- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 26, 2004

ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Bush administration intends to end the U.S. military’s use of land mines that are not timed to self-destruct, but will not sign a 150-nation anti-land-mine treaty, a senior administration official said yesterday.

The new policy also will double, to $70 million, what the United States spends annually to locate and remove mines considered hazardous to people and serving no deterrent purpose, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Lincoln Bloomfield, an assistant secretary of state who is President Bush’s special adviser on land mines, was expected to announce the new policy at the State Department on Friday.

From now on, all new U.S. land mines will be detectable to U.S. authorities and designed to become inert. But those that are considered part of deterring attacks, such as in Korea, will remain in use. Those mines will be timed to self-destruct, but they can be reset to remain operable, the official said.

In Afghanistan and Cambodia, among other countries, the buried land mines serve no military purpose and are a menace to farmers, children and other people who accidentally trip over them. The mines maim or kill.

Stephen Goose, executive director of the arms control division of Human Rights Watch, praised the plan to increase spending for mine-clearance projects. But he said the United States is isolated by its insistence on using land mines in its defense programs.

“We have a great deal of momentum everywhere else around the world. The U.S. is the only country in NATO that hasn’t banned this weapon. We have a situation where the U.S. is undermining the international norm against this weapon,” said Mr. Goose.

Mr. Goose said that the U.S. goal, for a decade, has been to move toward the point where it could eliminate all antipersonnel mines.

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