UK Uranium Weapons Network

Campaigning for a ban on Depleted Uranium weapons

Letter from John McDonnell MP to David Cameron over DU weapon use in Libya


From: John McDonnell
To: The Prime Minister
Re: Clarity sought over assurances given over depleted uranium weapons and allied use of depleted uranium weapons in Libya

Dear David Cameron,

In response to my intervention on the UN Security Council resolution 1973 debate, you assured me and the rest of the house that British forces “do not use those [depleted uranium] weapons and are not going to use those weapons.”

The reason I intervened, is that I understand it remains MoD policy* to use these weapons, and it was therefore surprising to see this policy change without any MoD announcement. Since the debate I have checked the MoD website several times, and it seems that the policy to use DU weapons remains.

Would you urgently clarify the government’s policy on the use of Depleted Uranium weapons, as I believe the spent ammunition near populated areas pose a significant health risk to civilians in post conflict zones, and would like to have an assurance that British forces will not use these weapons in any future conflict?

Secondly, I was alarmed to hear that six US A-10 aircraft have been in action over Libya at the weekend. These close air support aircraft are normally used against armoured targets, and are likely to be loaded with the PGU-14 30mm armour piercing incendiary round, which contains a depleted uranium penetrator.

Will you assure me that no depleted uranium ammunition was used by these aircraft and commit to urging all our military allies to refrain from using this radioactive and highly toxic weapon on humanitarian grounds?

The stated purpose of our actions in Libya is to protect civilians. This will not be accomplished if we, or our allies, use depleted uranium weapons.

Yours sincerely,

John McDonnell MP

*MoD DU policy “DU anti-armour munitions will remain part of our arsenal for the foreseeable future because we have a duty to provide our troops with the best available equipment with which to protect them and succeed in conflict.”

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3 responses to “Letter from John McDonnell MP to David Cameron over DU weapon use in Libya

  1. Pingback: Anonymous

  2. Urânio em Moviemento June 25, 2011 at 10:15 pm

    Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla bans Uranium Weapons

    Interview with Uranium-238 expert Damacio A. Lopez

    Uranium weapons pose a serious risk to civilians and their use runs counter to several principles of international humanitarian law. The United Nations Human Rights Sub-Committee has condemned them as weapons of indiscriminate effect with long-term consequences for the environment and human health. On April 27th, the Congress of Costa Rica passed a law prohibiting uranium weapons in its territories, becoming the second country in the world to do so. Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla now formalized the law that prohibits the use, trade, transit, production, distribution and storage of uranium weapons on Costa Rican territory.

    Interview with Damacio A. Lopez, Executive Director of International Depleted Uranium Study Team (IDUST), a non-governmental organization of researchers, activists, soldiers, doctors, and scientists. He was not only the major force behind the Costa Rican ban of U-Weapons. Damacio A. Lopez also has authored and co-authored many respected works about the subject, including the book “Friendly Fire, the Link Between Depleted Uranium Munitions and Human Health Risk” and the documentary “Uranium 238”, which last May won the Award of the International Uranium Film Festival of Rio de Janeiro 2011.

    Norbert Suchanek: What is depleted uranium 238?

    Damacio A. Lopez: Radioactive waste produced by the nuclear power industry.

    Why it is used in weapons, bombs and bullets?

    Because it is free and the bullet or projectile friction burns when they strikes the target.

    What are the effects or consequences of the use U-238 arms?

    The effects are that it destroys targets and the consequences are that it releases a radioactive and toxic smoke or gas that can be inhaled or ingested.

    Therefore battlefields in Ex-Yugoslavia, Iraq and may be now in Libya became radioactive…

    Any battlefield where DU is used becomes contaminated for 4.5 billion years

    Who is most affected?

    Whoever comes in contact with DU will be negatively affected

    The soldiers become ill too?

    Soldiers are usually the first to be contaminated whether they fire the weapon or are the target, it is the same case that took place in Flanders Field during world war I in Belgium where poison gases where used by both the German and the allied forces. There was one big cloud of gas poisoning both sides and the local civilian population as well.

    Which countries are using U-238 arms?

    There are more than 18 countries that have these weapons, the USA and Great Britain use the weapon regularly, it is difficult to know what other countries have used the weapons since they keep this a secrete knowing that they would be violating international norms when they use the weapon. One of the reasons we know that USA and Britain have used the weapon is because independent researchers have gone into war zones with giger counters and taken out samples for analysis, (I did this in Irak, Kosovo and Palestine). Later the UN has sent in teams to verify the findings of the independent researchers

    Since when do you fight against these “in-human” weapons?

    I began this work in 1985 when I discovered that DU weapons were being tested less than 2 kilometers from my home by a state supported university called, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (NMIMT) in Socorro, New Mexico

    Your mission is a global ban of U-238 arms, a ban by the United Nation?

    My goal is an International treaty banning these weapons.

    Belgium was the first country, which banned these Weapons. Now Costa Ricans

    President signed the ban of U-238-Arms, which was in a great part because of your work. What is the next step?

    My next step is to locate a country that will be interested in banning these weapons and I will be happy to go to their country and help in what way I can

    You have been recently in Rio de Janeiro at the International Uranium Film Festival, where the documentary “Uranium 238: The Pentagon’s Dirty Pool” by Pablo Ortega won the award for the best short film. Do you think that Brazils President Dilma Rousseff could follow her Costa Rican colleague?

    It would be wonderful if Brazil would follow Costa Rica’s lead.

    Thanks for the interview!

    More information: http://www.bandepleteduranium.org/

  3. Shaun Murphy February 8, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    Did you ever get a response to this?

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