Belgian Defence Minister won't question US on depleted uranium use in Libya
Belgian MP Wouter de Vriendt (pictured) of the Dutch-speaking green party Groen! had submitted a question to the Belgian Minister of Defence Pieter De Crem on the possible use of depleted uranium weapons by western coalition forces in Libya.
Mr. De Vriendt had asked the Minister whether he could confirm ICBUW's fears that depleted uranium ammunition has already been used in Libya, or whether there were future plans to employ it.
Referring to the past use of uranium weapons in Iraq, Mr. De Vriendt urged clarification on this matter because of the potential impact on the civilian population and the area's economic and social redevelopment following the conflict.
The Defence Minister responded to his questions during a session of the Belgian Parliamentary Defense Commission yesterday.
Minister De Crem said: “In accordance with the Belgian law of 11 May 2007 – in force since June 20, 2009 – Belgian Defense in general and specifically the platform F-16 do not use depleted uranium." He then went on to argue that Belgium's allies' choice of weapons is a matter for them and them alone.
Wouter De Vriendt MP replied that he had submitted his questions to the Minister of Defense the previous week and that he had explicitly asked the Minister to collect the required information from the allies involved in the Libyan intervention.
Mr. De Vriendt said: “You say that you can only give a statement about the use of depleted uranium weapons by the Belgian army. I find this very disappointing. I had hoped that you shared the anxiety about this matter and that you would look for clarification from your coalition partners. In Iraq the use of such weapons has led to tragic situations. It is clear to me that we need to reflect on the question whether we [the Belgian government] want to participate in a military operation that makes use of depleted uranium weapons. There should be a debate about this important matter.”
Belgian House of Representatives, document nr. CRIV 53 COM 182, pp. 4, 6-7; www.dekamer.be
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