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DoD Plans to Use Self-Destructing Land Mines

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 23, 1996 – As people throughout the world call for a ban on land mines, DoD is finding ways to use only self-destructing mines, according to a Pentagon spokesman.

"Anti-personnel land mines, as they're used around the world today, are a terrible weapon," said Defense Secretary William J. Perry. "We should seek ways of eliminating them."

A student at Georgetown University asked Perry April 18 about his view on the proposed land mine ban following the secretarys speech there.

"The terrorist nature of these land mines comes from the fact that after the battles are over, they remain in the ground for years or even decades, and innocent people are blown up by them years after the battles are over," Perry said. As an interim step to eliminating mines, Perry said, a strong move is under way in the United States to convert to self-destructing mines.

President Clinton announced in 1994 the United States would strive for eventual elimination of anti-personnel mines, said Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon. DoD is looking at ways to do that, he said.

"Land mines do provide essential protection, perimeter defense, to American troops, particularly today in Korea," Bacon said. "We have to find a way to balance the protective and military uses of land mines against the desire to eliminate them over time."

Achieving the long-term objective of eliminating anti-personnel land mines altogether, Perry said, will take time. U.S. contingency plans, particularly those for the defense of Korea, include use of land mines, he said. Eliminating their use in Korea would lead to the deaths of thousands of American and South Korean soldiers and tens of thousands of civilians, he said.

"Until we can find a way of replacing that military capability, we have to somehow keep those in service," Perry said. "So the question is one of timing and developing the proper transition plan so that we can get rid of them. But the long-term objective of eliminating anti-personnel land mines is exactly right."

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