MEPs submit questions on DU in Iraq to Cathy Ashton
Following a global Day of Action event last November, where PAX’s Wim Zwijnenburg briefed members of the European Parliament’s Committee on Iraq, a cross party group of MEPs have submitted a question to the EU’s foreign affairs chief Cathy Ashton.
14 March 2014 - ICBUWThe question asks what the EU has been doing to encourage member states to respect the views of the EP, which has repeatedly called for a global moratorium on DU and work towards a ban. It also asks the EU to better support Iraq in dealing with the legacy of DU and for it to take a lead on the increased regulation of military toxics. The question and list of signatories is available below, an official report of the Iraq Committee hearing is available here. The initiative was led by Struan Stevenson MEP. ICBUW awaits the answer with interest.
Subject: The use of depleted uranium for military purposes
uranium (DU) is a chemically toxic and radioactive by-product of the uranium
enrichment process whose radioactivity increases over time. It is used by a
number of states in armour piercing munitions for use in tanks, armoured
vehicles and aircraft. Six states are known to produce these weapons, and it
is thought that around 20 currently possess them in their stockpiles. DU
munitions combust, generating a fume of uranium oxide particles that present
an inhalational hazard to civilians and military personnel. Munitions that
miss their target can contaminate soils and groundwater. Significant
quantities of DU munitions have been used in Iraq and the Balkans by the US
and the UK. There are ongoing concerns over its potential use in Afghanistan.
DU-contaminated vehicles pose significant risks to scrap metal collectors and
children who often play on them. DU munitions have been deployed in spite of
considerable data gaps in DU’s environmental behaviour, chemical and
radiation hazards, the level of contamination likely to be created in
different scenarios and, crucially, the extent to which civilian populations
may be exposed to DU residue. Parliament has consistently questioned and
opposed the use of DU munitions for more than a decade. Concern over the use
of DU munitions has been growing at the United Nations General Assembly,
where a fifth resolution on the topic will be tabled in October 2014. In some
areas of Iraq, childhood cancers and severe congenital birth defects have
increased exponentially, up to the point where women no longer want to have
children. In consideration of the issues raised above, could the Commission
1. what action has been taken to date to promote restrictions and/or prohibitions on the use of DU munitions among Member States and to demonstrate leadership on this issue internationally?
2. what efforts have been undertaken to develop a common EU position in favour of the prohibition of the use of DU munitions?
3. what assistance the EU is able to provide to help the Iraqi Government to better manage the legacy of DU in its country?
4. DU is just one of many hazardous substances used in conventional munitions that have the potential to impact on civilian health. In light of the EU’s position as a leader on chemicals regulation, will the Commission support research into the impact of these toxic remnants on civilians?