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Northrop Grumman to stop making depleted uranium ammunition

Northrop Grumman plans to exit the controversial business of manufacturing depleted uranium (DU) ammunition, the US defence contractor announced on 27 January.

The company intends to make the armour-piercing ammunition for only one more year to give it time to transition the work to another provider, company officials said. The production of non-DU ammunition will not be affected.

Although the company did not say what prompted its decision, human rights groups contend that DU ammunition can contaminate the environment, posing long-term health risks to civilians. The US Department of Defense began making bullets and mortar shells with DU in the 1970s because of the radioactive material's high density, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Northrop Grumman's announcement came a year after the company revealed that it was exiting a contract that supported the safe removal of cluster munitions. Northrop Grumman said it did not want to be seen endorsing such weapons, which can leave behind unexploded remnants that can harm civilians.

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