8 November 2006 The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has found no evidence that Israel used munitions with depleted uranium (DU) during its conflict with Hizbollah, but the country’s use of cluster bombs in Lebanon remains the main obstacle to a resumption of normal life in the affected areas, the head of the agency has said.
Reporting on the findings of a UNEP assessment carried out for three weeks in October, Achim Steiner said samples taken from 32 sites south and north of the Litani river found “no evidence of penetrators or metal made of DU or other radioactive material.”
He further stated that “no DU shrapnel, or other radioactive residue, was found. The analysis of all smear samples taken shows no DU, nor enriched uranium nor higher than natural uranium content in the samples.”
During the fieldwork, the UNEP did confirm the use of “white phosphorous-containing artillery and mortar ammunition by the Israeli Defence Force (IDF),” Mr. Steiner added.
Mr. Steiner said his agency echoed earlier findings which recognized “the huge number of cluster bombs with a low detonation rate dropped by the IDF over the last days before the ceasefire as the main remaining problem to return to normal life in the affected regions.”
The experts covered the following disciplines; asbestos; contaminated land; coastal and marine issues; solid and hazardous waste management; surface and ground water; weapons and munitions. “From these respective disciplines a wide range of samples were transported to three independent and recognized laboratories in Europe for tests,” the UNEP chief explained.