On Monday, British Minister of State for Defense, Annabel Goldie, said that the U.K. would provide depleted uranium armor-piercing rounds for the Challenger 2 battle tanks it plans to send to Ukraine. The depleted uranium rounds are “highly effective in defeating modern tanks and armored vehicles,” Goldie said in trying to justify the decision. The move would represent a significant escalation in the war.
While the British downplay any nuclear risks related to this irresponsible move, injecting this type of material into a country that has already suffered the devastating effects of the Chernobyl disaster is the height of irresponsibility. Depleted uranium shells punch a hole through the target upon impact, while uranium burns itself into tiny particles that spread out in the atmosphere. Inhaled or ingested, they can enter human bodies, causing disastrous damage due to radiation exposure and heavy metals.
Depleted Uranium (DU) has 60 percent of the radioactivity of natural uranium and is considered very dangerous. The United States used depleted uranium ammunition in former Yugoslavia and in the Iraq War. That decision inflicted serious long-term damage on the populations of those countries. A British Medical Journal study found that “The available evidence suggests possible associations between exposure to depleted uranium and adverse health outcomes among the Iraqi population.”
Through this reckless decision, the British have increased the likelihood of a nuclear conflict. During a joint press conference with Chinese dictator Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters, “Russia will have to react accordingly, bearing in mind that the collective West is already beginning to use weapons that have a nuclear component.”
The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a harsh response condemning the move. “We regard the statement made by British Minister of State for Defense Annabel Goldie about the U.K. government’s plans to send armor-piercing depleted uranium rounds for the Challenger 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine as yet another proof of London’s intention to take the lead in the anti-Russia campaign…. London has apparently forgotten about the well-known serious consequences of the use of toxic and radioactive munitions by the West during the conflicts in Yugoslavia and Iraq,” the statement reads. “A desire to increase the suffering of civilians and to do irreparable environmental damage shows that the British have no regard whatsoever for the Ukrainian people. This openly cynical British policy has once again shown who the real aggressor and warmonger in Ukraine is. London must know that it will bear full responsibility for violating the fundamental norms of international law…. We will respond to such actions accordingly.”
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson also condemned the move, stating that “NATO dropped 15 tons of depleted uranium bombs on Yugoslavia causing death and agony to linger for generations after the war. In Serbia after 1999, many children suffered from tumors and 366 participating NATO Italian military personnel died of cancer.”
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby brushed off concerns about the U.K.’s escalation of the conflict, stating “Depleted Uranium Is ‘Commonplace Munition.’ If Russia Is Worried About Their Tanks, Move Them Out Of Ukraine.”
This led Russia’s Ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, to declare, “Commenting on this kind of nonsense is really hard. U.S. officials have reached a new low with their irresponsible statements. There is a continuous flow of lethal weapons to Ukraine, which are used to annihilate civilians, residential areas, schools, hospitals, and kindergartens. It seems that the enlightened West, led by Washington, has irrevocably decided to bring humanity to a dangerous line, beyond which a nuclear Armageddon is looming ever more distinctly.”