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Bosnia Destroys Last Land Mines

November 15, 1999

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) _ Bosnia fulfilled its international obligations Monday by destroying its last stockpile of land mines.

``This event today is a small but very important step in confidence building and in helping sustain peace in Bosnia-Herzegovina,″ Lt. Gen. Ron Adams, commander of the NATO-led Stabilization Force, said at a ceremony east of the capital, Sarajevo.

Adams was among the international and local officials who witnessed the destruction of the mines.

The move was required as part of Bosnia’s commitment to the Ottawa Treaty, which requires countries to destroy all anti-personnel mines.

Bosnia’s move came years ahead of schedule. Although formally required to dispose of the mines by March 2003, NATO-led troops earlier this year ordered their destruction before that, by Aug. 1.

While the Muslim-Croat federation army met that August deadline, the Bosnian Serb army lagged behind. The Serbs destroyed their last stockpile Monday, leaving both armies free of such weapons.

According to a press release issued by NATO forces, the Bosnian Serb army delayed the start of their destruction program ``due to political considerations and an attempt to use the Ottawa Treaty deadline (of March 2003) as a reason for not commencing its program.″

The Serbs disagreed.

``We had a bit longer process because the stocks of the Bosnian Serb army were 10 times bigger than what the federation army had,″ Col. Gen. Novica Simic, acting chief of staff of the Bosnian Serb army, said during the ceremony.

Altogether, about 360,000 land mines were destroyed.

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