BAGHDAD, August 29 (RIA Novosti), Mark Hirst – The International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons (ICBUW) has published a new report summarizing 50 peer-reviewed studies showing a clear and ongoing health risk arising from the use of depleted uranium (DU) by the US and UK.
The publication coincides with a call by the Government of Iraq for an international treaty to be established banning DU weapons.
Doug Weir, coordinator with ICBUW told RIA Novosti, "Iraq's call is very significant as far as we are concerned. It’s had to wait this long because of the occupation. The UN General Assembly will debate DU this October as a huge majority of countries support restrictions and recognize the risks with only the UK, US, France and Israel opposing it."
The Iraqis are urging member states and UN agencies to adopt a more robust approach to the issue of DU weapons and are leading calls because the country has been most affected by wartime DU contamination.
According to official figures the US and UK used over 400,000kg of DU weapons during the 1991 and 2003 military conflicts.
ICBUW support a ban and claim the use of the weapons is "inherently indiscriminate".
"ICBUW warmly welcomes Iraq’s intervention," Weir told RIA Novosti.
"These weapons are inherently indiscriminate.
"We hope that it will act as a reminder that the legacy of these weapons lasts well beyond the end of conflicts and disproportionately affects the civilian population," Weir added.
"The complete lack of obligations on the users of DU weapons to clean up their mess leaves civilians at risk of exposure as clearance is expensive, technically challenging and often beyond the ability of countries recovering from war," Weir said.
Report author David Cullen added, "These studies contain irrefutable evidence of the damage that DU can do.
"It is completely unacceptable that this material was used in weapons before the effects were properly understood. We urgently need research to find out how much DU is getting into those people who are forced to live, work and play in areas contaminated by DU weapons so we can make a full assessment of the risks," Cullen told RIA Novosti.
The UK Ministry of Defence declined to comment on the report.