Someone once suggested that the neglected pot plant on the window sill in the office could be described as a depleted geranium. I think it may be time to throw it away - the joke and the plant. But clearing up land that has been on the receiving end of depleted uranium ammunition is a far more costly, as we heard at a talk in Manchester last night. Dave Cullen, researcher for the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons, gave an account of the findings from a fact-finding trip to the Balkans earlier this year. The report, "A Question of Responsibility - the legacy of depleted uranium use in the Balkans" was published just a month ago, says the following:
"The circumstances that always surround the use of DU (i.e. conflict) mean that we should never presume that states will be able to deal with assessing the problem, conducting studies or decontamination. In both the use of uranium weapons, and decontamination, a precautionary approach should prevail. There is a clear need for transparency over the use of uranium weapons, and for technical assistance with decontamination. International help with these matters should be targeted to increase capacity in the region and strengthen links between researchers. "
Campaigners have been working internationally for a UN Resolution on this issue, and there's currently a UK Parliament Early Day Motion (825) "calls on the Government to support the resolution to be put before the UN General Assembly this autumn calling on states to provide quantitative and geographical data on DU munitions use to the relevant authorities of the affected states. " Similarly, a Motion that has been put before the Scottish parliament echoes these sentiments.
And on Friday 12th November there is to be a protest outside the US Embassy in London, demanding transparency about where DU weapons have been used and of research into their health consequences.