Campaign Against Depleted Uranium

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UNEP to Study Environmental Hotspots in Iraq

Since the attack on Iraq in 2003 the United Nations Environmental Programme has been wanting to go into Iraq to study the environmental effects of the conflict. The United States and UK governments have not allowed this to happen, citing the security situation as the reason. UNEP has now announced a revised programme by which it will work with Iraqi scientists, from the Iraqi Ministry of the Environment, to carry out a study of a variety of environmental hotspots in Iraq and samples will be sent back to Europe for analysis.

The study of depleted uranium is conspicuously missing from the press release announcing the project, which cites other areas of concern such as sulphur mines and chemical refinery sites. However in an interview with Pekka Haavisto, 46, a former Finnish environment minister who now chairs the U.N. Environment Program's post-conflict environmental-assessments task force on Iraq, said "And of course, DU also is a concern, because some of these vehicles, especially tanks, may have been targeted with DU weapons. Our experience from the Balkans is you have to clean the DU from the tanks before you recycle the metal. This is a high priority....Then if you speak of the Gulf War of 1991, there are figures indicating that up to 280 tons of DU munitions were used. If you compare that with Kosovo, where 9 tons of DU was used, and with Bosnia where 3 tons was fired, the amount used in Iraq is quite big.

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Page last updated: January 28, 2003