Govt rejects ban on anti-vehicle mines (Australia)

The Australian government has refused to back a global ban on anti-vehicle mines, declaring they have a legitimate military use. Australian forces last laid anti-vehicle minefields during World War II.


The government does support global restrictions to ensure such mines can be readily detected.

It also backs mandatory features which make remotely deployed anti-vehicle mines self-destruct or self-neutralise after a set period.

"Australia's position is that anti-vehicle mines have legitimate military utility," former junior defence minister De-Anne Kelly said in answer to a question on notice.

"Australia does not support a global ban on anti-vehicle mines but instead supports global restrictions on such mines that ensure that they are detectable by commonly available mine detection equipment and that remotely deployable anti-vehicle mines are engineered to self-destruct, self-neutralise and self-deactivate within a set time frame."

Mrs Kelly said humanitarian concerns, including those posed by persistent anti-vehicle mines which remained active after the cessation of conflict, were best addressed through technical restrictions of the type proposed in the Certain Conventional Weapons Convention Experts Group Meeting.

Anti-personnel landmines, widely used in World War II and in almost all subsequent conflicts, have killed and maimed thousands, mostly civilians. They continue to kill long after the original conflict has ended.

Such mines were banned under the Ottawa Treaty which came into effect in 1999 but no restriction apply to use of anti-vehicle mines.

They are much larger than anti-personnel mines, typically containing 10kg of high explosive and requiring some 200 kg of pressure to set them off.

There's now an international campaign to extend the existing ban, championed by aid groups and backed by Kylie Russell, the widow of Special Air Service Sergeant Andrew Russell, killed in Afghanistan in February 2002 when his vehicle struck a landmine.

In the answer to the question from Opposition defence spokesman Robert McClelland, Mrs Kelly said Australian forces last laid anti-vehicle minefields during the battle of El Alamein in 1942.
She said such mines retained legitimate military use as obstacles to enemy mobility and that was demonstrated even in recent conflicts such as the 1991 Gulf War.

Mrs Kelly also endorsed ongoing use of anti-handling devices - booby-traps designed to detonate the mine in event of tampering.
"Anti-handling devices provide a legitimate means of preventing enemy forces deliberately interfering with anti-vehicle mines which if not protected might subsequently be used by those forces," she said.

Von: 20.2. Sydney Morning Herald

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