Bipartisan group of 21 lawmakers push Biden to ban most landmines

Bipartisan group of 21 lawmakers push Biden to ban most landmines
© Greg Nash

A bipartisan group of 21 members of Congress want President BidenJoe BidenSunday shows preview: US reaffirms support for Ukraine amid threat of Russian invasion The Fed has a clear mandate to mitigate climate risks Biden says Roe v. Wade under attack like 'never before' MORE to reinstate an Obama administration-era policy that restricted certain antipersonnel landmines and limited their use to only the Korean Peninsula.

“We are writing to urge you, as a first step, to reinstate the Obama policy, and by doing so reaffirm the United States as a leader in the global effort to reduce the carnage caused by anti-personnel mines,” the 21 lawmakers, led by Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyThese Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Senate panel advances bill blocking tech giants from favoring own products Former US attorney considering Senate run in Vermont as Republican MORE (D-Vt.) and Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), wrote in a Tuesday letter to Biden.

The lawmakers also want Biden to direct the Pentagon to “expeditiously review its plans for the defense of the Republic of Korea and provide a classified report to you and the Congress describing the options for defending the Republic of Korea with alternatives to anti-personnel mines.”

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Furthermore, they urged the president to put the United States “on a definitive path” to agree by 2024 to the 164-country agreement known as the 1997 Ottawa Convention, which bans the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of older types of antipersonnel landmines, as they are likely to kill and wound civilians.

The United States has not signed the international agreement, though former President Obama’s 2014 policy largely followed the convention.

Former President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden says Roe v. Wade under attack like 'never before' On student loans, Biden doesn't have an answer yet Grill company apologizes after sending meatloaf recipe on same day of rock star's death MORE, however, lifted Obama’s landmine policy in January 2020, rolling back restrictions on land mines placed outside of the Korean Peninsula.

Since Biden has taken office, lawmakers and human rights advocacy groups have criticized the president for not signing the Ottawa Convention, as he had indicated on the campaign trail that he would do so if elected.

The new administration has also kept Trump's policy in place while it conducts a review.  

Leahy, who in the past has led efforts to help curtail landmines use, wrote on Twitter on Tuesday that the armaments “don’t belong in the arsenals of civilized nations.”

Biden “should restore the pre-Trump policy and put the U.S. on a path to join the international treaty banning these indiscriminate weapons,” Leahy wrote.