Jun 21, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Biden administration rescinds Trump-era rule on landmines

President Biden speaking in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C., on June 17.

President Biden speaking in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C., on June 17. Photo: Ting Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Biden administration announced Tuesday it reversed a rule implemented by the Trump administration that allowed the United States to use anti-personnel landmines (APL) around the world.

Why it matters: The change, which came after an extended internal review of the 2020 policy, prevents the U.S. military from using such weapons everywhere except along South-North Korea border, where the U.S. has asserted for decades that their use is necessary for the defense of South Korea.

  • The international community banned the use of the mines under the 1997 Ottawa Convention, though the U.S. is not a party to the treaty, which requires states parties to stop the production, use and transfer of such weapons.
  • The Clinton administration declined to join the convention because it would preclude the use of APLs in the Korean Peninsula's Demilitarized Zone.

What they're saying: The reversal "reflect the President’s belief that these weapons have disproportionate impact on civilians, including children, long after fighting has stopped, and that we need to curtail the use of APL worldwide," the White House said in a statement Tuesday.

  • "The new commitment announced today will align U.S. APL policy outside of the Korean Peninsula with the key requirements of the Ottawa Convention – the international treaty prohibiting the use, stockpiling, production, and transfer of APL – which has more than 160 parties, including all of our NATO Allies," it added.

The big picture: Though the U.S. maintains the option to use landmines along the Demilitarized Zone for South Korea's defense, it currently does not have mines deployed there, according to the Washington Post.

  • China and Russia are also not parties to the Ottawa Convention.

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