Earlier today President Clinton released a statement outlining the administration's efforts to eliminate anti-personnel landmines (APLs). In it, the president announced that he is deferring any decisions on the Department of Defense's APL alternatives programs to the incoming administration.
The president's decision to defer further action on the APL alternatives programs will provide latitude to the incoming leadership of the Defense Department to review the APL efforts for itself, and to make decisions based on an assessment of the policy and military factors involved. The decision in no way adversely affects U.S. national security since all of our current military systems will remain in place pending review.
The Defense Department strongly supports efforts to eliminate the threat to noncombatants posed by the irresponsible use of APLs. The United States has been the world's leader in reducing the risk to civilians posed by landmines. Among other things, the U.S. has pursued a wide array of mine awareness and humanitarian de-mining programs that benefit nearly three dozen countries. Indeed, the United States and the U.S. military in particular, have done more than the rest of the world combined to eliminate the risk to civilians posed by landmines.
While the United States currently retains the right to employ APLs to protect our forces, and to provide security to our friends and allies around the world, we continue to search aggressively for suitable alternatives to APLs and mixed anti-tank systems.