Where and how much depleted uranium has been fired?
 
 
March 2001 update
of a workshop held at the 
CADU conference, Manchester, 4 November, 2000 
by: Henk van der Keur
Laka Foundation, Amsterdam

Nuclear fuel chain
Depleted uranium (DU) is the by-product of the enrichment of natural uranium.
‘Natural uranium’ is the concentrated product after mining and refining uranium ore.
One kilogram of ‘natural uranium’ is obtained from 1000 kg of uranium ore. Only half of this one kilogram is actually released for use. The remaining 999.5 kg is considered as radioactive waste.

DU stockpiles
United States :                         700,000 metric tonnes
                                               Currently stored in the form of UF6, stored in cylinders at Paducah, Kentucky, and Portsmouth, Ohio.
                                               160,000 metric tonnes, stored in the form of UO2 and metal
Urenco (UK, FRG, NL) :        38,000 metric tonnes
                                               Currently stored in the form of UF6
Cogema (France) :                   119,900 metric tonnes (dUF6)
                                               Stored at Bessines-sur-Gartempe (Haute Vienne) near Limoges
 

US Proving Grounds with DU Test Firing Ranges
 

DU Testing Amount of DU
Ethan Allen Firing Range (Vermont) 1969 – 1973 4,500 kg
Lake City Ammunition Plant (Missouri) until 1985 3,500 kg
China Lake Naval Air Warfare Center (California) 10 years 11,300 kg
NM Institute of Mining & Technology (New Mexico) since 1972 ---
Los Alamos National Laboratory (New Mexico) 100,000 kg
Jefferson Proving Ground (Indiana) 1982 - 1988 69,000 kg
Aberdeen Proving Ground (Maryland) 70,000 kg
Eglin Air Force Base (Florida)
- Gunnery Ballistic Facility 
- High Explosive Test Area
1973 - 1978
at present
100,000 kg
Nellis Air Force Base (Nevada) since 1982 27,800 kg
Total (known) amount DU fired 386,100 kg

Other test-fires with DU ammunition

????             Panama
There are strong appointments that the US Army has trained with DU rounds along the sides of the Panama Channel.
No data available.

1995/1996   Japan
From December ’95 – January ’96 the US Navy AV-8B Harriers (aircraft) test-fired 1,520 25mm PGU/20 API rounds 100 km west of the main island of Okinawa. Total amount of DU: 251 kg.

1999            Puerto Rico (Vieques)
On 19 February, 1999, two US Marine Corps AV-8B Harriers expended 263 25mm PGU/20 API rounds at Vieques Island, Puerto Rico, North Convoy Site. Between March 10 and 19, 1999, 57 round were recovered. 263 Rounds is equal to 34 kg of DU.

The British Army fired/fires DU ammunition at their test sites near Eskmeals and Kirkcudbright. Recently (f.e.: Independent, 12 Jan. 2001) the British MoD acknowledged that about 6,000 120 mm shells have been fired into the Scottish Solway Firth, close to the village Dundrennan, since 1982. Around 60 will be fired until October. About the French tests there are no data available. US and British tank divisions have trained in Central Europe. There are no data available about firing of DU ammunition.

Taiwanese Navy has used some 60,000 DU rounds in maneuvers over the past years (BBC Monitoring, Jan.17, 2001). The type of these munitions is not mentioned.

Greece has decided to take off all DU shells from their inventory. The Greek Navy has in all about 15,000 shells, which are used in the air defense system Phalanx (Close-In Weapons System). During exercises since 1990, 30,000 rounds of 20mm ammunition were fired. It is not clear where they have been fired. In the nineties Greece rejected a US offer of 100,000 DU tank shells after which they were exported to Turkey. (Associated Press, 8 January, 2001)
 

DU weaponry used in wars

1973     Yom Kippur War
             Probably the first war with DU ammunition (prototypes)
             Probably fired by the M60A1 MBT
             No data available

1982    Falklands War
            Possible use of Phalanx CIWS missile defense gun
            No data available

1982    Israeli Invasion of South Lebanon
            Use of modified / upgraded M60 (series) M60 MBT
            No data available

1989    US Invasion of Panama
            Possible use of DU ammunition
            No data available

1991     Operation Desert Storm

1994     Bosnia
             In August US A-10s destroyed a Bosnian Serb mobile ‘tank buster’.
             No data available.

1999    Kosov@
            On 7 February 2000 NATO confirmed the use of 31,000 30mm PGU/14A API rounds. Total amount: 8401 kg of DU.

!! When there is solid evidence about the use of DU in (Tomahawk) cruise missiles, the amounts of DU left behind in Iraq and Yugoslavia will be considerably higher. !!
 

