The United States would no longer use anti-personnel landmines anywhere but the Korean Peninsula, the White House announced on June 21.

U.S. President Joe Biden believed the landmines had a "disproportionate impact on civilians, including children, long after the fighting has stopped," the White House said. The United States would also destroy all stockpiles of landmines "not required for the defense of the Republic of Korea," the statement added. The White House also said America would "not develop, produce or acquire" anti-personnel landmines.

Such landmines would only be exported "when necessary for activities related to mine detection or removal, and for the purpose of destruction, it said.

The statement was disseminated on Twitter by, among others, the U.S. Delegation to the Conference on Disarmament.

Russian use of landmines in Ukraine

Landmines were having a "devastating impact" and "causing extensive harm to civilians and civilian objects" in the War in Ukraine, said National Security Council Spokesperson Adrienne Watson in a separate statement.

She pointed out that since 1993 America had spent $4.2 billion in organized efforts to destroy conventional weapons in over 100 nations. The statements can be read in their entirety at the White House website.

The change in policy was greeted with delight on Twitter by the Friends Committee on National Legislation, a lobbying organization of Quakers, a historically pacifist Christian denomination.

Kenneth Roth: 'Biden does not go far enough'

Also on Twitter, Kenneth Roth of Human Rights Watch said: "The Biden administration’s pledge not to use antipersonnel landmines anywhere in the world except on the Korean peninsula is a major step forward but does not go far enough to prohibit this indiscriminate weapon."

His post contained a link to an article on his organization's website.

The article argued that Biden should have stopped the use of landmines on the Korean Peninsula as well.

The article noted that Biden was striving to bring the United States in line with the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, commonly known as the Ottawa Convention. The International Campaign to Ban Landmines was chaired by Human Rights Watch, the article added.

Fulfillment of a campaign promise

Writing in Politico, Matt Berg noted that Biden's near-total elimination of landmines was the fulfillment of a promise made during his presidential campaign.

Berg recalled that in January 2020 then-President Donald Trump had undone Barack Obama's decision to restrict the use of landmines. Berg quoted Stanley Brown, principal deputy assistant secretary for the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, as saying the United States currently had a stockpile of roughly 3 million landmines.

The thousands of landmines which the United States had put along the Demilitarized Zone now belonged to South Korea, The New York Times noted. If the United States were to fully commit itself to the Ottawa Convention, the treaty could hamper relations with South Korea because of those mines, the paper said.