Fact Sheet

Office of the Press Secretary

September 17, 1997


U.S. Efforts to Address the Problem of Anti-Personnel Landmines

Unilateral Steps to Eliminate APL

In May, 1996, we announced that 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 (1.5 million have been destroyed to date). The United States retains only those non-self-destructing APL needed for training and for defense in Korea.

On January 17, 1997, we announced that the United States would observe a permanent ban on export and transfer of APL. We will work to put this policy into law.

On January 17, 1997, the United States also announced that we would cap our APL stockpile at the current level of inventory.

New Steps

Today, the President announced that by 2003 we will no longer use anti-personnel landmines outside Korea, and, within Korea, our objective is to have alternatives to anti-personnel landmines ready by 2006. The Department of Defense is pursuing an aggressive research and development effort to enable us to achieve these objectives. Requested funding for this program is $3M in FY98 and $5M in FY99.

The President also announced today that he has appointed General David Jones to advise him on matters related to eliminating U.S. use of APL.

Calling on Other Nations to Eliminate APL

On September 26, 1994, at the UN General Assembly, President Clinton called for the elimination of anti-personnel landmines; the first world leader to do so.

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 work with other member nations to initiate negotiations on a comprehensive, global agreement to ban APL.

Today, the President announced we would renew our commitment to work aggressively to establish negotiations in the CD, and to reach agreement on an export ban as a first step.

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 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.

The Administration seeks early Senate advice and consent to ratification of this Protocol.

Humanitarian Demining Programs

The United States continues to be the world leader in humanitarian demining efforts. Since, 1993 we have spent over $153 million to train foreign deminers in landmine-plagued countries. We have worked to clear mines in 15 nations, from Bosnia to Afghanistan to Cambodia to Namibia.

The U.S. plans to commit $68 million for demining in 1998 -- almost as much as the combined funding total from the 30 other nations which contribute to demining activities.

Today, roughly one quarter of the active deminers in the world were trained and equipped by the United States.

We expect the first countries, the USG has worked in to be declared "mine free" this coming year (Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras).

In FY 1997, the United States will spend about $28M on demining programs in 15 countries: Afghanistan, Angola, Bosnia, Cambodia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Jordan, Laos, Mozambique, Namibia, OAS/IADB regional program in Central America (Honduras, Costa Rica, Nicaragua), Rwanda, and Yemen. The United States seeks to establish indigenous, sustainable mine clearance and mine awareness training programs.

-- Based on the success of the "Superman" DC Comic book for children in Bosnia, we are developing a second version in Spanish for Latin America. In addition, the United States is working to develop new educational tools such as interactive school programs, as well as radio and TV spots.

-- To meet the growing demand for skilled deminers, the Department of Defense has expanded its pool of available trainers to more than 270.

-- The Department of Defense has established a humanitarian demining information center at James Madison University (JMU). With DoD, JMU maintains a newly established humanitarian demining website.

The U.S. has the largest research and development effort in the world to identify and field improved technologies for humanitarian mine detection and demining.

-- In the last year, the USG has 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.

New Humanitarian Demining Initiatives

Today, the United States announced it will expand its demining assistance program. We will:

-- increase from 15 to 21 the number of countries in which U.S. forces train deminers;

-- increase U.S. funding for demining programs to about $80 million in FY1998;

-- expand our research and development program and other efforts to improve techniques and procedures for humanitarian demining. Our goal will be to develop leading edge technology necessary to better detect, remove and dispose of landmines;

-- provide significantly increased resources to aid those who are most affected by the tragedy of landmines -- the victims, both to U.S. programs and international efforts; and

-- open our demining training programs at the U.S. Army Engineer School including to deminers from other nations, non-governmental organizations and international organizations.

U.S. Requirements for Landmines in Korea

The security situation in Korea is unique, requiring the United States to maintain the option of using anti-personnel landmines there until alternatives are available or the risk of aggression has been removed. Our objective is to have alternatives to our anti-personnel landmines there ready by 2006.

A U.S. Army General leads the UN command in Korea, pursuant to the UN Armistice Agreement of 1953. The United States has 37,000 troops there, along with the forces of our South Korean allies. The UN command is composed of eight other nations as well.

Anti-personnel landmines play a crucial role in the defense of Korea and the city of Seoul, which is just 27 miles from the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and which has a population in excess of 10 million inhabitants. Across the DMZ are nearly 1 million North Korean forces. These forces are well-prepared and could come across the border at any time, with little warning.

Because North Korean forces are so close to Seoul and so outnumber allied forces in place, the United Nations command relies on pre-planned and emplaced minefields to counter and slow a possible North Korean advance. These minefields are well marked with fences and signs and are monitored by South Korean troops. They do not pose a threat to the local civilian population. In hostilities, additional APL would be deployed to delay and to disrupt the attack long enough for us to bring in air power and other reinforcements with the objective of halting the attack and preventing the enormous loss of life that would result if North Korean forces were to overrun Seoul. Any U.S. anti-personnel landmines that are not marked and monitored will self-destruct within a maximum of 15 days, leaving no residual threat to the civilian population.

Anti-Tank Munitions

The United States believes that any treaty designed to ban anti-personnel landmines must not ban anti-tank mines, as would have been the case for the U.S. were we to have signed the Ottawa process treaty. The U.S. has an inventory of high-tech anti-tank systems with submunitions, i.e., anti-handling devices, that are designed to protect the anti-tank mines. Deployed around the anti-tank mines, these submunitions are essential to the effectiveness of the anti-tank minefield by preventing rapid breaching or removal by enemy footsoldiers.

These systems are only used in the case of imminent hostilities and can be air or ground delivered. They block, disrupt or delay enemy forces and thus are known as a force multiplier on the battlefield. In DESERT STORM, for example, an air delivered system called "GATOR" was used to protect the flanks of U.S. forces during combat operations, allowing the U.S. VII Corps to effectively protect and concentrate its forces during the "left hook" maneuver.

Because they are self-destructing and self-deactivating, the anti-tank mines and their submunitions do not present a threat to the civilian population after hostilities have ended. The anti-tank mines and the devices that protect the anti-tank mines blow up automatically at a pre-set time (4 hours, 48 hours, or 15 days) and, if they fail to do so, their battery rapidly runs out so that they can no longer function. With the self-deactivation feature, these mines are rendered inert within 90 days at the outside, to a reliability rate of higher than 99.99 percent. Only one in the 32,000 APL tested has missed its self-destruct time (the one that missed was one hour late).

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