US President Donald Trump has cancelled a policy to prohibit US Military forces from employing anti-personnel landmines outside of the Korean peninsula.
The latest move reverses President Obama’s 2014 commitment that brought the US closer to compliance with the 1997 Ottawa Convention, known as the Mine Ban Treaty.
The directive included a commitment not to assist, encourage, or induce other countries to use, stockpile, produce, or transfer antipersonnel mines.
Due to ongoing mine use in the demilitarised zone, Obama’s move left the Korean peninsula as the only exception.
Non-governmental organisation Humanity & Inclusion Canadian executive director Jerome Bobin said: “This move is a death sentence for civilians. There are acts in war that are simply out of bounds. Nations, even superpowers, must never use certain weapons because of the superfluous injury and unnecessary suffering they cause.
“Landmines fall directly into this category. There is no use for landmines that cannot be accomplished by other means that do not so significantly and indiscriminately kill and maim civilians.”
Under the landmine policy, combatant commanders, in exceptional circumstances, will be authorised to employ advanced, non-persistent landmines that have been designed to reduce unintended harm to civilians, as well as partner forces.
The Trump administration said that Obama’s policy is expected to put US troops ‘at a severe disadvantage’.
The White House said in a statement: “This action is yet another in a series of actions taken by the Trump administration to give our military the flexibility and capability it needs to win.
“President Trump is rebuilding our military, and it is stronger than ever. The president will continue to support and equip our troops so that they will forever remain the greatest fighting force in the world.”
In December 2017, Trump announced a new policy that had put an end to a longstanding US policy not to use unreliable cluster munitions and to destroy its stocks.