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SPAIN, Landmine Monitor Report 1999


Mine Ban Policy

On 3 December 1997, Spain signed the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. It officially deposited its instruments of ratification at the United Nations on 19 January 1999, the sixtieth nation to do so. From the point of view of the Spanish Campaign to Ban Landmines, the delay in the ratification process was disappointing. The same day Spain signed the treaty, its political leaders publicly promised to be among the first 40 countries to ratify the Treaty. During a meeting in June 1998 with Campaign members, Spain’s President José Mª Aznar, announced that the government was willing to be among those first countries.

On 17 September 1998, the Spanish parliament passed the “Law Banning Antipersonnel Landmines as well as those Arms with Similar Effects “ (Law 33/1998), and it entered into force on 7 October 1998. [1] While Law 33/1998 basically follows the articles of the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, it apparently does not constitute implementation legislation. The law does not include any penal sanctions. The annex to Law 33/1998, which describes “other dispositions,” states that sanctions will be developed in implementing legislation.

On the positive side, the law includes an article on humanitarian mine clearance, and another on aid to landmine victims (which was not included in the first draft offered by the government). The fourth article of the law also bans the use, production, stocking, and transfer of landmine delivery systems. Unfortunately, like the Mine Ban Treaty, the law does not define antitank mines with anti-handling devices as antipersonnel mines. The Spanish Campaign has also expressed concern about the length of the period for destruction of stocks, and has called for transparency with all aspects of its plan for the destruction of landmines -- both to members of the Spanish Parliament and to NGOs during the process -- including visits by NGOs to the Spanish company, FAEX, where the destruction will take place, to witness the destruction of APMs.

Though it attended all the ban treaty preparatory meetings, Spain was a reluctant participant in the Ottawa Process. The government appears to have embraced the process only when it was impossible not to, because of the momentum and visibility at the international level, and also because of the pressure generated by the Spanish Campaign, with the support of the Parliament, the media, and the high level of public awareness of the issue in Spanish society. For example, Spain did not endorse the pro-treaty Brussels Final Declaration of June 1997 until the Brussels Conference was already over. Even at this mid-point of the Ottawa Process it was impossible for NGOs to determine the intentions of the Spanish government. It is likely that the government had not developed a definitive position. Spain appeared to follow the lead of other western states, such as the United States or Germany.

During the Oslo negotiations, Spain was one of the few governments to support the United States and its various proposals which would have seriously undermined the total prohibition of APMs. Furthermore, the Spanish representatives in the Oslo floated a proposal that sought an exception to the ban when national security necessities demanded it -- in essence saying APMs would be banned only during peace time. It was not until the last day of negotiations that Spain withdrew this proposal, and publicly stated its willingness to sign the final text.

The decision to join the Ottawa Process and to sign the treaty was largely due to pressure the government had from both the NGOs of the campaign, the media and the Parliament. NGOs pointed out the role being played by Spain during the whole process was starkly different from that being portrayed by the government at home in Spain. In fact, Spain was among those countries that would have preferred to deal with this issue inside the Conference on Disarmament. It repeatedly claimed that the Ottawa process was going to be useless, due to the absence of the major landmine producers and also to the lack of efficient mechanisms to control the enforcement of the treaty.

Spain did not oppose the notion of a ban so much as it did the Ottawa Process approach. As the government has pointed out, it adhered to the Joint Action of the European Union, on 28 November 1997, and supported resolutions in the UN General Assembly and the European Parliament against the use or trade of landmines. Moreover, in the preamble of the 1998 Law passed by the Spanish parliament on 17 September and legally binding since 6 October 1998, the government declares its will to strengthen its efforts to promote the adherence of all the countries to the Mine Ban Treaty, and to include this issue in the agendas of the principal international forums, as well. Finally, it also declares its commitment to the victims of landmines and, therefore, will support such humanitarian tasks as landmine clearance, landmine destruction and medical and psychological care for mine victims (Law 33/1998).

Before the Mine Ban Treaty, the only domestic legislation was a unilateral moratorium on the export of some types of landmines to certain countries. This was first one-year moratorium was passed in February 1994 (though it did not enter into force until July 1998), and again one year later (February 1995). Finally, in May 1996 the government proposed an indefinite moratorium. However, NGOs discovered that Spanish APMs producers in 1996 were seen at international arms fairs, where they were advertising their products and, among them, the landmines they used to produce.[2]

Spain ratified the Convention on Conventional Weapons on 29 December 1993. At that moment, the ratification did not include the protocols, but just the text of the Convention. On 5 May 1994, the Official Journal of the State (BOE) contained a correction, noting the ratification of the Convention’s Protocols as well. Spain also participated in the CCW review conference and ratified the amended Protocol on 27 January 1998.

