The UK has raised the ire of critics and doubled down on its provocative role in the Ukraine conflict with its recent decision to arm Kiev with munitions containing depleted uranium.
Shells and bullets made from depleted uranium, a byproduct of the uranium enrichment process, have been part of the NATO arsenal for decades. They were controversially used in the Balkans and Iraq. Now, they will come as ammunition for the British squadron of Challenger 2 tanks expected in Ukraine. It hardly needs to be said that this represents a serious escalation in the conflict and a deepening of the West’s commitment to perpetuating the carnage.
‘Gruesome’ impact on civilians
Depleted uranium is 70 percent denser than lead, making it ideal for use against tanks and armored vehicles. Once it smashes through armor, it explodes into burning vapor before settling into a toxic, radioactive dust that wreaks havoc on human health and the environment.
A 2022 UN Environment Programme (UNEP) report found that “depleted uranium and toxic substances in common explosives can cause skin irritation, kidney failure and increase the risks of cancer.”
Some sources try to downplay the dangers of depleted uranium. The UK Ministry of Defense continues to insist that “any impact to personal health and the environment… is likely to be low.”
But a 2019 study, published in Environmental Medicine, of babies born near Tallil Air Force Base in Iraq tells us otherwise. The study linked its deployment to severe birth defects, even years after the US-led invasion that ravaged the country.
“Doctors are regularly encountering anomalies in babies that are so gruesome they cannot even find precedents for them,” said Mozhgan Savabieasfahani, one of the study’s lead researchers.
“The war has spread so much radiation here that, unless it is cleaned up, generations of Iraqis will continue to be affected,” she warned.
By sending depleted uranium to its proxies in war-torn Ukraine, the UK shows not only its willingness to fan the flames of the already unimaginable violence there but its appalling disregard for Ukrainians yet to be born, whose congenital deformities will bear witness to the warmongers’ contempt for human life.
How will Russia respond?
Russia is accused of overstating the nuclear component of depleted uranium to justify its own provocative decision to place tactical nuclear weapons in its strategically important neighbor Belarus, with whom it is closely aligned.
Belarusian President Lukashenko warned that bringing depleted uranium into the conflict will escalate it to even further heights.
“We need to step back from this madness. As soon as this ammunition explodes on Russian troops’ positions, you will see a fearful response, it will be a lesson for the whole planet,” he said last week, according to Reuters.
Russian President Vladimir Putin told Rossiya-24 TV channel last week: “I must say that certainly Russia has something to respond,” adding that “without exaggeration, we have hundreds of thousands… of such shells. We are not using them now.”