Depleted Uranium - Silent genocide to haunt perpetrators
A new wonder weapon - uranium-tipped anti-tank munitions and bunker-breaking missiles - is set to become a distinct liability for those using them, quite apart from killing massive numbers of civilians by acute radiation sickness, birth defects and cancer.
Gulf War I or "Desert Storm" was the first live proving ground, Kosovo was covertly nuked by Nato bombs, Afghanistan is widely contaminated and Iraq has just been given the death sentence for about half of its remaining population - uranium has been spread as a fine dust by detonating thousands of tons of "depleted" uranium in the recent US-led campaigns against these countries.
The Geneva Convention expressly forbids the use of weapons that do not distinguish between military targets and civilians. Yet, radioactive and highly toxic uranium and plutonium are released into the environment through widespread use of uranium casings of bullets and missile warheads.
Atomic warfare has long been outlawed and non proliferation is a causus belli, but Pentagon war planners have found a way around the prohibition. In a new kind of nuclear war, uranium is spread as a fine dust by "modern" weapons. Resulting radiation is no less damaging to those exposed to it than the fallout of a "conventional" atomic bomb, but it is hyped as an essential weapons system.
The stories of the affected people are harrowing documents of man's insensitivity to the plight of his fellows. Even soldiers are not unaffected. They die of leukemia, they contract mysterious respiratory illnesses, their offspring is likely to suffer from the typical deformities associated with radioactivity.
When will the press start reporting?
Isn't it time we see and overcome the fundamental evil of atomic warfare?
Those responsible should be brought to justice.
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Responsible authorities are liable under a wide range of international law beyond humanitarian law. They contaminate battlefields with military uranium and endanger health of civilians and combatants. The findings of research into the health effects of DU and other weaponry containing radiation but not causing nuclear fission or fusion explosions (which as a whole are referred to as radiological weaponry in this brief) are indisputable. Even a cursory review of humanitarian law supports the conclusion that uranium weaponry of any type is so patently illegal that the discussion should really focus on bringing to justice those who have used it and redirecting action towards the victims of these weapons.
Update February 2005: Be sure to read this article by Bob Nichols, Project Censored Award Winner.
US Military, President Out of Control -- What Does "Mildly Radioactive" Mean, Anyway?
CBC Canada - Silver Bullet: Depleted Uranium
Depleted uranium is the super weapon of the '90s; used in the Gulf War and the conflict in Kosovo. But now Canadian troops, soldiers and peacekeepers alike, may be exposed to depleted uranium with its potential danger. Now this threat wasn't one raised by a hostile enemy, but by the arms used by the United States and other NATO allies. They defeated the toughest armoured vehicles with the use of depleted uranium. It packed a knockout punch, but what soldiers often didn't know was that depleted uranium poses a threat to victor as well as vanquished.
Article by Frida Berrigan (20 June 2003).
Depleted uranium is a byproduct of enriched uranium, the fissile material in nuclear weapons. It is pyrophoric, burning spontaneously on impact. That, along with its extreme density, makes depleted uranium munitions the Pentagon's ideal choice for penetrating an enemy's tank armor or reinforced bunkers.
When a DU shell hits its target, it burns, losing anywhere from 40 to 70 percent of its mass and dispersing a fine dust that can be carried long distances by winds or absorbed directly into the soil and groundwater.
Depleted uranium's radioactive and toxic residue has been linked to birth defects, cancers, the Gulf War Syndrome, and environmental damage.
Article by Christopher Scheer (27 June 2003)
Confounding the issues: It's the Iraqis who have purchased uranium for their weapons. We must intervene to prevent them from using these.
Today, more than three months after Bush's stirring declaration of war and nearly two months since he declared victory, no chemical, biological or nuclear weapons have been found, nor any documentation of their existence, nor any sign they were deployed in the field.
Death By Slow Burn - How America Nukes Its Own Troops
Article by Amy Worthington first published in the Idaho Observer (16 April 2003)
On March 30, an AP photo featured an American pro-war activist holding a sign: "Nuke the evil scum, it worked in 1945!" That's exactly what George Bush has done. America's mega-billion dollar war in Iraq has been indeed a NUCLEAR WAR.
Bush-Cheney have delivered upon 17 million Iraqis tons of depleted uranium (DU) weapons, a "liberation" gift that will keep on giving. Depleted uranium is a component of toxic nuclear waste, usually stored at secure sites. Handlers need radiation protection gear.
