A parliamentary debate in Belgium appears to suggest that the US had not made its coalition partners aware that it had used DU in Syria last year. Responding to questions tabled by MPs Dirk Van der Maelen (Socialists) and Wouter De Vriendt (Greens) last Wednesday, government defence minister Steven Vandeput stated that Belgium had no knowledge of the use of DU ammunition during operation Inherent Resolve.
The question has particular resonance for Belgium because in 2007 it became the first country to ban the use of the weapons, a ban that entered into force in 2009. A fact acknowledged by the minister who described the country’s position as “pioneering”, and one that it would defend in international fora. However he also acknowledged that there is no international ban on the weapons. De Vriendt urged the minister to seek official clarification directly with the US and the minister gave his assurances that he would. He also asked whether the government could guarantee that Belgian F16s would not be used in coalition actions where DU might be used by the US.