As previously noted, Spain would have preferred that negotiation take place in the CD and has supported the attempts to inspire a negotiation of a ban on mine transfers in that forum.


Although Spain no longer produces antipersonnel mines, it has in the past. Officially, Spanish production of landmines was stopped in May 1996. Spanish companies used to produce five types of APMs, including the Expal P4B blast mine, the Expal P4A blast mine, the Expal P5 blast mine, the P5 AR (with anti-handling device), and the P Salta bounding fragmentation mine.[3]

Mines were produced by five Spanish private companies: Bressel, Explosivos Alaveses (Expal), Explosivos de Burgos (EDB), Fabricaciones Extremeñas (FAEX), and Unión Española de Explosivos (UEE). Three of them (EDB, Expal, and FAEX) all belong to a bigger company, UEE, itself owned by the KYO group (a company from Kuwait) until it was sold to Pallas Investment, from the Netherlands. All are a part of the group DEFEX (Defense and Export), which, in turn, is controlled by the INI (the Industry National Institute). That means that although they are private companies, they receive public subsidies, and most of their sales come through so-called FAD loans (Development Aid Funds, which are a type of Spanish Official Aid for Development).[4] Spain has produced landmines under the license of companies of other countries (Italy, for instance). Today under Law 33/1988 production is banned in Spain.

Apparently Spanish companies are not producing Claymore mines. It is unclear if these munitions are banned under Law 33/1998 as “Arms of Similar Effects.” These kind of arms with similar effects to antipersonnel landmines are described in the revised 1996 Protocol 2 of the CCW. It does not seem that Spain is engaged in research and development on or production of alternatives to antipersonnel landmines.

Spanish companies used to produce cluster bombs, antitank mines, landmine delivery systems and others munitions, some of which might function like an antipersonnel mine.[5] It is not known if Spain is producing components (e.g. casing, fuse, detonator, chip) that are designed for use in APMs but, it was done so in the past.[6] Delivery systems designed to be used for APMs have been banned by the 33/1998 Law. However, in November, the Italian Campaign to Ban Landmines asked for follow-up on negotiations between a former Italian landmine producer Valsella Meccanotecnica- and Expal, one of the former Spanish producers. Although the Italian firm had ceased production been converted to civilian production, it still had some commitments with foreign companies. Among those was the production of the ISTRICE delivery system for use with both APMs and antitank mines for Expal. The Spanish Campaign has sought clarification in writing from both Expal, and the Spanish government. As of yet, there has been no response from either.


Before the Mine Ban Treaty, the Spanish government passed a unilateral moratorium on the export of landmines. This was first approved in 1994 (February) and again one year later. Finally, in May 1996 an indefinite moratorium was approved by the Spanish government. The ban on the exports in the 1998 Spanish law has replaced the former moratorium.

As far as exports and imports are concerned, it is still very hard to obtain information on recipients, quantity, types, value, date of transfer, etc. from governmental sources, since these matters are usually considered to be state secret. However, Spanish landmines have been found in Iraq, Mauritania, the Falklands, and Morocco, as the Red Cross has revealed. The same lack of transparency affects data on imports as well. The only thing we could add is that the Spanish army was entirely supplied by Spanish companies.

Spain’s position on the legality of another country transiting APMs across Spain’s national territory is also well defined. The Spanish Law clearly bans the transit of another country’s APMs across Spain’s national territory, since it applies to its whole; this affects the US stockpiles in Spain.[7]


Spain has begun destroying its stockpile of antipersonnel landmines. Under the 1998 Law, Spain has a period of three years to finish this task, which began on 27 July 1998. Currently, the Spanish Army is said to have stocks of around 819,678 antipersonnel landmines. That apparently includes 149,548 Expal P4B landmines; 580,251 mines of the Expal P5 type; 28,188 P5 AR landmines; and 61,691 bounding mines (PS). Information about the quantity of P4A landmines is not available.[8]

It is unclear whether the amount includes 200,000 antipersonnel landmines which had gone past their useful date and should have been destroyed long time ago. This numbers do not include Claymore mines, which were not produced in Spain, according to both official and independent sources. The value of Spanish stockpiles has been calculated to be around 1,500 million pesetas.