Over a decade ago, war-makers decided to incorporate this lethal waste into much of the Pentagon's weaponry. Navy ships carrying Phalanx rapid fire guns are capable of firing thousands of DU rounds per minute. Tomahawk missiles launched from U.S. ships and subs are DU-tipped. The M1 Abrams tanks are armored with DU. These and British Challenger II tanks are tightly packed with DU shells, which continually irradiate troops in or near them. The A-10 "tank buster" aircraft fires DU shells at machines and people on the battlefield.
DU munitions are classified by a United Nations resolution as illegal weapons of mass destruction. Their use breaches all international laws, treaties and conventions forbidding poisoned weapons calculated to cause unnecessary suffering.
When a DU shell is fired, it ignites upon impact. Uranium, plus traces of plutonium and americium, vaporize into tiny, ceramic particles of radioactive dust. Once inhaled, uranium oxides lodge in the body and emit radiation indefinitely. A single particle of DU lodged in a lymph node can devastate the entire immune system according to British radiation expert Roger Coghill.
Since 1997 the United States has been modifying and upgrading its missiles and guided (smart) bombs. Prototypes of these bombs were tested in the Kosovo mountains in 1999, but a far greater range has been tested in Afghanistan. The upgrade involves replacing a conventional warhead by a heavy, dense metal one (3). Calculating the volume and the weight of this mystery metal leads to two possible conclusions: it is either tungsten or depleted uranium.
Tungsten poses problems. Its melting point (3,422Ã‚Â°C) makes it very hard to work; it is expensive; it is produced mostly by China; and it does not burn. DU is pyrophoric, burning on impact or if it is ignited, with a melting point of 1,132Ã‚Â°C; it is much easier to process; and as nuclear waste, it is available free to arms manufacturers. Further, using it in a range of weapons significantly reduces the US nuclear waste storage problem.
In Jefferson County, Indiana, the Pentagon has closed the 200-acre (80-hectare) proving ground where it used to test-fire DU rounds. The lowest estimate for cleaning up the site comes to $7.8bn, not including permanent storage of the earth to a depth of six metres and of all the vegetation. Considering the cost too high, the military finally decided to give the tract to the National Park Service for a nature preserve - an offer that was promptly refused. Now there is talk of turning it into a National Sacrifice Zone and closing it forever. This gives an idea of the fate awaiting those regions of the planet where the US has used and will use depleted uranium.
by Mohammed Daud Miraki, MA, MA, PhD - Director Afghan DU & Recovery Fund
"After the Americans destroyed our village and killed many of us, we also lost our houses and have nothing to eat. However, we would have endured these miseries and even accepted them, if the Americans had not sentenced us all to death. When I saw my deformed grandson, I realized that my hopes of the future have vanished for good, different from the hopelessness of the Russian barbarism, even though at that time I lost my older son Shafiqullah. This time, however, I know we are part of the invisible genocide brought on us by America, a silence death from which I know we will not escape."
America's Shameful Legacy of Radioactive Weaponry
A study by the Washington, D.C. based Uranium Medical Research Center (UMRC) suggests coalition forces used Afghanistan as a testing ground for radioactive weaponry , thereby placing generations of civilians - not to mention US service members - at unspeakable future risk.
The UMRC study found "astonishing" levels of uranium in the urine of Afghan civilians living in Nangarhar province, one of many places coalition forces bombarded with a new generation of "cave-busting" and seismic shock warheads. Interestingly, none of the civilians tested at Nangarhar showed traces of depleted uranium (DU), yet hundreds exhibited symptoms resembling those of DU-exposed Gulf War veterans.
The implications are ominous. Independent studies show coalition forces used toxic uranium alloys and hard-target uranium warheads in Afghanistan, but if the "mystery" uranium in Nangahar isn't DU, what is it? What kinds of radioactive ammunition were used elsewhere in Afghanistan? What are the long-term health implications for civilians and service members? And what are the moral, let alone criminal, implications of radiating civilian populations?
First published as an editorial in Buffalo News, the story is archived on Common Dreams.
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. The purpose of war is to kill and destroy."
Rokke said his team in the gulf blew up vehicles and structures with these munitions and then tested the wreckage for radioactive contamination. He said they found that uranium dust is so fine that it acts like a gas, seeping through the tiny pores of protective masks.
U.S. soldiers deployed around Baghdad airport started showing symptoms of mysterious fever, itching, scars and dark brown spots on the skin, the source, who refused to be named, said in statements published Thursday, July 17, by the Saudi Al-Watan newspaper.
