Civilised Costa Rica bans uranium weapons

Manuel Antonio Spa, in Costa Rica’s Tico Times blog, reports that on April 27th the government of Costa Rica passed a law prohibiting Uranium Weapons making Costa Rica the second country to pass a national ban. Belgium was the first.

Manuel writes: 

Uranium weapons, often called ‘depleted’ uranium (DU) weapons, are manufactured from radioactive waste materials produced during the nuclear fuel chain and the production of nuclear weapons. They cause widespread and long lasting contamination of the environment. These weapon systems are radiologically and chemically toxic. 

DU weapons contaminate land, cause ill-health and cancers among the soldiers using the weapons, the armies they target and civilians, leading to birth defects in children . . . 

[M]ilitary uses include defensive armor plating and armor-piercing projectiles. Its density can penetrate just about any armor. During a three week period of conflict in 2003 in Iraq, 1,000 to 2,000 tons of DU munitions were used. Between 300 and 800 tons of DU particles and dust have been scattered over the ground and the water in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. There are around 20 countries that are thought to have DU weapon systems in their arsenals. 

Costa Rica’s banning of Uranium Weapons concurs with the anniversary of the First Latin American Conference on Uranium Weapons organized by the San Jose Quaker Peace Center (CAP), the International Depleted Uranium Study Team (IDUST) and the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons (ICBUW). Efforts to ban Uranium Weapons began in Costa Rica at the beginning of 2009. 

The country’s peace policies are extended to commerce and manufacturing. 

Costa Rica has also passed amendments to Costa Rica’s Free Trade Treaty to prevent companies from producing or selling uranium weapons in Costa Rica’s Free Trade Zone.


2 Responses to Civilised Costa Rica bans uranium weapons

  1. Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla bans Uranium Weapons

    Interview with Uranium-238 expert Damacio A. Lopez

    Uranium weapons pose a serious risk to civilians and their use runs counter to several principles of international humanitarian law. The United Nations Human Rights Sub-Committee has condemned them as weapons of indiscriminate effect with long-term consequences for the environment and human health. On April 27th, the Congress of Costa Rica passed a law prohibiting uranium weapons in its territories, becoming the second country in the world to do so. Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla now formalized the law that prohibits the use, trade, transit, production, distribution and storage of uranium weapons on Costa Rican territory.

    Interview with Damacio A. Lopez, Executive Director of International Depleted Uranium Study Team (IDUST), a non-governmental organization of researchers, activists, soldiers, doctors, and scientists. He was not only the major force behind the Costa Rican ban of U-Weapons. Damacio A. Lopez also has authored and co-authored many respected works about the subject, including the book “Friendly Fire, the Link Between Depleted Uranium Munitions and Human Health Risk” and the documentary “Uranium 238”, which last May won the Award of the International Uranium Film Festival of Rio de Janeiro 2011.

    Norbert Suchanek: What is depleted uranium 238?

    Damacio A. Lopez: Radioactive waste produced by the nuclear power industry.

    Why it is used in weapons, bombs and bullets?

    Because it is free and the bullet or projectile friction burns when they strikes the target.

    What are the effects or consequences of the use U-238 arms?

    The effects are that it destroys targets and the consequences are that it releases a radioactive and toxic smoke or gas that can be inhaled or ingested.

    Therefore battlefields in Ex-Yugoslavia, Iraq and may be now in Libya became radioactive…

    Any battlefield where DU is used becomes contaminated for 4.5 billion years

    Who is most affected?

    Whoever comes in contact with DU will be negatively affected

    The soldiers become ill too?

    Soldiers are usually the first to be contaminated whether they fire the weapon or are the target, it is the same case that took place in Flanders Field during world war I in Belgium where poison gases where used by both the German and the allied forces. There was one big cloud of gas poisoning both sides and the local civilian population as well.

    Which countries are using U-238 arms?

    There are more than 18 countries that have these weapons, the USA and Great Britain use the weapon regularly, it is difficult to know what other countries have used the weapons since they keep this a secrete knowing that they would be violating international norms when they use the weapon. One of the reasons we know that USA and Britain have used the weapon is because independent researchers have gone into war zones with giger counters and taken out samples for analysis, (I did this in Irak, Kosovo and Palestine). Later the UN has sent in teams to verify the findings of the independent researchers

    Since when do you fight against these “in-human” weapons?

    I began this work in 1985 when I discovered that DU weapons were being tested less than 2 kilometers from my home by a state supported university called, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (NMIMT) in Socorro, New Mexico

    Your mission is a global ban of U-238 arms, a ban by the United Nation?

    My goal is an International treaty banning these weapons.

    Belgium was the first country, which banned these Weapons. Now Costa Ricans

    President signed the ban of U-238-Arms, which was in a great part because of your work. What is the next step?

    My next step is to locate a country that will be interested in banning these weapons and I will be happy to go to their country and help in what way I can

    You have been recently in Rio de Janeiro at the International Uranium Film Festival, where the documentary “Uranium 238: The Pentagon’s Dirty Pool” by Pablo Ortega won the award for the best short film. Do you think that Brazils President Dilma Rousseff could follow her Costa Rican colleague?

    It would be wonderful if Brazil would follow Costa Rica’s lead.

    Thanks for the interview!

    More information:

  2. Len Aldis says:

    This is great news and is an example to those countries that have denied their use in their wars of aggression on Iraq, etc. We know they have used DU
    The British Government should follow Costa Rica and encourage others to do same.

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