Question to the Finnish Parliament on the possible use of DU in Lebanon
To the Chairman of Parliament:
What measures is the Ministry of Defence going to take to investigate the use of depleted uranium in the Lebanon war and have the consequences of the eventual use been taken into account?
The answer from the Minister of Defence:
According to the assessments and preliminary investigations of the defence authorities of the eventual use of uranium in the Lebanon crisis it can be stated that there is no evidence or indication of the use. This conception is also supported by the representatives of the UNTSO and UNIFIL operations in the area and by the statements of the UN headquarters on the issue.
Weapons containing depleted uranium are mainly used for penetrating armour and the concrete of bunkers. The Hizbollah did not have any tanks, so that for this purpose, anyway, uranium weapons have not been used. Instead it has been possible to use uranium weapons for destroying bunkers, but as said before, there is no evidence or indication of the use. On the basis of an analysis of the health risks and the circumstances, the risk has been estimated to be very small.
Every peacekeeper is given instruction on mines and unexploded ammunition. Weapons containing depleted uranium are included in this training. The training is carried on also in the area where the peacekeepers are sent to. In the Finnish groups that are to clear away ammunitions and explosives there are soldiers who have wide experience from different crisis areas, also from KFOR operations in Kosovo, where the effects of weapons containing depleted uranium were thoroughly examined. The professional skill of these soldiers is adequate concerning weapons containing depleted uranium.
Exposure to depleted uranium in peacekeeping operations has been studied extensively in Kosovo in 2000-2001. Object of the study was a group of Finnish peacekeepers who had been serving in areas where ammunition containing depleted uranium had been used. The result of the study showed that the uranium rates in the bodies of the peacekeepers were on the same level as the average uranium rates of Finnish people.
In the ministry of defence the issue is taken with the seriousness it requires, and the situation is followed in the area of operations in the Middle East as well as from here. In case we get new information, indication or evidence of the use of weapons containing depleted uranium, it will be taken into consideration in a relevant extent in the training of the Finnish soldiers and in the medical follow-up as well as in other necessary measures.
Helsinki 10th October 2006
Minister of defence Seppo Kääriäinen