Two years before the invasion of Iraq, a report [Radiological toxicity of DU] commissioned by the World Health Organization warned that the long-term health of Iraq's civilian population would be damaged by the use of depleted uranium (DU) - radioactive waste from the nuclear industry which is used to harden missiles, shells and bullets and which slices through tank armor like a knife through butter. The WHO did not make the report public. Odd, that....
On detonation, DU armaments release a spray of radioactive dust that can be carried in the air over long distances and which, when inhaled, goes into the body and stays there. The dust remains radioactive for 4.5 billion years...
After retiring from the WHO, Baverstock leaked the report to the media earlier this year. It concluded that microscopic particles of DU would be blown around and inhaled by Iraqi civilians for years to come, and could trigger the growth of malignant tumors...Baverstock believes the WHO deliberately suppressed the report - probably under pressure from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a more powerful UN body that promotes nuclear power.
Had the study had been published in November 2001, Baverstock believes there would have been more pressure on the Allies to limit their use of DU during the invasion of Iraq - and to clean up afterward. But it wasn't published. As a result, Iraq is now playing host to some 350 tons of DU fired in 1991, but also to more than 1,000 tons reportedly fired in 2003...
After the first Gulf war, Dr. Asaf Durakovic, a colonel in the US Army Medical Corps, was put in charge of Nuclear Medicine Service at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center. He discovered unusual radiation levels in veterans and became convinced not only that DU was killing them, but also that it was causing changes in the human gene pool that would damage future generations. He found "considerable resistance" from the government to his work on DU and was asked to stop. He refused. Two months after writing to President Bill Clinton to request an inquiry into DU contamination, he was fired
Dr. Doug Rokke, a Vietnam veteran, forensic scientist and retired army major, was recalled from academia and sent to the Gulf as part of the army's Depleted Uranium Assessment team. "The US Army made me their expert," he says. "I went into the project with the total intent to ensure they could use uranium munitions in war, because I'm a warrior. What I saw as director of the project led me to one conclusion: uranium munitions must be banned from the planet, for eternity, and medical care must be provided for everyone" - those on the firing end and those on the receiving end.
Many in Rokke's Gulf team are now dead. He himself suffers from serious health problems including brain lesions and lung and kidney damage. When government doctors finally agreed to test him in November 1994, three-and-a-half years after he fell ill, while he was director of the Pentagon's Depleted Uranium Project, he was found to have 5,000 times the permissible level of radiation in his body - enough to light up a small village.
DU, he says, is the stuff of nightmares.
Increased Mortality Rate after the two Gulf Wars
"Since 1991 the number of children born with birth deformities has quadrupled," said Dr. Janan Hassan, who runs a children's clinic at a hospital in Basra in southern Iraq. "The same is the case for the number of children under 15 who are diagnosed with cancer."
Doctors have also recorded an extreme rise in cancer cases among adults. "In 2004 we diagnosed 25 percent more cancer cases than the year before and the mortality rate increased eight-fold between 1988 and 1991," said Dr. Jawad al-Ali of the Sadr Hospital in Basra.
The doctors say the connection between the contamination of hundred of thousands of people on one side and the rising number of cancer cases on the other is beyond doubt, but proving it is not easy.
"To prove it, we would have to demonstrate that there was uranium 238 on the patients' clothes or in their body fluid. And besides, cancer is a multi-causal disease. How would we be able to give 100 percent proof?" al-Ali asked.
Depleted Uranium and the ‘Liberation’ of Iraq: A Report from Hiroshima
More than 1.2 million Iraqis have died from soaring mortality rates since sanctions were imposed in 1990. The July 1999 UNICEF Report on Mortality Rates from 1979-1999 revealed that IMR has increased from 47 deaths per 1000 live births for the period 1984-89, to 108 deaths per 1000 live births for the period 1994-99. Mortality rates for children under five increased over the same time period from 56 deaths per 1000 live births to 131 deaths per 1000 live births.
BASRA, Iraq -- It is a heart-breaking catalog of horrors
Only a few studies have been completed so far, and those found no greater rate of birth defects in the babies of Gulf War veterans. But can depleted uranium cause leukemia and other types of cancer? On that
score, the evidence is more troubling.
Depleted Uranium ammunition is only used by the M1 Abrams tanks' main guns.
