Right to Heal Initiative coalition members delivered a petition signed by over 16,000 people calling for a change in U.S. policy on depleted uranium to Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power on November 4, 2014. The petition was circulated in anticipation of a vote on a United Nations General Assembly First Committee resolution on DU weapons. The final resolution language called for “assistance to States affected by the use of arms and ammunition containing depleted uranium, in particular in identifying and managing contaminated sites and material” and also recognized the need for further research into the use of depleted uranium in conflicts.
Despite the outpouring of support for the petition, the United States was one of only four countries to vote “no” on the resolution, with 143 states voting in favor. In a December 2, 2014 General Assembly vote on this resolution, the U.S. was again one of just four countries to oppose.
Dear Secretary Kerry and Ambassador Power,
We, the undersigned, urge the United States government to address the toxic legacy of its depleted uranium use in Iraq.
On November 5, a new resolution on depleted uranium weaponry will be introduced to the United Nations General Assembly. While the text of this year’s resolution is still being negotiated, since 2007, UN resolutions have included language affirming the need for research on the potential harmful effects of depleted uranium as well as the need for disclosure of where this weaponry has been used. The resolutions have been passed by the vast majority of the world’s nations, indicating a growing global concern. Unfortunately, each year the U.S. has isolated itself by opposing these resolutions, alongside only a few other countries.
The U.S. must end its opposition to UN action on depleted uranium. It must also support clean-up of areas where it has used depleted uranium and further scientific study of the impact of these materials on people, such as the relationship of these materials to increased cancer rates and birth defects, so that proper treatment can be pursued for those who have been exposed. These actions are critical to both civilian communities in Iraq and U.S. veterans and servicemembers.
We note the renewed urgency of this matter given the current U.S. military actions in Iraq and Syria.
The petition was available at http://act.rootsaction.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=10503&track=CCR20141016&tag=CCR20141016.