U.S. MOVING TO TEMPORARY MINES

"The Bush administration plans to announce that, in a step to lessen the dangers of land mines, it will end the use of long-lasting mines in warfare and instead concentrate on mines that go inert within hours or days," the New York Times reports.However, "there are no plans for the United States to sign the international treaty to ban land mines, which has been in effect since 1997."Nor is there any indication whether or not the U.S. military intends to pursue the so-called "Self-Healing Minefield" -- mines that can move, and reorganize themselves, to avoid being cleared.THERE'S MORE: The Washington Post puts Bush's land mine move in a much harsher light, saying it "represents a departure from the previous U.S. goal of banning all land mines designed to kill troops. That plan, established by President Bill Clinton, set a target of 2006 for giving up antipersonnel mines, depending on the success of Pentagon efforts to develop alternatives."AND MORE: "The biggest problem right now in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo and Chechnya is not related to landmines," says Phil Carter. It's "the use of cluster munitions, like the CBU-87. These are large bombs dropped from aircraft which, at a certain point close to the ground, break up into hundreds of little bomblets which are essentially the size of a hand grenade or RPG warhead. The dud rate for these bomblets inevitably produces a handful of duds from each bomb or sortie, which stay in the ground long after the bombing run."AND MORE: Human Rights Watch thinks "smart" mines -- like the ones Bush is proposing to use -- aren't much better than the dumb ones. "Experience has shown that nations -- especially those in the developing world where mines have been used the most -- are unwilling to give up the dumb mines in their arsenals, if more wealthy and technologically advanced nations insist on the right to keep the smart mines in their arsenals," the group says.

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