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6 Sep, 2023 20:38

UN opposes US sending uranium rounds to Ukraine

The Pentagon has announced it will give Kiev depleted uranium ammunition for Abrams tanks
UN opposes US sending uranium rounds to Ukraine

The UN condemned the use of depleted uranium ammunition on Wednesday, after the US government said it would send Ukraine a number of such rounds for M1 Abrams tanks as part of a $175-million military aid package.

“We are against the use of depleted uranium ammunition anywhere in the world,” Farhan Haq, the deputy spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, told TASS.

Haq’s comments came after the Pentagon revealed that an unspecified number of 120mm DU rounds will be sent to Ukraine as part of the newest package of military assistance. The anti-tank rounds are intended for use by the 30-odd M1 Abrams tanks promised to Kiev by the White House in January. The first batch of tanks are supposed to be delivered later this month.

Washington is following in London’s footsteps in providing the controversial munitions to Kiev. The UK sent a number of DU rounds to Ukraine earlier this year, intended for use with its Challenger 2 tanks. The delivery of DU ammunition was teased by the Wall Street Journal in June and leaked to Reuters last week.

The British military dismissed Moscow’s objections to the use of the toxic heavy metal by saying the ammunition had “nothing to do with nuclear weapons or capabilities.” The US has also insisted the munitions are not radioactive, citing studies by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that DU residue “does not pose a radiological hazard to the population of the affected regions.”

Critics who seek to ban DU ammunition have pointed to skyrocketing rates of cancer and birth defects in places like Iraq and Serbia, claiming that uranium dust is toxic when handled or inhaled. 

Anonymous British and American officials have glibly dismissed Russian concerns about environmental contamination, suggesting instead that Moscow was afraid of the “highly effective” rounds. 

The US and its allies have sent over $100 billion worth of weapons, ammunition and military equipment to Ukraine over the past 18 months, while insisting that this does not make them a party to the conflict. These deliveries have included cluster munitions banned by most NATO members. Ukraine reportedly has to account for their use directly to the Pentagon. Russia has documented multiple instances in which such ordnance was used against civilian targets.

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