Approximate Amount of Depleted Uranium Released  During Operation Desert Storm
 

Branch Weapon System Ammo Type Quantity of Rounds Weight
(pounds)
U.S. Army M1 Tank
M1A1 Tank
105mm
120mm
504
9,048
4,254
82,243
U.S. Air Force A-10 30mm
783,514
521,655
U.S. Navy Phalanx CIWS 20mm
Not Available
Not Available
U.S. Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier
M60 Tanks/
M1 Tanks
25mm
105mm
67,436
Not Available
22,003
Not Available
United Kingdom Challenger Tanks 120mm
88
900
Totals
(approximate)
   
Tanks- 9,640
Aircraft- 850,950
Tanks - 87,397
Aircraft- 543,658
Total - 631,055

 
 
Ammunition Type

(rounds)

Shipped 
 

(rounds)

Left on Ship

(rounds) 

Left with Reserve Stock
(rounds)
Returned after Gulf War
(rounds)
Consumed in the Gulf

(rounds)

DU used in  Gulf

(tons)

M900 (105mm)
2,314
0
0
1,810
504
2.14
M829 (120mm)
141,247
5,900
1,800
126,847
6,700
35.85
M829A1 (120mm)
89,473
0
0
87,125
2,348
12.56
Total
233,034
5,900
1,800
215,782
9,552
50.55

Accidents with DU weaponry

1998     Great Britain
On 8 February there was a fire at the Royal Ordnance Special Metal factory at Featherstone in Staffordshire. No data available about the amount of DU which has been released.

1991 Kuwait
Munitions fire US Army base Doha, Kuwait (July 1991). Around 3,500 kg of DU was released.
 
 

M60 series MBTs (all supplied by USA, except mentioned otherwise)
Figures from the SIPRI yearbooks 1988 – 1999

 L: production under license (Taiwan and Egypt produces under US license)
(..): probable year of figure(s)
 

Bahrain 25 M-60A3
27 M-60A3
43 M-60A3
50 M-60A3
'91
'90
'90
'86
'93
'90
'91
'87-'88
(25)
27
43
(50)
Bosnia H. 45 M-60A3 '96 '96 45
Brazil 91 M-60A3 '96
Egypt. 340 M-60A3
312 M-60A3
'93
('90)

'90-'93

(312)
Greece S: FRG 312 M-60A3
359 M-60A3
('90)
('90)
'90-'92
'91-'92
(253)
(359)
Italy 10 M-60A1 '93 '93 10
Jordan 50 M-60A3 '95 '96 50
Morocco 120 M-60A3
200 M-60A1
'94
'90
'94 120
Oman ... M-60A3 '91 '91 27
Portugal 80 M-60A3 '91 '91 80
Saudi Arabia 150 M-60A3
100 M-60A3
'90
'83
'94-'95
'88
150
100
Spain 260 M-60A3
160 M-60A1
'91
'91
'92-'92
'92
(260)
(133)
Taiwan
L: USA
160 M-60A3
200 M-60A3
160 M-60A3
470 M-60H
(75) M-60A3
(140) M-60A3
'91
'91
'91
('84)
'84
('85)
'95-'98

'95-'96
'85-'89

 

(160)

(160)
(470)

 

Thailand (101) M-60A3
300 M-60A1
(300) M-6-A1
'95
'90
'90
'95-'97
'91-'92
'93
(101)
(300)
(53)
Turkey 600 M-60A3
(658) M-60A3
164 M-60A1 MBT
('90)
('91)
('91)
'92-'93
'93-'94
'92-'93
(600)
(658)
(109)

M1/M1A1.M1A2 Abrams & Bradleys (all supplied by USA)
 

Egypt
L: USA
L: USA
15 M1
31 M-1A1
499 M-1A1
31 M1A1
'88
'98
'88
'96
'90-'91
'97-'98
'92-'97
'97
15

(499)
31

Saudi Arabia 150 M-1
315 M-1A2
150 M-1
400 M-2 Bradley AIFV
'90
'90
'90
'90

'93-'94
second order
'92-'94

315

(400)

Kuwait 218 M-1A2 '92 '95-'97 (218)

 

US Exports
Excess Defense Articles (EDA)
EDA Grants, EDA Sales, Drawdowns, Leases and Loans, FMS

TTS = with Tank Thermal Sight
FMS = Foreign Military Sales
 

country item year of transfer quantity source
Bahrain M60A3 TTS
M60A3 TTS
M60A3 TTS
M60 tank W/blade
'94
'95
'98
'99
1
50 (lease)
60
6
EDA (internet)

EDA (internet)
EDA (internet)

Brazil M60A3 TTS '95 91 (lease)
Egypt M60A1
M60A3
'90
'93
700
340
GAO/NSIA-93-164FS
Jane's, 17 Jul '93
Morocco M60A1
M60A1
M60A1
M60A1
'90
'93
'94
'97
300
60
120
7
NSIAD-93-164FS/EDA BBS
EDA (internet)
EDA (internet)
EDA (internet)
Oman M60A3
M60A3 TTS
'90
'98
40
?
EDA BBS
EDA (internet)
Taiwan M60A3 '91 110 CR, 16 Sept '91, pH6600
Thailand M60A3
M60A3 TTS
M60A3 TTS
'92?
'94
'97
50+
180
107
MilBal, 92-93
FMS
FMS