Of the 40,000 British personnel who served in the Gulf, by the end of August 1999, only five had been screened by the MoD for DU contamination. British servicemen have suffered Gulf War Syndrome, but all they have met from the British government is a wall of secrecy. When files were obtained there was an attempted prosecution under the Official Secrets Act. Two Gulf War veterans had their homes raided by MoD police, computers seized. The purpose of the raid was to seize leaked documents that showed the MoD was aware of the effects of DU contamination and its connection to Gulf War Syndrome.
In the US 155,000 veterans of the Gulf War are sick, 36,000 are suffering from Gulf War Syndrome. The number who have died is unknown as the US government refuses to release the figures.
Asaf Durakovic served in the Gulf as a unit commander of a medical detachment. Later he was Professor of Nuclear and Medical Research, Chief of the Nuclear Medicine Service, a colonel in the US Army Medical Corps. Asaf Durakovic examined several veterans who had been contaminated. All the records have been lost, Asaf Durakovic has been fired.
Legality under international humanitarian law of munitions containing depleted uranium
According to international humanitarian law — an explicit formulation appears in Article 36 of Protocol I additional to the Geneva Conventions, which is binding on 157 States — States are required to ensure that any new weapon, means or method of warfare does not contravene existing rules of international law. These rules prohibit weapons, means or methods of warfare of a nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering, which have indiscriminate effects or which cause widespread, long-term and severe damage to the natural environment.
Former Maj. Douglas Rokke, who was director of the Army's depleted uranium project...
Called to active duty in 1990, Rokke said, he was assigned to develop procedures for cleaning up uranium contamination after "they decided to use depleted uranium munitions" in the war to expel Iraq from Kuwait.
"They didn't tell anybody what they were doing. Why would they? Depleted uranium munitions are the ultimate weapon. Each round fired by an Abrams tank (represents) 10 pounds of solid uranium-238....
they found that uranium dust is so fine that it acts like a gas, seeping through the tiny pores of protective masks.
The United States blew up Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, in Kuwait and on the Saudi Arabian border in the first gulf war, Rokke said. As a precaution, American personnel were inoculated before entering the field, but "we were told not to record it, and it's not in the soldiers' medical records."...
"It's like playing darts," he said, "except you're playing with 10 pounds of solid uranium and it catches fire immediately. You lose nearly 40 percent of the round in uranium dust. It contaminates air, water and soil for all eternity."
Rokke said an "infamous memo" from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico on March 1, 1991, warned of the "impact on the environment" of depleted uranium rounds and suggested that they "may become politically unacceptable." Today he interprets the memo as "a direct order to lie."...
The memo from Los Alamos - where the first atomic bombs were developed and tested during World War II - prevented the military from acknowledging the danger of these munitions, Rokke said.
"The United States used 375 tons in Gulf War I," Rokke said. "My orders were to take care of U.S. casualties and vehicles" that had been hit by "friendly fire.'
"Myself and my team members started to get sick almost immediately. It started with respiratory problems, then rashes."
But the procedures developed by his team were never implemented, Rokke said, despite a military order of June 1991 to treat these personnel. Recalling a wounded friend who suffered tumors where uranium shrapnel had been left in his body, he said the authorities found "no compelling evidence" of a connection and refused to authorize removal of the shrapnel or special treatment.
In his own case, Rokke added, his body has six times the amount of uranium that usually requires medical care but has received no help or advice from the government....
Cape Cod Times
June 5, 2004)
Army contractors found what they believe to be a 20-millimeter depleted uranium round last week.
The round, found at a groundwater cleanup area called Demolition Area 1, was due to be shipped yesterday to the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland for further analysis.
While Army officials have long insisted depleted uranium was never fired on Camp Edwards, some Upper Cape base activists insist the military didn't always monitor the activities of defense contractors who improved and developed weapons.
Military and environmental officials yesterday were perplexed by the discovery.
The Army A-10 Thunderbolt II, nicknamed “the Warthog,” fired most of the depleted uranium munitions in the Gulf War, between 300 to 800 tons. The Abrams Tank, the Marines M-60, the U.S. F-16 and U.S. Apache helicopters have been fitted to fire DU munitions. Many cruise missiles contain DU balance weights.
Sydney Morning Herald
28 May 2001
Health tests for all exposed at Maralinga
The Australian Government will conduct a health study of Australian volunteers in the 1950s British nuclear tests after confirming up to eight tonnes of depleted uranium was blasted into the air during the trials.
