Once, Twice, Three Times A Democracy?
On the 17th November, the European Parliament issued, for the third time, a call for a moratorium on the use of so-called depleted uranium munitions.
The resolution regarding depleted uranium is part of an 11-page document entitled: Texts adopted by European Parliament, on non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; A role for the European Parliament.
The Resolutions section No. 82 says that the EP: Reiterates its call for a moratorium - with a view to the introduction of a total ban - on the use of so-called depleted uranium munitions.
The legal basis for the moratorium was detailed early in the document, which stated that: All European Union Member States are Parties to the major multilateral agreements that make up the non-proliferation regime, namely the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC), the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).
In a month that has revealed the extent to which the US and, by association, the UK have seemed content to dismiss the rules of war in Iraq through the use of restricted weapons and tactics, the EPs repeated call could not have come at a more important time. Whether the UK, who currently holds the EU Presidency, will welcome the call is a matter for debate.
We feel that this is a welcome reminder to the entire European community that depleted uranium weapons remain illegal under a host of international conventions. As weapons of indiscriminate effect they are classified under international law with
chemical weapons, fuel air bombs and napalm. Their use should remain deeply offensive to right-thinking members of the international community.
That the UK and US continue to use these weapons, despite our poor understanding of the hazards of low-level radiation and, specifically, internal radioactive emitters, is a reflection of our Governments uncaring and cavalier approach to the environment, our own troops and civilians.
In January 2001, the European Parliament called on member states that were also NATO members to place a moratorium on the use of DU weapons in accordance with the precautionary principle.
In February 2003, the EP called on its executive body the European Council, to support independent and thorough investigations into the possible harmful effects of the use of depleted uranium ammunition (and other types of uranium warheads) in military operations in areas such as the Balkans, Afghanistan and other regions; [especially] on military personnel serving in affected areas and the effects on civilians and their land. They called for the results of these investigations to be presented to Parliament.
The 2003 resolution also called for Member States to immediately implement a moratorium on the further use of cluster ammunition, depleted uranium ammunition and other uranium warheads, pending the conclusions of a comprehensive study of the requirements of international humanitarian law.
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Page last updated: 6th December 2002