Conflicts & War

US will send depleted uranium tank ammunition to Ukraine in aid package

Washington, Sept 6 (EFE).- The United States announced on Wednesday a new $175 million aid package for Ukraine that includes, for the first time, depleted uranium ammunition for tanks.

The ammunition is intended for Abrams tanks, the Pentagon said in a statement, adding that there will also be material to support the Ukrainian air defense system and additional ammunition for HIMARS missiles.

The use of depleted uranium ammunition has long been controversial due to its potential health and environmental impacts.

Depleted uranium is a byproduct of the production of enriched uranium, and has civilian uses such as counterweights in aircraft, radiation shielding in medical radiation therapy and industrial radiography equipment, and containers for transporting radioactive materials.

Its military uses include armor plating and armor-piercing projectiles.

The United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research has said that depleted uranium has “about 75% of the radioactivity of natural uranium and the same chemical toxicity, endocrine disruptive property, and mutagenicity as natural uranium,” but cannot be considered as a nuclear weapon.

There is no specific treaty banning its use in warfare.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said at a press briefing that many militaries, including Russia, use depleted uranium ammunition. And that it poses no radioactive threat.

Back in March, when Britain admitted plans to supply Kiev with depleted uranium ammunition, Russia warned about the risk of radioactive contamination and said Moscow would be forced to respond if Ukraine used such weapons.

The Pentagon noted in its statement that the package announced Wednesday would be the 46th delivered to Ukraine by the Joe Biden administration from Defense Department stockpiles since August 2021.

“The United States will continue to work with its Allies and partners to provide Ukraine with capabilities to meet its immediate battlefield needs and longer-term security assistance requirements,” Washington said.

The move to send the depleted uranium weapons follows the White House’s decision to send Ukraine cluster munitions, which are banned by more than 100 countries because of the danger to civilians from unexploded bombs.

EFE mgr-aaca/ics

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