11 April 2004
MoD survey on residual DU contamination at Dundrennan firing range disclosed
According to a leaked MoD survey, over 6500 DU rounds have been fired at the Dundrennan range, near Kirkcudbright over the last 22 years. The shells are meant to pass through shoreline target screens and drop more than two miles out to sea. However, of the DU rounds fired, 79 have broken up in flight, 10 have hit the ground and four hit the target gantry. Sometimes, fragments of malfunctioning DU rounds could be located on the ground and were removed, but others could not be recovered.
A study done in Germany in 2002 indicated that DU molecules can travel to different parts of the body, including to sperm and eggs damaging genes and increasing the risk of cancer. In the study, birth defects were also been blamed on the exposure of US soldiers to DU munitions during the first Gulf War.
The use of DU is not being covered up, but the health hazards have been. Gulf War Syndrome not only killed, maimed, and made soldiers sick, they brought it home. In a study of 251 Gulf War veterans’ families in Mississippi, 67 percent of their children were born without eyes, ears or a brain, had fused fingers, blood infections, respiratory problems or thyroid and other organ malformations.
The U.S. has manufactured and tested depleted uranium in 39 states. The cleanup bill — just for the depleted uranium — at the Jefferson Proving Ground in Indiana would be $7.8 billion. The DU has not been cleaned up, but DOD has closed the area. Communities living near these test ranges will continue to be exposed and suffer health problems.
For 40 years, the Sierra Army Depot in Northern California has burned millions of tons of old munitions — including 20 times more DU than was used in the entire Gulf War. The radioactive smoke and ash, full of heavy metals, phosgene gas and dioxins, contaminated local communities as well as that of many Native Americans living downwind — especially the Pyramid Lake Paiute Reservation.
The health problems in those communities have been horrendous. The Sierra Army depot burned old munitions in open pits — and was the single largest contributor to air pollution in California — 17-23 percent. Norman Harry, former Pyramid Lake Tribal Chairman, and Nevada Senator Harry Reid, worked with others to shut it down. A month ago, Lassen County refused to renew the burn permit for the Sierra Army Depot — finally
AFP asked Marion Falk, a retired chemical physicist who built nuclear bombs for more than 20 years at Lawrence Livermore lab, if he thought that DU weapons operate in a similar manner as a dirty bomb. “That's exactly what they are,” Falk said. “They fit the description of a dirty bomb in every way.”
While the Pentagon officially denies the dangers of DU weapons, since at least 1943 the military has been aware of the extreme toxicity of uranium dispersed as a gas. A declassified memo written by James B. Conant and two other physicists working on the U.S. nuclear project during the Second World War, and sent to Brig. Gen. L.R. Groves on October 30, 1943, provides the evidence:
“As a gas warfare instrument the [radioactive] material would be ground into particles of microscopic size to form dust and smoke and distributed by a ground-fired projectile, land vehicles, or aerial bombs,” the 1943 memo reads. “In this form it would be inhaled by personnel. The amount necessary to cause death to a person inhaling the material is extremely small. It has been estimated that one millionth of a gram accumulation in a person's body would be fatal. There are no known methods of treatment for such a casualty.”
The use of radioactive materials “as a terrain contaminant” to “deny terrain to either side except at the expense of exposing personnel to harmful radiations” is also discussed in the Groves memo of 1943.
Inclosed [sic] is a summary of the report written by Drs. James B. Conant, Chairman, A. H. Compton, and H. C. Urey, comprising a Subcommittee of the S-1 Executive Committee on the "Use of Radioactive Materials as a Military Weapon." It is recommended that a decision be obtained from competent authority authorizing additional work pertaining to the use of radioactive materials in order that this country may be ready to use such materials or be ready to defend itself against the use of such materials. The following program is recommended:
a. Immediate formation of a research and study group at the University of Chicago under supervision of the present Area Engineer. Assignment to this group of competent individuals now working on dust and liquid disseminating munitions and field testing of chemical warfare agents from the National Defense Research Council....
