Campaign Against Depleted Uranium

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April 2007


Belgium Bans Uranium Weapons & Armour
CADU Parliamentary Lobby Report
ICBUW Lobby in Geneva
Report From the Oslo Conference on Cluster Munitions
Campaign News

Belgium Bans Uranium Weapons & Armour

They were first with land mines, the first with cluster bombs and now Belgium has become the first country in the world to ban uranium weapons.

On March the 7th, 2007, the Belgian Chamber Commission on National Defence voted unanimously in favour of banning the use of depleted uranium "inert ammunitions and armour plates on Belgian territory." Although Belgium isn’t a user of DU, it is the home of NATO and regularly has US DU shipments travelling through its port of Antwerp.

Acknowledging the Precautionary Principle, the deputies agreed that the manufacture, use, storage, sale, acquisition, supply and transit of these conventional weapon systems should be prohibited. At the last minute, the term "weapon" was deleted to make sure that the law proposal would not cover the US thermonuclear bombs that are stored on the Air Force base of Kleine Brogel.

On Thursday 22nd March, the bill was adopted by Parliament, again with a unanimous vote from across the political spectrum; making Belgium the first country in the world to ban ammunitions and armour that contain depleted uranium, or any other industrially manufactured uranium.

Because it was suggested that the government needs time to promote the ban outside Belgium, and because the Dutch-speaking liberal-democrat party wanted to know if other countries would be willing to follow the Belgian example, it is now stipulated in the accepted text that the law will enter into force two years after its publication in the Belgian Statute Book.

The decision is the culmination of more than three years hard work, direct action and lobbying by the Belgian coalition. While many Belgian politicians were extremely supportive of the process, ICBUW praised Dirk van der Maelen, the leader of the Flemish Socialists, in particular for his commitment to our cause. Muriel Gerkens and Marie Nagy of the Greens and Joseph Arens of the Christian Democrats also played an important part in the process. The work of expert witnesses such as Dr Keith Baverstock and the support of the military, represented by EUROMIL, was also crucial.

The vote represents a growing awareness of the issue amongst European countries, thanks in no small part to the European Parliament’s repeated calls for a moratorium leading to a ban on the use of uranium weapons. ICBUW is convinced that Belgium will soon be followed by other states in implementing domestic bans, which in turn will give the campaign more leverage at an international level.

The two year delay in bringing the law into force had been requested to allow more research into uranium weapons to be conducted by the Belgian government. ICBUW is hopeful that Belgium may take a leading role in any future UN treaty negotiations although this will depend on how successful the coalition’s international lobbying has been. Few countries are willing to stand alone on these issues and it is imperative that more states come forward to support the process.

We’re optimistic that the Oslo Process for a ban on cluster munitions has reminded governments of the importance of working closely with NGOs and civil society. However many governments will be busy with the process until the end of 2008.

CADU Parliamentary Lobby Report

On February 7th, CADU visited London to build support among MPs for the removal of DU weapons from the UK’s arsenal. Our research had shown that the UK MoD has been running trials for alternatives to the CHARM 3 120mm DU shells used in wartime operations by Challenger 2 tanks.

Predictably enough, the MoD has continued, in correspondence with us, to stick to their line that DU is harmless and that it is a vital part of the UK’s ‘defences’; indeed they claimed that all the stories in the trade press about tests were wrong and that tungsten is just as dangerous. This last part was particularly interesting and is the first admission from the MoD that their alternative heavy metal of choice could prove just as environmentally damaging as DU. Something we have suspected for some time.

Many CADU supporters were unable to get to London on the day of the lobby but planned, instead, to lobby their MPs by post, using CADU’s new lobby pack – copies of which are available from the office free of charge.

After introducing our international guest speakers to the heroic Brian Haw – who later beat Tony Blair to be voted the Most Politically Influential Man In Britain by viewers of Channel 4 News – CADU supporters met in Westminster Hall to meet with their MPs.

