International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons

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70th anniversary of the North Atlantic Treaty

Statement from the International Coalition for a BAN on URANIUM WEAPONS – ICBUW

4 April 2019 - ICBUW

On the 4th April, 2019, NATO will mark the 70th anniversary of the North Atlantic Treaty.

Since then NATO has been expanding its global influence, far outside the original area of the North Atlantic.  NATO has caused and is causing instability across the globe – as well as increasing its demands for money year by year.

From its founding, the admission of new member states has increased from the original 12 countries to 29. Despite its growth, the world has not become safer and free from conflicts. The overarching objective of NATO’s strategy on the 70th anniversary appears to be to strengthen its position to claim to be the ultimate guarantor of peace and security for the nation states. Yet, since its start NATO qualified itself no more as a strategic deterrence alliance to protect the North Atlantic, but as a strategic alliance under USA dominance to wage wars and enlarge its influence through military means of the west against other countries in the world. 

This causes alert and alarm from the point of view of Russia or China or other "Not North Atlantic“-countries, having a destabilising impact on areas where it operates. It also refused to join in negotiations for the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and advised NATO states also not to join.

In addition, under the policy of ‘nuclear sharing’, the USA has deployed 180 warheads at six NATO bases in five countries:  Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey.  The UK’s Trident nuclear armed submarines are ‘integrated’ into NATO.  NATO not only has retained a policy of maintaining nuclear weapons, but holds a policy of ‘first use’.  

NATO by bringing its military forces right up to the Russian border has escalated tension in Europe and brought the world to the verge of a new arms race.

NATO adopted a new Strategic Concept at its 2010 Summit meeting. It re-committed to an interventionist military agenda that set back the cause of peace and nuclear disarmament.  This included an expansion of its area of work to ‘counter terrorism, cyber security, and the proliferation of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons’. The latter of course means not NATO members but other ‘enemy states’, under the principle of ‘Do as I say, not as I do’. At the Summit, it was also agreed to integrate the US missile defence system with a European theatre missile defence programme under the auspices of NATO. But, again, this is more of a generalized ‘offence’ programme.

NATO claims no responsibility for the choice of weapons deployed by its members.  Since the Balkan War, uranium weapons have been deployed and used by the United States aircraft operating under NATO in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1994 and 1995 and in Serbia, Kosovo and one site in Montenegro in 1999. This after it was already known what danger there was to human life and the environment when these weapons had been used in Iraq.  Still existing lack of transparency about sites and targets means that it is unknown how many areas exactly have been contaminated owing to ‘depleted’ uranium weapons used in any of these armed conflicts.

Historic risk assessments on DU’s effects on the human body have tended to focus on the link between the radiological connection with lung cancer and the chemical effects of DU on the kidneys.  The last decade, however, has seen a considerable body of peer-reviewed research that has sought to analyse DU’s interaction with DNA.  Overall the studies have confirmed that DU is a geno-toxic agent, i.e. it is capable of damaging the DNA, which can lead to the development of cancers.  As an alpha emitter, when inside the body, for example through inhaled dust, DU is classed as a Group1 carcinogen by the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer.

For all these reasons, we strongly oppose any strategy of attack and any armed intervention by NATO and its allies and we strongly oppose the use of uranium weapons in armed conflict.

The 70th anniversary of NATO is not an anniversary to celebrate but an anniversary to mourn for all those who have suffered and died from the contamination brought by uranium weapons. This is a time when we remember the pollution of the environment by toxic weapons, when we fear for the potential harm to future generations and when we re-affirm our opposition to this happening again.

ICBUW April 2019

An ammunition specialist carries a 105mm armor-piercing round to be used in an M-1 Abrams main battle tank during Operation Desert Shield in 1991. DoD Photo