He asserted that three soldiers who suffered these symptoms did not respond to medical treatment in Iraqi hospitals and were flown to Washington for medication.
The military source reported a media blackout by U.S. officials to hide such information from the public.
The Americans claim the symptoms and the mysterious diseases were resulting from exposure to the scourging sun, which the U.S. troops are not used to, he added.
"It is pneumonia. The question is what is the cause," said Lyn Kukral, spokeswoman for Peake and the Army Medical Command.
"The epidemiological teams will look and follow the facts wherever they lead," Kukral added. "You've got a healthy population and a young population (U.S. troops), and you have two soldiers who have died, and that's a concern."
Kukral said there have been more than 100 cases among U.S. troops in the Iraq region since the beginning of March, including 15 serious enough to warrant medical evacuation to get the patients ventilators to assist their breathing.
Australian servicemen and women who served in the recent Iraq war were reporting symptoms of uranium sickness, a United States nuclear weapons expert said today.
Dr Douglas Rokke is a former US Army nuclear health physicist and was formerly the Pentagon's expert on the health effects of depleted uranium ammunition.
Speaking in Melbourne today, Dr Rokke said Iraqi women and children and American and Iraqi military personnel had reported respiratory illnesses and rashes after the recent conflict, and he had also been told of Australian servicemen and women with similar symptoms.
For anyone familiar with the research into the medical effects of exposure to depleted uranium, the details of Josh Neusche’s death would have to ring alarm bells. The 2001 World Health Organization report into the issue notes: “Brief accidental exposure to high concentrations of uranium hexafluoride has caused acute respiratory illness, which may be fatal.”
Cancer Spreads Like Wildfire In Iraq
Depleted uranium (DU) used by the United States and its allies against Iraq has taken its toll on around 120,000 to 140,000 Iraqis, according to the latest estimates released by the Iraqi health ministry. With Iraq becoming an almost radioactive toxic wasteland, the number of birth defects and cancer-infected Iraqis is on the rise day in and day out due to the lingering effects of the deadly nuclear substance, the London-based Al-Quds Press news agency reported Tuesday, July 27.
Thousands of US troops evacuated from Iraq for unexplained medical reasons
By James Conachy
9 September 2003
Citing the US military Central Command as its source, the Washington Post reported on September 2 that "more than 6,000 service members" had been medically evacuated from Iraq since the launch of the war. At the time, the number of combat wounded stood at 1,124. A further 301 personnel had been injured in non-combat incidents such as vehicle accidents. The figure of ãmore than 6,000ä supplied to the Post therefore implies that over 4,500 US troops have required evacuation from Iraq for medical reasons other than combat or non-combat injuries.
The Washington Post article did not include any further information on what is a staggering admission by the military. At no point in the last six months have the American people been told that for every soldier who has been killed in Iraq, at least another 15 have fallen so ill that they had to be flown back to the United States. The Post described the unexplained evacuations simply as the "thousands who became physically or mentally ill".
The obvious questions that must be answered are: what were they diagnosed with; what units are they from; what duties were they were performing; what long-term effects have they suffered; and what treatment are they receiving?
While large numbers of the evacuations may well be for routine medical reasons, such a detailed breakdown is essential. Apart from providing an insight into the true impact of the war on the American troops, it may provide evidence that supports the concerns among military personnel and their families that service in Iraq is exposing them to long-term and potentially fatal medical problems. In particular, there are fears that soldiers have already died or are falling ill due to their exposure to depleted uranium (DU) or the anthrax vaccine they have been compelled to take.
On July 31, the Army Surgeon General announced an investigation into the deaths of two soldiers, Michael Tosta and Josh Neusche, and the hospitalisation of another 100, diagnosed with severe pneumonia. It has been established that inhaling large concentrations of DU-contaminated particles damages the lungs and kidneys and can cause respiratory illness. There are also recorded medical suspicions that the US militaryâs anthrax vaccine can trigger pneumonia. In August 2002, three military doctors noted in the Cardiopulmonary and Critical Care Journal that a case of pneumonia in a healthy 39-year-old soldier "may be due to the anthrax vaccine".
The US Department of Defense has only made public one progress report on the pneumonia investigation. On August 22 it announced that it was "making significant progress" in eliminating SARS and vaccines as a possible cause. It revealed that 10 alleged pneumonia cases showed a higher than normal number of the white blood cell eosinophils. It also reported that none of the 19 most severe cases belonged to the same units, that 13 had fallen ill in Iraq and that the remaining six fell ill in Kuwait, Qatar, Uzbekistan, and Djibouti. The Office of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner was reportedly investigating the ãspecific cause or causes of deathä of Tosta and Neusche.
