Lawyers preparing to sue NATO in an international court for war crimes which took place during the illegal bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999 have confirmed that one of the charges they will raise is NATO’s use of depleted uranium munitions on civilian targets.
The highly toxic munitions continue to scar Serbia. According to lawyers for the victims,
“The NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999 used between 10 and 15 tons of depleted uranium, which caused a major environmental disaster”.
The statement continued,
“In Serbia, 33,000 people fall sick because of this every year. That is one child every day”.
The legal team is asking for monetary compensation for the victims in areas that have suffered disproportionally high cancer rates due to NATO’s use of depleted uranium.
The lawyers for the victims regard the bombings “as a violation of all the international conventions and rules that protect people”.
It should not be difficult to prove that NATO used these weapons in Yugoslavia as the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia released a statement saying,
“There is evidence of use of depleted uranium (DU) projectiles by NATO aircraft during the bombing campaign. There is no specific treaty ban on the use of DU projectiles. There is a developing scientific debate and concern expressed regarding the impact of the use of such projectiles and it is possible that, in future, there will be a consensus view in international legal circles that use of such projectiles violate general principles of the law applicable to use of weapons in armed conflict. No such consensus exists at present. Indeed, even in the case of nuclear warheads and other weapons of mass-destruction – those which are universally acknowledged to have the most deleterious environmental consequences – it is difficult to argue that the prohibition of their use is in all cases absolute. (Legality of Nuclear Weapons, ICJ Rep. (1996), 242). In view of the uncertain state of development of the legal standards governing this area, it should be emphasised that the use of depleted uranium or other potentially hazardous substance by any adversary to conflicts within the former Yugoslavia since 1991 has not formed the basis of any charge laid by the Prosecutor. It is acknowledged that the underlying principles of the law of armed conflict such as proportionality are applicable also in this context; however, it is the committee’s view that analysis undertaken above (paras. 14-25) with regard to environmental damage would apply, mutatis mutandis, to the use of depleted uranium projectiles by NATO. It is therefore the opinion of the committee, based on information available at present, that the OTP should not commence an investigation into use of depleted uranium projectiles by NATO”.
Likewise, a report from NATO dating back to the year 2000, published the with the somewhat ominous subheading, “to error is human”, admitted that depleted uranium was used both in the 1990 war on Iraq and also the 1999 war on Yugoslavia.
The illegal NATO war on Yugoslavia killed thousands of civilians and hit a substantial amount of civilian infrastructure including television stations, hundreds of homes, hospitals, bridges and the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade.
The results of the war have included the continued occupation of the Serbian province of Kosovo and Metohija and an ongoing refugee crisis that continues to displace hundreds, by some estimates, thousands of Serbian families.
The occupied Serbian province of Kosovo and Metohija has now become a major hub of weapons trafficking, drug smuggling, human trafficking and perhaps most worrying, as has been in the case in neighbouring Albania, the province has become a European hub of the salafist terrorist group ISIS, something that now, even the pro-war New York Times admits.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.