Three MPs in particular stood out during the afternoon; MP for Blaenau Gwent Dai Davies‘ assistant spoke with us at length over alternative approaches to the question of environmental legislation. This including invoking the Euratom Treaty to challenge DU pollution in the Irish Sea from the Dundrennan testing range. He also offered to arrange for Dai Davies MP to raise the issue in Parliament by asking whether the survivors of the 2003 US friendly fire attack that killed Lance Corporal Matty Hull were tested for DU exposure.

Meanwhile the wife, and assistant, of Labour’s Jim Dobbin - MP for Heywood and Middleton - was sympathetic to the issue and listened intently to the case against DU. Of particular note however was the Lib Dem MP for Rochdale Paul Rowen. He offered to ask parliamentary question on why the UK had ignored the European Parliament’s calls for a moratorium and ban and offered to post an Early Day Motion on the issue.

Later that evening, 30 people attended a public meeting in one of Palace of Westminster’s sumptuous committee rooms overlooking the Thames.

Rae Street (in the chair) opened the meeting by giving a brief history of the launch of CADU and its international conference, covering major areas of concern from mining, testing and use. In the face of Government denial of any risk, CADU had continued to collect and disseminate information and was working as a member of ICBUW towards a draft treaty banning the manufacture, testing and use of uranium munitions.

She was followed by the first of our international guests, John La Forge from the US- based group Nukewatch. Nukewatch have been campaigning against the activities of the US arms giant Alliant Tech Systems (ATK) for years and have a history of trespass, arrests and court cases; where Minnesota juries have repeatedly ruled in Nukewatch’s favour.

They have produced astronomical numbers of DU munitions, including a recent order worth $38 million for DU tank rounds. ATK is one of the largest producers of ammunition in the world. In 2006 it produced 12 million bullets. It makes 95% of the Pentagon’s small calibre ammunition, as well as machine guns, cluster bombs, landmines and Trident D5 rocket motors.

ATK is the largest DU producer in the US. The discussion by civil society of this issue is drowned out by the voices of war - and sport. There is little understanding of the grim consequences of these weapons, which are in violation of rules that both the US and the UK have sworn to obey,” said La Forge in his opening.

He went on to explain how the arms industry’s role is to: “Obscure our criminal conspiracy to wage war in violation of international law.” It does this by masking the contents of its products, denying their effects and ridiculing peace activists - all with the help of supportive politicians fed by tactical donations.

In hiding the effects of its products ATK’s publicity talks in vague terms of developing a new generation of weapons to defend the US. It does not mention their potential to kill - only their ‘outstanding lethality’. Their marketing peddles a dreamworld of doublespeak as they say they have provided a capability ‘critical to national security’.

With approximately 15,000 employees located in more than 50 facilities in 21 states, and with representatives in more than 50 countries. Alliant Tech has an annual turnover of $3.3bn, they are making vast amounts of money. Waste uranium is thought to be given away free, but each 30mm round costs $21.50. The A10 can shoot $80,000 in a minute.

CADU readers may recall the findings of several labs following the NATO attacks in the Balkans. Tests found that penetrators were contaminated with highly dangerous radioactive elements, including plutonium and technetium. Both elements, and the uranium isotope U236 can only be produced in nuclear reactors. This indicated an extremely lax approach to nuclear waste controls. Quoting a US National Commission Report, La Forge suggested it was far more commonplace than previously thought, with up to half the US DU stockpile being contaminated – up to 250,000 tons.

In campaigning against ATK, Nukewatch and Alliant Tech Action activists have used all the legal mechanisms at their disposal, included the Geneva conventions and The Hague and Nuremberg declarations. More often than not juries of their peers have sided with them and agreed that the activists’ attempts to disrupt the company represented crime prevention under international law.

CADU then welcomed independent radiation advisor, Dr Ian Fairlie. Fairlie was the secretary of CERRIE (Committee Examining the Risks from Radioactive Internal Emitters) and has worked for both government departments and for NGOs such as Greenpeace.

