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The apparent U-turn by the Pentagon over DU use by aircraft in Operation Inherent Resolve has been cautiously welcomed by campaigners, but is it a sign of a wider policy shift? Is the threshold of acceptability for the use of DU in operations rising in response to international pressure over the controversial munitions and what part has the A-10 played in this?
The Pentagon has announced that depleted uranium (DU) munitions have not, and will not, be used by US aircraft in the conflict against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The policy U-turn contrasts with statements made over previous months, where Pentagon officials claimed that DU would be used if needed; the decision reflects a growing stigmatisation of the controversial weapons.
The news that US A-10 gunships are now also active in Syria in operations against Islamic State has coincided with the emergence of reports that Syrian civilians fear the long-term health impact of the Coalition’s airstrikes.
Canada’s new Foreign Minister Rob Nicholson has claimed that Canada has been leading global efforts on the non-proliferation of DU weapons, among other things, but does this claim bear scrutiny?
Prof. Manfred Mohr of ICBUW Germany on the life and work of Prof. Siegwart-Horst Günther, the father of the anti-uranium-weapons movement in Germany, who died earlier this month.
Updates on depleted uranium use and affects in Libya, Iraq and the Balkans
- The International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons (ICBUW) has published a new discussion paper on uranium weapons that the Coalition hopes will help inform discussions on issues relating to their post-conflict management at the UN this autumn.10 August 2010
- The Dutch Labour and Socialist Parties have demanded transparency from the Dutch government over the possible use by the US of depleted uranium weapons in Operation ‘Unified Protector’.6 April 2011
- As military intervention in Libya became likely, ICBUW and CADU prepared to monitor the situation for the use of DU munitions.9 April 2011
- Following a lengthy Freedom of Information process, the US has claimed that no depleted uranium weapons were used in the Iraqi city of Fallujah during Operation Phantom Fury in November and December 2004. However, it has also revealed that no records were kept on the use of the weapons in Fallujah prior to July 2004.18 April 2011 - ICBUW
- UK Defence Minister Dr Liam Fox says UK use of DU in Libya unlikely but says that allies are free to use it if they wish to.15 April 2011 - ICBUW
- Air Force Spokeswoman claims that A-10s were not loaded with DU ammunition, but does not rule out future use in the conflict.4 April 2011
British MP questions Prime Minister's apparent policy change on depleted uranium weapons during Libya debateFollowing concerns that US aircraft may be firing depleted uranium ammunition in Libya, UK Labour MP John McDonnell has today written to the Prime Minister, after an apparent change of government policy on the weapons made on the floor of the House of Commons.31 March 2011 - ICBUW
- The likelihood of DU use in Libya has now increased following the deployment and use of A-10 and Harrier AV-8B aircraft. ICBUW calls for pressure to be brought on the US to clarify the situation, and to put DU ammunition beyond use.
- The UK Uranium Weapons Network and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament today issued a joint statement of concern over the possible use of depleted uranium in Libya.31 March 2011 - ICBUW
- At the time of writing there is no definitive evidence that depleted uranium munitions have been used in joint US, UK, French and Italian attacks on Libya. However there is potential for them to be used and ICBUW reminds belligerents of their obligations under IHL.21 March 2011 - ICBUW
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