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Vol 38 No 5

Published 28th February 1997

Seeds of death

Anti-personnel mines are cheap, long-lasting and deadly. Now there are hopes for a ban

Campaigners against land-mines were encouraged by an announcement by South African Defence Minister Joe Modise on 20 February. His country had banned the use and manufacture of anti-personnel (AP) mines, he said, and would destroy the 160,000 such weapons that it had in stock. Significantly, though, he added that South Africa would keep its stock of anti-vehicle mines and continue research into 'smart' mines, which are supposed to destroy themselves after a fixed period (though misuse and technical failure ensure that they often don't). The statement was timed for the Fourth International Non-Governmental Conference to Ban Landmines, which opened on 25 February in neighbouring Mozambique.

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