Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace

DEPLETED URANIUM–and Saskatchewan

Posted by strattof on November 5, 2010


  • International Day of Action Against Depleted Uranium Weapons
  • International Campaign to Ban Uranium Weapons:
  • UN Day for Prevention of the Exploitation of the Environment  during Wars and Armed Conflicts

What is ‘depleted’ uranium? 

Depleted Uranium (DU) is nuclear waste. Uranium naturally occurs as three different isotopes U234, U235, and U238. Isotopes are atoms of the same element that have different numbers of neutrons but the same number of protons. U235 is fissionable, but only makes up a small proportion of naturally occurring uranium. U238 makes up more than 99% of natural uranium and is less radioactive. After natural uranium has had most of the U235 removed from it, it is called ‘depleted uranium.’ Each kilo of reactor-ready enriched uranium produced leaves you with about seven kilos of DU.

What are DU weapons?  

DU itself is a chemically toxic and radioactive compound, which is used in armour piercing munitions because of its very high density. It is also used as armour in US M1A1 and M1A2 battle tanks and in small amounts in some types of landmines.

 Where has DU been used and when?

  • The 1991 Gulf War by the US and UK
  • Bosnia, Serbia and Kosovo by NATO in the 1990s

It is suspected the US used DU in Afghanistan in 2001. The US may also be using DU in Afghanistan today.  

What’s the problem?    

The toxic and radioactive DU oxide dust includes sub-micron particles that are readily inhaled into and retained by the lungs. From the lungs uranium compounds are deposited in the lymph nodes, bones, brain, and testes. Hard targets hit by DU penetrators are surrounded by this dust, which can travel many kilometres, where it can be inhaled or ingested by civilians and military alike.

It is thought that DU is the cause of a sharp increase in the incidence of some cancers, such as breast cancer and lymphoma, in areas of Iraq following 1991 and 2003. It has also been implicated in a rise in birth defects from areas adjacent to the main Gulf War battlefields.

The United Nations Environment Program has reported that corroding penetrators likely are contaminating groundwater and drinking water supplies and should be removed.


There is increasing worldwide support for a ban on the use of depleted uranium weapons.

2007: Belgium became the first country in the world to ban all conventional weapons containing uranium, with other states set to follow their example.

2007: The Italian government agreed to a 170m Euro compensation package for a personnel exposed to uranium weapons in the Balkans. 

2007: The UN General Assembly passed a resolution highlighting serious health concerns over DU. Canada abstained.

2008: 141 states in the UN General Assembly voted in favour of calling on three UN agencies–the World Health Organization, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the UN Environment Program–to update their positions on the long-term health and environmental threat that uranium weapons pose. Canada abstained.

2010: The UN is reviewing new evidence toward adopting a stronger resolution for action on DU concerns.


  • Saskatchewan is the world’s largest producer and exporter of uranium.
  • That uranium is the initial source of much of the depleted uranium currently being used by the US military for the production of depleted uranium weaponry.  

Weren’t we told our uranium would be used only for nuclear power and medicine and not for weapons?

Should we feel a moral responsibility?

What does your conscience tell you?



2 Responses to “DEPLETED URANIUM–and Saskatchewan”

  1. Roger said

    The final comment is that Canadian uranium is being used for weapons and we were told that it was not to be used for weapons. That is really false and misleading. There is no need for Canadian uranium to manufacture depleted uranium penetrators and there is no longer a US enrichment program to develop nuclear weapons, so who is lying to who?

    The US has hundreds of thousands of tons of DUF6, the toxic Uranium Hexaflouride. Those thousands of tons were created in the 1950s and 60’s and far exceed any possible need to convert them to Depleted Uranium metal to be alloyed with titanium to create the Uranium-Titanium alloy used for kinetic energy penetrators used as anti-tank bullets. The DU penetrator is not used for anything else but killing tanks and the writer should well realize that there has not been a tank battle anywhere in the world since the US run into Baghdad in April 2003. There has never been a US tank battle in Afghanistan. There are no US tanks in Afghanistan. The Taliban had a small number of Soviet built tanks in 2001 and those were destroyed by conventional high explosive bombs. The A-10 tank killer aircraft was not even deployed to or near Afghanistan then. Since then, the A-10 is there, but it has been armed with the high explosive bullets, not the DU ones. DU is absolutely useless against an dug in Taliban guerilla fighter with an RPG. The 30mm high explosive bullet is overkill but the aircraft can loiter over the battlefield and be available when needed. The real question is who is behind this continual big push against depleted uranium, what is in it for them? They are not doing it purely because they are peace loving. They are doing it for some sort of power or profit. Why not ask them?


  2. Greg Wilson said

    The tank killer munitions must be the most toxic and polluting of the DU weapons. They are not one large shell like the rounds used years ago. The tank killer munitions use a shell that when it hits a target the nose of the shell injects a large amount of small pellets into the tank or building creating a shot gun effect with pellets going in all directions and bouncing throughout the target. I’m sure a large amount of radioactive dust is scattered into the atmosphere. If an explosion occurs a dirty radioactive bomb event occurs spreading radioactive dust into the wind. My source is the Military Channel show “Modern Weapons.”

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