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Depleted uranium weapons – ethics discussion in Norway

humanitarian consequences of weapons must guide the government’s disarmament policy. Not only does this cover landmines and cluster munitions, but also nuclear weapons….the principles enshrined in international humanitarian law – in particular the distinction between civilians and combatants.

Norwegian Foreign Minister makes statement on depleted uranium International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons, 10 Dec 10, Norway’s Foreign Minister has called for continued research into the potential impact of depleted uranium weapons during a discussion on the issue in the Norwegian parliament. 9 December 2010 – ICBUW

The debate was triggered by a question from Labour Minister Laila Gustavsen that raised concerns over the situation in Iraq and asked how Norway could contribute to an international ban based on the precautionary principle.

Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said that the government was looking seriously at the issue of depleted uranium weapons due to ongoing concerns over their impact. However, he said that for as long as there is no direct causal link between their use and ill health it would not be possible to work directly for an international ban on their use.

Discussing the Norwegian military’s position on the weapons, he said that the Norwegian Armed Forces do not use depleted uranium and that this position was adopted in 2001 as a precautionary measure following controversy over its use in the Balkans…………..

On the reports of an increase in cancers and birth defects in Fallujah, he noted that while civil society had suggested a link between them and exposure to depleted uranium, UN agencies such as IAEA, WHO and UNEP have all claimed that it is impossible to draw definitive conclusions. However he pointed out that it is important that all three organisations urge caution over the potential for unforeseen consequences to the use of the weapons. UNEP in particular has noted that there is uncertainty over the possible effects of DU in groundwater. He hoped that a new WHO study may add extra information to the debate……

humanitarian consequences of weapons must guide the government’s disarmament policy. Not only does this cover landmines and cluster munitions, but also nuclear weapons and regulating the trade in conventional arms. Norwegian policy is based on the principles enshrined in international humanitarian law – in particular the distinction between civilians and combatants. As was the case with mines and cluster munitions, if a weapon is incapable of distinguishing between these two groups then that may form the basis of an international ban,……….Norway supports more research in this field and has supported the recent resolution at the UN, they have also encouraged their allies to do likewise. However at present they haven’t seen evidence of a willingness to support an international ban based on the precautionary principle amongst the international community. He highlighted the importance of the call for transparency from the users of depleted uranium, noting its importance for facilitating studies into the impact of the weapons.

Norwegian Foreign Minister makes statement on depleted uranium

December 10, 2010 - Posted by | EUROPE, Religion and ethics, Uranium

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