Campaign Against Depleted Uranium

Introduction | News | Information | Resources | Affiliate | Action | Links | Contact

December 2005

Once, twice, three times a democracy? EP makes third call for DU moratorium
DU Activists Mobilise For The 3rd International Day Of Action

Europe's Dirty DU Secret
CADU In Geneva: ICBUW Hosts DU Workshop For Diplomatic Staff
International News
Campaign News

Once, Twice, Three Times A Democracy? EP Makes Third Call For DU Moratorium

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 Resolution’s 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 EP’s 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 Government’s 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.

DU Activists Mobilise For Third International Day Of Action

On the 6th November, anti-DU activists across the UK, and the world, took to the streets for the 3rd International Day of Action against DU.

In the UK CADU members braved the miserable weather to leaflet Manchester city centre, whilst Birmingham saw more of the same. North of the border, activists in Glasgow and Falkirk also took to the streets. CADU had a mixed response at our spot on Market Street with most shoppers intent on making an early start to their Christmas shopping. The most positive responses invariably came from teenagers, many of whom stopped for a chat and seemed genuinely interested in the DU issue.

Elsewhere, actions were held across Europe, the US and Japan. In Japan the NO DU Hiroshima Project organised a series of talks with Gerard Matthews the ex-US National Guardsman who was exposed to DU through his role of collecting battle debris in Iraq. In Belgium, activists organised a magical mystery tour that just happened to end up at the Belgian MoD, where activists reminded them of their concerns. And over in the US, our old friends at Nukewatch failed to curb their enthusiasm by starting a week early with another successful action at ATK’s DU weapons plant in Minnesota. This time 41 of them managed to get arrested for trespass, a ‘crime’ that carries a $200 fine.

Europe's Dirty DU Secret

The uranium enrichment multinational Urenco has come under fire from green groups for exporting thousands of tonnes of depleted uranium to Russia, in spite of Russia’s appalling safety record and the fact that dumping is technically illegal.

Urenco, whose plant at Capenhurst in Cheshire enriches uranium for use in the UK’s power plants has exported more than 75,000 tonnes of DU to Russia since 1996. The importation of nuclear waste into Russia for the purposes of storage is illegal, but Urenco and other European uranium enrichment and reprocessing firms bypass this by arranging the return of some reprocessed material. However, around 98% of the waste has not been returned and is now being stored at four sites across Russia.

The containers used to transport the uranium waste do not meet current International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) standards and pose a serious risk during the thousands of kilometres journey to the Russian disposal sites, where they are illegally dumped. Once there, the containers, each of which contains up to 10t of gaseous DU are left in the open air to slowly corrode. A large proportion of the waste is in the form of hexafluoride crystals, which react violently with water leading to dispersal of toxic gases, including hydrogen fluoride.

In Russia, Greenpeace has filed a case in the Moscow district court against the Russian government nuclear export company, Tecksnabexport. According to paragraph 3 of article 48 of the federal law of 2001 ‘On Environmental Protection’, import of nuclear waste and foreign nuclear materials to the Russian Federation for the purpose of its storage or disposal is prohibited.

“The nuclear industry is opting for the cheapest, dirtiest and most dangerous option – dumping in Russia,” said Vladimir Tchuprov of Greenpeace Russia in La Havre. “Russia already has a nuclear waste crisis, and yet EDF, EoN, and all other European nuclear utilities are making the situation worse. Disposal and even storage of foreign nuclear waste in Russia is illegal,” said Tchuprov.

The waste is sent to Sverdlovsk-44, Angarsk, Krasnoyarsk-45 and Tomsk-7, one of the most radioactive sites on Earth and a centre for plutonium production.

CADU In Geneva: ICBUW Hosts DU Workshop For Diplomatic Staff

On Wednesday 9th November, at the Varembe Conference Centre in Geneva, close to the UN, there was a co-hosted workshop ‘Towards a Ban on ‘Depleted’ Uranium Weapons’, between IPB - the International Peace Bureau, and ICBUW - the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons. The day was chosen to mark 6th November, which three years ago had been set by the UN as the: ‘International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict.’

