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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release May 16, 1997


Banning Anti-Personnel Landmines

"Today I am launching an international effort to ban anti-personnel land mines. For decades the world has been struck with horror at the devastation that land mines cause... To end this carnage, the United States will seek a worldwide agreement as soon as possible to end the use of all anti-personnel land mines... We must act so that the children of the world can walk without fear on the earth beneath them."

President Clinton, Washington, DC, May 16, 1996

People in 64 countries, mostly in the developing world, face a daily threat of being killed or maimed by the estimated 100 million landmines in place today. Anti-personnel landmines (APL) claim more than 25,000 casualties each year, obstruct economic development and keep displaced persons and refugees from returning home. Mines will remain a growing threat to civilian populations for decades unless action is taken now.

New U.S. Policy Announced May 1996

To address this problem, on May 16, 1996, the President announced a new U.S. APL policy. This initiative sets out a clear path to a global ban on APL but ensures that as the United States pursues a ban, essential U.S. military requirements and commitments to our allies will be protected, as follows:

Global Ban. The United States is aggressively pursuing an

     international agreement to ban use, stockpiling, production,
     and transfer of anti-personnel landmines with a view to
     completing the negotiation as soon as possible.  The United
     States views the security situation on the Korean Peninsula
     as a unique case and in the negotiation of this agreement
     will protect our right to use APL there until alternatives
     become available or the risk of aggression has been removed.
     Ban on Non-Self-Destructing APL.  Effective one year ago,
          the United States unilaterally undertook not to use,
          and to place in inactive stockpile status with intent
          to demilitarize by the end of 1999, all
          non-self-destructing APL not needed to (a) train
          personnel engaged in demining and countermining
          operations, or (b) defend the United States and its
          allies from armed aggression across the Korean
          Demilitarized Zone. 
     Self-Destructing APL.  Until an international agreement
          takes effect, the United States reserves the option to
          use self-destructing/self-deactivating APL, subject to
          the restrictions the United States has accepted in the
          Convention on Conventional Weapons, in military
          hostilities to safeguard American lives and hasten the
          end of fighting.

Annual Report. Beginning in 1999, the Chairman of the Joint

     Chiefs of Staff will submit an annual report to the
     President and the Secretary of Defense outlining his
     assessment of whether there remains a military requirement
     for the exceptions noted above.

Alternatives to APL. The President directed the Secretary of

     Defense to undertake a program of research, procurement, and
     other measures needed to eliminate the requirement for these
     exceptions and to permit both the United States and our
     allies to end reliance on APL as soon as possible.

Expanding Demining Efforts. The Department of Defense has

     undertaken a substantial program to develop improved mine
     detection and clearing technology and to share this improved
     technology with the broader international community.  The
     Department of Defense is also significantly expanding its
     humanitarian demining program to train and assist other
     countries in developing effective demining programs.

Progress Toward the Global Elimination of APL since May 1996

In the year since the President announced our new policy, significant progress has been made in a number of areas.

Call for a Global Ban:

On December 10, 1996, in the UN General Assembly, nations voted overwhelmingly (156-0) in favor of the U.S.-initiated resolution urging states to pursue an agreement to ban anti-personnel landmines.

At the opening of the Conference on Disarmament (CD) on January 20, the United States began to work with other member nations to initiate negotiations on a comprehensive, global agreement to ban APL. This 61-member forum in Geneva, Switzerland includes most of the world's strongest landmine ban advocates and most of the world's major

          APL producers.  It is the forum in which the 
          Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty was negotiated, as well 
          as the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Canada has initiated a process to develop a ban treaty among

     like-minded nations.  The United States welcomes this 
     process as providing momentum toward a global ban on APL and 
     views it as complementary to negotiations in the CD. 

Export Moratorium:

Since 1992, the United States has observed by law a temporary export moratorium on APL. This law expires in the year 2000.

On January 17, 1997, we announced that the United States will

     observe a permanent ban on export and transfer of APL.  We 
     will work to put this policy into law. 

We have encouraged all other nations to join us in a permanent

     ban on APL export and transfer, to end forever the spread of 
     these weapons.  To date, more than 30 nations have joined us 
     in declaring bans and moratoria on their exports.

Tightening APL Use Restrictions:

On January 7, at the opening of the 105th Congress, the President transmitted to the Senate for advice and consent to ratification the amended Mines Protocol to the 61-nation Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW). The United States led the effort to strengthen the Protocol at the May 1996 CCW Review Conference. The Protocol establishes new norms that can protect civilians, even as countries work toward the goal of an APL ban.

The amended Mines Protocol expands the scope of the original

     Protocol to include internal armed conflicts, where most 
     civilian mine casualties have occurred; requires that all 
     remotely-delivered anti-personnel landmines be equipped with 
     self-destruct and self-deactivation features with a combined 
     reliability rate of 99.9 percent; requires that all 
     non-self-destructing mines only be used within marked and 
     monitored fields; and that all APL be easily detectable, to 
     facilitate mine clearance.

APL Stockpiles

As the President announced in May, the United States plans to destroy by the end of 1999 about three million non-self-destructing APL. Destruction of these mines is well underway and on schedule (more than 800,000 have been destroyed to date). The United States will retain only those non-self-destructing APL needed for training and for defense in Korea.

On January 17, 1997 the United States announced that we would cap

     our APL stockpile at the current level of inventory.  We 
     encourage other nations to do so as well.

Research and Development of APL Alternatives

As directed by the President, the Department of Defense has begun a Research and Development program to provide effective alternatives to APL. Requested funding for this program is $3M in FY98 and $5M in FY99.

Humanitarian Demining Programs:

In FY 1997, the United States will spend about $28M in cash and in-kind contributions for demining programs in 14 countries: Afghanistan, Angola, Bosnia, Cambodia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Jordan, Laos, Mozambique, Namibia, OAS/IADB regional program in Central America (Honduras, Costa Rica, Nicaragua) and Rwanda. The United States seeks to establish indigenous, sustainable mine clearance and mine awareness training programs. The FY98 budget request is about $35M for all demining programs.

New Humanitarian Demining Technologies:

In the last year DoD reviewed over 120 technologies specifically designed for humanitarian demining operations and 21 new projects have been selected for development. Prototypes of selected equipment have been fielded in Bosnia, Honduras, Laos, Cambodia, Mozambique and Rwanda. Program funding is $14.4M for FY97. $17.7M is requested for FY98.

Next Steps

Much work remains:

Gaining early agreement to begin to negotiate a ban on APL in the Conference on Disarmament and enhancing complementarity between work in the Conference on Disarmament and the "Ottawa Process."

Developing alternatives so that the United States can end its

reliance on APL as soon as possible.

Obtaining early entry-into-force of the Convention on

        Conventional Weapons amended Mines Protocol and expanding 
        adherence to the Convention.

Continuing the expansion of humanitarian demining programs.

Developing and fielding new mine detection and clearing


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