Depleted Uranium Shells on the Way to Ukraine. Are Cluster Munitions Far Behind?
March 22, 2023, 2022 (EIRNS)—NATO’s military support of the Kiev regime is escalating with the promise of ever more dangerous munitions. In London, the U.K. Ministry of Defense announced its own escalation yesterday. The Challenger 2 tanks that are being prepared for transfer to Ukraine will be armed with depleted uranium shells. “Alongside our granting of a squadron of Challenger 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine, we will be providing ammunition including armor piercing rounds which contain depleted uranium. Such rounds are highly effective in defeating modern tanks and armored vehicles,” Deputy Secretary of Defense Baroness Annabel Goldie said in a written statement in response to a question in the House of Lords from 5th Baron Hylton, Raymond Jolliffe.
Goldie’s statement has been noticed in Moscow. “I would like to note that if this happens, then Russia will be forced to react accordingly, bearing in mind that the collective West has already started to use weapons with a nuclear component,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said yesterday during his joint press conference with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Russian State Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin said in a Twitter posting that the British decision to supply depleted uranium munitions to Kiev is part of a dangerous trend that makes the Ukraine conflict a threat to the whole of Europe. “The war to the last Ukrainian could become a war to the last European,” he said.
Depleted uranium “is a standard component and has nothing to do with nuclear weapons,” the U.K. Defense Ministry said in response to the Russian accusations. “The British Army has used depleted uranium in its armor piercing shells for decades,” the statement added. “Russia knows this, but is deliberately trying to disinform. Independent research by scientists from groups such as the Royal Society has assessed that any impact to personal health and the environment from the use of depleted uranium munitions is likely to be low.”
The people of Iraq and Serbia, where depleted uranium munitions were used with abandon by U.S. and NATO forces, will disagree with the Royal Society. Depleted uranium is not highly radioactive but is highly toxic otherwise. The contamination resulting from the use of these shells have been shown in both cases to have a toxic effect on local populations long after their use on the battlefield, including high incidence of cancer and of birth defects.
At the same time, members of the U.S. Congress are agitating for the Biden Administration to send cluster munitions to the Kiev regime. The Biden administration shouldn’t hesitate to send cluster munitions—specifically dual purpose improved conventional munitions (DPICM)—because of “vague concerns about the reaction of allies and partners and unfounded fears of ‘escalation,’ ” Sen. James Risch (R-ID), Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) wrote in a letter to the White House, reported RT. After all, they said, other countries have already sent such weapons without triggering Russian retaliation.
Acknowledging the weapons’ horrific effects, the signatories argued that while Ukrainian leaders are “aware of the risks to non-combatants,” the “existential threat posed by Russia’s invasion and daily acts of barbarity” are more important. These four members of Congress have apparently dismissed the documented barbarity of the Kiev regime’s crimes of spreading Soviet-era anti-personnel mines in civilian areas of Donetsk last summer, which have maimed more than 90 civilians.
RT notes that while the White House initially balked at Kiev’s request for DPICMs in December, it stopped short of a hard “no,” and the issue is reportedly still under consideration if the U.S. runs out of available ammunition to ship overseas.