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Defence ministry was aware Nato weapons contained depleted uranium

KFOR soldiers measure radiation levels near the western Kosovo town of Klina


Amid growing health concerns for veterans of the two latest Balkans wars, a new report shows that the Swiss defence ministry knew that Nato weapons contained depleted uranium before it sent its troops to Kosovo.

The head of the Swiss contingent, Christoph Brun, issued a report on Friday revealing that the ministry was aware that Nato was using uranium-tipped weapons in its campaign to oust Serb forces from Kosovo.

Fears surfaced recently that radioactive particles from depleted uranium shells used by Nato may be responsible for cases of leukaemia among European armies who served in Bosnia and Kosovo.

Brun cautioned, however, that soldiers, who respected the regulations concerning the handling of mines and munitions, "could not have come into contact with depleted uranium".

Swiss soldiers serving in the Balkans were instructed not to touch or take home weaponry. However, many Swiss soldiers have admitted to collecting weapons as souvenirs.

Last week, the Swiss army ordered medical check-ups for all troops who served in the Balkans and began collecting any arms taken home by Swiss troops.

The deputy chief of the Swiss mission to Nato, Kurt Kunz, announced on Friday that Switzerland will take part in a Nato-sponsored information committee aimed at improving transparency on the issue.

Each of the committee's 19-member nations will be asked to pool their findings and resources to shed light on the subject of depleted uranium munitions.

swissinfo with agencies

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