Expert: Uranium sources must be identified

Expert: Uranium sources must be identified

A retired major general of Japan's Ground Self-Defense Force says the distribution routes of suspected depleted uranium should be quickly identified.

Powder and solid materials believed to be depleted uranium were listed for sale on an online auction site last year, prompting Japanese police to launch an investigation.

Masaaki Iwaki, a former head of the GSDF Chemical School, told NHK on Thursday that these materials are substantially low in radiation, compared with uranium 235, which is used for nuclear power generation. He says depleted uranium is a heavy metal similar to lead or mercury and is unlikely to cause any health damage unless it is ingested.

Iwaki also says depleted uranium is generated in the process of manufacturing nuclear fuel and can be used for bullets and other weapons.

He points out that the circulation of such a material suggests lax management at nuclear fuel plants and military installations, and investigators should promptly identify the distribution routes.