Trump rolls back Obama-era restrictions on landmines

Smoke rises from minefield in Telelverid region after Peshmerga forces detonated landmines placed by DAESH forces to intervene the passing of Peshmergas during an operation against Daesh terrorists in the outskirts of Kirkuk, Iraq on September 30, 2015.

Ali Mukarrem Garip | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

President Donald Trump ordered the Department of Defense to roll back restrictions on the use of landmines, the White House announced on Friday.

The decision will reverse a 2014 policy that limited the use of the explosive devices to the Korean peninsula. The new policy will enable the use of anti-personnel landmines elsewhere in the world in “exceptional circumstances.”

The White House said the new policy will apply to “advanced, non-persistent” landmines that are “specifically designed to reduce unintended harm to civilians and partner forces.” Non-persistent landmines typically self-destruct, though some experts have questioned their effectiveness.

Anti-personnel landmines that do not self-destruct are banned by more than 150 countries because of their tendency to inflict civilian casualties, often years after they are used in conflict.

“The Department of Defense has determined that restrictions imposed on American forces by the Obama Administration’s policy could place them at a severe disadvantage during a conflict against our adversaries,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement. “The President is unwilling to accept this risk to our troops.”

Defense Secretary Mark Esper described landmines as an “important tool” during a press conference Friday at the Pentagon alongside his Italian counterpart.

“That said, in everything we do we also want to make sure that these instruments, in this case landmines, also take into account both the safety of employment and the safety to civilians and others after a conflict,” Esper said.

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