– DEPLETED URANIUM (Nuclear Reader):
THIS CHAPTER DISCUSSES DEPLETED URANIUM (DU) AS A PART OF THE NUCLEAR ENERGY CYCLE WITH ATTENTION TO MILITARY USES.
Uranium is mined from the earths crust. It is separated from the rock at a nearby mill leaving behind radioactive sands called tailings which remain hazardous for hundreds of thousands of years. The uranium is then refined for use as fuel for nuclear reactors. A by-product of this process of enriching uranium is Depleted Uranium, or DU. Uranium producing countries are Kazakhstan, Canada, Australia, Namibia, Russia, Niger, Uzbekistan and the United States.
Because of its high density DU is used in armor piercing munitions. It has been employed in Bosnia, Serbia, Kosovo, Lebanon, Gaza, in both Gulf Wars, Afghanistan, North Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, and now, it seems, Libya, though there has been no official confirmation.