European Parliament Makes Third Call For Moratorium On Uranium Weapons February 2005
The resolution regarding depleted uranium is part of an 11-page document entitled, “Texts adopted by European Parliament, on non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; A role for the European Parliament”
The Resolution’s section No. 82 says that the EP: “Reiterates its call for a moratorium - with a view to the introduction of a total ban - on the use of so-called ‘depleted uranium munitions.”
The legal basis for the moratorium was detailed early in the document, which stated that: “All European Union Member States are Parties to the major multilateral agreements that make up the non-proliferation regime, namely the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC), the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).”
With white phosphorous in the news, November 2005 revealed the extent to which the US and, by association, the UK have seemed content to dismiss the rules of war in Iraq through the use of restricted weapons and tactics.
This vote is a welcome reminder to European member states that depleted uranium weapons remain illegal under a host of international conventions. As weapons of indiscriminate effect they are classified under international law with chemical weapons, fuel air bombs and napalm.
However, for the bill to become law, it must first be voted on by the Council of Ministers. The Council is composed of member states’ foreign ministers and it is likely that the bill will face tough opposition from the UK, France and others.
The UK held the EU presidency at the time and Foreign Minister Jack Straw was contacted by CADU following the vote, three months later he has still not replied. The UK’s reticence in confronting the issue boosts calls for a new treaty specifically outlawing uranium weapons.
The latest vote is the third in a series of calls to limit member states’ use of uranium weapons and shows widespread support for a ban amongst MEPs.
In January 2001, the European Parliament called on member states that were also NATO members to place a moratorium on the use of DU weapons in accordance with the precautionary principle.
In February 2003, the EP called on its executive body, the European Council, to support independent and thorough investigations into the possible harmful effects of the use of uranium munitions on military personnel and civilians in areas where it had been used. They called for the results of these investigations to be presented to Parliament.
The 2003 resolution also called for member states to immediately implement a moratorium on the further use of cluster ammunition, depleted uranium ammunition and other uranium warheads, pending the conclusions of a comprehensive study of the requirements of international humanitarian law.