Kofi Annan said in a press release for the first observance of the day in 2002 that: “International conventions govern nuclear, chemical and biological weapons but new technologies - such as depleted uranium ammunition - pose as yet unknown threats to the environment. Damage to the environment in war is also an impediment to the restoration of peace and rebuilding society. The lesson to be drawn is that modern warfare needs environmental rules, just as earlier wars highlighted the need to regulate the impact of war on civilians and prisoners of war.”

ICBUW wants to establish those ‘rules’ with regard to DU munitions.

The workshop, attended by more than 40 guests, was opened by Henk van der Keur, of ICBUW, giving an outline of the ICBUW report on the overall world wide increasing opposition to the use, testing, development and trade in DU weapons. Professor Nobuo Kazashi, ICBUW Board member from Japan, gave the background to the movement against DU in Japan and the information, resources and activities being produced there. The growing global concern stems from the knowledge of the increased incidence of cancers, especially among children, and birth deformities in the areas where the munitions have been used. Presentations were made on the health and environmental effects of DU munitions by specialists in various fields, including Dr Keith Baverstock, (former Regional Adviser for Radiation and Public Health at the WHO), Professor Michel Fernex of IPPNW (International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War) Switzerland, Heike Schroder (a researcher on chromosomal aberrations), and medical doctor Dr Katsumi Furitsu.

ICBUW now has a Draft Treaty, drawn up by Manfred Mohr, an international human rights lawyer, which was presented at the conference. The Draft Treaty, calls for, inter alia, a halt to the production, testing, sale, stockpiling, financing, transport and export of these weapons, and a decommissioning of all existing stockpiles.  ICBUW also calls for immediate medical assessment, treatment and long term monitoring of all those who have been exposed to uranium weaponry. ICBUW are of the opinion that a treaty banning DU weapons would constitute the best solution for confirming the illegality of DU use. Such a treaty would not only ban the weapons, but would include the prohibition of their production, the destruction of DU stockpiles, decontamination and compensation for victims.

After the presentations, there was a lively discussion on some aspects of the exact whereabouts of the DU bombing by the UK and US (the only countries, as far as is known, definitely to have used DU in conflict) and on the role of the WHO.  Representatives of the latter organisation were present at the meeting and promised to look into the matter further.

At the end of the meeting, Mrs Haruko Moritaki, of the NO DU Hiroshima Project, Japan, presented a petition with more than 200,000 signatures to Mr Roman-Morey, Deputy Secretary General for the UN Conference on Disarmament.  Signatures will continue to be collected until a ban is achieved. The petition is available to download and can be signed online at

After the workshop, Colin Archer of IPB, arranged for ICBUW members to attend the Geneva NGO Disarmament Committee meeting. This was most helpful for the ICBUW delegation from countries across Europe and from Japan, to hear something of the structure of the UN and how presentations could be made to different UN bodies, from Colin himself and David Atwood from the Quaker UN office in Geneva. Both promised their support in facilitating future meetings and seminars.

International News


Some US troops returning from Iraq will be offered testing to check for contamination from DU. State legislators across the US are pushing ahead with laws that will provide their National Guard troops access to what they call ‘best practice health screening’.

Connecticut and Louisiana have already passed such legislation and another 18 are said to be considering similar steps. Connecticut's new law - pioneered by state legislator Pat Dillon - comes into effect on Saturday. Speaking to The Independent, Mrs Dillon, a Yale-trained epidemiologist said: "What this does is establish a standard. It means that our Guardsmen will have access to highly sensitive testing that can differentiate between background levels of radiation."

Former member of the New York National Guard, now turned DU activist, Gerard Matthew, served in Iraq from April to September 2003. He was not offered testing when he returned. A New York newspaper offered to arrange it for him and some friends. "[With the military] it never came up. They suppressed the whole DU thing," he said.

