Britain defends use of depleted uranium

Dec. 18, 2012 at 11:48 AM
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LONDON, Dec. 18 (UPI) -- The British government said claims of the effects of weapons containing depleted uranium were likely overstated, adding DU was useful in certain circumstances.

"U.K. policy is that depleted uranium can be used in weapons because it would be wrong to deny our armed forces a legitimate and effective capability that can help them achieve their objectives as quickly and safely as possible," the British Ministry of Defense said in a statement.

The International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons in early December said France, Israel, the United States and the United Kingdom were the only members of the United Nations to vote against a non-binding resolution against weapons containing depleted uranium. The British Campaign Against Depleted Uranium said the government wasn't taking into account growing concerns about the weapon's risk.

The Ministry of Defense, however, said DU weapons were "ideal" as an armor-piercing munition that reduces the risk to British tank crews.

"Risk assessments show very little or no chemical or radiation risk to most troops and civilians and instructions are provided to reduce the already low risk as far as is reasonably practicable," the ministry stated.

The British advocacy group, however, said the government tacitly accepted the risks of DU weapons.

"Since the 1970s the (Defense Ministry) has been aware of the inhalation hazard toxic DU dust poses when fired and for this reason DU is not fired during training its use is limited to a war fighting role," the campaign group.

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