US to send bullets laced with depleted uranium to Ukraine

Originally published at: US to send bullets laced with depleted uranium to Ukraine | Boing Boing

1 Like

Yeah I heard about this last week and it made me decidedly uncomfortable. I’m all for supporting Ukraine, but we need to not do evil in the process.


This doesn’t seem like the kind of decision that’s made when things are going well and headed in the right direction.


Thom uses the word “bullets” a couple times, but are they “bullets” like those fired from a gun, or “rounds,” fired from anti-tank weapons and such?

Also, notably:

While depleted uranium is radioactive, it is considerably less so than naturally occurring uranium, although particles can linger for a considerable time.

I would imagine that for Ukrainians, who are facing an existential moment, “survival now” outweighs “cleanup later.”


The new thing here seems to be that it’s the US that is sending DU munitions (probably tank shells or other larger caliber projectiles rather than bullets). The UK reportedly sent Ukraine some Challenger 2 tanks equipped with DU armor-piercing shells as long ago as March.

Russia, like other major and would-be major powers, also has DU armor-piercing shells for use by its tanks. Have the Russians used them on the battlefield in Ukraine? No idea, but I don’t see any reason why they wouldn’t. They’re not exactly concerned by the possibility that the rest of the world might disapprove.


Radiation is the least of the problems. It’s a toxic heavy metal.

Along with your existential moment, this is a group using them on their own ground. They’re making the decision, it’s not some power coming in and using them willy-nilly.


They also survived Chernobyl; which might color their perceptions.


From the linked article they are tank rounds.


There’s something so Heller-esque about discussing the health risks of bullets/rounds. Yes, I get the context that they’re talking about health risks to bystanders and others who will have to deal with the cleanup. It all still seems very surreal and absurdist.


Not just a toxic heavy metal, a pyrophoric toxic heavy metal. So, when it hits, it likes to turn into heavy metal oxide dust. But yes, almost all of the problems with it stem from the fast that it’s a heavy metal, and ingesting or inhaling it will cause heavy metal poisoning.


From what I can gather, DU replaced Tungsten (which is more abundent in non US countries-- China, Soviet Union.) and Lead.

Lead has got problems of its own.

Plus, the Kremlin has reasons to push the narrative.

Any round that is cabable of destroying a Tank and its crew is apt to be described as a terrible weapon.


I would like to remonstrate with the author about the phrase “laced with depleted uranium”. That’s an extremely incorrect way of describing what’s being sent. These are tank rounds (not bullets) that are made from depleted uranium, because that substance is both denser than lead and much harder, making it very effective at piercing armor plates.

Saying they’re “laced with” DU sounds like we just sprinkled it on boxes of rifle ammo, and that’s more than a bit misleading. There are significant concerns about the environmental and health impacts of these rounds, but there are also specific reasons they’re used & correct info is necessary to discuss their risks intelligently.


Thank you for providing some context to this article. It’s always unfortunate when a site like Boingboing may unintentionally carry water for those who have a hidden agenda.

I think this extends to the unfortunate use of the words “bullets” and “laced with” in the headline, which are mentioned nowhere in the Reuters article. It certainly evokes the image of poisoned/radioactive gun bullets designed to do harm even to those they only maim.

Instead, armor piercing munitions have routinely been made out of harder metals like tungsten or depleted uranium, since this is part of what gives them their armor-piercing abilities.

(Perhaps tank munitions are referred to as “bullets” in some contexts, but the Wikipedia article on bullets refers only to handgun bullets, and there are distinct articles for armor-piercing bullets and armor-piercing ammunition.)

Edit: @Legion I owe you a coke.


DU rounds surely pose environmental health concerns (as does lead, which was mentioned above) but to me the fact that we’ve been sending cluster bombs is even more concerning as far as risk for collateral damage and unintended future injuries are concerned. Most countries signed on to an international treaty banning cluster munitions years ago, but the U.S. declined to sign.


I still say they need to bring in that guy who made the ultra-powerful homemade laser and let him go to town. :man_shrugging:

1 Like

What does that really mean? I don’t intend to suggest that any and all methods are equally acceptable; but when you need to decide which ones are and which one’s aren’t, and why, appealing to the concept of non-evil methods seems like either an illusion or an already developed(but unarticulated) decision on what methods are and aren’t deemed acceptable; rather than some sort of standard that assists in attempting to coherently make such a decision.



1 Like

The title had me thinking of Snow Crash.


Appreciate this clarity — I thought I was using the broadest, vaguest terminology possible because I wanted to make sure I wasn’t making any absurd claims. But I see now how that may have backfired.