|BILL NUMBER: AJR 39|
INTRODUCED BY Assembly Member Koretz
(Coauthors: Assembly Members Jones and Laird)
(Coauthor: Senator Kuehl)
JANUARY 4, 2006
Relative to a moratorium on the use of depleted uranium munitions.
LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST
AJR 39, as introduced, Koretz Moratorium on depleted uranium munitions.
This measure would memorialize the President and Congress of the United States to establish a moratorium on the use of depleted uranium munitions.
Fiscal committee: no.
WHEREAS, The highest regard should be given to the health and safety of the members of the United States Armed Forces; and
WHEREAS, Depleted uranium, a toxic, and radioactive material with a half-life of 4,500,000,000 years, is being used by the United States Armed Forces; and
WHEREAS, Approximately 300 metric tons of depleted uranium munitions were used by the United States Armed Forces in 1991 during the Persian Gulf War. During the conflicts in the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, approximately three metric tons were used in Bosnia and approximately nine metric tons were used in Kosovo, Serbia, and Montenegro. Depleted uranium munitions have been used at numerous United States military installations, proving grounds, and testing facilities; and
WHEREAS, Depleted uranium munitions are pyrophoric, creating a deadly radiation that can be inhaled. The men and women experiencing this firsthand are unaware that every breath they take during these events is negatively impacting their lungs and blood. The radioactive dust can be pulverized to the point that it is 100 times smaller than bacteria. The results range from multiple sclerosis-type illnesses, to Parkinson's disease, to chemical sensitivities, and various cancers. Other reported symptoms include abnormal births and birth defects, acute autoimmune symptoms, respiratory failure, nerve damage, insomnia, and heart disease; and
WHEREAS, Hundreds of Gulf War veterans suffer from "Gulf War Syndrome," which is classified as a medical condition characterized by fatigue, headaches, dizziness, nausea, rashes, joint pain, and respiratory disorders. No definitive cause has been established for the various illnesses that affect approximately 130,000 people, but the use of depleted uranium munitions has been cited in many studies and reports as a potential cause; and
WHEREAS, The Adjutant General of the California National Guard should assist any eligible member or veteran in receiving federal treatment services who has been assigned a risk level for depleted uranium exposure by his or her branch of service, referred by a military physician, or has reason to believe that he or she was exposed to depleted uranium during such service. Federal treatment services include a best practice health screening test for exposure to depleted uranium at low levels and the use of equipment with the capacity to differentiate between radioisotopes in naturally occurring levels of uranium and the characteristic ratio and marker for depleted uranium; and
WHEREAS, The California National Guard should also provide predeployment training concerning potential exposure to depleted uranium and other toxic chemical substances and the precautions recommended under combat and noncombat conditions while in a combat zone; and
WHEREAS, The United States Navy and the British Royal Navy are phasing out the use of depleted uranium munitions, and the Canadian Navy has ceased using depleted uranium munitions. It has been reported that the use of depleted uranium munitions has proliferated to more than 20 nations. The 1949 Geneva Convention specifically outlines the precautions warring nations must take to avoid harming civilian populations, and it would be a violation of the 1977 Protocol to the 1949 Geneva Convention to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering to civilians, as depleted uranium munitions are reported to cause; and
WHEREAS, Acknowledging that international law does not refer specifically to the issue of depleted uranium at present, but credible efforts are needed to ensure that any use of such weapons is not in violation of the 1977 Protocol to the 1949 Geneva Convention; and
WHEREAS, NATO has not banned these types of weapons; and
WHEREAS, International law does not currently provide for compensation for possible harmful effects of such weapons and weapons systems; and
WHEREAS, There is a need to review and monitor the design and development of weapons, ensuring these are in line with applicable international law and meet the highest international standards directed against technical misuse, misdeployment, mistargeting, and malfunction; and
WHEREAS, In light of the results of scientific investigations on the use of depleted uranium munitions developments in relation to the possible serious, widespread contamination of the environment and any acute or appreciable long-term hazard to human health should be monitored; and
WHEREAS, The federal government, as well as NATO and the members thereof, should make a public declaration guaranteeing they will not use weapons or weapons systems that have been banned or are deemed to be illegal under international law in present or future armed conflicts; and
WHEREAS, There must be support of independent and thorough investigations into the possible harmful effects of the use of depleted uranium ammunition, and other types of uranium warheads, in military areas such as Afghanistan, the Balkans, and other regions. These investigations should include consideration of the effects on military personnel serving in affected areas and the effects on civilians and their land. The results of these investigations should be presented to Congress; now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Assembly and the Senate of the State of California, jointly, That the Legislature of the State of California memorializes the Congress and the President of the United States federal government be requested to immediately implement a moratorium on the further use of depleted uranium munitions pending the conclusions of a comprehensive study; and be it further
Resolved, That the Chief Clerk of the Assembly transmit copies of this resolution to the President and Vice President of the United States, to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Majority Leader of the Senate; and to each Senator and Representative from California in the Congress of the United States.