Dutch troops find depleted uranium ammunition in Iraq

(RISQ Reviews, 27 December 2003)
Article: www.risq.org/article232.html

Dutch troops find depleted uranium ammunition in Iraq

27 December 2003

Finding points to more DU material in the area

Dutch troops stationed in the province of Al Muthanna in Southern Iraq have found a 30 mm round of depleted uranium (DU) ammunition. This has been announced by the Ministry of Defence today. According to RISQ Associate Maarten H.J. van den Berg, the finding points to the presence of more DU material in the area.

The shell was found on the 10th of December in a so-called demolition pit in the town of As Samawah. According to a spokesperson of the Dutch Ministry of Defence, the health of those involved in the finding were not put at risk as the round was not destroyed and no DU dust released.

Given the reported calibre, the shell is probably of US origin. According to Mr. van den Berg, 30 mm DU ammunition has only been used in Iraq by American Apache helicopters and A-10 Warthog jets of the US Air Force.

As a RISQ Report on the issue published earlier this year confirmed, 30 mm DU ordnance has been fired in airstrikes over As Samawah — in 1998 and, more recently, during operation Iraqi Freedom. Consequently, it is more than likely that there are more sources of DU to be found in the area, Mr. Van den Berg concludes.

Dutch army personnel unions have raised concern about the incident. Last week we talked to officials of the Ministry of Defence but they did not mention the incident, says Mr. J. Kleian, chairman of the Christian Association of Military Personnel?(ACOM). His colleague of the?Union for Defence Personnel?(VBM), pointing at prior agreements with the Ministry on information-sharing, stated that this is not something that should have been kept from the public.

In July, the Minister of Defence assured MPs that “no DU-ammunition was used recently in Al-Muthanna”. However, as said RISQ Report led MPs to raise questions, the Minister admitted that the assurance derived from unverified information. Citing the US government as saying that “it is still in the process of preparing an assessment of DU-firing locations in Iraq”, the Dutch government’s current standpoint is that “it will await the results of [this] investigation”.

Sources: ANP, RISQ | www.risq.org (updated on 29 12 2003)