EU regrets US military policy about-face on landmines

Posted at 10:48 AM, Feb 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-04 10:48:52-05

BRUSSELS (AP) -- The European Union expressed regret on Tuesday that the United States has decided to use anti-personnel landmines more widely and once again considers them to be an important weapon of war.

Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump canceled a prohibition on the use of landmines outside of the Korean peninsula. With potential future conflict with China or Russia in mind, the new policy specified no geographic limits on use of the weapons, which can kill civilians long after wars end.

The office of EU foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said in a statement that the U.S. move "undermines the global norm against anti-personnel mines. A norm that has saved tens of thousands of people in the past 20 years."

"The majority of mine victims are children," the statement said, adding that the use of the weapons "anywhere, anytime, and by any actor remains completely unacceptable to the European Union."

It said that both the EU and U.S. are helping to clear minefields and destroy the explosive devices around the world, and that "the re-authorization of the use of anti-personnel mines is not only a direct contradiction to these actions but also negatively affects the international rules-based order."

The White House said the new U.S. policy authorizes military commanders to use landmines that are "non-persistent," meaning they have built-in mechanisms to destroy or deactivate the mine after a certain period.

Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama, had prohibited the U.S. armed forces from using them anywhere in the world except in defense of South Korea.