Land Mines: Still Booming

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OTTAWA: No need to pity land-mine manufacturers. Even though 125 countries have now signed a treaty banning the anti-personnel weapons, the makers won’t go out of business. There's their old standby the United States, which is refusing to sign up until it is given a special exclusion to plant mines in the Korean DMZ. Not to mention Russia, China, Iraq, Iran and Egypt, who all balked at this landmark treaty.

Plus business is picking up in Angola, the world’s per capita leader in active land mines (more than 9 million) and land mine victims (around 90,000). According to a U.N. report Thursday, rebel forces are actually re-planting mines along major highways previously cleared of the weapons — the three-year old peace accord notwithstanding.

And if all else fails, remember, there are still anywhere between 60 and 100 million mines planted in war zones all over the world. If it was profitable to plant mines, imagine how much these firms can make in the demining business. Indeed, that seems to be the aim of a number of companies who traveled to Ottawa to hawk their wares to treaty delegates. Bargains included the $500,000 remote-control mine detector, the supersonic air shovel and the Superman mine-awareness comic book. No word on what the hundreds of land-mine victims, observing the treaty signing on crutches and in wheelchairs, thought of such a commercial display.