There are great similarities between uranium and depleted uranium and it is nonsense to say that depleted uranium is less harmful than uranium,” he began. “When the US used DU for the first time they thought it was going to be a bonanza: in fact it turned into a horror show.”

As an aside he described how, in 1999 when he worked for the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, he had been aware of a huge cover up over the crash of a Korean Air 747 at Stansted Airport. At the time, 747s had 250 kilos of DU in their wings as ballast and agencies spent six-and-a-half months removing and disposing of contaminated soil from the site – something that the press was never made aware of.

His presentation, full copies of which are available from the CADU office, covered all the basics of uranium’s radioactivity and chemical toxicity. From the complexity of decay chains and what they mean for exposure rates, to the activity of DU particles lodged inside the body. He went on to compare the specific activity of typical forms of uranium: DU 15Bq, Uranium Oxide 08.3Bq, uranium mill tailings >4Bq and 0.2% uranium ore 0.15Bq. This reinforced his original assertion that DU is just as hazardous as uranium.

He then analysed the four main hazards from DU – that it is a heavy metal, that is a radionuclide, additionality (that these two risks can be added together) and finally synergiam, where the combination of radioactivity and chemical toxicity enhance each other’s effects.

DU’s chemical effects make it a cytotoxin, a neurotoxin, a nephrotoxin and a renotoxin. These chemical effects were the main concern of the Royal Society’s 2001 report into DU, which is now well out of date. Little attention was paid at the time to radiation, additionality or synergism.

He discussed the relative roles of radiological and chemical effects. Citing much of the research by Alexandra Miller from the US Armed Forces Radiobiology Institute, he explained how DU causes increases in dicentric chromosome aberrations (a globally recognised marker for radiological effects), which are not observed with heavy metals. That research has also shown that the number of neoplastic transformations (i.e. changes which can lead to cancer) depends on the activity and not which isotope it is. That DU is capable of inducing oxidative DNA damage in the absence of significant radioactive decay – i.e. through chemical toxicity alone and that uranium’s radiological and chemical effects might play a role in tumour initiating as well as tumour-promoting.

Almost all of this new research and understanding supports CADU’s long held belief that uranium is far more hazardous than governments and the military claim. And much of it has been triggered by the activities of campaigners who have continued to raise the profile of DU amongst the scientific mainstream.

Finally he discussed the ‘untargeted’ effects of radiation. These are worrying observations that have yet to be included by bodies calculating radiation risks. Perhaps the best known is the Bystander Effect, whereby cells adjacent to a cell that receives a radiation dose, also exhibit signs of radiation damage. It is thought that chemical messengers called cytokines transmit the information to the adjacent cells but it unclear why they should do so. Of equal concern is the emerging science of Genomic Instability whereby the genetic processes within cells that are irradiated but not killed suddenly collapse 20 or 40 cellular generations down the line. The third of these untargeted effects are minisatellite mutations - these areas of the genetic code that are more susceptible to mutations than the code as a whole. It has been found that even fairly low doses of ionising radiation can radically increase the mutation rate in these areas – adding extra uncertainty when trying to calculate dose.

And it’s calculating dose that was at the crux of Fairlie’s talk. With every new discovery our ability to accurately model the health effects of certain types of exposure decreases, yet this is not accurately reflected in the safety levels. This more than anything should back calls for the Precautionary Principle when dealing with internal emitters such as DU dust.

He concluded by saying that as we find out more about radiobiology, uranium’s toxicity increases. Yet the new radiation effects are still being denied. DU and uranium are essentially the same. Beta particles are as important as alpha particles when assessing DU’s hazards and that there is indicative evidence that uranium’s radiological effects are as harmful as its chemical effects. However it is difficult to establish uranium risks with precision and more than anything else, we lack epidemiology.

European lobbyist for the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons, Ria Verjauw, discussed how the Belgian Coalition ‘Stop Uranium Wapens’ have tried to use Belgian law to bring in a domestic ban in the country. Although Belgium isn’t a user of DU it is a part of NATO, the seat of the European Parliament and regularly has US DU shipments travelling through its port of Antwerp.

