WASHINGTON, Nov. 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) is sharply critical of the Obama Administration's decision, announced Tuesday by the State Department, to decline to join the international treaty to ban anti-personnel landmines, a weapon that kills or maims thousands of civilians each year.
"This is a default of U.S. leadership and a detour from the clear path of history," Leahy said in a statement. "The United States is the most powerful nation on earth. We don't need these weapons and most of our allies have long ago abandoned them. It is a lost opportunity for the United States to show leadership instead of joining with China and Russia and impeding progress. The United States took some of the earliest and most effective steps to restrict the use of landmines. We should be leading this effort, not sitting on the sidelines."
For two decades Leahy has been the leading U.S. officeholder advocating an international ban on the use of anti-personnel landmines. Leahy's groundbreaking legislation, including the world's first export ban on landmines, was a catalyst in launching the treaty effort.
The Vermont senator said the Obama Administration's review of the earlier decision to stand apart from the treaty "can only be described as cursory and half-hearted."
The Obama Administration's decision was announced on the eve of an international meeting this weekend in Cartagena, Colombia, to assess compliance with the ten-year-old treaty.
SOURCE Office of U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy