President Joe Biden announced on Tuesday the United States will ban almost all anti-personnel landmine (APL) use pushing the APL policies back to the Obama era.
“After conducting a comprehensive policy review, the United States is joining the vast majority of countries around the world in committing to limit the use of anti-personnel landmines,” the White House said in a statement. “The new commitment announced today will align U.S. APL policy outside of the Korean Peninsula with the key requirements of the Ottawa Convention.”
Under the policy change, the United States commits to:
- Not develop, produce, or acquire APL
- Not export or transfer of APL, except when necessary for activities related to mine detection or removal, and for the purpose of destruction
- Not use APL outside of the Korean Peninsula
- Not assist, encourage, or induce anyone, outside of the context of the Korean Peninsula
- Undertake to destroy all APL stockpiles not required for the defense of the Republic of Korea
Reversal of Trump-Era Policies
The Biden administration’s policy changes on APL follow the same pattern after Biden came to the White House: reversing Trump-era policies and putting Obama policies back.
Biden’s move put the United States back on the path of acceding to the Ottawa Treaty, also known as the Mine Ban Treaty, which prohibits the use, stockpiling, production, and transfer of APL.
The United States has not signed the treaty since it was negotiated in 1997.
In 2014, Former President Barack Obama announced that the United States would begin to destroy the landmine stockpiles not required for the defense of South Korea. He also was committed to ultimately complying fully and acceding to the Ottawa Convention.
However, President Donald Trump pulled the efforts to ban landmines because they help the U.S. military to regain its competitive advantages.
“The environment requires our military to regain its competitive advantages by becoming more lethal, resilient, agile, and ready across a range of potential contingencies and geographies,” then-Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in a statement (pdf). “Area denial systems, such as landmines, play an important role in enabling these force attributes.”