In 2005 and 2006, Senators Sabine de Bethune and Erika Thijs of the Christian Democrats and Senator Lionel Vandenberghe of Spirit launched the first parliamentary initiatives against DU. Unfortunately they did not have a large enough majority of votes to get the issue on the agenda of the Commission of Foreign Affairs and Defence.

The initiatives of Joseph Arens (Christian Democrat) and Dirk Van der Maelen (Socialist), both members of the Chamber of Representatives, who introduced two proposals to ban uranium weapons under Belgian law, were more successful. The two parliamentarians convinced the president of the Commission of Defense to organise two hearings in Parliament. Experts from different disciplines were invited. Representative Arens stated during the Commission of Defence meeting that: ‘Belgium needs to play a pioneering role in the campaign for a worldwide ban on uranium weapons’.

In June 2006 Belgium adopted a new law that deals with economic and individual activities concerning weapons. Art. 8 of this law stated that: ‘nobody is allowed to produce, repair, buy, sell, store, transport or posses those weapons that are forbidden by Belgian law.’

Members of Parliament Van der Maelen (SP.A), Arens (CdH), Gerkens and Nagy (ECOLO, Green) proposed an amendment to this law, which would add to the list of forbidden weapons (now 18 in total): ‘weapons and munitions that contain DU and industrial manufactured uranium.’

From January 1st 2007 Belgium is a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. On 14th of December 2006 the Commission on Foreign Affairs and Defence of the Belgian Senate adopted a draft resolution on this membership. Page 11 of this resolution states: ‘The Commission requests the Belgian Federal government to use its seat as non-permanent member of the UN Security Council to realise the following recommendations: encouraging other states to sign the Treaty on Certain Conventional Weapons (Geneva convention October 10th 1980) and to sign and ratify the protocols; to enlarge the application of Protocol III of the treaty on certain conventional weapons dealing with incendiary weapons to prevent further use of white phosphorous shells, and to stop the use of ammunition containing depleted uranium.’

Green Party MEP Dr Caroline Lucas spoke passionately about the recently approved resolution at the EU parliament, which again calls for a moratorium leading to a ban on the use of DU weapons. She said the resolution also called for independent research into the effects of DU on civilians and on the land.

Dr Lucas had had a lengthy correspondence with the former Junior Defence Minister, and now peer, Lewis Moonie about DU. He had insisted that the use of DU ammunition ‘remains an important option for the armed forces’.

She had visited Basra and heard how at the beginning of 1991 there was hardly any leukaemia there. By 2003 they were seeing three or four cases per week. Discussing Lebanon she said she found the evidence compelling and the felt that UNEP were not looking in the right place or with the right instruments.

Acknowledging that it can be seen as having little political power, Dr Lucas urged us to use the EU Parliament, calling it a valuable forum to link international campaigns and somewhere where we can find out who are our allies, whether they are Trades Unions or Veterans’ Associations.

She concluded by criticising the Government for its attempts to mystify the public over topics like DU and radiation. This is completely at odds with its remit to simplify these issues for the public. Her message to all was that we can make a difference.

Jeremy Corbyn MP (Labour, Islington North), to whom CADU would like to express its gratitude for making this meeting possible, echoed Dr. Lucas' message about mystification. He said he had been raising the question of DU since its use in Kosovo and in the first Gulf War but had been met with obfuscation. The government had always insisted that DU dust was entirely benign and would do no harm. Yet the study from the World Health Organisation in 1998 had already shown a huge rise in the incidence of cancer since 1991 in Southern Iraq.

With more DU used in the second Gulf War than in the first, the future looks even worse and Iraq is set to become in fifty years the cancer capital of the world. Yet still our government refuses to remove what it sees as a 'strategic advantage' from our arsenals. He said it was crucial that we remove the benign image DU has.

