United States

Mine Ban Policy

Last updated: 11 December 2023


The United States of America (US) has not acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty.

On 21 June 2022, the administration of President Joe Biden realigned US landmine policy with most provisions of the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, and again set the goal of ultimately joining it.[1]

The policy commits the US not to use antipersonnel landmines anywhere in the world, except on the Korean Peninsula.[2] Under the policy, the US will destroy antipersonnel mine stockpiles that are “not required for the defense of the Korean Peninsula.” The US will also not develop, produce, or acquire antipersonnel mines. The policy explicitly requires the US “not [to] assist, encourage, or induce anyone, outside the context of the Korean Peninsula, to engage in activity that would be prohibited” by the Mine Ban Treaty.

The US was the first country to call for the “eventual elimination” of antipersonnel landmines, in September 1994, and participated in the 1996–1997 Ottawa Process that created the treaty. It did not adopt or sign the Mine Ban Treaty in 1997, but the Clinton administration set the goal for the US to join the treaty in 2006. The Bush administration reversed that objective in 2004.[3] In 2014, the Obama administration issued a US landmine policy banning the production and acquisition of antipersonnel landmines, as well as halting their use by US forces anywhere except on the Korean Peninsula.[4] This brought US policy further in line with the Mine Ban Treaty. However, the Trump administration firmly rejected the notion of US accession to the treaty in January 2020, undoing years of incremental steps by the US to align its policy and practice with the Mine Ban Treaty.[5]

The US has participated as an observer at meetings of the Mine Ban Treaty since the Second Review Conference in Cartagena in 2009.[6] The Biden administration announced its new policy at the Mine Ban Treaty’s intersessional meetings held in Geneva in June 2022.[7] The US attended the Twentieth Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in November 2022, where it criticized Russia’s use of antipersonnel mines and booby-traps in Ukraine.[8]

On 7 December 2022, the US abstained from voting on annual United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 77/63, which called for universalization and full implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty.[9] The US has abstained from every annual UNGA resolution promoting the treaty since 1998.

The US is party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW), and provided a transparency report for CCW Amended Protocol II on landmines on 29 August 2022. The US is not party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

The 2022 US landmine policy has been warmly welcomed by Colombia as president of the Mine Ban Treaty, and by States Parties including Australia, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Slovenia, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom (UK). The new policy came after years of pressure from Congressional representatives and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).[10] In January 2022, the United States Campaign to Ban Landmines (USCBL) sent a letter to President Biden, signed by 37 organizations, urging “immediate action to ban the use of antipersonnel landmines without geographic exceptions, and to set the U.S. on a short direct path to join the Mine Ban Treaty by 2023.”[11] In January 2023, Legacies of War became Chair of the USCBL with its director, Sera Koulabdara, representing the organization in this role.[12]

On 21 September 2022, ranking members of the Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees of the Senate and House of Representatives sent a letter to the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff expressing their concerns over the new landmine policy and requesting further information.[13]



Under the 2022 landmine policy announced by the Biden administration, the US has committed to not use antipersonnel landmines anywhere in the world, except on the Korean Peninsula.[14]

Upon making the 2022 policy announcement, US officials confirmed that the last US use of antipersonnel mines was in Iraq and Kuwait during the 1991 Gulf War, with the exception of the use of a single antipersonnel mine in Afghanistan in 2002.[15]

The Department of Defense has long cited the need for the US to use antipersonnel mines on the Korean Peninsula in the event of an invasion of South Korea by North Korea, and has expressed concern that in the event of active hostilities, the current arrangement for a joint combined command structure would put a US general in charge of South Korean military forces.[16] Yet numerous retired US military officers, including those who commanded forces in South Korea, have said that using antipersonnel mines there is of little or no military value.[17]

Unlike the previous policy, the 2022 policy does not exempt “non-persistent” antipersonnel mines equipped with self-destruct and self-deactivation features from the prohibition on use outside of the Korean Peninsula. This reflects how the US has come to accept that the Mine Ban Treaty comprehensively bans all types of victim-activated explosive devices, regardless of their predicted longevity, delivery method, or type of manufacture (improvised or factory-made).[18]

