Summer 2009 Parliamentary Records: Other Indiscriminate and Inhumane Weapons

Array ( [0] => Various ) Various, See links within text, 21 July 2009, N/A

Other Indiscriminate and Inhumane Weapons

Written Questions

Written Questions

White Phosphorus, Written Questions, 21 July 2009 : Column 1209W

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer to the right hon. Member for Fife North East, on 1 June 2009, Official Report, columns 48-49W, on white phosphorus, in which theatres of operation UK forces have used white phosphorus in the last 10 years; and whether his Department has taken steps to establish the long-term health effects of such usage on people exposed to the munitions.

21 July 2009 : Column 1210W

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: In the last five years, white phosphorus munitions have been used by UK forces in both the Iraq and Afghanistan theatres of operation, information covering the last 10 years is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

White phosphorus munitions are only used by UK forces to protect troops on operations by producing a smoke screen to provide cover in accordance with the Third Protocol of the UN Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the use of Certain Conventional Weapons, ratified by the UK in 1995, when it became illegal to use white phosphorus as a primary incendiary weapon under UK law. Training of UK forces in the use of white phosphorus emphasises that it should only be used for its intended purpose; as an obscurant and not as an anti-personnel weapon. White phosphorus is always used in accordance with UK Rules of Engagement and UK forces will do their utmost to avoid civilian casualties, whatever weapons are being deployed.

The Ministry of Defence has not carried out any work on possible long-term health effects resulting from exposure to white phosphorous.

Thermobaric Weapons, Written Questions, 20 July 2009 : Column 890W

Willie Rennie: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many times thermobaric weapons have been used by UK armed forces in each of the last 12 months.

Bill Rammell [holding answer 23 June 2009]: UK armed forces use variants of the AGM-114N Hellfire missile, which is an enhanced blast weapon, in Afghanistan. The Ministry of Defence does not classify this weapon as thermobaric. It is, however, sometimes referred to as such in the media. The following table provides details of the number of enhanced blast munitions fired on operations over the last 12 months.


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February 2009