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U.S. likely to provide Ukraine with depleted-uranium rounds for Abrams tanks – WSJ

An M1 Abrams tank. Photo by Spc. Kevin Brown/DVIDS
U.S. likely to provide Ukraine with depleted-uranium rounds for Abrams tanks – WSJ
After weeks of internal debate, the US is expected to arm the Abrams tanks it is providing Ukraine with depleted-uranium rounds.

The Biden administration is expected to provide Ukraine with depleted-uranium rounds, a decision taken after weeks of internal debate on how to equip the Abrams tanks the US is donating to Kyiv. US officials reported on 13 June 2023 that there seem to be no significant obstacles to approving the ammunition, WSJ reports.

According to a senior administration official quoted in The Wall Street Journal, there appear to be no major obstacles to approving the ammunition.

The Pentagon, which is a strong advocate for arming the Abrams tanks with depleted-uranium rounds, highlighted their high effectiveness against Russian tanks. Defense analyst at the Rand Corporation and former Army artillery officer, Scott Boston, explained, “The projectile hits like a freight train. It is very long and very dense. So it puts a great deal of kinetic energy on a specific point on an enemy armor array,” WSJ wrote.

However, there have been concerns raised within the White House over the potential health and environmental risks associated with the rounds. Officials worry that providing such weapons might expose Washington to criticism.

The decision to provide depleted-uranium rounds follows the US agreement in January to supply Ukraine with 31 Abrams tanks. Initially, the US planned to purchase new M1A2 Abrams tanks, but to speed up the delivery time, they decided to refurbish M1A1 tanks from the American inventory for Ukraine.

Currently, Ukrainian personnel are undergoing training in Germany on how to operate and maintain the Abrams, and the Pentagon expects delivery to be completed by fall.

Ukraine to receive Abrams tanks by early Autumn – US Defense Secretary

The U.K. has already delivered Challenger tanks and depleted-uranium armor-piercing shells to Ukraine. Although depleted uranium doesn’t cause a nuclear reaction, a report from the United Nations Environment Program stated that the metal’s “chemical toxicity” is the most significant potential danger, possibly causing skin irritation, kidney failure, and increased cancer risks. Russian President Vladimir Putin falsely accused Britain of proliferating “weapons with a nuclear component,” which Britain denounced as disinformation.

The report also notes that the White House is deliberating whether to provide Ukraine with additional weapons, such as cluster munitions, which have been requested by Kyiv. Some officials at the Pentagon favor providing such munitions to aid Ukraine’s forces in countering Russian forces. However, the State Department and NSC officials have expressed resistance, citing concerns from human-rights activists and some allied nations about potential long-term civilian casualties due to unexploded ordnance.

While President Biden has suggested that the option for US-made long-range missiles known as ATACMS is “still in play,” US officials suggest such a move is not imminent.

Germany to send more repaired Leopard 1 tanks to Ukraine to replace losses

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