As a gas warfare instrument the material would be ground into particles of microscopic size to form dust and smoke and distributed by a ground-fired projectile, land vehicles, or aerial bombs. In this form it would be inhaled by personnel. The amount necessary to cause death to a person inhaling the material is extremely small. It has been estimated that one millionth of a gram accumulating in a person's body would be fatal. There are no known methods of treatment for such a casualty
Described as the Trojan Horse of nuclear war, depleted uranium is the weapon that keeps killing. The half-life of Uranium-238 is 4.5 billion years, the age of the earth. And, as Uranium-238 decays into daughter radioactive products, in four steps before turning into lead, it continues to release more radiation at each step. There is no way to turn it off, and there is no way to clean it up. It meets the US Government's own definition of Weapons of Mass Destruction.
After forming microscopic and submicroscopic insoluble Uranium oxide particles on the battlefield, they remain suspended in air and travel around the earth as a radioactive component of atmospheric dust, contaminating the environment, indiscriminately killing, maiming and causing disease in all living things where rain, snow and moisture remove it from the atmosphere. Global radioactive contamination from atmospheric testing was the equivalent of 40,000 Hiroshima bombs, and still contaminates the atmosphere and lower orbital space today. The amount of low level radioactive pollution from depleted uranium released since 1991, is many times more (deposited internally in the body), than was released from atmospheric testing fallout.
Originally posted by Puschka
just for everyone's edification, because their seems to be some innocent ignorance as to what DU ammunition actually is.
Depleted Uranium ammunition is only used by the M1 Abrams tanks' main guns. It is only one of many assortments of munitions available for their turret loads. The depleted uranium penetrator rod is an anti-tank round used to kill other tanks. It is a sabot round, meaning that it basically looks like a two foot long dart. There are no explosives in this munition. It destroys its target through sheer kenetic energy, and depleted uranium is used becaue of its density. It is one of the densest materials known, making it ideal for penetrating mutliple layers of armor. The kinetic overpreassure of the DU rod smashing into the turret of a target tank forces the ammunition inside that tank to exlplode.
DU rounds are not used against anything else like troops, buildings, etc. Because they are useless against those types of targets. Since there aren't any insurgents using tanks anymore, our troops in the desert are NOT using DU rounds in their turret loads anymore. They are using the high-explosive variety that is good against dismounts, buildings, and fortified positions.
To clarify, troops do not use DU in their personal weapons, machine guns, or aircraft ordinance. Yes, there is a lot of DU out in the desert, but not as much as one might think. I would be suspect of any numbers of such coming from anyone other than the US military, because they are the only folks who actually know how many DU munitions were used. Others who might accuse the military of lying about it would have no way of finding out how much. they could not even estimate, as there is no way to do even that. Yes, DU is very harmful if you've had long-term exposure, but this type of exposure has to be for a decade or more. Do the math, if you know chemistry. You won't have any measurably effects for just a year or two of exposure, even if you put the rod over your fireplace and licked it every day. Yes, there is probably a better answer out there other than using DU. But I'm sure those troops in those tanks want the best available ammunition when they've got enemy tanks trying to kill them in the heat of battle. Technology just has yet to provide them with a better alternative.
BAGHDAD, 27 April (IRIN) - Doctors in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, have reported a significant increase in deformities among newborn babies.
Health officials and scientists said this could be due to radiation passed through mothers following years of conflict in the country.
The most affected regions are in the south of the country, particularly Basra and Najaf, according to experts. Weaponry used during the Gulf war in 1991 contained depleted uranium, which could be a primary source for the increase, scientists in Baghdad said.
Horror Of USA's Depleted Uranium in Iraq Threatens World
By James Denver
Vive le Canada
Friday 29 April 2005
American Use Of DU is "A crime against humanity which may, in the eyes of historians, rank with the worst atrocities of all time." US Iraq Military Vets "are on DU death row, waiting to die."
"I'm horrified. The people out there - the Iraqis, the media and the troops - risk the most appalling ill health. And the radiation from depleted uranium can travel literally anywhere. It's going to destroy the lives of thousands of children, all over the world. We all know how far radiation can travel. Radiation from Chernobyl reached Wales and in Britain you sometimes get red dust from the Sahara on your car."
The speaker is not some alarmist doomsayer. He is Dr. Chris Busby, the British radiation expert, Fellow of the University of Liverpool in the Faculty of Medicine and UK representative on the European Committee on Radiation Risk, talking about the best-kept secret of this war: the fact that by illegally using hundreds of tons of depleted uranium (DU) against Iraq, Britain and America have gravely endangered not only the Iraqis but the whole world.