Belgium bans uranium weapons
Belgium is the first country in the world to ban the use of weapons that contain uranium.
The law comes into effect this weekend. Dirk Van der Maelen (Flemish Socialist) is the author of the legislation. He wants Belgium to take the lead to attain a worldwide ban on 'uranium arms', which cause a great deal of civilian casualties.
The Chamber of Deputies approved draft legislation in 2007 to ban the production, use, storage and trade in ammunition containing uranium. Uranium is radioactive and it attacks the central nervous system. It can cause cancer and irreparable damage to the DNA. Further, uranium containing weapons often claim civilian casualties, as well inflicting as long term damage to the environment.
Belgium took a leading role in achieving a ban on landmines and cluster ammunition. Mr Van der Maelen wants Belgium to do the same in the ban of uranium arms.
The support for a ban on uranium arms is growing. "In Costa Rica, Japan, New Zealand and a number of Scandinavian countries, draft legislation for a ban has already been submitted. I want to call on Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht to talk with our allies and work towards an international treaty," says Dirk Van der Maelen.
A photo exhibition on the human misery that has been caused by weapons containing uranium opened today at the Chamber of Deputies. World-renowned Japanese photographer Noami Toyoda has taken a number of black and white photographs, documenting the adverse affects of uranium arms. In Iraq the long-term effect is evident.