ICBUW Lobbying in Geneva

On Tuesday 6th March, ICBUW members delivered a lunchtime seminar on uranium weapons at the United Nations in Geneva. The seminar was the first step towards building a wider recognition and understanding of the problem amongst UN disarmament specialists.
ICBUW is indebted to the support and assistance of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) and other members of the NGO Committee on Disarmament for the success of the event.

The event attracted diplomatic staff from more than 10 countries including New Zealand, Mexico, Norway and Bulgaria. They were joined by representatives from many of Geneva’s NGOs including the Red Cross and the Quakers.

CADU Coordinator and member of the ICBUW Steering Group Rae Street, was the first to speak, introducing the Coalition and describing our history, structure and goals.

She was followed by Dr Katsumi Furitsu from the Campaign Against Radiation Exposure. Dr Furitsu has spent many years working with Japanese bomb survivors and detailed the scientific and medical justification for a ban on the use of uranium weapons.

Beginning with the basics, she went on to cover the biokinetics of uranium oxides inside the body and the routes by which civilians and service personnel can be contaminated. From there, Dr Furitsu described the effects of alpha particles on a cellular level, covering new research into Genomic Instability and the Bystander Effect. Using data from McCain and Miller’s studies into the health effects of DU, she described how human cells exposed to DU can turn malignant and form tumours when implanted into mice. From radioactive hazards she then examined the chemical toxicity of DU, using Diane Sterns’ 2005 paper on DNA damage caused by uranyl acetate.

Research into chromosome damage, micro particles and Gulf War Veteran morbidity was also covered. Dr Furitsu finished with a call for the Precautionary Principle to be respected and for urgent medical assistance to be offered to Iraq, where doctors and patients are still without even basic medical supplies four years after the invasion.

Red Cross advisor and IHL specialist Prof Manfred Mohr then introduced delegates to the legal status of uranium weapons. He described how they breach Environmental, Humanitarian and Human Rights Law and went on to discuss some of the possible routes towards a complete ban. Options to be considered included the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) and the Protocol V on Incendiary Weapons. However there are problems with both these approaches. The wording of Protocol V is very precise and uranium weapons do not have a primary incendiary effect; meanwhile the CCW has few members from the majority world and any member - such as the US - can veto a decision.

As the Cluster Munition Coalition has so recently shown, an independent treaty is the best way forward and the best way to highlight the existing illegality of uranium weapons.
The next speaker, Emmanual Jacob, was particularly welcome. As President of EUROMIL - an umbrella group of military unions and bodies - he represents the opinion of more than 28 unions from Europe and beyond. Since 2005 they have been strongly against the use of uranium weapon systems both out of concern for their own members and for civilian populations. His presence reflected the importance of strong ties with the military on this issue.

Following the seminar, we organised several face to face meetings with diplomats and NGOs. The Irish delegation expressed interest in our campaign and requested further information on it. The Irish Foreign Minister has been very strong on challenging the radioactive emissions from the UK’s Sellafield nuclear site.

Following their vote for a ban, it was only right that we met with the Belgian delegation. Mr Alain Vangucht, First Secretary on Disarmament complimented ICBUW on the quality of the seminar and said that : “It would be logical for Belgium to take action in New York,” referring to our plans to introduce a resolution into the UN First Assembly this October. However he conceded that he would need instruction from Brussels to do this and that the domestic political will had to be there. He promised to forward our information to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and highlighted the important role that Civil Society has in educating politicians on issues such as ours.

To tie in with a visit to Costa Rica by ICBUW representatives, we visited their delegation. The minister was very sympathetic and was keen for us to provide him with more information. He promised to compile a report and forward it to San Jose and suggested that we speak with other South American missions as many are active in disarmament issues.

The following morning we met with the New Zealand Ambassador for Disarmament and his Second Secretary. They were perhaps the best informed of all the missions, thanks to a strong domestic anti-DU movement. They revealed that parliamentary questions had been asked in the country and that there were concerns over compensation for veterans. Illustrating our concerns about the CCW they recalled the one and only time that uranium weapons had been mentioned during the talks. It had been during a discussion of ‘foreseability’ - that being the use of weapons that may have long and short term effects, such as Agent Orange. The US apparently grew very uncomfortable when DU was mentioned.

