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Research into the murky world of arms industry exports and the proliferation of DU weapons around the world

Around 20 countries are thought to have DU weapon systems in their arsenals. Nations known to have produced these weapons are: UK, US, France, Russia, China, and Pakistan.

Map of DU user nations, red confirmed, grey suspected.


Map of depleted uranium producers (red) known stockpilers (orange) and suspected stockpilers (grey)


Many of the remaining user states were sold DU ammunition by the US or are thought to have inherited it following the breakup of the USSR.

The vast majority of DU ammunition falls into the category of large calibre tank ammunition (ranging from 105mm to 125mm). Much ammunition of this type could theoretically be fired from tanks of other nations; while it is difficult to prove or disprove the presence of DU ammunition in national inventories, producer states do not appear to have widely exported their ammunition.

DU Ammunition which does not fall into this category includes 25mm and 30mm rounds fired by US Bradley Fighting Vehicles and A-10 aircraft, 25mm rounds for the Phalanx ship defence system (now mostly phased out in favour of a tungsten round), some variants of the Russian R-60 air-to-air missile.

This list of users and weapons is a work in progress, and should not be regarded as exhaustive:

Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan operates ex-Soviet T-72 tanks which are capable of firing 125mm DU ammunition. As with other ex-Soviet states, it may have inherited Soviet DU ammunition following the breakup of the USSR.

Bahrain
The US exported 105mm M833 shells to Bahrain in 1994 for use with their M60 Patton tanks.

Belarus
Belarus operates ex-Soviet tanks which are capable of firing 125mm DU ammunition: the T-80 and T-72. Belarus has long been thought to possess DU ammunition. As with other ex-Soviet states, it is likely to have inherited Soviet DU ammunition following the breakup of the USSR.

China
China is thought to manufacture DU ammunition in the 105mm and 125mm calibres, although technical information is unavailable.

France
France manufactures their own DU ammunition using American DU metal. There are thought to be three French rounds:

  • OFL 105 F2 105mm APFSDS (for AMX-30B2 tank)
  • OFL 120 F2 120mm APFSDS (for Leclerc tank)
  • PROCIPAC APFSDS-T round

Georgia
Georgia operates ex-Soviet T-72 tanks which are capable of firing 125mm DU ammunition. As with other ex-Soviet states, it may have inherited Soviet DU ammunition following the breakup of the USSR.

Greece
Greece purchased 504 Area Denial Antipersonnel Mine (ADAM) artillery shells from the U.S. prior to 1992, when a moratorium on the export of antipersonnel mines was put into effect. The ADAM contains DU in its housing to give it structural integrity. As a signatory to the Ottawa Treaty, Greece is obliged to destroy its ADAM mines. It indicated in 2010 that this process should be completed sometime in 2011. In January 2001 Greece decided to remove 20mm DU naval Phalanx ammunition from its inventory following health worries.

Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan operates ex-Soviet T-72 tanks which are capable of firing 125mm DU ammunition. As with other ex-Soviet states, it may have inherited Soviet DU ammunition following the breakup of the USSR.

Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan also operates the T-72 tank. As with other ex-Soviet states, it may have inherited Soviet DU ammunition following the breakup of the USSR.

India
It was suggested in a 1999 UK MoD document that India was developing DU weapons in the early 90s. If this is the case, this was most likely for India’s domestically produced Arjun tank, which is fitted with a 120mm rifled gun and bespoke ammunition. Little technical information is available about this ammunition so this claim cannot be substantiated.

Israel
Israel has often been the subject of claims about the use of DU weapons, although ICBUW has not been able to substantiate these reports. It is known that the US has exported 300 105mm M833 rounds, and declassified CIA documents state that they were supplied with DU rods for anti-tank rounds by South Africa between 1972 and 1975, when the two countries were cooperating on nuclear weapons programmes. However, it is thought many of their domestically produced rounds for the Merkava tanks are tungsten based. However, use of DU in Israeli 120mm armour piercing rounds cannot be ruled out and Israel has not responded to ICBUW’s inquiries on this matter.

