Clinton Landmine Initiative Draws Criticism

Article excerpt

ALMOST TWO YEARS after calling for the eventual elimination of anti-personnel landmines worldwide, President Bill Clinton announced May 16 that he was launching an international effort to ban all such mines "as soon as possible." Clinton said he would propose a UN General Assembly resolution this fall urging countries to support a global ban. The administration also plans to push for negotiations toward a worldwide ban at the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament in February or March 1997.

Although saying the U.S. goal is to "end the use of all anti-personnel mines," Clinton said in any negotiations toward a global ban the United States would reserve the right to use such mines on the Korean Peninsula. He said the United States would continue to exercise this right until the threat there is ended or alternatives to landmines become available.

As part of the new U.S. initiative, Clinton also announced that he had directed the U.S. military to immediately discontinue the use of so-called "dumb" mines (which remain active until detonated or cleared) except those used in Korea or for training purposes, and to destroy all non-essential stockpiles of these mines by 1999. According to the Pentagon, it will cost approximately $10 million to destroy an estimated 4 million mines. In addition to the Korea Peninsula, the United States currently uses non-self-destructing mines only at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, but these mine fields will be removed under the new policy. The United States has not produced dumb mines for several years, but all anti-personnel landmines presently used by U.S. armed forces are of this type.

The president said the United States would also reserve the right to use "smart" mines (which contain self-destruct and selfdeactivating mechanisms) until an international ban takes effect. While the U.S. military still procures smart mines, they are not currently used anywhere. …