The United States will not use landmines outside of Korea and will destroy any stocks not used for the defense of South Korea, bringing it closer to compliance with a 1999 treaty outlawing that class of military weapon, the White House said Tuesday.
The U.S. is one of 36 nations that have not signed the Ottawa Convention, a group that also includes Russia and China. The Obama administration has worked to bring the U.S. into the treaty, and in June announced that the nation would no longer produce new mines to replace the current stockpile of more than 3 million.
Korea has been the sticking point because the treaty prevents signatories from military cooperation with nations that use landmines. The demilitarized zone between South Korea and North Korea is heavily mined, and that is seen as a key element in Seoul's defenses against an invasion from the north -- as are the nearly 30,000 U.S. troops stationed there.
"These measures build on our June 2014 announcement that the United States will not produce or otherwise acquire any anti-personnel munitions that are not compliant with the Ottawa Convention, including to replace such munitions as they expire in the coming years," National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said.