Public Meeting in English: SP Defence Spokeswoman will speak at Amersfoort gathering of experts on depleted uranium

11 February 2008

Public Meeting in English: SP Defence Spokeswoman will speak at Amersfoort gathering of experts on depleted uranium

SP Member of Parliament and defence specialist Krista van Velzen will participate this Thursday in a meeting to address the issue of depleted uranium (DU) in weapons systems. Policy makers insist that the use of this radioactive heavy metal is legitimate, on the grounds that there have as yet been no statistically significant causal links confirmed between exposure to it and health problems. Van Velzen will join a bevy of experts who disagree, insisting that the weight of evidence is now sufficient to justify rapid action.

Krista van VelzenThe seminar on the risks of the use of DU in weapons systems will take place in Amersfoort on Thursday evening. The meeting is organised by the Laka Foundation (a research and documentation centre concerned with nuclear energy), the Dutch Foundation for the Disposal of Metal and Electrical Products (NVMP), and the SP, with support from the trade unions for military personnel, AFMP and ACOM.

During the hearing and the seminar speakers from a range of disciplines and points of view will issue an urgent call to discontinue or ban the use of this nuclear material.

Keith Baverstock has worked for twelve years as a researcher and adviser at the World Health Organisation (WHO). He alleges that this UN body has come under political pressure to sweep scientific evidence about the controversial material under the carpet.

Jawad Al-Ali is head of the Oncology Department at the Academic Hospital in Basra, Iraq. He will outline his observations of heightened incidences of cancer and birth defects.

Avril McDonald will look at the question from the standpoint of international humanitarian law. Together with other jurists, she has recently published a book on the issue.

John LaForge from Nukewatch will report on the situation in the US, and Henk van der Keur from the Laka Foundation will speak on the sources, properties and military applications of DU.

The meeting, together with a round table to be held earlier in the day in the national parliament, was prompted by the fact that Netherlands joined the US, Israel, the Czech Republic and Britain in voting against a recent resolution in the United Nations calling for a report into the health risks associated with DU.

In the course of the Iraq War of 2003 the prestigious British scientific body the Royal Society stated that the use of depleted uranium was principally a political problem. That this view is shared by Dutch Defence Minister Maxime Verhagen was confirmed when he explained to parliament that the Netherlands had voted against the resolution "because it stated that depleted uranium has 'potential harmful effects.'"

Verhagen pointed to a policy report from the WHO to back up his view, but failed to mention reports from other serious researchers, including the Pentagon's own radiobiological institute, AFRRI. AFRRI has for some years characterised DU as potentially carcinogenic. Evidence from laboratory test shows the urgent need for more detailed study.

Venue: "De Amershof", Snouckaertlaan 11, Amersfoort
Thursday, 14th February, 7 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Admission free. Registration recommended
Call Laka Foundation ("Stichting Laka") Tel. 020 - 6168294 (00 31 20 6168294 from outside the Netherlands) e-mail: info@laka.org
or NVMP, Tel. 030 – 2722940 (00 31 30 – 2722940) e-mail : office@nvmp.org

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