Since July 31, however, another soldier, Zeferino Colunga, has died allegedly from pneumonia while Sergeant Richard Eaton has died from a pulmonary edema or fluid in the lungs. Two other soldiers have been found dead in their beds for as yet unexplained reasons.
Such is the distrust of the military that the families of both Josh Neusche and Colunga have demanded access to their loved ones' medical records, personal effects and blood and tissue samples, so that independent medical opinions can be sought on the cause of death. The families sent letters on August 12 to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld stating: "We as a family are concerned that we are not being told the truth."
Stephanie Tosta, the 22-year-old widow of Michael Tosta, has publicly speculated the military is lying about the cause of her husband's death. She told United Press International last month: "More and more I think it was the [anthrax] shots. I think they [the Army] might be lying about this stuff. I really feel like it. Nobody can tell me anything. If it is the shots, then of course they are lying. We just want to know what happened and we have a right to know. But the Army is acting like they are trying to hide something, and that just makes it harder."
The family of Rachael Lacy, a young soldier who died in Kuwait on April 4 from a "pneumonia-like illness" but whose death is not included in the military investigation, is also alleging her death was due to the anthrax vaccine. Connecticut congressman Chris Shays, who chaired hearings last year on the possible side-effects of the anthrax vaccination program, is reportedly monitoring the investigation into the death of Sergeant Richard Eaton.
The website of "Bring Them Home Now" - an organisation of military families demanding the immediate withdrawal of US forces from the Middle East - bluntly warns soldiers that the only guaranteed way to limit the medical consequences from exposure to DU is to "get out of Iraq or Afghanistan".
The groups' statement of purpose declares: "Not one more troop killed in action. Not one more troop wounded in action. Not one more troop psychologically damaged by the act of terrifying, humiliating, injuring or killing innocent people. Not one more troop spending one more day inhaling depleted uranium. Not one more troop separated from spouse and children. This is the only way to truly support these troops, and the families who are just as much part of the military as they are."
The National Gulf War Resource Center (NGWRC), an advocacy organisation for veterans of the first 1991 US war on Iraq, is assisting the military families who believe they are being lied to. Among the suspected causes of a range of illnesses commonly referred to as "Gulf War syndrome" are DU exposure and complications triggered by vaccinations. By 1999, as many as 110,000 Gulf War veterans had reported health problems that they believe are due to their service in Iraq.
The sensitivity of the military hierarchy to the suspicions among rank-and-file troops, families and veterans is demonstrated by the reassurances on the official Army medical website that neither DU nor the anthrax vaccine pose a health risk. The US government also rejects any link between "Gulf War syndrome", DU and vaccines. In 1998 however, the US military did finally admit that at least 436,000 American troops entered into areas during the first Gulf War that were contaminated to some extent by DU radioactive dust.
World Socialist Web Site
All rights reserved
The following is a resource article with many links to further stories.
Here is a study on the dangers of DU commissioned by the World Health Organization but the publication was suppressed.
Radiological toxicity of DU - K. BAVERSTOCK, C. MOTHERSILL & M. THORNE (Repressed WHO Document) 5nov01
See also related
Depleted Uranium: Dirty Bombs, Dirty Missiles, Dirty Bullets
Vietnam was a chemical war for oil, permanently contaminating large regions and countries downriver with Agent Orange, and environmentally the most devastating war in world history. But since 1991, the U.S. has staged four nuclear wars using depleted uranium weaponry, which, like Agent Orange, meets the U.S. government definition of Weapons of Mass Destruction. Vast regions in the Middle East and Central Asia have been permanently contaminated with radiation.