The US maintains no minefields, anywhere in the world. Since October 1991, the landmines already emplaced in and near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating North Korea and South Korea have been under the responsibility of South Korean forces, not US forces.[19] The US cleared and destroyed the landmines laid around its naval base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba in 1999.[20]



Since 23 October 1992, US law has prohibited the export of antipersonnel landmines through a comprehensive moratorium, which has since been extended multiple times.[21] The 2022 policy continues this long-standing practice by stating that the US will not export or transfer antipersonnel mines “except when necessary for activities related to mine detection or removal, and for the purpose of destruction.”[22]

Upon announcing the 2022 policy, US officials clarified that the “Claymore mines that were transferred by the U.S. Government to Ukraine are command-detonated with a person in the loop who can actually detonate them,” which is permitted under the Mine Ban Treaty.[23]

Between 1969 and 1992, the US exported more than 5.6 million antipersonnel landmines to 38 countries. Deminers in at least 28 countries have reported clearing US-manufactured antipersonnel mines, including non-self-destructing and self-destructing/self-deactivating types.



The US last produced antipersonnel mines in 1997.[24] The Trump administration policy allowed the US to acquire landmines, but this never happened. The 2022 policy recommits the US to not develop, produce, or acquire antipersonnel mines, as it had previously pledged in 2014.

No antipersonnel landmines, or other victim-activated munitions, are funded in the ammunition procurement budgets of the US Armed Services or Department of Defense for fiscal year 2023 or requested for fiscal year 2024.

In 1997, when the US last produced antipersonnel mines, it manufactured 450,000 ADAM and 13,200 CBU-89/B Gator self-destructing/self-deactivating antipersonnel mines. The last non-self-destructing antipersonnel mines were procured in 1990, when the US Army bought nearly 80,000 M16A1 antipersonnel mines.


Alternatives to antipersonnel mines

Over more than 20 years, the US has spent in excess of $2 billion to develop and produce weapons systems that could be considered alternatives to antipersonnel landmines.[25] The 2022 policy will continue that work by stating that the US “will undertake diligent efforts to pursue materiel and operational solutions to assist in becoming compliant with and ultimately acceding to the Ottawa Convention, while ensuring our ability to respond to contingencies and meet our alliance commitments.”

The US has undertaken programs to develop alternatives to landmines, including the XM-7 Spider Networked Munition and the IMS Scorpion. Both initially had the potential for victim-activated features, thereby making them antipersonnel mines, but the Department of Defense later indicated that they would be command-detonated and not victim-activated. The XM-7 Spider Networked Munition has been produced and used in combat, while the IMS Scorpion project was cancelled.



In June 2022, US officials said that the US has approximately three million stockpiled antipersonnel landmines.[26] That total has not changed since 2014, when the Department of Defense disclosed that the US had an “active stockpile of just over 3 million anti-personnel mines.”[27]

Previously, in 2002, the US said it had a stockpile of around 10.4 million antipersonnel mines.[28]      

The US stockpile mostly consists of remotely-delivered mines that are scattered over a wide area by aircraft or tube artillery, and equipped with self-destruct features designed to blow the mine up after a pre-set period of time, as well as self-deactivating features. Various types of antipersonnel landmines are stockpiled by the US. The following table details the latest publicly available data on the types and quantities possessed, dating from 2010.

   US stockpiles of antipersonnel mines in 2010[29]


[quantity of antipersonnel mines in each]





Stockpiled inside the US

M692 Artillery Delivered Antipersonnel Mine [36]






Volcano, in M87 dispenser only [1]



M86 Pursuit Deterrent Munition [1]



M131 Modular Pack Mine System [4]






Stockpiled outside the US

M692 Artillery Delivered Antipersonnel Mine [36]



M74 Ground Emplaced Mine Scattering System [5]






Volcano, in M87 dispenser only [1]



M86 Pursuit Deterrent Munition [1]



M131 Modular Pack Mine System [4]






Total (antipersonnel mines stockpiled)



*The accounting for GATOR includes CBU-89 [22], CBU-104 [22], and CBU-78 [15] air-dropped bombs.


