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Belgian parliament votes unanimously to ban depleted uranium weapon investments

On the 2nd of July, the Belgian Parliament unanimously approved a law forbidding the financing of the manufacture, use and possession of depleted uranium weapons. Belgium is now the first country to prevent the flow of money to producers of uranium weapons. The law complements the country’s ban on their manufacture, testing, use, sale and stockpiling which came into force on June 21st.
8 July 2009 - Willem Van den Panhuysen

Belgian flag The law will prevent governmental services and Belgian financial institutions from financing the manufacture, the use and possession of armour and munitions that contain depleted uranium. The law had already been approved by the Belgian Senate earlier this year following the submission of a bill by Senator Philippe Mahoux.

Some Belgian banks such as KBC have taken their responsibility seriously and have decided to end their investment in depleted uranium weapons completely. Banks such as ING have partially excluded producers of uranium weapons. Other bank groups, such as Deutsche Bank, still allow investments in these controversial weapons systems.

The passing of this law ensures that the money of Belgian bank clients, no matter where they bank, is prevented from ending up in the hands of uranium weapons manufacturers. The law forbids banks and investment funds operating on the Belgian market from offering credit to producers of armour and inert ammunitions that contain depleted uranium or any other industrial uranium. The purchase of shares and bonds issued by these companies is also prohibited.

The law implies that financial institutions in Belgium must bring their investment in large weapon producers such as Alliant Techsystems (US), BAE Systems (UK) and General Dynamics (US) to an end. Only investments made via index funds, and the financing of projects of these companies that are clearly unrelated to uranium munitons will be allowed. The law also obliges the government to draw up a 'black list' of depleted uranium weapons producers.

The law is an amendment to Belgium’s 2006 statute on conventional weapons, which regulates financial activities surrounding controversial conventional weapons. The same law has also been used to prohibit the financing of cluster munition and anti-personnel mine manufacturers.

In 2007 the report Too Risky for Business (published by Netwerk Vlaanderen in cooperation with ICBUW) made clear that there is a strong need for an international investment ban. The report disclosed investments by 47 international financial institutions in three major uranium weapons manufacturers.

The Belgian Coalition 'Stop Uranium Weapons!' was very pleased with the Parliament’s decision: “We think that the parliamentarians have acted in line with the Belgian ban on financing of anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions. Belgium has been a pioneer in the outlawing of these ammunitions and we hope that Belgium will fulfil a leading role in the struggle against uranium weapons, which are deadly, indiscriminate and continue to impact communities long after hostilities have ended.” said spokesperson Willem Van den Panhuysen.

Until the 21st of July the photographic exhibition 'The Human Cost of Uranium Weapons' with photographs by Naomi Toyoda, featuring the consequences of the use of uranium weapons in Iraq, is free to visit in the Belgian Parliament. Information: