Laka Finds No Evidence of DU in Lebanon

Published on October 2006 on the newsletter of Campaign Against Depleted Uraium (Cadu).

During and after the 33-day war in Lebanon it was rumoured that the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) were using DU anti-tank shells or other DU munitions. Much attention was focused on an article by Mohammed Zaatari in the Daily Star (August 21, 2006) in which nuclear physicist Dr. Ali Kobeissi, a member of the Lebanese National Council for Scientific Research said that a crater caused by an Israeli munition in Khiam contained “a high degree of unidentified radioactive materials.”

Many people within the movement against uranium weapons considered Kobeissi’s statements as evidence for the alleged use of DU by the IDF. CADU had also been convinced by photos of IDF members loading anti-tank shells in early July.

In order to test the claims that DU had been used, Henk Van Der Keur from the Laka Foundation visited Lebanon as part of a delegation from the Amsterdam based organisation Dromen, Denk, Durven, Doen (Dreaming, Thinking, to Dare, to Do), who work on human rights issues in the Middle East.

On September 25th he visited Dr. Kobeissi in Nabatiyeh. He said that he had tested some deep pits made by Israeli weapons with a geiger counter from a local scrap dealer and that his results indicated the presence of uranium. He measured 50 nanosievert (nSv) per hour in the outside rim of the pits and 300 nSv in the heart of most pits with the exception of one which measured 800 nsV/h. He also declared that these dose rates in the pits decreased considerably day by day. Henk suggested that the higher rates could be due to the concentration of uranium in the ash (concentrated background radiation from the materials burnt in the impact) he agreed that this possibility is highly likely.

Dr Kobeissi had collected tens of samples from shrapnel and soil from more than 50 different sites. None of these samples measured a higher radiation dose rate than the background radiation rate. The samples were measured with a calibrated geiger counter from Laka Foundation.

Finally there is no reason to assume that the IDF has used DU anti-tank shells. Firstly there were no armoured targets in Lebanon and secondly mine clearance teams - present in many places in the south of Lebanon - because of the enormous numbers of cluster bombs – haven’t found any spent DU anti-tank shells.


After CADU News had gone to press, researchers Dai Williams and Chris Busby released a paper suggesting that traces of low enriched uranium (LEU) had been found in the Khiam crater. This is a surprising find and there will be further analysis of the paper in the next issue. CADU are awaiting suggestions from Williams and Busby as to the likely source of the find.

A few days after their findings were published (making headline news in the Independent newspaper) the United Nations Environment Programme announced that they too had found no evidence of DU or radioactive materials in Lebanon.

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