N.C.C.D. Disarmament Times

An occasional newsletter on disarmament progress in New Zealand and abroad, published by


Volume 1, Number 1, July 1998


The use of depleted uranium weapons by United States and British military forces during the Gulf War was a new development in military weapons. An estimated 300 metric tons of depleted uranium were fired, loaded into armour-piercing shells. Aerosol particles given out by these shells travelled widely and were inhaled or ingested by allied troops and by clean-up crews (who were neither given warning nor protective gear) and also by Iraqi troops and civilians. Many Iraqi children who handled discarded ordnance are now suffering from leukaemia.

Dr, Rosalie Bertell, President of the International Institute of Concern for Public Health, based in Toronto, Canada, has written about the use of depleted uranium by USA in the Gulf War. She believes it is the probable cause of the disease known as Gulf War Syndrome, which has attacked both the Allied forces and the Iraqis.

A sixfold increase in child leukaemia since 1992 has been attributed to the presence of depleted uranium in the missiles used by the Allied forces in the1990 Gulf War. Lancet Medical Journal, February 1998.

Cancer cases soared in southern Iraq after the Gulf War, according to a United Nations document based on Iraqi government figures. The document shows a cancer increase of 55 per cent between 1989 and 1994, with a big tilt toward the southern provinces, where the United States and Britain fired depleted uranium shells during 1991 offensive. The Dominion, June 23 1998.

What international action is being taken by international non-government organisations?

The United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva, through its Subcommission, Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities has passed a resolution to ban the use of depleted uranium weapons. The Subcommission adopted resolutions in 1996 and 1997 which include depleted uranium weaponry amongst ”weapons of mass and indiscriminate destruction... incompatible with international humanitarian or human rights law.• Secretary General‘s Report, 24 June 1997, E/CN. 4/Sub.2/1997/27.

What is the New Zealand Government doing about the issue?

At present, the New Zealand Government is monitoring developments on DU. Our representatives in the United Nations and appropriate international fora are also monitoring the situation for any initiatives on this issue. Hon. Simon Upton. Acting Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control. 5 June1998.

Write to your M.P. to ask the government to call for the United Nations to withdraw support for use of DU weapons. The time for monitoring is past. We need action to ban the use of depleted uranium weapons which are weapons of mass and indiscriminate destruction. New international initiatives are required urgently.

Des Brough.

The NGO Committee on Disarmament at the UN in New York also has a DISARMAMENT TIMES. Here is a summary of their April 1998 edition.


Almost all of the content deals with the continued existence of nuclear weapons and pleas for real progress to be made for their abolition. This is now brought more sharply into focus by the recent nuclear tests in India and Pakistan, which were not forseen when this issue went to print.

The editorial calls attention to the fact that the negotiations on disarmament by the Conference on Disarmament are deadlocked by the five nuclear powers (not including India and Pakistan) They are willing to negotiate a treaty on the cut-off of future production of fissile material for weapons, but not to deal with existing stockpiles. The editorial calls on them to re-think their approach especially in the light of the opinion given by the International Court of Justice and suggests that a group of non-nuclear states (as suggested by Mexico) could call a Conference on these issues in an attempt to influence the nuclear states.

Another article on page 2 makes similar points.

General Lee Butler, in an article called, The Case Against Nuclear Deterence makes a very strong case that the idea that nuclear weapons should be retained as a deterrent is quite unjustified. ”The effects of nuclear weapons transcend time and place, poisoning the earth and deforming its inhabitants generation on generation. They leave us wholly without defense, expunge all hope for meaningful survival...•

Civilian leaders, including many heads of governments and states, and people who have now retired from such positions, have put together a document suggesting practical steps that could be taken by the nuclear states to move toward the goal of the abolition of nuclear weapons.

The main article, headed Advisory Board Hears Annan View of UN Disarmament Role, is a very heartening one, in that it shows the Secretary-General of the UN being pro-active in stepping up practical procedures to encourage disarmament which has been languishing in recent years at the UN. He has re-established a Department for Disarmament Affairs headed by an Under-Secretary, General Jayantha Dhanapala, who has since led a team of diplomats to Iraq to try and break the impasse over inspection of the ”presidential sites.• He has also set up a committee to establish norms for agreements on disarmament and on practical measures to clean up the remnants of conflict when hostilities have ceased, and to enforce disarmament agreements.

Book Review: The Ultimate Evil by Douglas Roche, [ex-US Admiral] A very important book, which is intended to bring home to the ordinary public that the abolition of nuclear weapons is the indispensable condition for peace in the 21st Century. Published by James Lorimer, 5502 Atlantic St, Halifax, NS, Canada. C$19.95.

Panel discussions by the NGO Committe on Disarmament in New York included the topic Star Wars and Space Nukes. There was also a report on campaign against NASA‘s launch of the Cassini space probe carrying kilograms of plutonium to power its experiments.

This summary report was written by Kathleen Loncar.

Full copies of articles are available on request from the NCCD.

We welcome any suggestions for topics in future publication of NCCD Disarmament Times. Write to the Editor, 66 Beacon Hill Rd, Wellington 6003, or fax 04 388-3173.

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