In Its Own Words

The U.S. Army and Antipersonnel Mines in the Korean and Vietnam Wars

Legacy Link

Most of the world is poised to ban antipersonnel landmines, the indiscriminate weapons that kill or maim an estimated 26,000 civilians each year. More than 100 governments have committed to negotiating a comprehensive ban treaty in Oslo, Norway in September, with the intention of signing the treaty in Ottawa, Canada in December. Thus far, however, the United States has said that it will not participate in the negotiations and is not prepared to sign a ban treaty as early as December 1997. President Clinton said that the U.S. must insist on two broad exceptions to a total ban on use of antipersonnel mines: (1) the right to use both long-lasting "dumb" mines and self-destructing "smart" mines on the Korean peninsula "until the threat is ended or until alternatives to landmines become available;" and (2) the right to use "smart" mines anywhere else "until an international ban takes effect." Yet, the military necessity of these exceptions is seriously called into question by the Pentagon's own archival documents and by the assessments of numerous former military officers.

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