Tuesday, August 08, 2006


United States, Landmine Producer: In Good Company?

by Dana Hughes

As more and more countries refuse to produce landmine weapons, the United States is currently producing the first of such weapons in over 10 years.

Nicknamed "the spider," this new weapon puts the United States on the same short list of nations that includes Iran, North Korea and Burma, a list of countries producing landmine weapons banned by an international treaty.

Scott Stedjan of the U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines says continuing to develop these weapons is irresponsible. "A weapon should be detonated by a conscious action of an individual," says Stedjan. "If it's not, children can walk into the minefield and be blown away. Innocent civilians can be blown up."

The Ottawa Mine Ban Treaty, an international treaty to ban landmines, has been signed by 151 countries. The United States has refused to sign it, citing the need for the U.S. military to have flexibility in war operations.

But Stedjan says the U.S. policy sets a bad example and puts the country in dubious company with rogue nations. "Other countries who continue to use mines and have lots of affects in their countries, they hide behind the United States," says Stedjan. "The United States action provides cover for them."

In a statement, the Pentagon told ABC News, " The [Department of Defense] will continue to pursue the development of munitions that fall within the law. Nobody wants to see innocent civilians killed by non-discriminating munitions" and that if the remote control option is taken off during battle, the mine has a "self-destruct timer." The Pentagon, however, wouldn't say how long after a battle the mine would self-destruct.

A bi-partisan Senate bill has now been introduced to halt production of the controversial "spider" mine.

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