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Depleted Uranium Ammo



  Sep 09, 2023

Depleted Uranium Munitions


What is uranium?

Uranium is a naturally occurring radioactive element used primarily for nuclear power production due to its ability to undergo fission. It's found in small amounts in the Earth's crust.
 

How does uranium get depleted?

Depleted uranium (DU) is a by-product of the enrichment process for producing nuclear fuel. Natural uranium contains about 0.7% of the U-235 isotope, vital for nuclear reactions. During enrichment, the percentage of U-235 is increased, leaving behind uranium with a significantly lower proportion of U-235, termed "depleted uranium."
 

What are depleted uranium munitions?

Depleted uranium munitions are armour-piercing rounds containing DU. Its extreme density allows these rounds to penetrate armour plating effectively and ignite upon impact.
 

Why is its use controversial?

There's a debate over the health risks associated with DU. Opponents highlight dangers like potential cancers and birth defects from inhaling or ingesting DU dust. Additionally, the environmental impact of the radioactive residue is a concern.
 

Has DU been used in warfare before?

Yes, the US used DU munitions in the 1990 and 2003 Gulf Wars and during NATO's 1999 bombing in Yugoslavia.
 

What's the stance of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)?

The IAEA maintains that depleted uranium residues in affected regions don't pose a significant radiological hazard to the local population.
 

Why is the US sending DU munitions to Ukraine?

As part of a military aid package to bolster Ukraine's defense against Russian tanks, the US decided to include DU munitions. This decision is controversial and follows the earlier provision of cluster munitions to Ukraine.
 

Have other nations supplied Ukraine with DU munitions?

Yes, Britain has previously shipped depleted uranium munitions to Ukraine.
 

How much will the US aid package cost?

The aid package's value is estimated to be between $240 million and $375 million, contingent on the final contents.


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