Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel fully supports changes to U.S. antipersonnel landmine policy announced by President Barack Obama today, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said.
In a statement, Kirby said the Defense Department:
-- Will not use antipersonnel landmines outside the Korean Peninsula;
-- Will not assist, encourage or induce others outside the Korean Peninsula to engage in activity prohibited by the Ottawa Convention; and
-- Will undertake steps to begin the destruction of antipersonnel landmines not required for the defense of South Korea.
A White House statement said the change to U.S. policy builds on a June announcement by the U.S. delegation at the Third Review Conference of the Ottawa Convention in Mozambique that the United States will not produce or otherwise acquire any antipersonnel munitions that are not compliant with the Ottawa Convention, including to replace such munitions as they expire in the coming years.
It also follows previous steps the United States has taken to end the use of all nondetectable mines and all persistent mines, which can remain active for years after the end of a conflict, the statement said.
The U.S. commitment to South Korea’s defense and unique circumstances on the Korean Peninsula preclude changing U.S. antipersonnel landmine policy there, White House officials said.
“We will continue our diligent efforts to pursue material and operational solutions that would be compliant with, and ultimately allow us to accede to, the Ottawa Convention while ensuring our ability to meet our alliance commitments to the Republic of Korea,” the White House statement said. “The security of the Republic of Korea will continue to be a paramount concern as we move forward with these efforts.”