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|Monday, January 15, 2001, updated at 19:08(GMT+8)|
Depleted Uranium Weapons Tested in Switzerland in 1970sThe Swiss Defense Ministry has confirmed that ammunition containing depleted uranium had been tested in Switzerland during the 1970s.
Swiss Radio International Monday quoted Defense Ministry spokesman Oswald Sigg as saying that the ministry is seeking information on the conditions in which the tests were held, who gave permission for them, and where the spent ammunition was stored or destroyed.
The tests were carried out at an army training ground at Unteriberg in the central Swiss canton of Schwyz, according to press reports. The cantonal authorities have now called for samples from the area to be taken and analyzed by the radiation laboratory in Spiez.
The reports said that the training area was converted into a golf course last year. The newspaper Sonntags Blick reported that the area was not tested for radiation particles because the danger of uranium-tipped ammunition was not previously known.
The dangers have come to the fore in the past few weeks after disclosures that several soldiers who served in the Balkans' peacekeeping operations in the 1990s contracted leukaemia and died.
Most of the victims have been Italians, but the death of a Swiss soldier from leukaemia in 1998, after serving in Bosnia- Herzegovina, is now being re-assessed.
The Swiss Defense Ministry confirmed on Friday it was aware that NATO weapons contained depleted uranium before it sent its troops to help peacekeeping operations in Kosovo.
Swiss soldiers serving in the Balkans were instructed not to touch or take home weaponry. However, many Swiss soldiers have admitted to collecting weapons as souvenirs.
Last week, the Swiss army ordered medical check-ups for all troops who served in the Balkans, and began collecting any arms taken home by Swiss troops.
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