By Stuart Maslen
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Additional info for Mine Action After Diana: Progress in the Struggle Against Landmines
Only then, in theory at least, will NPA begin clearing the land. Mine action in Thailand: a summary Thailand was the ﬁrst South-east Asian country to sign the Ottawa Treaty which it ratiﬁed in 1998 and went on to set up one of only two developing-country mine action programmes that are predominantly locally ﬁnanced (Croatia being the other). Since then it has fulﬁlled its treaty obligations, completing destruction of its stocks of landmines in April 2003. Progress in mine clearance, however, has been more limited.
Depleted uranium contamination – used, the military tell us, to penetrate the hulls of tanks – also requires study. In the 1991 Gulf War, the US dropped 290 tons of DU projectiles, particularly around Basra, and US Central Command has conﬁrmed that DU has been used in the 2003 conﬂict. A study by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) concludes that anti-tank munitions used by the Coalition against Iraqi tank formations released DU into the environment. Risks to be addressed include widespread low-level contamination of the ground in areas exposed, possible contamination of ground water and the presence of fragments that may be handled by unprotected civilians.
According to the US Defense Intelligence Agency, more than 300 million anti-tank mines were used during the war, including 220 million by the Soviet Union. Mines were integral to the famous battles at El Alamein and Kursk, among others. It is claimed that one German anti-personnel mine, the Schrapnellmine 35 or S mine as it was later called, ‘was probably the most feared device encountered by Allied troops’. Following the end of the war, demobilised soldiers introduced the term ‘mineﬁeld’ into everyday parlance, meaning a situation beset with problems.