What are depleted uranium shells?


Quick Answer

Depleted uranium shells are bullets the U.S. military began using in the Gulf War from 1990 to 1991. Manufacturers produce these shells from waste used to enrich reactor uranium. The design of the bullets allows them to penetrate armored vehicles.

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Full Answer

Although depleted uranium is lower in radioactivity than natural uranium, it continues to display the same chemical toxicity. When a depleted uranium shell enters a vehicle, shrapnel from the bullet embeds in the soft tissues. Individuals also suffer consequences of inhaling or swallowing particles.

Even though several groups have called for a ban on weapons using depleted uranium, as of 2014, the United Nations has not issued one. In 2009, Belgium was the first country to pass a ban on such weapons. Costa Rica followed in 2011.

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