US Is Sending Depleted-Uranium Ammo to Ukraine: WSJ

  • The US is set to approve depleted-uranium tank shells for Ukraine, the WSJ said. 
  • The shells are capable of blowing up Russian tank armor. 
  • There were doubts over providing the shells for environmental and health reasons.

The US is sending depleted-uranium shells to Ukraine that are capable of penetrating Russian tank armorthe Wall Street Journal reported. 

For several months the Biden administration has been debating whether to provide the shells to Ukraine following concerns over their environmental and health impacts, the outlet reported. 

But an administration official said that there were now no major obstacles to providing the ammunition. 

Insider has contacted the White House for comment. 

Depleted uranium, a by-product of the nuclear enrichment process, is used because it is extremely dense. When used in tank shells, the material is effective because its bulk can penetrate through enemy armor. 

As Insider’s Jake Epstein previous reported, uranium shells also heat up and may catch fire, potentially causing fuel or ammunition explosions.

The weapons could hand Ukraine an advantage in tank battles as it launches its campaign to drive Russian forces back from territory they occupy in south and eastern Ukraine. 

The material is considered by the US EPA as a radiation health hazard when inhaled as dust or shrapnel, but it does not emit enough radiation to penetrate the skin from outside.

According to United Nations Environment Program  the metal’s “chemical toxicity” is the biggest danger, and “it can cause skin irritation, kidney failure and increase the risks of cancer.”

The UK was the first of Ukraine’s allies to provide the country with the ammunition, which is used in the Challenger tanks it provided to Ukraine. 

The decision by the UK to provide Ukraine with the weapons was denounced by Russian President Vladimir Putin at the time, who said the weapons have a nuclear component and that Russia would be forced to react. 

Putin has lost at least two-thirds of his tanks since the invasion began, Oryx, a Netherlands-based open source intelligence website, said in May.

Russia has been “reactivating” tanks from the 4-5,000 it has in reserve to be deployed to the front line. Many of these tanks are from the Soviet-era.

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