NATO's Use of Depleted Uranium Munitions a 'Crime Against Humanity', Says China

Henry C.K. Liu hliu at SPAMmindspring.com
Fri Jan 12 22:16:15 MST 2001




NATO's Use of Depleted Uranium Munitions a 'Crime Against Humanity',
Says China

BEIJING, Jan 12, 2001 -- (Agence France Presse) China said Friday that
NATO's use of depleted uranium (DU) munitions in the Balkans was a crime
against humanity.

An editorial in the official China Daily said U.S. and British denials
that DU munitions were responsible for illnesses including cancer had
been shown to be hollow.

And the commentary scoffed at NATO's military intervention in Kosovo in
1999 on humanitarian grounds, a move China strongly opposed, and
questioned NATO's concern for the new "humanitarian crisis" emerging
over DU shells.

It said U-238, the main component of depleted uranium, was
"intrinsically nuclear" and therefore DU munitions used by the United
States in the 1991 Gulf War and the Kosovo conflict should not be
considered conventional weapons.

"Because of the indiscriminate harm it has caused to all lives in the
hit areas long after combat, random use of such weapons amounts to a
crime against humanity," said the editorial.

Fears over the side-effects of DU munitions has emerged following the
deaths of some 16 NATO peacekeepers from illnesses such as  leukemia
after they served in either Bosnia or Kosovo.

The United States has said its aircraft fired 31,000 DU rounds during
the 1999 Kosovo campaign and that another 10,800 rounds were fired
during 1994/5 in Bosnia, where many of those afflicted were stationed.

NATO succumbed to mounting pressure on Wednesday by agreeing to set up a
special committee to study the possible health risk of DU shells, but
the United States continues to stress there is no evidence to link any
illnesses with the use of DU munitions.

The China Daily editorial said NATO owed its peacekeepers a "thorough
and honest" investigation, but it questioned whether the alliance cared
about the impact of DU shells on civilians in the Balkans and Iraq.

"It is both hypocritical and bizarre that the whole fuss over DU-related
health risks in NATO countries has occurred without regards for the
larger number of victims in other communities," said the paper.

"Where is the 'humanitarian concerns NATO so fervently cited to justify
its aggression in Yugoslavia. Where is the altruist NATO committed to
the prevention of a 'humanitarian disaster' now that a real such
disaster is before its eyes," it said.

China opposed NATO's intervention in Kosovo on the grounds the
humanitarian crisis in the region was the internal affair of Yugoslavia.

Official Chinese media did not report atrocities by Yugoslav forces
against Kosovar civilians during their coverage of the conflict. ((c)
2001 Agence France Presse)






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