The senator also urged the White House to take further steps to put the United States on a path to join treaties banning antipersonnel mines and cluster munitions. “Neither of these indiscriminate weapons, the horrific consequences of which we are seeing in Ukraine today, belong in the arsenals of civilized nations,” he said in the statement.
In a news briefing to reporters on Tuesday, Stanley L. Brown, a principal deputy assistant secretary at the State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, said that the United States currently had about three million antipersonnel mines in its inventory and would destroy any that were not needed to defend South Korea.
Biden administration officials took the opportunity to condemn Russia’s use of land mines in Ukraine, where the munitions “have caused extensive harm to civilians and civilian objects,” Adrienne Watson, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, said in a statement on Tuesday.
In early April, evidence surfaced of Russia’s use of a new type of antipersonnel land mine in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv that launches an explosive warhead when it senses people nearby. In Bezruky, a town north of Kharkiv, The New York Times documented Russia’s use of anti-tank land mines that can explode if picked up by humans, which means they would be banned under international law.
The United States last used those types of mines on a large scale during Operation Desert Storm in 1991. In a single episode in 2002, U.S. Special Operations forces in Afghanistan used a small mine configured as a hand grenade — called a pursuit deterrent munition — on a mission.
The U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines — Cluster Munition Coalition, an advocacy group that has pressured the White House to join the Ottawa treaty, welcomed news of the Biden administration’s policy change.