US to limit use of anti-personnel landmines

The United States will limit the use of anti-personnel landmines outside of the Korean Peninsula, reversing a policy decision by the previous administration.

The White House said in a statement on Tuesday that it would align its policy with the Ottawa Convention -- the international treaty prohibiting the use, stockpiling, production, and transfer of anti-personnel landmines.

But Washington says the change does not apply to the Korean Peninsula due to the unique circumstances there and the US commitment to defending South Korea.

Former President Barack Obama's administration had said in 2014 that it would prohibit the use of the weapons outside of the Korean Peninsula.

But former President Donald Trump later relaxed limitations on their use, saying that the restrictions could put US troops at a "severe disadvantage" during a conflict.

Senior State Department official Stanley Brown said, "The administration's actions today are in a sharp contrast to Russia's action in Ukraine." He noted that Russia's use of explosive munitions was causing extensive harm to civilians. Human rights groups have criticized Russia's use of anti-personnel landmines.

The Ottawa mine ban treaty went into effect in 1999, as landmines were causing civilian casualties around the world even after the end of fighting in conflict zones.

The treaty has more than 160 parties including Japan. But the US and Russia are not among them.