Green Party Defence spokesperson Keith Locke wants the Defence Force to check if any New Zealand military personnel who served in Bosnia could have been exposed to radiation from depleted uranium shells.
“The main Kiwi troop force was stationed away from the front line, and probably wasn’t affected. However, we did have military observers there, and artillery personnel were attached to British forces. We need to check if they visited places where depleted uranium shells were dropped,” he said.
“If any did, they need to be screened to see if their health has been affected. Some European countries are already doing this.
“The health monitoring needs to be long term, because diseases from exposure to radioactivity, like leukemia, don’t show up for a while. The checking would also have to cover those veterans who have since left the Defence Force,” said Mr Locke.
He said New Zealand shouldn’t wait a few years for the veterans to complain, as we did with those affected by Agent Orange in Vietnam, or the Kiwi sailors exposed to British nuclear tests in the 1950s.
“It’s disgraceful that the United States used depleted uranium shells in Bosnia and Kosovo, particularly after all the controversy around the ‘Gulf War Syndrome’. New Zealand should push the US to destroy all existing stocks of such shells,” said Mr Locke.
Keith Locke MP: 025 528 353, 09 630 0789
Jonathan Hill (press secretary): 021 440 090