WASHINGTON (March 1, 2004) -— The Bush Administration's recent announcement that it would allow the continued use of certain types of landmines in the future "steps back" from an earlier commitment to join more than 150 other nations in banning the "indiscriminate weapons," according to the Chairman of the bishops' International Policy Committee.
Bishop John J. Ricard, SSJ, of Pensacola-Tallahassee said the Administration's policy "expands the leadership role of the United States in aiding the victims of landmines," but called the future reliance on landmines "a missed opportunity."
The full text of Bishop Ricard's statement follows:
New U.S. Policy On Landmines
March 1, 2004
"The new U.S. policy on landmines represents a missed opportunity for the United States. While the new policy expands the leadership role of the United States in aiding the victims of landmines, it undermines the efforts of the past decade to rid the world of these indiscriminate weapons.
"The Administration has reiterated previous commitments to end the use of landmines that do not self-destruct. Regrettably, U.S. policy now envisions the indefinite use of self-destructing landmines, and thereby steps back from an earlier pledge to join the more than 150 nations who have already signed the Mine Ban Treaty, if alternatives to anti-personnel landmines could be found.
"With Pope John Paul II and Catholic Bishops from around the world, the bishops in this country have long called for a ban on these indiscriminate and deadly weapons and have urged the U.S. government to sign the Mine Ban Treaty. Much progress has been made in the past decade toward acting on the moral imperative of ending the use of landmines. The continued reliance of the world's largest military on these insidious weapons will only delay the day when the world will be freed from this scourge."