It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
DU has heightened the effect of sanctions on Iraq, introducing an insidious level of toxicity into a country whose health, sanitation and basic infrastructure have already been devastated.
Physicians report highly elevated instances of leukemia, birth defects, infant mortality, and other symptoms of radiation health effects.
In a stunningly familiar show of camaraderie, the nuclear power and conventional weapons industries and the Departments of Defense and Energy (DoD & DoE) united efforts in the struggles for cheap waste disposal
DU weapons are especially dangerous because, according to the Pentagon's own documents, when the bullet strikes a hard surface up to 70% of the uranium burns and vaporizes into a fine mist of particles which can be spread for miles downwind, and are more than small enough to be inhaled into the lungs. Uranium is most dangerous when ingested because it will reside in tissues, possibly causing failures of sensitive organs such as kidneys—and certainly bathing the surrounding tissues with radiation for years.
With over 1.5 billion pounds of depleted uranium; (DU, a by-product of the uranium enrichment process for creating nuclear fuel) and marginalized communities being increasingly uncooperative; the nuclear industry offered the entire stockpile of DU to the weapons industry in the late 1970s if they could find something to do with it. Companies like Nuclear Metals (now Starmet) devised ways of converting the unusable uranium hexafluoride back into metal alloy form, for use in weapons. Because DU is 1.7 times more dense than lead, it is valuable for mechanical use (in counterweights, for instance) but the DoD is especially fond of its superkiller qualities: because of its greater density, bullets made with DU are known to slice through conventional armor "like a hot knife through butter," according to Pentagon officials.
DU lived up to all of its promises the first time it was tested on a large scale. During the Gulf Massacre, the US used over 14,000 M1A1 tank rounds and 940,000 30mm rounds from A-10 jets. The A-10 "Warthogs," responsible for over a third of the Iraqi tanks destroyed, spread over 550,000 pounds of DU in the region. Altogether, the Pentagon deposited over 650,000 pounds of DU waste for the nuclear industry..
However, while the M1A1 tanks deliver the waste in large bundles of 8-10 pounds per round, the A-10 is by far the heavier hitter for the nuclear industry and made a name for itself as a highly successful waste transport vehicle
the United States is the only country in the world that uses DU shells
Further, the WHO report on DU states, “Over the days and years following [DU contamination], the contamination normally becomes dispersed into the wider natural environment by wind and rain. People living or working in affected areas may inhale contaminated dusts or consume contaminated food and drinking water.”
A study conducted by the Pentagon in 2002 predicted that, “every future battlefield will be contaminated” with DU. The fact that radioactive dust from a bullet explosion can spread nearly 30 miles means that the radius of disruption surrounding a battle sight can be vast.
Army training manuals inform American military personnel that DU contamination renders food and water unsafe for consumption.
While soldiers do not have to continue living in the contaminated areas for the rest of their lives, people living in Iraq are not so lucky. Tom Engleart, another IVAW speaker, recalled the high rate of birth complications since the US occupation, and DU use, began.
Up-to-date health information from Iraq is difficult to come by. But a November report from Al-jazeera concluded that, “[The] cancer rate in Iraq has increased tenfold, and the number of birth defects has multiplied fivefold times since the 1991 war. The increase is believed to be caused by depleted uranium.”