In a move that further cements how out of step the Trump administration is from its allies and international norms and standards, the administration has released a new US landmines policy allowing the production and use of antipersonnel landmines for future conflicts. The policy, which rolls back decades of US practice and approach, isolates the United States and puts American servicemembers and civilians around the globe at risk.
The Trump administration policy allows for the use of “non-persistent” landmines (those that have self-destruct or self-deactivation mechanisms) in any area, not limited by geographic location. This means landmines can be used by US forces – with a decision by the combatant commanders – in any area where they are deemed necessary. By comparison, the previous policy banned landmine production and made limited exceptions for their use only on the Korean peninsula.
The new policy rescinds Presidential Policy Directive 37 (2016) which codified the Obama administration’s 2014 landmines policy updates. Specifically, in June 2014, the Obama administration announced that the United States would no longer produce, acquire, or replace antipersonnel mines, and in September 2014 it announced that the United States would no longer use landmines anywhere in the world except for the Korean Peninsula. It also pledged — outside of Korea — not to assist or otherwise encourage other countries to engage in activities prohibited by the Mine Ban Treaty and to destroy any landmine stocks not required for the defense of South Korea. Further, in 2014, the United States announced it would work toward US accession to the international Mine Ban Treaty.
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