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Depleted uranium: Safety doubts grow:

European governments are stepping up pressure on Nato over its use of depleted uranium during the 
conflict in the Balkans. The Portuguese Prime Minister, Antonio Guterres, says he "can no longer be 
completely confident" in Nato assurances, while Poland has announced plans to carry out medical 
tests to all its soldiers in Kosovo.

Reports from Spain say at least eight cases of cancer have been reported among Spanish personnel 
deployed in Kosovo and Bosnia Hercegovina.

The European Union's political and security committee is expected to debate the issue in Brussels 
on Tuesday. 

The developments follow Friday's disclosure by  the United Nations that it had found radioactive 
contamination at sites in Kosovo where Nato aircraft fired weapons containing depleted uranium 
during its confrontation with Slobodan Milosevic.

Sixteen soldiers from six different countries have died of leukaemia since returning from service 
in the Balkans. 

'No syndrome' 
Nato uses missiles either tipped with depleted uranium (DU) or with DU cores because of their 
ability to penetrate armoured vehicles. 

But it has insisted there is no risk of contamination from the uranium - what has become known as 
the Balkan war syndrome.

On Friday, Portugal began tests on some 10,000 soldiers and civilians who have served in the 

"We want the entire  truth to be known," Portuguese press quoted Mr Guterres as saying."

In neighbouring Spain, press reports say seven Spanish troops and one civilian volunteer have 
contracted cancer since serving in the Balkans. Two have died.

But Spain's chief of staff of defence, Admiral Antonio Moreno Barbera, said there was no cause for 

"The cases that have been detected have no connection with our soldiers being in the region," the 
admiral told the El Pais newspaper. 'Better to be safe' On Saturday, Poland announced that more 
than 600 of its troops in Kosovo would undergo tests, which would involve taking samples from blood 
and hair as well as from water and soil where troops are stationed."There are no indications of any 
threats relating to Polish servicemen. But we want to make it possible to discover in time any 
threats which may potentially appear," said Defence Minister Bronislaw Komorowski.

The British Government is resisting calls to carry out similar tests. "We are unaware of anything 
that shows depleted uranium has caused any ill health or death of people who served in Kosovo or 
Bosnia," a Ministry of Defence spokesman said. Sites still open 

A spokesman for the Nato-led peacekeeping force in Kosovo admitted on Saturday that sites struck by 
depleted uranium shells had not yet been sealed off despite a recommendation by UN scientists. 

The sites "have not been marked," Major Steven Shappell said, without further explanation.

Scientists who visited 11 out of 112 sites in Kosovo bombed by Nato said on Friday they had found 
either remnants of depleted uranium or evidence of increased radioactivity around the impact points 
left by the raids. 

Nato officials may take comfort from the World Health Organisation (WHO) which says it has found no 
evidence of increased leukaemia in Kosovo since the 1998

"The initial survey showed the incidence of leukaemia in Kosovo has not increased, in fact there 
was a slight decrease in leukaemia in the year 2000 as compared with 1997 and 1998," a UN statement 

But WHO officials said their research would continue.

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