Stockpile destruction

The existing US stockpile of antipersonnel mines is expected to expire—meaning that the mines will become unusable—by the early 2030s, in part because their shelf-life, of 36 years, decreases over time as batteries embedded inside the mines deteriorate with age.

The 2014 policy precluded the US from extending or modifying the life of the batteries in its stockpiled antipersonnel mines.[30] The 2022 policy is understood to be continuing this practice.

A Department of Defense spokesperson stated in 2014 that the existing antipersonnel mine stocks “will start to decline in their ability to be used about[sic]…starting in about 10 years. And in 10 years after that, they’ll be completely unusable.”[31]

The 2014 policy committed the US to destroy antipersonnel mines that were “not required for the defense of the Republic of Korea.”[32] In 2014, Expal USA (the US subsidiary of Spanish defense company Expal) won a contract to destroy GATOR and Volcano mines at its facility in Marshall, Texas.[33] The estimated completion date was June 2020, according to MAXAM, the multinational company that owns Expal.[34]

General Atomics built the US Army a special “munitions cryofracture demilitarization facility” at the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant in Oklahoma, to destroy US stocks of ADAM mines through disassembly and cryofracture.[35] The destruction process started in December 2004 and was supposed to have concluded by June 2018, but it is unclear whether this deadline was met.[36]

Since 2011, at least 96 M86 Pursuit Deterrent Munitions and 40 M74 antipersonnel mines, as well as other “problematic munitions,” have been destroyed in a static detonation chamber built to destroy US stocks of chemical weapons.[37]

It is unclear how many landmines were destroyed by the US prior to the 2020 policy change under the Trump administration.



In 2020, the US said that a small quantity of “persistent mines” (non-self-destructing) had been retained for demining and counter-mine testing and training.[38]

[1] The White House press release, “Fact Sheet: Changes to U.S. Anti-Personnel Landmine Policy,” 21 June 2022.

[2] Ibid.

[3] US Department of State, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, “New United States Policy on Landmines: Reducing Humanitarian Risk and Saving Lives of United States Soldiers,” 27 February 2004.

[4] The White House, “Remarks by the President at Clinton Global Initiative,” 23 September 2014; The White House, “Fact Sheet: Changes to U.S. Anti-Personnel Landmine Policy,” 23 September 2014; statement by Amb. Douglas Griffiths, Mine Ban Treaty Third Review Conference, Maputo, 27 June 2014; and The White House, “Fact Sheet: Changes to U.S. Anti-Personnel Landmine Policy,” 27 June 2014.

[5] The White House, “Statement from the Press Secretary,” 31 January 2020; and US Department of Defense, “Memorandum: DoD Policy on Landmines,” 31 January 2020.

[6] Since attending the Second Review Conference in November 2009, the US has participated in every Meeting of States Parties, as well as the Fourth Review Conference held in Oslo in 2019 and the Third Review Conference in Maputo in June 2014. The US regularly attends intersessional meetings of the Mine Ban Treaty.

[7] Statement of the US, Mine Ban Treaty intersessional meetings, Geneva, 21 June 2022.

[8] US Department of State, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (StateDeptPM), “This morning in Geneva PM’s Steve Costner told the Ottawa Convention meeting of States Parties that ‘we join other delegations in condemning Russia’s war against Ukraine, both the original invasion in 2014 and the full-scale invasion in February of this year as well as Russia’s numerous violations of international humanitarian law, and its misuse of explosive weapons, including landmines.” 25 November 2022, 12:47 UTC. Tweet.

[10] See, for example, Letter from Senator Patrick Leahy, on behalf of 21 Members of Congress, to President Joe Biden, 22 June 2021.

[11] Letter from the USCBL, to President Joe Biden, 30 January 2022.

[13] Congressional Research Service, “U.S. Antipersonnel Landmine Use Policy,” updated 29 September 2022.

[14] The White House press release, “Fact Sheet: Changes to U.S. Anti-Personnel Landmine Policy,” 21 June 2022.

