From Fri Dec 30 10:00:12 2005
Date: Thu, 29 Dec 2005 20:29:57 -0600 (CST)
Subject: [NYTr] News Summary from RHC—Dec 29, 2005
Article: 231092
To: undisclosed-recipients: ;

Washington Plans to Produce More Landmines

Radio Havana Cuba, 29 December 2005

United Nations, December 29 (RHC)— Just over a decade ago, in 1994, the United States was the first nation to call for the elimination of landmines that killed and maimed hundreds of thousands of innocent people around the world. But according to the Website, today Washington not only stands in opposition to an international treaty that bans the use and production of antipersonnel landmines, but also intends to produce new ones.

In reversal of its earlier policy, the U.S. is reportedly planning to produce a new generation of landmines called “Spider” by March 2007 — a move that has alarmed civil society groups campaigning for a global ban on the use and production of landmines for years.

Alison Bock, president and founder of Landmines Blow!—a U.S.-based independent group—says this move “would erase many of the positive steps the U.S. has taken in the past.” Landmines Blow! has joined a number of other groups in urging the Bush administration to drop its plans for Spider production and instead support the goals of the Mine Ban Treaty. says that the 1997 treaty, which has been endorsed by nearly 150 countries, calls for a ban on the production, stockpiling, and use of antipersonnel landmines. Major powers among the 40 nations who have not signed the treaty are the United States, Russia and China.

Last month, more than 100 countries sent delegates to an international meeting on landmines in Croatia, but the United States did not. Bock thinks it was wrong on part of the United states to stay away from the meeting, saying that the U.S. should engage in global discussions on the landmine issue.

Ironically, the United States was at the forefront of international efforts to adopt the landmine treaty in the 1990s. It had not used antipersonnel landmines since the 1991 Gulf War and had not exported them to other countries since 1992. The United States would “seek a worldwide agreement as soon as possible to end the use of antipersonnel mines,” President Bill Clinton said at the start of his second term in the White House.

But the Bush administration reversed that promise last February with the Department of State declaring that landmines still have “a valid and essential role” in protecting U.S. forces in military operations.

Disappointed with the administration's stance, supporters of the treaty ban fear that the new policy on landmines might set a bad precedent for other nations who are still outside the fold of the treaty. Stephen Goose, an arms expert with the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch told reporters that it is “a step backward for the United States.”

Between 15,000 and 20,000 people are killed or maimed by mines each year—primarily civilians and most of them in countries now at peace — according to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), an independent umbrella organization.

Landmines are especially heinous weapons of war, the group says, because they are indiscriminate—unable to distinguish between soldiers, civilians, peacekeepers, aid workers or children—and inhumane—designed to maim rather than kill but frequently killing nonetheless.

The ICBL says that landmines also deprive people of land and infrastructure in some of the poorest countries in the world, hamper reconstruction and the delivery of aid, deprive communities and families of breadwinners and even kill livestock and wild animals.

Many groups are now reaching out to U.S. lawmakers in an attempt to prevent the Bush administration from pursuing its retrogressive policy on landmines.