Italy on Wednesday became the latest European country to ask NATO to be more open about the depleted uranium weapons used in past Balkan conflicts. Six Italian soldiers who served in the Balkans have died of leukemia, leaving some wondering whether the deaths might be tied to exposure to the DU ammunition. France, Spain, Portugal, Finland, and Belgium have also begun looking into the matter, and European Commission President Romano Prodi has also expressed his concerns. The DU weapons are made of low-level nuclear waste material and leave toxic and radioactive debris. DU bullets were used for the first time against Iraqi tanks in 1991, but their use in the Balkans is thought to be the first time they’ve been employed in a populated area.

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