If DU is deadly, say so

January 12, 2001

An independent and open inquiry into the health effects of depleted uranium munitions is an appropriate project for the Royal Society. And it is possible that the group, being led by Brian Spratt, will conclude that DU shells are a danger only to those they are shot at - not, as others fear, to their users and to local inhabitants.

The problems start if these fears turn out to be justified. Professor Spratt said this week that DU weapons are "here to stay". They are effective and, because the nuclear industry produces thousands of tonnes of DU as scrap metal, they are cheap. But if they are also unintentionally deadly, the Royal Society should say so, and call for their abandonment. After all, the military also like landmines, but their post-conflict effects are now regarded by many as too high a price to pay.

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