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News > Ukraine

British Depleted Uranium in Ukraine

  • Uranium ammunition. Apr. 26, 2023.

    Uranium ammunition. Apr. 26, 2023. | Photo: Twitter/@JEFFREYLKLUMP

Published 26 April 2023

“...We have sent thousands of rounds of Challenger 2 ammunition to Ukraine, including depleted uranium armour-piercing rounds...”

According to the statement made by the Armed Forces Minister, James Heappey, the United Kingdom government has initiated the transportation of depleted uranium ammunition to Ukraine. The British military has indicated its intention to refrain from monitoring the deployment locations of these armaments.


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In relation to inquiries posed by Scottish Member of Parliament Kenny MacAskill, Heappey corroborated on Tuesday that depleted uranium (DU) ordnance intended for employment by the United Kingdom-produced Challenger 2 tank had already been transported to Ukraine. However, he abstained from remarking upon the "usage rates for the rounds provided" by Kiev.

“We have sent thousands of rounds of Challenger 2 ammunition to Ukraine, including depleted uranium armour-piercing rounds,” he said, adding the weapons “are now under the control of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU)” and that the Defence Ministry “does not monitor the locations from where DU rounds are fired by the AFU in Ukraine.”

When queried whether the government possesses a duty to remediate depleted uranium rounds used in Ukraine after the conflict, the minister declared that it “no obligation” to do so, instead stressing “Ukraine's immediate needs.”

Heappey has asserted that depleted uranium presents minimal health and environmental risks, based on the UK military veterans' monitoring documented in a 2007 government study. However, recent investigations indicate that the utilization of such ammunition may harbor health hazards.

During its two wars in Iraq, the United States extensively employed DU ammunition, with certain scholars contending that such weaponry may be correlated with a proliferation of congenital abnormalities subsequently documented in the country.

According to Doug Weir, a specialist affiliated with the Conflict and Environment Observatory, the impact of DU penetrators strike a target, “they fragment and burn, generating chemically toxic and radioactive DU particulate that poses an inhalational risk to people.” Nevertheless, the authorities of the United States and the United Kingdom have contested the purported risks associated with such substances over an extended period of time.

During the month of March, advisers from both British and American origin commenced a specialized training session aimed at instructing Ukrainian troops on proper utilization of depleted uranium (DU) rounds. Primarily, these rounds will be employed in operating the Challenger 2 tank. The City of London has previously made a commitment to dispatch a comprehensive fleet of 14 tanks for deployment in Ukraine. However, there is ambiguity surrounding the actualizing of this initiative in terms of any tanks reaching the frontlines.

Moscow has repeatedly called for refraining from the delivery of foreign weaponry to Kiev, specifically referring to the British Depleted Uranium (DU) munitions.

In the last month, the Russian military issued a cautionary statement apprising that the utilization of uranium shells is likely to cause “cause irreparable harm” to the health of Ukrainian and inflict “tremendous economic damage to the agro-industrial complex” in the region, citing the detrimental impacts of the said weapon.

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