Author Topic: UK Ministry of Defence: depleted uranium is not ‘safe’  (Read 2137 times)


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UK Ministry of Defence: depleted uranium is not ‘safe’
« on: March 04, 2011, 07:10:57 PM »
Britain’s Defence Minister Dr Liam Fox has acknowledged that the MoD does
not consider that depleted uranium weapons are 'safe' but denies that they
have any health or environmental impact.
4 March 2011 - ICBUW
In a letter responding to concerns from SNP Member of the Scottish
Parliament Bill Wilson, UK Defence Minister Dr Liam Fox has acknowledged
that the MoD does not consider that depleted uranium weapons are 'safe'.
However he goes on to argue that no long term health or environmental
problems attributable to depleted uranium use have been found.
Dr Liam Fox In acknowledging that depleted uranium is hazardous, he
sought to reassure Bill Wilson that in the UK the use, storage and handling
of the weapons - and other environmental considerations, are governed by a
range of legislation. This includes the Radioactive Substances Act 1993 and
the 2000 Ionising Radiation Regulations Act, both of which form part of the
Health and Safety at Work Act and are enforced by the UK Health and Safety
While his aim may have been to reassure, the reference to the tight
legislative framework concerning the use and management of depleted
uranium munitions in the UK stands in stark contrast to the uncontrolled
release of the substance during conflict. This once again highlights the fact
that the military use of depleted uranium munitions inevitably breaches the
most basic of radiation protection norms. Furthermore, their use is clearly at
odds with the UK government’s own strategy on radioactive discharges –
which is based on both the Precautionary and Polluter Pays principles,
"The Government considers that the unnecessary introduction of radioactivity
into the environment is undesirable, even at levels where the doses to both
human and non-human species are low and, on the basis of current
knowledge, are unlikely to cause harm."
The letter then proceeds into more familiar territory, denying that any of the
3400 UK military veterans who attended the MoD-sponsored Gulf Veterans’
Medical Assessment Programme had shown any health impact from depleted
uranium. It is debateable as to whether this general health programme was
sufficiently focused to identify potential health issues related to exposure.
No mention is made of the potential health impact on civilians living in
conflict zones.
Fox once again reiterated that the UK did not support last autumn’s UN
General Assembly resolution calling for user transparency because the
wording pre-supposed that depleted uranium was harmful. One could
reasonably argue that Fox himself has acknowledged just that in this letter
and it is surely a position also held by the UK Health and Safety Executive.
Evidently believing that repetition equates to truth, Fox ends with the claims
that the UK only uses depleted uranium in accordance with International
Humanitarian Law and that UK troops require the weapons and it would be
wrong to deny them what he calls a legitimate capacity.
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