The Trump administration has rescinded an Obama-era directive that ended the production or use of land mines, according to a State Department cable first reported by Vox.
The cable does away with a 2014 directive to no longer “produce or otherwise acquire any anti-personnel landmines” outside the Korean Peninsula. The directive also restricted their use on the Peninsula “to reduce humanitarian harm,” including forestalling a potential North Korean invasion, Rob Berchinski, a human rights staffer in Obama’s National Security Council, told the publication.
“The United States will not sacrifice American service members’ safety,” the cable reads, “particularly when technologically-advanced safeguards are available that can allow landmines to be employed responsibly to ensure our military’s warfighting advantage, while also limiting the risk of unintended harm to civilians.”
Daryl Kimball, the executive director of the Arms Control Association, told Vox that the U.S. has not used land mines in a new military theater in nearly three decades, indicating that ending the policy may lead to little practical change in U.S. military policy.
The cable said the administration is set to formally announce the decision Friday. Asked Thursday about any prospective change in policy, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said “there will be a change coming out,” though he declined to comment further until its release.