The last time antipersonnel landmines were produced for internal consumption was in 1991. Since that time, Spanish stockpiles have decreased around twenty percent. This was not the result of a policy to limit the production of mines, but the consequence of the need to withdraw from stocks those mines were going past their useful date and were already deteriorated. The Air Army bought some landmines for the last time in 1994.

From 1994 to 1996 the army bought a number of blank cartridge mines, without explosives inside, to be used for training purposes. These are mines the government will keep, as allowed by the Ottawa Treaty and the Spanish Law. Ten thousand landmines will be retained for training purposes under Article 3 of the treaty. The Defense Ministry (Ministerio de Defensa) and the Spanish army plan to use 1,000 annually for training purposes, which include detection training and another one focused on deactivation. At the moment, there is no data available related to the numbers of various types of mines being retained.

According to governmental estimates, every day 1,200 landmines are destroyed. Given that the process began on 27 July 1998, more than 225,600 landmines (around 30 percent of stockpiles) should have been destroyed by now. However, there has been no official information to verify this figure. According to the Spanish law, the process of destruction must be completed three years after the entry into force of the latter, that is to say, in October 2001. However, governmental sources have recently stated that the destruction process could end within 22 to 28 months, providing that 1,200 mines are destroyed every day.[9]

Mines are being destroyed by incineration in a four step process. During the first phase, the landmines are taken apart. Next, the different components of each mine are taken to the incinerator; there they are incinerated in an oven containing up to five kg of explosives; finally, the gases produced during the whole process are neutralized in order to prevent toxic emissions that could damage the environment. The destruction is being carried out by one of the former producers of landmines, the company Fabricaciones Extremeñas, (FAEX) in its plant located in Villa El Gordo (Cáceres). It is the only plant in Spain that conducts the destruction of munition and explosives and, according to governmental sources, its environmental safety is totally guaranteed.[10] The total cost of destruction will be 527 million pesetas: that means 638 pesetas per landmine.[11]

The USA, a non-signatory country of the Mine Ban Treaty, has landmine stockpiles on its military bases located in Spain. As far as we know, the biggest stockpiles are located in Rota (Cádiz), which is supposed to contain around 2,000 US mines since the Gulf War. Since the US bases in Spain remained under the jurisdiction of the Spanish government and, consequently under Spanish rule, these stockpiles must be whether destroyed or retired to US territory, according to the Spanish law. The third article of the 1998 Law specifies that “the government shall inform the Parliament once a year, and until the destruction of APMs is completed all around the Spanish territory” (Law 33/1998).

The Spanish authorities have told the US that they will be required to withdraw their stocks and they have already begun to negotiate the terms and conditions of the withdrawal. At the same time, Spain is not pressing them to do it immediately; the Spanish government doesn’t consider it urgent because the terms stated by the Treaty are long enough to do it without a hurry, but also because it pursues a “flexible attitude” on the matter.[12] The deadline for the end of the withdrawal of all the US landmine stockpiles has been fixed on the 1 July 1999. A news account in March 1999 said the US will be withdrawing the 2,000 mines at Rota.[13]

It is unclear if any non-state actors (e.g. rebel groups) have stockpiles of APMs in Spain. Some time ago it was said that the ETA (a nonstate group in the Basque Country) might have landmines, although they have never used them in their anti-government actions. According to media reports, the Basque government had been buying some landmines from 1991 until 1996 to train the police, just in case ETA was thinking about using them. Some 300 blank cartridge landmines acquired by the Basque government were subsequently destroyed, according to official sources.[14]


There is no use of APMs in Spain. The last time Spain used APMs was in 1975, when the army placed 22,000 antipersonnel landmines all along the border between the former Spanish Sahara and Morocco, in order to stop the Green March, organized by King Hassan. The Spanish Army kept some landmine stockpiles and planned to use them in case there was any serious conflict with Morocco, that could pose danger to Ceuta and Melilla particularly.

During the Ottawa process in Spain there was the rumor that a number of antipersonnel landmines were lying along the borders between Ceuta and Melilla, and Morocco, in order to stop the flows of migrants from Africa. The Defense Minister, Mr. Eduardo Serra, stated that there were no mines placed in Spanish territory, including Ceuta and Melilla.

