The US military has stopped using a type of landmine often condemned as a long-term threat to civilians and has ordered its stock of 1.3 million of the mines be set aside for destruction, officials say.
The decision to move ahead with a long-standing policy to end the use of persistent landmines — those that cannot be set to self-destruct or deactivate — by the end of last year comes as US President Barack Obama’s administration continues to study whether to join a global treaty banning anti-personnel mines.
The US is not a party to the 12-year-old international Mine Ban Treaty and it reserves the right to use so-called smart mines that can deactivate or self-destruct.
Persistent mines are criticized because they can pose a threat to civilians long after fighting ends. Landmines and other war debris caused about 4,000 casualties in 2009, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines says.
The US Army in December directed its field operations “to assign all stocks of persistent landmines, both anti-personnel and anti-vehicle, for demilitarization [destruction],” a US Department of Defense spokesman said in an e-mail on Monday.
He said a small quantity of the persistent mines would be retained for demining and counter-mine testing and training.