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Volume 488: debated on Monday 23 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) whether British armed forces have used white phosphorus munitions in (a) Iraq since 2003 and (b) Afghanistan since 2001; (254686)

(2) when white phosphorus munitions were last used in action by British armed forces; and in what circumstances they were used.

In Afghanistan, white phosphorus munitions are routinely used to protect troops on operations by producing a smoke screen to provide cover. Records show white phosphorus munitions were last used for the same purpose in Iraq in 2005.

In accordance with the UN third convention on conventional weapons, UK training in the use of white phosphorus emphasises that it should be used solely for its intended purpose and not as an anti-personnel weapon.