The United States announces the shipment of depleted uranium ammunition to Ukraine | International

The United States announces the shipment of depleted uranium ammunition
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The United States will send rounds of depleted uranium anti-tank ammunition to the Ukrainian army, in a decision surrounded by controversy and adopted after intense internal debates. As announced by the Pentagon this Wednesday, a new batch of military aid to Kiev, worth $175 million, includes for the first time since the beginning of the war these 120 millimeter caliber rounds for Abrams tanks.

The transfer of this type of ammunition would have been unthinkable 18 months ago, when the war began. Such as the supply of cluster bombs, the use of F-16 fighter planes or the shipment of the Abrams themselves, which will begin to arrive in Ukraine soon, has been a source of intense internal debates and consultations with allied countries. But Washington considers that, installed on the Abrams, these projectiles can be very effective against Russian tanks and, therefore, represent a fundamental tool for the advancement of the Ukrainian counteroffensive. The United States believes that “progress has been made in recent days, particularly in the south.”

The US government maintains that these munitions are common and do not represent a radioactive threat. The International Organization for Atomic Energy (IAEA) indicates that “the existence of depleted uranium waste dispersed in the environment does not represent a radiological risk for the population of the affected regions,” according to officials from the Biden Administration.

“Many other armies use these types of projectiles, in addition to the United States; also Russia,” alleged the spokesman for the White House National Security Council, Admiral John Kirby, in an appearance before foreign media this Wednesday. According to the official, the only difference between this ammunition and conventional ammunition is that the depleted uranium ammunition “is heavier than normal” and, therefore, more effective against armor.

“We want the Ukrainians to be as effective as possible in this counteroffensive and we believe that this type of ammunition will help them to be so” to provide this material, he insisted. Although until now the United States had not contributed this type of material to the war in Ukraine, the United Kingdom already does.

But groups such as the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons point out that touching or ingesting depleted uranium dust carries health risks, including the possibility of developing certain cancers.

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After London's plans to send this type of ammunition to Ukraine became known, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the United Kingdom in March of transferring “weapons with a nuclear component” to Kiev and warned that Moscow would be forced to react if Ukraine used them.

This Wednesday's announcement from the Pentagon comes just two months after the White House approved the shipment to Ukraine of cluster bombs, banned by more than a hundred countries due to the risk to civilians who may come into contact with that type of bomb. unexploded weapons. So far, these weapons have killed or injured almost a thousand people on Ukrainian territory, according to the Coalition Against Cluster Bombs.

The new aid package includes, among other supplies, ammunition for HIMARS missile batteries, support equipment for Ukrainian air defense systems, tactical air navigation systems and TOW missiles, as specified by the Pentagon.

This military assistance is part of a series of aid, worth nearly a thousand dollars, that the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, has revealed during his two-day visit to Kiev, in which has met with President Volodymyr Zelensky and other Ukrainian government authorities to assess the progress of the counteroffensive. Among other things, the United States will provide $300 million to support security forces in the liberated Ukrainian zones and $203 million for the transparency and accountability of institutions.

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