Tuesday, June 30, 2009

No action from National on depleted uranium

Depleted uranium is a very dense, toxic, and weakly radioactive metal. While perfectly fine if left in large lumps, certain countries such as the US make weapons and armour out of it. When used, the uranium is aerosolised, causing contamination over a wide area. This contamination has been linked to birth defects and health problems.

As a result, in 2007 the Belgian Parliament banned the manufacture, use, storage, sale, acquisition, supply and transit of Depleted Uranium weapons and armour. Some people here thought that was a good idea, and so they petitioned our Parliament asking for it to institute a similar ban here. Unfortunately, it looks like they will be disappointed. The Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee has just reported back on the petition, and has not recommended a ban. Instead, they recommend further monitoring of research on the effects of DU, and the presentation of a report to the UN General Assembly as part of that body's gradual moves towards an international convention banning DU. In other words, do nothing. Which is what you'd expect from a National government on a disarmament issue.

But there is hope: both Labour and the Green Party presented a minority report favouring a ban. As with their recent comments on sow crates, this is an issue where they should put their money where their mouth is. There's a bill on ProgBills here. Someone from the Labour caucus should adopt it.