depleted uranium (DU) is a byproduct of the manufacturing process for fuel and nuclear weapons materials for certain types of nuclear reactors. In the manufacture of such fuels and materials, natural uranium (U) is enriched and the content of the U-235 isotope, which provides nuclear fission, is increased. The mixture that remains after the enriched uranium has been removed is called depleted uranium because it contains reduced amounts of the isotopes U-235 and U-234.
DU is 60% less radioactive than natural uranium. Chemically, it behaves the same as natural uranium. Also, DU is a very high density metal making it suitable for a number of commercial applications such as ship and aircraft ballast. It can also be apply to increase the strength of the armor of military equipment such as tanks and for the production of armor-piercing ammunition.
The advantage of uranium for armor-piercing ammunition is its ability to ignite on impact and armor-piercing. This is explained by the fact that the more the metals of the core differ from uranium and armor protection, including electronegativity, the more durable compounds they form, as a result, a large amount of heat is generated. Small parts ignite and can cause the fuel supply of military equipment to ignite and the ammunition to explode.
Uranus is also have Features such as the self-sharpening ability, called ablative cutting, as a result projectiles take a shape that contributes to penetrating armor.
Filling shells with depleted uranium for the first time came with In the Third Reich, where they decided to make up for the lack of tungsten used to produce armor-piercing bullets and bullet cores in this way.
The U.S. Army began producing depleted uranium armor-piercing projectiles in the 1970s. in the USA Additional Depleted uranium into composite tank armor and ammunition for the Air Force A-10 attack aircraft, known as the “tank killer”.
Depleted uranium core ammunition in service many countries: USA, UK, Russia, Germany, France, Israel.
With According to expertsCurrently, armor-piercing shells with a depleted uranium core can become part of the ammunition of the M1 Abrams (USA) and Challenger 2 (England) tanks.
According to information from open sources, the Russian army has the latest type of ammunition 3BM60 “Lead-2”, the core of which is made of the so-called Material-B, as military circles call it an alloy of tungsten depleted uranium.
Such a projectile can pierce 800-830 mm of armor at a distance of 2 kilometers. For comparison, the “Lead-1”, developed at the end of 1991 on the basis of a tungsten carbide core, pierces 700-740 mm of armor at the same distance.
Under this type of armament, the especially modernized Russian tank T-80BVM was adapted.
NATO used such shells during the attack on Yugoslavia in 1999. A total of about 10 tons of depleted uranium then entered the country, according to the alliance statement. In the following years, Serbian citizens repeatedly sued NATO for harm to health caused by the use of DU, in their view.
Also, the United States is largely applied Such ammunition during the conflict in Iraq. According to the Harvard International Review, up to 300 tons of depleted uranium may have been used during the Gulf War, and up to 2,000 tons of DU may have been used during the 2003 Iraq war.
There is no generally accepted scientific evidence for the impact of depleted uranium projectiles on ecosystem and human health. There is ample evidence of the harmful effects of this compound, but the authorities of Western countries deny all such accusations.
The possible dangers of using such bullets are also mentioned. Online US Department of Veterans Affairs. According to the ministry, such bullets pose a potential health hazard when the substance enters the body, for example through fragments or by inhalation. The material also states that being near such ammunition is not harmful to health.
However, the department provides opportunity for veterans to file a disability compensation claim for health problems they believe are related to DU exposure.
Officially, depleted uranium munitions are not nuclear or chemical weapons, their use is not prohibited or regulated in any way by international conventions.
The UN website states that, according to the results of studies by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), local contamination of the region with small depleted uranium particles poses a radiological threat to the population and the environment. It is not important due to the use of appropriate ammunition.
However, when it comes to the discovery of parts or whole ammunition containing depleted uranium, there is a potential risk of radiation exposure to persons in direct contact with such parts or ammunition.
The material has been prepared based on information from RIA Novosti and open sources.
I’m Harold O’Connor and I work as an author and editor for News Unrolled, a news website dedicated to delivering the latest world events. With my in-depth research skills, passion for news writing, and keen eye for detail, I strive to provide readers with accurate information on current affairs from around the globe.