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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ukraine Calls for Ban on Depleted-Uranium Weapons

KIEV, Ukraine - President Leonid Kuchma, visiting his country's peacekeepers in Kosovo, called Tuesday for a total ban on arms containing depleted uranium.

"These weapons should be abandoned the way anti-personnel mines were," Kuchma said in remarks cited by Interfax.

European countries are investigating concerns that munitions containing the radioactive and used during NATO's 1999 bombing campaign in Kosovo have led to cases of serious illnesses, including cancer, among their troops.

United Nations and Russian officials have called for investigations of reports that cancer among veteran Balkan peacekeepers could have been caused by NATO weapons. NATO took up the issue for the first time Tuesday but dismissed calls for a moratorium on the weapons.

Kuchma said Ukraine, site of the world's worst nuclear accident at Chernobyl in 1986, has encountered similar health issues. He cited last year's outbreak of a mysterious illness in several southern villages, which some have blamed on spilled Soviet rocket fuel.

"The world will make certain conclusions from that problem. From my point of view, these (weapons) should not be used at all," he said.

Kuchma met with Ukrainian peacekeeping troops stationed in Kosovo in a Polish-Ukrainian battalion; 337 Ukrainian servicemen and 40 policemen are in Kosovo.