01.31.20

Statement On On The Trump Administration’s Decision To Roll Back Limits On U.S. Production And Use Of Anti-Personnel Landmines

“The President’s decision to roll back the policy on anti-personnel landmines is as perplexing as it is disappointing, and reflexive, and unwise.  As far as I know, Congress was not consulted about this decision, despite requests to be consulted. 

“The policy that has been in place, limiting the use of this inherently indiscriminate weapon to the Korean Peninsula, was the culmination of nearly 30 years of incremental steps, taken by both Democratic and Republican administrations after extensive analysis and consultation, toward the growing global consensus that anti-personnel mines should be universally banned. 

“Although our country is not among the 164 countries that have renounced anti-personnel mines, we have consistently sought to limit their production, export, and use.  We have also spent billions of dollars clearing landmines and other unexploded ordnance, and we have supported programs in dozens of countries to help people severely disabled by landmines regain their mobility and support themselves and their families.  This has brought immense goodwill to the United States, including from former enemies.

“The White House claims that the previous policy put our military at a ‘severe disadvantage against our adversaries.’  That case was not made convincingly when the policy limiting their use to Korea was adopted in 2014, and it has not been made today.  In fact, the U.S. military has not used this weapon since 1991 in any of the protracted wars in which it has been deployed.  One of the reasons is that landmines threaten the safety and impede the mobility of our own troops on a rapidly changing battlefield.  This is so even for mines that are designed to self-destruct or deactivate, but are no more able to distinguish a civilian or U.S. soldier from an enemy combatant.

“More than 25 years ago, President Clinton at the United Nations called for a global ban on anti-personnel mines.  Great progress has been made since then, thanks in part to U.S. leadership.  The example we set has global ramifications.  This decision, like so many others of this White House, reverses the gains we have made and weakens our global leadership.” 

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[Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, has long been the leading U.S. officeholder in efforts to end the U.S. and global use of anti-personnel landmines, steering to enactment several legislative and policy initiatives.]

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