Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search


Robson Supports Halt To Uranium Munitions Use

7 February 2001

Media Statement - Matt Robson

Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control Matt Robson is backing Italian calls for a suspension on the use of depleted uranium munitions.

Emerging from a meeting with visiting Italian Foreign Minister Dr Lamberto Dini this afternoon, Mr Robson has voiced his support for the suspension being advocated in Italy and Germany.

"Depleted uranium released from fired munitions in the form of fine particles may be inhaled, ingested or remain in the environment. In all cases it is potentially dangerous," says Mr Robson.

"Good science requires taking a precautionary approach, and suspending use until the risks have been properly and independently assessed."

Depleted uranium is somewhat less radioactive than naturally-occurring uranium but, Mr Robson notes, it is the concentration that is the issue.

"Just as there were good reasons for moving to lead-free petrol, so also we have to be wary of the toxic effects of uranium."

The high density and hardness of uranium when alloyed with titanium makes very effective armour-piercing shells.

Depleted uranium has both low-level radioactivity and a degree of chemical toxicity. It is used in shells because the United States has large stockpiles derived from its nuclear power industry.

"It is a very macabre form of recycling," Mr Robson says.

"Prior to the present investigations, the United Kingdom and the United States defence establishments argued that there was no risk from long-term radioactivity following the use of depleted uranium ammunition. Now they have agreed there needs to be further investigation. That is a step forward.

"As Minister I have asked officials to follow closely independent investigations currently underway."

National investigations are taking place in European countries. Independent of these, a United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) study is underway and the World Health Organisation sees a need for full-scale epidemiological and toxicological studies of the effects on people living in the Balkans and the Gulf.

Depleted uranium was used extensively in the 1991 Gulf War, and to a much lesser extent by NATO in Bosnia in 1994 and 1995, and in Kosovo last year.

New Zealand Defence Forces personnel who may have been exposed on uranium battlefields in Iraq and the Balkans are being surveyed.

"I fully support that work, but I am also concerned about the civilian populations in areas where depleted uranium munitions were used."

"At the beginning of the month the World Health Organisation appealed for $2 million to kick-start an estimated $20 million study of the effects of depleted uranium. I will be asking officials to consider how New Zealand might contribute to the proposed study."

© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines


Wellington: Predator Free Capital Plan

Wellington City Council (WCC), the Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) and NEXT Foundation, today announced a joint collaboration to make Wellington the first Predator Free capital city in the world. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Judith Collins’ Efforts At Self Correction

Thousands of prisoners currently in prison may be entitled to an earlier release than expected – and compensation – because Corrections has incorrectly calculated their term of imprisonment. Unless of course, the government buries its mistakes by changing the law and retro-actively getting itself off the hook… More>>


More Justice & Corrections

Sector Opposes Bill: Local Government Bill Timeframe Extended

The Minister of Local Government Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga has asked the Select Committee to extend the report back date for the Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill (No 2). More>>


Breed Laws Don’t Work: Vets On New National Dog Control Plan

It is pleasing therefore to see Louise Upston Associate Minister for Local Government calling for a comprehensive solution... However, relying on breed specific laws to manage dog aggression will not work. More>>


Not Waiting On Select Committee: Green Party Releases Medically-Assisted Dying Policy

“Adults with a terminal illness should have the right to choose a medically assisted death,” Green Party health spokesperson Kevin Hague said. “The Green Party does not support extending assisted dying to people who aren't terminally ill because we can’t be confident that this won't further marginalise the lives of people with disabilities." More>>


General Election Review: Changes To Electoral Act Introduced

More effective systems in polling places and earlier counting of advanced votes are on their way through proposed changes to our electoral laws, Justice Minister Amy Adams says. More>>

Get More From Scoop



Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news