Depleted uranium is typically created as a byproduct of producing enriched uranium and is extremely dense, making it an effective material to pierce the armor of tanks. Bradleys can be equipped with depleted uranium ammunition, which is why they are known as “tank killers.”
When asked on Wednesday if the Bradleys the US is sending to Ukraine will be equipped with depleted uranium, a senior Biden administration official said, “I’m not going to get into the technical specifics.” The official also declined to answer if the M1 Abrams tanks the US is providing Kyiv will be equipped with a depleted uranium cage.
Konstantin Gavrilov, the head of Russia’s delegation in Vienna on arms control, has warned Moscow would view the use of depleted uranium weapons in Ukraine as the use of a “dirty bomb.” Gavrilov claimed that Germany’s Leopard 2 tanks could also be equipped with depleted uranium rounds.
“In case such munitions for NATO-made heavy weapons are supplied to Kiev, we will consider that as the use of dirty nuclear bombs against Russia with all the consequences that come with it,” he said, according to the Russian news agency TASS.
Cancer and birth defects spiked in Iraq after the Gulf War, during which the US fired an estimated one million depleted uranium rounds. The US also used toxic ammunition in its 2003 invasion, and studies have found that birth defects are more common in areas where depleted uranium was used. Birth defects are still common today in the city of Fallujah.