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UN says it found no evidence of uranium-based munitions in Lebanon
Thursday 9 November 2006

Tue Nov 7, 2006 (AFP)

NAIROBI - UN experts have found no evidence to support a press report that Israel used depleted uranium (DU) munitions during the July-August conflict in Lebanon, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has said.

"The samples taken by the UNEP scientists show no evidence of penetrators or metal made of DU or other radioactive material," UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said in a statement Tuesday.

"In addition, no DU shrapnel, or other radioactive residue was found. The analysis of all smear samples taken shows no DU, nor enriched uranium nor higher than natural uranium content in the samples."

In October, the British daily The Independent said samples of soil taken from two bomb craters in Lebanon showed high radiation levels, suggesting that uranium-based munitions had been used.

The craters, at Khiam and At-Tiri, were caused by Israeli heavy or guided bombs and showed "elevated radiation signatures," the Independent quoted Chris Busby, the British scientific secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risk, as saying.

Britain’s ministry of defence had confirmed the level of uranium isotopes in the samples, which were also being tested by mass spectrometry at a laboratory in Oxfordshire, the report had said.

The UNEP statement said a sub-team of inspectors looking specifically at the DU issue had visited 32 sites south and north of the Litani river.

"Following strict field procedures, a range of smear, dust and soil samples were taken. The samples were analysed in October-November at an internationally-recognised laboratory in Switzerland," it said.

UNEP had sent the team as part of an assessment into environmental damage caused by the conflict.

The investigation confirmed that Israel had used artillery and mortar ammunition containing white phosphorus, the statement said.

Israel says that none of its weapons are illegal and acknowledged on October 22 that it used the phosphorus.

Human rights groups have long argued that phosphorus weapons, which cause agonising injuries, should be banned under the Chemical Weapons Convention.


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