations. The US military has refrained from using antipersonnel landmines in part because the broadly ratified Mine Ban Treaty has stigmatized these weapons.
The US does not maintain any minefields globally after removing its mines from around Guantanamo Naval Base in Cuba from During this time it has fought a wide range of conflicts, both high- and low-intensity in a variety of environments, and has demonstrated that it can employ alternative strategies, tactics, and weaponry that avoid the use of antipersonnel mines.
When did the US last produce antipersonnel mines? The US has not produced antipersonnel mines sinceand budget documents indicate no plans to produce them in the future. No victim-activated munitions are being funded in the procurement or the research and development budgets of the US Armed Services or Defense Department, but two related programs are being funded: With the new US pledge to no longer produce or acquire antipersonnel mines, there are now just 11 countries left that either actively produce the weapons or reserve the right to do so: How many landmines does the United States stockpile?
The US stockpile consists mostly of remotely delivered mines that are scattered over wide areas by aircraft, artillery, or rockets, and equipped with self-destruct feature designed to blow the mine up after a pre-set period of time and self-deactivating features.
The active stockpile consists of the following types: The shelf-life of existing antipersonnel mines stockpiled by the US decreases over time, including deterioration of batteries embedded inside mines as they age.
The new policy precludes the US from extending or modifying the life of the batteries inside the existing stockpile. A US official confirmed to Human Rights Watch in Maputo that the US would not extend the shelf-life of existing systems, for example, by replacing their batteries. And in 10 years after that, they'll be completely unusable.
Under the new policy, all US stockpiles of weapons containing antipersonnel mines as well as munitions containing a mix of both antipersonnel and antivehicle mines that are not required for Korea will need be removed from stocks located in the US, on supply ships, and in storage facilities overseas, then transported to a destruction facility.
Transparency is needed in carrying out the new landmine policy, including on the types and quantities of antipersonnel landmines to be removed from active inventory and destroyed, as well as on the stockpile destruction plan, with its timeline and cost.
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