In a bipartisan move to join a worldwide ban on anti-personnel land mines, House members introduced a bill Thursday that would bar even the use of so-called smart mines and set a time limit on deployment of the explosives on the Korean peninsula.
Advocates cited the late Princess Diana’s active opposition to land mines as a strong impetus for the legislation.
“It is essential that the U.S. send a clear message that land mines have lost their military necessity and extract a horrible toll on humanity,” said Rep. Jack Quinn, R-N.Y., who introduced the measure along with Rep. Lane Evans, D-Ill.
The bill, which has over 130 co-sponsors, would end funding for U.S. use of anti-personnel land mines beginning Jan. 1, 2000. It would not affect existing mine fields or anti-tank mines and would provide a 12-year exemption for the Korean peninsula.
The legislation contrasts with the Clinton administration’s position on the issue.
At an international conference under way in Oslo, Norway, the U.S. delegation is insisting on permanent exemptions for smart mines, which eventually self-destruct, and for minefields along the Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Korea. The conference is expected to end Sept. 19 with a treaty banning all anti-personnel mines.
In June, Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., introduced a virtually identical version of the bill in the Senate, co-sponsored by 58 colleagues.
About 2,000 people, almost all of them civilians, are killed or maimed each month by land mines in Angola, Bosnia, Cambodia, Mozambique, and other trouble spots.
Efforts to ban land mines started last fall in Ottawa, but the United States joined the process just three weeks ago.
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