Inventory of M60 series MBTs in 18 countries
Source: Jane’s Armour and Artillery 1999-2000

Country Model Quantity Comments
Austria M60A3 168
Bahrain M60A3 180 includes 20 delivered in 1995
Bosnia M60A3 45 delivered
Brazil M60A3 91 deliveries underway
Egypt M60A3
M60A1
759
700
final deliveries 1987 (new)
ex-US Army delivery 1990-91
Greece M60A1
M60A3
357
312
from US Army
Iran M60A1 355 approx. 160 left
Israel M60/M60A1/M60A3 1,350 many local modifications
Jordan M60A1/M60A3 354
Morocco M60A1
M60A3
60
240
Oman M60A1
M60A3
6
73
Portugal M60A3 90
Saudi Arabia M60A3 460
Spain M60A3
M60A1
260
50
154 + 106 TTS
Sudan M60A3 20 delivered in 1982, current status unclear
Taiwan M60A3 360 delivered between 1994 and 1996
Thailand M60A3
M60A1
125
53

DU ammunition exports
Most important is to get insight in the proliferation of DU ammunition. Many tanks with 105 mm tank guns (M60 series MBT and their local variants) and 120 mm tank guns (M1A1, M1A2, Challenger, Leclerc, Leopard 2, etc.) can fire DU rounds, however, it is difficult to prove the presence of DU ammunition in the national inventories. Much more research has to be done in this field.

US exports of DU ammunition
Foreign Military Sales

Type Amount Destination Source
105 mm M774 1,000
84,451
Taiwan
Turkey
Jane's
Jane's
120 mm M833 300
2,130
10,025
320
22,920
Israel
Jordan
Pakistan
Saudi Arabia
Turkey
Jane's
Jane's
Jane's
Jane's
Jane's
120 mm M829A2
Contract was placed with Primex Technologies in June 1995
23,278 US Army

Developments in Israel and Turkey

Outside the US, the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) is the largest user of the M60 series. As of 1993, they probably had about 1000 M60/M60A1 tanks and about 600 M60A3s. The Israeli designation of the M60 is the Megach-7. Israel has undertaken several upgrades of its Magach-7 fleet, which includes M60/M60A1s and the M60A3s. The 105 mm M68 rifled tank gun, made by Israel Military Industries (IMI), also fitted to most other Israeli tanks, like the Merkava Mk1. The Israeli made 105 mm tungsten APFSDS-T M111 round is claimed to be superior to the US M735.

The M68 main 105 mm gun is standard on all M60s, but also on the Centurions, and Merkavas Mk I and II of the Israeli tank fleet. Military analysts remarks that although the 105 mm main gun on the M60s was much smaller than the 155-mm gun on the T-62, and the 125-mm gun on the T-72, it was very effective against these targets at both long and short ranges. The M68 gun is locally produced by Israeli Military Industries (IMI), formerly TAAS Israel Industries Ltd.

The Israelis still retain the 105 mm main gun on the M60 series tank, but the turret is modified to be able to take the 120 mm gun if needed. The Israelis have been constantly improving their 105 mm rounds, so they are now almost as deadly as most 120mm rounds. The M111 "arrow " round is constantly being upgraded, and Israel has shown a third generation M111 round recently. Panzergruppe, the monthly newsletter of the Washington Armour Club stated in their first issue of 1996: "Israelis are reported developing a depleted uranium round which will probably be able to defeat the armour of almost any vehicle in any service in the Middle East. To accompany this new and improved gun, a new fire control system has been installed for greater accuracy at both shorter and longer ranges."

On 3 September, 1999, IMI unveiled the "SABRA" – an upgraded M60A3 tank developed for the Israeli Army. The modernisation programme, includes, among others, the following systems:

On 26 June 2000 Jane’s Defence Weekly’s correspondent in Ankara reports Turkeys decision to open negotiations with Israel Military Industries (IMI) for the modernisation of its US-made M60A1 MBTs. Which brought Washington to propose that the project could be done by US companies under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme.

"US Deputy Under-secretary of the Army for International Affairs Gayden Thompson has written to Ankara asking that US companies should be able to compete for the project. The Turkish Land Forces Command has also been urged to reconsider the long-standing US government offer to lease 96 General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) M1A1 MBTs." A senior GDLS source said "linking the modernisation project with an M1A1 lease would offer training and logistics benefits as its M60-2000 modernisation proposal involves the installation of M1A1 turrets." On 2 June 2000 the Turkish Defence Industries Under-secretariat (SSM) decided that IMI would be the sole source for the M60 modernisation programme. An SSM official stated that although the committee had decided to ask IMI to build a prototype, it did not mean that a decision to award the full contract to the Israeli firm had been made. Besides GDLS, also German firms like Krauss-Maffei Wegmann are competing in the M60 modernisation programme. The requests for proposals call for four prototypes and an initial production batch of 250 vehicles out of a planned total of 1,000.