Mr Matthew was found to have suffered considerable radiation exposure. Two years on he suffers from migraines, erectile dysfunction and a swollen face - conditions that have developed since he returned from Iraq. His daughter, Victoria Claudette, was born with only two digits on her right hand.

However, the Connecticut and Louisiana laws have no money allocated, so it is not clear who will pay, let alone who would do the testing. The Louisiana legislation specifically prohibits state funding up front, and only describes what the test should be capable of doing with no details on the type of tests that will be used. The Connecticut legislation states that the test will be: ‘a best practice health screening test for exposure to depleted uranium.’

If the testing regime is anything like that of the UK Depleted Uranium Oversight Board, CADU has grave concerns that it will amount to little more than another DU whitewash.


The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has released the findings of its first survey of environmental ‘hot spots’ in Iraq.

A list of 50 sites was presented by the Iraqi Ministry of the Environment for consideration and selection. The report points out that the country ‘has a significant legacy of contaminated and derelict industrial and military sites.’ It also warns that the destruction of the Iraqi military arsenal is creating new contamination and hazardous waste problems at scrap yards and munitions dumps, which could be better managed through better working practices and basic planning.

There are also recommendations covering the oil industry’s contaminated sites and one for the establishment of a hazardous waste treatment facility. Overall, close to $40 million is needed to meet the report’s recommendations in full.

Klaus Toepfer, UNEP’s Executive Director, said: “Wars, conflicts, instability and the poor environmental management of the previous regime have the left their scars on the Iraqi people and the Iraqi environment. If the country is to have a brighter and less risky future it is incumbent on the international community to help the authorities there deal with these pollution hot spots.”

The assessment of the sites was conducted in April 2005 and funded by a contribution from the Japanese government.

The analysis included the Ouireej Military Scrap Yard. Ouireej, a planned residential area situated 15km south of Baghdad, became the main dumping and processing site for military scrap and destroyed Iraqi weapons. It once held hundreds of potentially hazardous items including tanks and missiles containing unexploded ordnance and chemicals. DU rounds used by the US and UK have contaminated many of the tanks and personnel carriers with depleted uranium oxides. The UNEP team recommended that contaminated military vehicles be separated out from the general scrap at the site.


In a world first, the Sardinian village of Villaputzu has banned the transit, storage and use of depleted uranium weapons within its boundaries.

Villaputzu, which is next door to the Salto di Quirra test-firing range, made the decision after its mayor proposed the ruling during the summer. It is alleged that 12 of the village’s 200 inhabitants have developed lymphatic leukaemia, a cancer often associated with radiation exposure. The ban includes both the civilian and military use of DU.

Unfortunately, given the secrecy that surrounds the range, it is unlikely that this decision will lead to the end of test-firing there, however, it does now give the local police the power to arrest anyone found to be in possession of DU within the village’s boundaries. It could also set an important precedent for other population centres with the misfortune of having a test-firing range on their doorstep.


Belgium is to become the first country in the world to introduce blood testing for soldiers sent into combat. While other countries have set up testing regimes for their veterans – with mixed results – the Belgian model will be the first to test soldiers before and after their tour of duty. A clinic that will specialise in the testing will open early next year at the military hospital in Neder-over-Heembeek.

The testing is a direct result of ongoing complaints from soldiers about Balkan Syndrome, soldiers who still concerned about the health hazards connected with DU exposure in the Balkan conflict. The Belgian anti-DU movement is going from strength to strength with 71 Belgian organisations supporting their ‘Ban Uranium Wapens’ mission statement. They have managed to stop one major bank from investing in DU manufacturers and a bill proposing a ban will soon be introduced in the Belgian Senate, where ICBUW members will give expert evidence.


Australian anti-nuclear campaigners and green groups are fighting to stop the country’s biggest uranium and copper mine from destroying a unique desert ecosystem.

