Rounds with depleted uranium are like dirty bombs. Their aim is radioactive contamination of a territory. Russian land – the Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhya and Kherson Regions – will be affected.
[The depleted uranium round] does not emit radiation, but is highly toxic. Its dust can enter the human respiratory tract. Russia has warned that if weapons containing depleted uranium are used in Ukraine, it will consider them a 'dirty' nuclear bomb.
Pro-Kremlin disinformation fearmongering about nuclear weapons. This is a part of a wider disinformation campaign, the ultimate goal of which is to present Ukraine as a threat and therefore justify Russia’s unprovoked full-scale invasion.
This claim was neither counterbalanced nor critically challenged in the article.
On the 6th March 2023, the UK Government confirmed that:
"Alongside our granting of a squadron of Challenger 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine, we will be providing ammunition, including armour piercing rounds which contain depleted uranium. Such rounds are highly effective in defeating modern tanks and armoured vehicles".
Depleted uranium shells are not considered to be nuclear weapons.
"They are not meant to poison people. They are used because of their capability to pierce armour," says Dr Marina Miron, from Kings College London. See also this article from the BBC in which Former British Army tank commander - and chemical weapons expert - Col Hamish de Breton-Gordon states that "depleted uranium rounds used by Challenger 2 tanks contained only trace elements of depleted uranium. He added it was "laughable" to suggest depleted uranium rounds were in any way linked to nuclear weapons, which uses enriched uranium".
Depleted uranium has a higher density than ordinary steel; about 2,5 times and about 1,5 times more dense than lead. This allows a tank shell to gain more momentum and penetrate armour more effectively.
In 2007, the UN General Assembly launched a study to find out the health effects of depleted uranium weapons. The United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) found no significant poisoning was caused by exposure to depleted uranium.
See other examples of similar disinformation narratives, such as claims Radioactive substances brought to Ukraine could be used to make a "dirty bomb", that Western tanks given to Ukraine could deliver nuclear warheads, that Kyiv passed from rejecting nuclear weapons to preparing a dirty bomb and that Ukraine is going to use a dirty bomb to accuse Russia of using tactical nuclear weapons.
Speaking about nuclear risks it would be much more relevant to address the Russian occupation and handling of nuclear power stations in Ukraine, such as the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station where the IAEA has raised concerns about the safety. See more details here.