After reviewing the Bush-era policy, the Obama White House has decided to maintain the prior administration's refusal to sign an international treaty banning land mines, according to published reports.
"More than 150 countries have agreed to the Mine Ban Treaty's provisions to end the production, use, stockpiling and trade in mines," the Associated Press noted. "Besides the United States, holdouts include: China, India, Pakistan, Myanmar and Russia."
"We made our policy review and 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 sign this convention," State Department spokesman Ian Kelly reportedly said.
Advocacy organizations like Human Rights Watch had urged administration officials to sign the treaty. The United States is the largest worldwide contributor to the recovery of undetonated mines, which still pose a severe danger to civilians in 70 countries. No land mines have been produced by the U.S. since 1997, when the Land Mine Ban Treaty took effect. The last time American forces deployed the weapon was during the 1991 invasion of Iraq.
According to the International Campaign to Ban Land Mines (ICBL), efforts undertaken in 1999 to recover mines "have saved millions of lives through the removal of more than 2.2 million emplaced antipersonnel mines, 250,000 antivehicle mines, and 17 million" explosive remnants of war.
Last year land mines "killed at least 1,266 people and wounded 3,891," AP added, citing the ICBL. One third of the deaths were children, according to the group.
"In contravention of the treaty, however, the United States stockpiles some 10 million antipersonnel mines and retains the option to use them," Reuters reported.