The Roxby mine’s statistics are truly staggering. In one year it creates 10m tonnes of radioactive tailings, accounts for 8% of South Australia’s carbon dioxide emissions and uses 30m litres of water a day. Its huge appetite for water has brought it into conflict with environmentalists. The water is extracted from the Great Artesian Basin, a huge and ancient store of groundwater that lies beneath most of central Australia. The basin supports unique wetland oases called Mound Springs where water flows to the surface. The springs are home to dozens of species of plants and invertebrates found nowhere else on Earth and they are of profound cultural significance to the Arabunna Aboriginal people of the region.

BHP Billiton, the mine’s owners, have just submitted an application to boost their groundwater abstraction to 120m litres a

day for the next 70 years. BHP won’t pay for a single drop of this, in spite of the fact that it is already the largest single-site user of underground water in the Southern Hemisphere. Such is the size of the mine, that BHP enjoys completely unjustifiable legal privileges - the Roxby Indenture Act, which overrides the SA Environment Protection Act, the Water Resources Act, the Aboriginal Heritage Act and even provides exemptions from the Freedom of Information Act. BHP recorded profits of AU$8bn last August.

Uranium from the mine is soon to be sold to coutries outside of the remit of the Non Proliferation Treaty such as China, and as yet, the mine has no long-term plans in place to deal with the 60m tonnes of radioactive and chemically toxic tailings that it has produced.

As we reported last issue, it is boom time for uranium mining ‘Down Under’. As countries re-start nuclear power programmes, the price of uranium has rocketed. Economically viable uranium deposits are expected to run out in 70 years if demand continues to rise.

Campaign News

Firstly, an apology from all at CADU for the delay in getting this edition to you. As you may have gathered from the news stories, we have had a very busy few months. In October, we ran a workshop at the CND National Conference and took receipt of our eagerly-awaited new display. After a cold day demonstrating in Manchester city centre in early November, we visited Geneva as part of ICBUW to lobby at the UN. While we were there, the International Peace Bureau shared with us some highly useful insights into the best ways of lobbying politicians and diplomats about disarmament issues.

In December, we received a warm welcome in Ilkley at a DU session with Education for Global Justice - a group who discuss globalisation issues. A week later, CADU were in London at the Stop The War Coalition’s International Peace Conference, where an impressive array of speakers from across the globe discussed the Iraqi occupation and the effects of the so-called ‘War on Terror’.

With the Iraqi Tooth Fairy Project and an epidemiological survey in Basra next year, CADU are hoping that 2006 will be the year in which a lot of our questions are answered. Hopefully it will be a year of peace too.


In the wake of the EP’s third call for a DU ban, write to Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and ask what the UK will be doing about it.

Harold Pinter

We were delighted to learn that Harold Pinter had been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Having read his inspiring and radical speech, we could have also wished that he had been awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace.

He is a strong supporter and friend of CADU and we send him our warmest greetings.

A Word From Our Coordinator

Firstly we would like to thank all our supporters who have given donations since the last issue of the newsletter. But we have to follow this by saying that our funding from the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust has now come to an end. We will only therefore be able to pay our worker for one day a week for CADU work and that only for about six months. We are incredibly grateful to the Trust for their generous funding, funding that has allowed us to expand our selection of campaigning tools and maintain our office and website.

However, we are determined to continue the work of campaigning against DU munitions and working with our friends in the International Coalition for a Ban on Uranium Weapons (ICBUW). We have come so far and established such a strong campaign that we will not give up until we have achieved our goal. Because we are at such a crucial stage, we will continue to put in energy and time as best we can.

If you can help in any way to contribute financially, or by volunteering, please do get in touch with us.

Lastly on behalf of CADU, I would like to wish you all a peaceful New Year with the hope that we can travel some more way to a world of peace and social justice.

Rae Street

Subscribe to CADU News - by affiliating to CADU
Affiliation rates (including a paper copy of CADU News four times a year) are £8 per year (unwaged/student) £10 per year (waged) and £30 (groups), but please consider donating more than this if possible.
Please send a cheque or a request for a standing order to:
CADU, Bridge 5 Mill, 22a Beswick St, Manchester M4 7HR