Thursday, November 26, 2009
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama has no plans to join a global treaty banning landmines because a policy review found the United States could not meet its security commitments without them, the State Department said on Tuesday.
'This administration undertook a policy review and we decided that our land mine policy remains in effect,' spokesman Ian Kelly told a briefing five days before a review conference in Cartegena, Colombia on the 10-year-old Mine Ban Treaty.
'We determined that we would not be able to meet our national defense needs nor our security commitments to our friends and allies if we signed this convention,' he said.
It was the first time the administration had publicly disclosed the decision.
The treaty bans the use, stockpiling, production or transfer of antipersonnel mines. It has been endorsed by 156 countries, but the United States, Russia, China and India have not adopted it.
U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, a leading advocate for the treaty, called the decision 'a default of U.S. leadership.'
'It is a lost opportunity for the United States to show leadership instead of joining with China and Russia and impeding progress,' Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, said in a statement.