Answer from the European Commission on the possible use of DU in Lebanon.
WRITTEN QUESTION E-4972/06
by Caroline Lucas (Verts/ALE) and Elly de Groen-Kouwenhoven (Verts/ALE) to the Commission
Subject: Israel's use of (depleted) uranium warheads in Lebanon
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is investigating allegations that the Israeli air force may have used not just ‘classical’, but also ultramodern and experimental uranium-based weapons during this summer's war in Lebanon. These weapons have been developed to cause extremely powerful hot shrapnel blasts within a relatively small radius.
Twenty UN experts, working with Lebanese environmentalists, have spent two weeks assessing various samples found at centres of fierce recent fighting, in particular in the South Lebanese villages of Khiam and At Tiri. The findings of these investigations are due to be published in December. The Israeli defence forces are denying the allegations. Experts warn that particles from the explosions are long-lived in the environment and could be inhaled into the lungs, with ‘significant’ health effects on civilians.
1. Is the Commission aware of these allegations and of the UNEP investigations? Will it receive the findings of the report at the earliest possible date? What contacts has it built up with both UNEP and the Israeli authorities to address the matter and to make sure that Israel will take responsibility for cleaning up the environment, in the event that the outcome of UNEP's investigation is positive? What steps has it taken to convince the Israeli Government to categorically end the use of this type of weaponry in any possible future warfare in the Gaza Strip and elsewhere?
2. What measures is the Commission taking to ensure that EU citizens and other humanitarian workers in that region will not be afflicted by radiation in the course of their work? What measures have been taken to minimise any medical risks of this nature?
Answer given by Ms Ferrero-Waldner on behalf of the Commission
The Commission is aware of the allegations the Honourable Members are referring to, as well as of the investigations. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has stated in a press release following the reports on the use of depleted uranium warheads that its fieldwork has found no evidence of the use of warheads made of depleted uranium or other radioactive material. The Honourable Member is invited to consult the following website: (http://postconflict.unep.ch/press.php?prog=lebanon#leb_1).
During the recent conflict, the Commission has called on all parties to do everything possible to protect civilian populations and to refrain from actions in violation of international humanitarian law. It has furthermore, in its meetings with Israeli authorities, stressed on a number of occasions the importance of compliance with international humanitarian law whilst recognising Israel’s right to self-defence. The Commission, in line with the EU guidelines on promoting compliance with international humanitarian law, will continue to pursue this matter with the Israeli authorities.
Given the findings of UNEP’s fieldwork, no specific protective measures against radiation are necessary for staff employed by the Commission working in the region.