We then began a tour of South America, by way of Argentina, Peru and Chile. Again we received sympathetic hearings at all these meetings but they also illustrated how much educational groundwork we as a movement need to do, most had heard of uranium weapons but all were lacking a complete picture of their effects and the science behind them.

What also became apparent is the amount of work being put into the Oslo Process for a ban on cluster munitions. Many countries with strong records on disarmament issues, such as Norway, Ireland, New Zealand and Peru are all heavily involved in the treaty process and are expending political capital through inter-governmental lobbying. The result of this may be that uranium weapons will have to wait until at least late 2008 - when the CMC hope to have a cluster treaty completed and on the table - to be taken up by national governments.

However, there are also positive aspects to this, the Oslo Process is reminding states that disarmament treaties can exist and be propagated outside the auspices of the CCW. It is a long time since the landmines treaty and governments are again waking up to the input that NGOs can have on decision making and policy.

The main challenge will be to find a lead country to back our process 100%. At all the lobby meetings we had, one of the first questions asked was ‘who else is supporting this?’
We will of course return to Geneva for more talks and will continue to develop new contacts with states. We are at the beginning of what will be a long road but decisions by the European Parliament and Belgium are signs that a shift is beginning to take place.

Report From the Oslo Conference on Cluster Bombs

At the end of February, 100 NGOs from 30 countries met in Oslo for the first step towards a treaty banning the use of cluster bombs. The civil society event ran in parallel with the first in a series of high level negotiations between states to propagate a treaty outside the aegis of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW). Concerns over the use of cluster munitions (CM) have been increasing since the 70s where they were used in large numbers by the US in South East Asia. Israel dropped 4million in the 72 hours leading up to the end of the conflict in Lebanon in 2006. It was this, more than anything else, which sparked sufficient global interest in the problem to trigger the talks in Oslo.

However, unlike land mines but like DU, CMs are not as yet a global problem but have the potential to be. Around two dozen countries have been affected by their use but more than 75 governments have stockpiled them – the treaty aims to prevent a future crisis.
There are some stark parallels between ICBUW's work towards a DU treaty and the work of the Cluster Munition Coalition. Like clusters, DU is a hazardous and indiscriminate remnant of war and while the effects of clusters are more immediate and clear cut, there has still been denial of their effects among user nations.

The Norwegian conference was organised with the support of the Norwegian government and was the first step in a new treaty process. The aim of the first meeting was to consolidate political will, to that end there was no treaty text on the table – merely a declaration stating that there is a problem and that concrete steps should be taken, and taken quickly. The declaration aims to outlaw their production, use, transfer and stockpiling by 2008. There will also be obligations for clearance and victim assistance. The landmine treaty negotiations were completed within one year.

Of fundamental importance is to bypass the CCW. With only 100 members it isn’t representative of the global community, controlled as it is by the powerful western nations - the Security Council Permanent Members - where any single state can block proposals. Of the 47 countries taking part (the first landmine talks had six countries present) it was thought that 10 or 12 didn’t want a treaty and many others such as the UK would demand that the talks were carried out within the CCW. This was seen as a delaying and stalling tactic. Last June in Geneva just an hour and half was set aside for talks on CMs.

Once some supporting nations were found, the plan was to isolate the others. Their process places the onus on foreign ministries to take concrete steps. The CMC and Norwegians felt that the countries attending would be deeply shocked at the level of civil society interest – however it was thought necessary that national delegations should still feel empowered within the process and not overwhelmed.

The talks were held over two days in the Soria Moria Hotel near Oslo. National delegations were subject to intense lobbying by NGO members and CMC members made several presentations to delegates within the chamber. Particularly powerful among the NGOs were the victims - amputees from Afghanistan, the Balkans and Lebanon. There were also mine clearance specialists present who had suffered horrific injuries clearing submunitions.

The CMC cleverly released a pre conference declaration, which states would have to opt out of if they didn’t agree with it – a useful tool to isolate difficult countries. There were a lot of private discussions on the declaration’s content, most of which were largely ignored by the CCW.

After two days of heavy negotiations, 46 countries had signed up the declaration, including a reluctant UK. It seems that Hilary Benn MP had been very supportive and had been making statements in favour of a ban, against government policy. On March 19th the UK agreed to remove all its ageing clusters from service immediately. However they are trying to cling to their supposedly ‘smart’ clusters, to see how smart they are, please visit:

Campaign News

As you will probably gather from this bumper edition of CADU News, it’s been a very busy few months for us. But it has also been an inspirational one. We are all going to remember 2007 as the Year When Things Started to Move.

It began with our lobby of parliament, where we were pleased with the level of interest from MPs - the vast majority of whom contacted us directly requesting material. We will now follow up on this and tell you how we get on. We believe that we now have sufficient evidence to support a call for the Precautionary Principle at the very least. But changes will not happen overnight.

Just a fortnight after the lobby, I found myself in Oslo representing ICBUW at the Conference on Cluster Munitions. Aside from the opportunity to make some fantastic contacts, it was remarkable to be present at such an historic event. It was the first time an independent disarmament treaty process had begun since the Land Mine Treaty was born in the early 90s. More importantly it is exactly the sort of the process that ICBUW hopes to begin in order to ban DU.

What it did was illustrate just how much work we have to do, but it was also a cause for optimism, we now understand clearly what we need to do in order to achieve a ban.

It was that understanding that led us once more to Geneva - the home of the UN Committee on Disarmament. We were heartened by the level of interest in the issue at our seminar and at our meetings with diplomatic staff. However it also became clear that we need to work much harder at propagating reliable information about the science and reality of DU weapons to key decision makers. To this end we had converted our CADU Lobby Pack into an ICBUW Briefing and this proved to be an invaluable tool during our lobbying.

News of Belgium’s wonderful decision to implement a domestic ban - which reached us the morning after the seminar - was also of great help. We are also heartened by murmurings from Belgium that they may support a treaty process if other states come forward too. To that end we have been supporting the efforts of our ICBUW colleagues currently in Costa Rica, where similarly positive noises are being made from a country traditionally strong on disarmament issues.

Our next step will be to try and create a network of sympathetic states across the globe, all of whom can lobby their neighbours. There are limits on the amount of lobbying that NGOs can do and much of it must be done at the government to government level.

It would be foolish to ignore our neighbours in Europe. In spite of Dr Lucas’ free admission at our parliamentary lobby that the European Parliament has little real political clout; their repeated calls for a ban have been another powerful lobbying tool. It is imperative that we work with our European friends to try and build up a political consensus throughout the continent that the use of uranium weapons is unacceptable. This will be made easier by our growing links with EUROMIL - the European ‘union of military unions’ who are strongly against the use of DU. It was the close cooperation between NGOs and the military that is one of my abiding memories of Oslo, and it is a path that we should not ignore.
In May we will be in Brussels to pursue this strategy further, helping ICBUW and the European Greens with an exhibition on DU victims by the fantastic Japanese war photographer Naomi Toyoda. Together with US veterans, Iraqi doctors, scientists and specialists we will seek to increase the momentum for a series of domestic bans in Europe.

So, please forgive us if we haven’t been in the office to take your phone calls or have been slow in answering your letters and emails. As you can see, we have been somewhat distracted of late, but rest assured that real and positive steps towards a ban are being taken by CADU and its coalition partners and we are grateful for your patience and your continued support.

The website has also been a little neglected recently and for that you have my sincere apologies. However this is partly due to my editing of the ICBUW site which is rapidly becoming an excellent source of up to date information on our campaign. Please visit it at

Doug Weir, Development Worker


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