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Biden joins the veto of antipersonnel mines

United States President Joe Biden. / ef

The situation on the Korean Peninsula is the only exception, which prevents the US from signing the Ottawa Treaty

USA, Russia, China, India, Pakistan… How can the Ottawa Treaty to veto anti-personnel mines be considered a success without the signature of these giants and some thirty other countries? At least in practice, the Biden administration announced Tuesday that it will reverse the Trump-era directive that empowered military commanders to use them “in certain situations,” when it is required to “regain competitive advantage with more lethal, agile, resilient weapons.” and ready for a range of contingencies and geographies.”

More than half of the 7,000 annual victims left by these types of mines are children. That is why it was also the last great humanitarian undertaking of Princess Diana, that a few days before she died she visited the survivors of these cruel weapons of war in Bosnia, which explode in times of peace. Afghanistan has been literally mined.

State Department sources told The Washington Post that with this directive the president wants to align more with his belief that human rights should be a factor to consider “when weapons are used or provided to other countries.” With this he also sent a message to the government of Volodimir Zelesnky, which feels at a disadvantage with Russia because Ukraine has signed the Ottawa Treaty, to which Russia is not a party.

While the president’s decision has received widespread praise, activists stress that what is really needed is for the US to ratify the treaty. However, the militarization of the border between the two Koreas, which the US has promised to defend, stands in the way of that achievement. With the new legislation, the US government commits to destroy the three million antipersonnel mines it has in its stockpiles and all those that are not necessary in South Korea, through a self-disarmament mechanism. It will stop manufacturing, producing or purchasing them and will not provide or transport them “out of the Korean Peninsula” except for destruction.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has made known the discomfort of his generals who do not share the president’s decision. “They have had the opportunity to let him know and he made the decision for him,” the State Department source replied. For the armed forces, it is an essential weapon whose absence “will endanger US soldiers.”

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