US to not join treaty banning landmines

Washington, Nov 25 (DPA) The US will not join the international treaty banning landmines but will send a delegation to attend a conference on the issue this weekend, the US State Department said Tuesday.

The United States, along with China and Russia, is among a handful of countries who have refused to join the accord that was established in 1997, but some advocates had hoped that US President Barack Obama’s administration would reverse that policy.

“We made our policy review and we determined that we would not be able to meet our national defence needs, nor our security commitments to our friends and allies if we sign this convention,” State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said.

The United States has not used or produced landmines in the 12 years since the treaty has existed, but continues to keep them stockpiled, which would be prohibited under the treaty.

“It’s time for the US to turn its landmine practice into policy,” said Steve Goose of Human Rights Watch. Goose had hoped the US delegation attending the landmine conference in Cartagena, Colombia, which begins Sunday, would declare the US intention to join the

treaty.

So far, 156 countries have signed onto the treaty.

Despite its reluctance to join the treaty, the US is the world’s largest contributor to humanitarian landmine cleanup programmes. Since 1993, the United States has given $1.3 billion to landmine removal programmes.