Jordan
It is known that the US has exported 2,130 105mm M833 rounds to Jordan for use with their M60 Patton tanks. Jordan also operates British made Challenger 1 tanks, but has not been supplied with DU ammunition for their fleet.

Pakistan
Pakistan is thought to have produced DU ammunition at both the 105mm and 125mm calibres. It was also shipped 10,025 105mm M833 rounds by the US.

Russian Federation
Several different DU weapons were produced by the USSR, and production is thought to have been continued by Russia post-1990. These include:

Other rounds containing DU may also have been produced at these calibres.Russia has also produced an air-to-air missile, the R-60, which contains uranium in some versions

Saudi Arabia
It is known that the US has exported 320 105mm M833 rounds to Saudi Arabia for use with their M60 Patton tanks.

Taiwan, Province of China*
The US is known to have exported 1000 105mm M774 DU rounds to Taiwan, Province of China*. Again these were presumably for use with M60 Patton tanks.

Tajikistan
Kazakhstan operates ex-Soviet T-72 tanks which are capable of firing 125mm DU ammunition. As with other ex-Soviet states, it may have inherited Soviet DU ammunition following the breakup of the USSR.

Turkey
Turkey bought 22,920 105 mm M833 DU rounds, and 85,451 105 mm M774 DU rounds from the US, also for use with M60 Patton tanks. Turkey also has ADAM landmines in its inventory, which contain DU in their housing to give it structural integrity. As a signatory to the Ottawa Treaty, Turkey is obliged to destroy its ADAM mines, but as of 2010 this had not been completed.

Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan operates ex-Soviet T-72 tanks which are capable of firing 125mm DU ammunition. As with other ex-Soviet states, it may have inherited Soviet DU ammunition following the breakup of the USSR.

Ukraine
Ukraine operates a number of ex-Soviet tanks which are capable of firing 125mm and 115mm ammunition: the T-62, T-64, and the T-72. Ukraine also produces T-80 tanks. As with other ex-Soviet states, it may have inherited Soviet DU ammunition following the breakup of the USSR.

United Kingdom
The UK fields DU ammunition as its main armour piercing round for the Challenger 2 tank.

  • L27A1 CHARM 3 120mm APFSDS (for Challenger 2 tank)

The UK also purchased 20mm shells as part of the US-built Phalanx Close-In-Weapon-System (CWIS). However since 1996 the manufacturer Raytheon now produces tungsten rounds instead. As such the DU round is coming out of use though it may still be found on some ships.

UnitedStates
The US is currently by far the largest user of DU weapons. US produced DU weapons:

  • M829/A1/A2/A3 120mm APFSDS-T (for Abrams tank)
  • M774 105mm APFSDS-T, M833 105mm APFSDS-T (for M60 and Abrams tanks)
  • M900 105mm APFSDS (for Abrams tank and Stryker Mobile Gun System)
  • PGU-14/B 30mm API (for A-10), but also used briefly in the 1991 Gulf War in the GPU-5 gun pod on the F-16 aircraft. This gun pod and the ammunition may now have been transferred to the US Marine Corps for use with the LCAC landing craft.
  • M919 25mm APFSDS-T (for Bradley Fighting Vehicle)
  • PGU-20 25mm APFSDS-T (for AV-8 Harrier aircraft - no longer thought to be in service)
  • M101 20 mm Spotting round (for the Davey Crocket rifle - no longer in service)

Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan operates a number of ex-Soviet tanks which are capable of firing 125mm and 115mm ammunition: the T-62, T-64, and the T-72. As with other ex-Soviet states, it may have inherited Soviet DU ammunition following the breakup of the USSR.

Notes:

*Reflecting ISO 3166-1 and United Nations terminology.