Updated: 10-Jan-2001 NATO Press Releases


10 January 2001


by the Secretary General
on the Use of Depleted Uranium Munitions in the Balkans

The North Atlantic Council, at its regular meeting today, gave special consideration to the possible environmental health risks associated with the use of depleted uranium munitions in the Balkans.

Allies are committed to ensuring the health and safety of their servicemen and servicewomen and to avoiding any ill-effects for the civil population and personnel of non-governmental organisations as a result of NATO military operations. The Council noted in this context that there is no evidence currently available to suggest that exposure to expended depleted uranium munitions represents a significant health risk for NATO-led forces or the civil population in the Balkans. They noted recent statements by representatives of the World Health Organisation and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) which confirm that there is very little likelihood of troops becoming ill, such as by contracting leukaemia, from exposure to radiation from depleted uranium. Allies agreed, however, that this should be kept under review and that NATO should continue to cooperate fully with investigations on the possible effects of exposure carried out by the nations involved or by responsible multinational organisations.

Allies recalled that full information had already been provided to, and welcomed by, UNEP to assist its study on the environmental consequences of the use of depleted uranium munitions during Operation Allied Force in Kosovo in 1999, which is due to be issued in March. They agreed that similar information on the use of depleted uranium munitions during Operations Deny Flight and Deliberate Force in 1994 and 1995 will be produced as soon as possible.

The following immediate further steps were agreed:

  • NATO will cooperate fully with any further investigations on this subject carried out by the nations involved or by responsible multinational organisations, including elsewhere in the region.
  • The Council agreed to consult fully on this subject with all past and present SFOR and KFOR contributing countries. A first briefing for this purpose will be given at a regular meeting of troop contributors which will take place on 12 January.
  • Allies will make available to each other and more widely, through arrangements to be established in NATO, all information available to them, now or in the future, on any health risks associated with the use of depleted uranium munitions. As a first step, Service Medical authorities will exchange views on the medical and scientific factual background at a meeting of the Chiefs of Military Medical Services Committee (COMEDS) to be held on 15 January.
  • A NATO working group will be established to act as a clearing house for the exchange of information. This will involve participation by non-NATO contributors to KFOR and SFOR.
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