[15] The use of an antipersonnel mine in Afghanistan was disclosed as part of the June 2014 policy announcement. “And since the Ottawa Convention came into force in 1999, we are—or since 1991, excuse me—we are aware of only one confirmed operational employment by U.S. military forces, a single munition in Afghanistan in 2002.” US Department of State, “Daily Press Briefing,” 27 June 2014. In 1991, in Iraq and Kuwait, the US used 117,634 antipersonnel mines, mostly air-delivered. US General Accounting Office, “GAO-02-1003: MILITARY OPERATIONS: Information on US use of Land Mines in the Persian Gulf War,” September 2002, Appendix I, pp. 8–9.

[16] Choe Sang-Hun, “U.S. and South Korea Agree to Delay Shift in Wartime Command,” The New York Times, 24 October 2014.

[17] Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation (VVAF), “In Its Own Words: The U.S. Army and Antipersonnel Mines in the Korean and Vietnam Wars,” July 1997.

[19] Michael Crowley and John Ismay, “Biden Bans Most Antipersonnel Land Mine Use, Reversing Trump-Era Policy,” The New York Times, 21 June 2022.

[20] Beginning in 1961, the US emplaced approximately 50,000 antipersonnel and antivehicle mines along the perimeter of its facilities at Guantanamo Bay. Letter from Dr. George R. Schneiter, Director, Strategic and Tactical Systems, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, to HRW, 21 March 2000.

[21] Previously, on 26 December 2007, the comprehensive US moratorium on the export of antipersonnel mines was extended for six years until 2014. Public Law 110-161, Fiscal Year 2008 Consolidated Appropriations Act, Section 634(j), 26 December 2007, p. 487.

[22] The White House press release, “Fact Sheet: Changes to U.S. Anti-Personnel Landmine Policy,” 21 June 2022.

[25] HRW, “Clinton’s Landmine Legacy,” 9 July 2000.

[28] Information provided by the US Armed Services in Spring/Summer 2002. Cited in US General Accounting Office, “GAO-02-1003: MILITARY OPERATIONS: Information on U.S. use of Land Mines in the Persian Gulf War,” September 2002, Appendix I, pp. 39–43. See also, ICBL, Landmine Monitor Report 2009: Toward a Mine-Free World (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, October 2009).

[29] Data on types and quantities is from a 2010 Department of Defense document on file at HRW. Also listed in this document are 7.2 million antipersonnel mines designated as: “Unserviceable and Suspended” (190,458), “Former WRSA-K [War Reserve Stocks for Allies–Korea]” (520,050), and “demil” (6,528,568), which presumably means in the demilitarization account awaiting destruction.

[30] A US official confirmed to HRW that the US would not extend the shelf-life of existing systems, for example, by replacing their batteries. Monitor meeting with US Delegation, Mine Ban Treaty Third Review Conference, Maputo, 27 June 2014. Notes by HRW.

[31] US Department of Defense, “Department of Defense Press Briefing by Rear Adm. Kirby in the Pentagon Briefing Room,” 27 June 2014. In 2010, the Department of Defense indicated that the batteries in self-destructing and self-deactivating mines have a shelf-life of 36 years and estimated that the shelf-life of batteries in the existing stockpile of antipersonnel mines would expire between 2014 and 2033. This is according to a 2010 Department of Defense document on file at HRW.

[32] In 2015, US Secretary of State John Kerry said that the US “will begin destroying its anti-personnel landmine stockpiles not required for the defense of the Republic of Korea.” US Embassy in Georgia, “Statement by Secretary Kerry: UN International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action (April 3),” 3 April 2015.

[33] US Army, Award Notice on “Conventional Ammunition Demilitarization,” 22 December 2014. In July 2010, the US Army issued a notice for contractors “for potential demilitarization” of the munitions. US Army, Notice on “Family of Scatterable Munitions (FASCAM) Demil,” 13 July 2010.

[34] MAXAM press release, “EXPAL USA receives $156 million U.S. army contract,” 16 June 2015. See also, LinkedIn, “Expal USA,” undated (no longer available online).

[35] General Atomics, “McAlester Army Ammunition Plant,” undated.

[37] Presentation by Timothy K. Garrett, Site Project Manager, Anniston Chemical Agent Disposal Facility, US Army Chemical Materials Agency, “Preparing to Process Problematic Munitions,” undated.

[38] Presentation by US Department of Defense officials to civil society organizations, 13 February 2020.