Donna Mulhern asked me to make up a quick flyer for the Australian Campaign to Ban Uranium Weapons last week for her to hand out at the Indigo Girls concert in Sydney (she is friends with them and was asked to speak during the performance). Here is some text from the flyer and a .pdf (I’m working on a few revisions and will refine the logo a bit).
What: Uranium weapons, often called ‘depleted’ uranium (DU) weapons, are used because of their high density and unique armour piercing capability. Manufactured from radioactive waste materials produced during the nuclear fuel chain and the production of nuclear weapons, they cause widespread and long lasting contamination of the environment. These weapon systems are radiologically and chemically toxic.
The Problem: Many people–innocent civilians especially children, military veterans, industry workers–have illnesses and medical problems, which may be due to their exposure to ‘depleted’ uranium. In areas such as southern Iraq, where uranium munitions were used by the US and the UK in recent wars, there have been reports of increases in cancers, leukaemia and birth defects.
Where: It is now clear that uranium weapons were used on a large scale by the US and the UK in the Gulf War in 1991, then in Bosnia, Serbia and Kosovo, and again in the war in Iraq by the US and the UK in 2003. It is suspected that the US also used uranium weapons in Afghanistan in 2001.
Impact: The use of uranium weapons results in a human and environmental catastrophe for the affected region as uranium can remain in the air as dust particles for more than 500 years and leech into the soil and water sources.
What next: At least seventeen countries possess uranium weapons, the use of which is contrary to existing humanitarian law. We, the people, need to let governments and the United Nations know that these weapons can have no part in a humane and caring world. There is an international campaign to ban uranium weapons “(ICBUW)“www.bandepleteduranium.org and considering Australia’s involvement in recent wars, it is important we are actively involved in this campaign.
The Australian and International campaigns call for your support to demand:
- An immediate end to the use of uranium weapons,
- Disclosure of all locations where uranium weapons have been used and immediate removal of the remnants and contaminated materials from the sites under strict control,
- Health surveys of the ‘depleted’ uranium victims and environmental investigations at the affected sites,
- Medical treatment and compensation for the ‘depleted’ uranium victims,
- An end to the development, production, stockpiling, testing, trade of uranium weapons.
- A Convention for a total ban on uranium weapons
Be part of something bigger: the International Campaign
With more than one-hundred member organisations in twenty-eight countries worldwide, ICBUW represents the best opportunity yet to achieve a global ban on the use of uranium in weapons. Even though the use of weapons containing uranium should already be illegal, an explicit treaty, as has been seen with chemical and biological weapons, landmines and cluster bombs, has proved the best solution for confirming their illegality. Such a treaty would not only outlaw the use of uranium weapons, but would include the prohibition of their production, the destruction of stockpiles, the decontamination of battlefields and rules on compensation for victims.
ICBUW has prepared a draft treaty and is following the successful example of the Cluster Munition Coalition. ICBUW’s grassroots member organisations lobby at a national level (that’s us!), while ICBUW itself works with supranational bodies such as the European Parliament and the United Nations.