On Monday, Britain’s Deputy Defense Minister Annabel Goldi announced that her country plans to supply Ukraine with depleted uranium munitions that are “very effective in destroying modern tanks and armored vehicles.”
The announcement fell like a rock in Russia, where Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned that this would lead to a “serious” escalation of the conflict.
The crossing continued on Tuesday, when Britain’s Defense Ministry accused Moscow of “misinforming” for saying that depleted uranium munitions it will send to Ukraine along with a squadron of tanks have a “nuclear component.”
A British Challenger 2. Photo: EFE
London claims that “the British Army has used depleted uranium in its armor-piercing shells for decades” and notes that “it is a standard component and has nothing to do with nuclear weapons or capabilities.”
“Russia knows this, but is deliberately trying to misinform,” the source said.
Specifically, London confirmed that, together with a squadron of Challenger 2 tanks, it will provide Ukraine with “ammunition, including armor-piercing shells containing depleted uranium.”
These shells “are very effective in defeating tanks and other modern armored vehicles,” they explained.
The spokesman added that various scientific studies have considered that “any impact on personal health and the environment from the use of depleted uranium munitions would likely be low.”
Speaking to the BBC, a former British Army tank commander and chemical weapons expert, Colonel Hamish of Breton-Gordon, says those bullets used by the Challenger 2s contain only “trace amounts” of depleted uranium.
This military man considered it “laughable” to suggest that they are linked in some way to nuclear weapons, which use enriched uranium.
Is it so? Is depleted uranium harmless? When was it used? What is it?
It is true that depleted uranium is used in arsenals fired by artillery and armored vehicles to increase their power.
It is also true that depleted uranium munitions are not nuclear weapons, but the history of their use is alarming.
Depleted uranium is a dense metal derived from the enrichment of natural uranium as nuclear fuel.
It is still radioactive, but at a much lower level than the starting material. It is used in armor-piercing shells and in bombs to increase their penetrating ability.
Depleted uranium is used with the abundant waste from nuclear power plants, an efficient way to recycle atomic waste.
But its use would be far from harmless to health.
Its use was discovered after a significant number of US soldiers in the Gulf War against Iraq began dying of leukemia.
Hodgkin’s lymphoma claimed more US soldiers than the Iraqis killed.
There are other precedents: Italy, Somalia, Bosnia…
In the news chronicles of 2002, the birth of babies with serious genetic malformations is reported, whose parents were Italian soldiers, who in Bosnia and Somalia were in contact with weapons powered by depleted uranium.
Those births were reminiscent of similar cases with babies born to the Iraqi civilian population and among the children of US soldiers who fought in the Gulf in 1991.
At the beginning of 2000, RAI released a documentary about the birth of babies with hermaphroditism, without a digestive system, deprived of a brain, without fingers, without arms, with the mouth stuck to the ear, with motor problems, major skeletal defects, injuries cerebral…
Around the same time, the newspaper La Repubblica reported on the case of the town of Escalaplano, on the island of Sardinia.
There were also records of births of children with genetic malformations. Why right there?
Near Escalaplano is the Salto di Quirra military polygon in Perdasdefogu, which is used to experimentally test NATO weapons.
The Italian Ministry of Defense denies that projectiles with depleted uranium were fired at the polygons.
The controversy continues to this day.