QUESTION No. 577
Senator Ludlam: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Defence-
With reference to the use of depleted uranium (DU) in Afghanistan by coalition partners and the answer to a question taken on notice during the 2009-10 Supplementary Budget Estimates of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee on DU use in Afghanistan by our coalition partners, which states that ‘Coalition partners have not provided any information on their use of depleted uranium munitions': Has the Australian Government asked our coalition partners whether they have used DU in Afghanistan.
Senator Evans - The Minister for Defence has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:
As a general proposition, Australia does not make its diplomatic conversations with our Alliance and other partners public.
However in this case the following information can be provided:
Results of tests carried out by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) on soil and dust samples taken from a variety of locations in Afghanistan, including Uruzgan, concluded that soil uranium levels were all within normal range.
To date, testing of ADF personnel returning from operations in Afghanistan has all been within the normal range, and not above the unexposed Australian population limits (less than 70 parts per trillion).
On the basis of these results it has not been proposed, and nor is it now proposed, to raise this issue with our International Security Assistance Force partners.
More generally, Australia started to phase out depleted uranium munitions in the mid-1980s.
The ADF does not currently use any weapon that contains depleted uranium nor does Australia allow depleted uranium to be used by foreign forces exercising in Australia.
The use of depleted uranium is not in any event prohibited under international law.