Mine Action Funding

Spain has contributed to humanitarian mine action programs since 1995. Its contributions have gone to two main agencies, the United Nations Trust Fund and the Organization of American States, which oversees demining programs in Central America. The total amount of money has been allocated as follows:

Spain’s Contribution to Humanitarian Mine Action Programs

(U.S. dollars have been calculated at constant prices, 2 February 1999)

United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund - Total 124,897,065 PTAs (U.S. $865,416)

1995 21,331,275 PTAs (U.S. $147,805)

3,565,790 PTAs (U.S. $24,707)

1996 -

1997 50 million PTAs (U.S.$ 346,452)

50 million PTAs (U.S. $346,452)

OAS demining program - 100 million PTAs (U.S. $692,905)

1996 25 million PTAs (U.S. $173,226)

1997 25 million PTAs.(U.S. $173,226)

50 million PTAs (U.S. $346,452)

In 1998, 50 million PTAs (US$346,452) was given to both the UNVTF and the OAS programs.[15]

Spanish and local nongovernmental organizations have not received any funds for demining actions, because the government considers that they are not well equipped for mine clearance. However, some have obtained governmental funds to develop survivor assistance projects and mine awareness education, although figures for this support are not available.

According to the Presidency Ministry, some money has been used in Spain to buy specialized equipment for demining and to support Spanish soldiers in the field, for mine clearance done by personnel from the army and the police, to pay extra to their salaries, justified because of the risks of their work.

As noted, the OAS received 100 million PTAs (US$ 692,905) and the UN Voluntary Trust Fund obtained 125 million PTAs. (US$865,416). In the first case, Spain gave the money with a single condition: it was to be spent in Central America for specific mine clearance projects. The recipient countries were Nicaragua, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Honduras. Within the UN Fund Trust, Spain co-financed the Mine Clearance Program in Angola (its monetary participation represents the 6.25 per cent of the total amount). In the field, 45 per cent of the funds were spent on mine clearance and surveying (around US$701,244). On the other hand, US$857,077 were spent on survivor assistance.


[1] A copy of the law can be found in the official journal of the state, Boletín Oficial del Estado, number 239-1998, on 6 October 1998.

[2]Greenpeace, A un paso de la muerte...o de la esperanza. La necesidad de prohibir las minas y submuniciones de características similares, Madrid, March 1998, p.25. This has been extra-officially confirmed by members of the Spanish Domestic Affairs Ministry.

[3]González, “Aznar inaugura;” Greenpeace, A un paso de la muerte.

[4]González, “Aznar inaugura.”

[5]Greenpeace, A un paso de la muerte. Some examples of them are: such cluster bombs as the Rockeye II, produced by FAEX; and the BME-300, produced by Expal. The latter produced, as well, delivery systems, like that designed for the M56 US helicopter or the german SKORPION. Expal also produced different kinds of anti-tank mines, some of which were used during theFalklands War: they are known as the C-3-A and the C-3-B.

[6]Greenpeace, A un paso de la muerte. These components include cluster munitions, detonator devices, fuses etc. They were produced by more companies than those which produced landmines: Instalaza or Santa Barbara are some of the most important, together with Expal, FAEX, UEE, EDB, and Bressel.

[7]Ayllón, L, “España insta.”

[8]L. Ayllón, “España insiste a EE.UU. para que destruya sus minas antipersonal,” ABC, 2 November 1998, p.23; J. De Mazarras, “Iniciada la destrucción de minas antipersonal,” Revista Española de Defensa, September 1998, pp.16-17; González, M., “Aznar inaugura la destrucción del arsenal de minas antipersonas,”El País, 28 January 1998, p.28. Although none of these sources state the exact amount of mines of the type P4A, they are considered by the government to be antipersonnel landmines. At least, the Revista Española de Defensa (Spanish Defense Magazine), edited by the Defense Ministry, has always considered this kind of mine to be so.

[9]De Mazarras, “Iniciada la destrucción;”

[10]De Mazarras, “Iniciada la destrucción;”

[11]De Mazarras, “Iniciada la destrucción;” González, “Aznar inaugura.”

[12]Ayllón, “España insta.”

[13] M. Gonzalez, El Pais, 8 March 1999, p. 20.

[14]González, “Aznar inaugura.” Later, the basque authorities confirmed that version to the media.

[15]Ministerio de la Presidencia (Presidency Ministry)