Depleted Uranium (DU) Silent Genocide
by ROBERT C. KOEHLER / Tribune Media Services
April 2004: Army to test N.Y. Guard unit
Depleted Uranium: The Toxic Killer - The Bush Administration knows about the health and the environmental consequences of using depleted uranium but it doesn't care. By Mick Youther
U.S. Use of Depleted Uranium Weapons Causes Dangerous Rise in Radiation Level in Iraq - Tehran Times April 27, 2004
High Uranium Levels Found in Troops and Civilians
URANIUM MEDICAL RESEARCH CENTER, January 2003
UMRC's Preliminary Findings from Afghanistan & Operation Enduring Freedom
Afghan Field Trip #2 Report: Precision Destruction - Indiscriminate Effects
Author: Tedd Weyman, UMRC Research Team
Iraq's real WMD crime - By Lawrence Smallman in Baghdad
DU Death Toll Tops 11,000
Nationwide Media Blackout Keeps U.S. Public Ignorant About This Important Story
Soaring birth deformities and child cancer rates in Iraq
By James Cogan - 10 May 2005
Iraqi doctors are making renewed efforts to bring to the world's attention the growth in birth deformities and cancer rates among the country's children. The medical crisis is being directly blamed on the widespread use of depleted uranium (DU) munitions by the US and British forces in southern Iraq during the 1991 Gulf War, and the even greater use of DU during the 2003 invasion.
Radioactive Wounds of War
Thursday 25 August 2005
Tests on returning troops suggest serious health consequences of depleted uranium use in Iraq.
Study suggests cancer risk from depleted uranium
Depleted uranium, which is used in armour-piercing ammunition, causes widespread damage to DNA which could lead to lung cancer, according to a study of the metal's effects on human lung cells. The study adds to growing evidence that DU causes health problems on battlefields long after hostilities have ceased.
Cancer in Iraq vets raises possibility of toxic exposure
After serving in Vietnam nearly 40 years ago — and receiving the Bronze Star for it — the Tucson soldier was called back to active duty in Iraq. While there, he awoke one morning with a sore throat. Eighteen months later, Army Sgt. James Lauderdale was dead, of a bizarrely aggressive cancer rarely seen by the doctors who tried to treat it.
The prime suspect in all this, in the minds of many victims — and some scientists — is what's known as depleted uranium — the radioactive chemical prized by the military for its ability to penetrate armored vehicles. When munitions explode, the substance hits the air as fine dust, easily inhaled. Last month, the Iraqi environment minister blamed the tons of the chemical dropped during the war's "shock and awe" campaign for a surge of cancer cases across the country. However, the Pentagon and U.S. State Department strongly deny this ...
Depleted Uranium: A War Crime Within a War Crime
"Forget about oil, occupation, terrorism or even Al-Qaeda. The real hazard for Iraqis these days is cancer. Cancer is spreading like wildfire in Iraq. Thousands of infants are being born with deformities. Doctors say they are struggling to cope with the rise of cancer and birth defects, especially in cities subjected to heavy American and British bombardment."
posted by Sepp Hasslberger on Tuesday August 5 2003
updated on Wednesday December 15 2010
URL of this article:
World Health Organisation Blocked Depleted Uranium Study
Depleted but nevertheless radioactive and potentially deadly uranium has been used in genocidal weapons by the US led coalition of "freedom loving" nations in Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq. A scientific report warning of the dangers to health of the fine uranium dust which remains after explosion has been blocked from publication by the World Health Organisation, according to Keith Baverstock, a senior radiation adviser of the international organisation. The story... [read more]
March 05, 2004 - Sepp Hasslberger
Uranium Munitions Are Weapons of Mass Destruction - Use Is A War Crime: Experts
The US and their allies in the war against Iraq have used thousands of tons of radioactive 'depleted' uranium in munitions and missiles, endangering the lives of both civilians and US troops, and leaving a legacy of contamination on the ground that certainly classifies them as illegal weapons of mass destruction, charge international experts. Cancer, respiratory diseases and horrible birth defects have been widespread in Iraq even after Gulf War... [read more]
September 17, 2004 - Sepp Hasslberger
Alberto Gonzales and Bush Concentration Camps - Is America Going Fascist?
"First they came for the Jews" ... is the beginning of pastor Niemöller's famous depiction of the gradual nature of Nazi fascism's rise to domination of every aspect of life and its eradication of dissent in pre-WW II Germany. "First they came for the terrorists" ... writes Thom Hartmann in a harrowing article that examines the current situation in the U.S., comparing it to what was happening under the eyes... [read more]
January 12, 2005 - Sepp Hasslberger
'Oil Shock' Looming - What are the Alternatives?
We like to think that our way of life is "normal", that nothing will happen to force a drastic change in how we live, produce, move around, warm ourselves in the winter and light our streets and houses. Yet, we are using a highly vulnerable energy technology (the burning of fossil fuels) and we have allowed a commercial cartel to monopolize that energy technology while sabotaging any valid alternatives. We... [read more]
June 24, 2004 - Sepp Hasslberger
Genova, the Azores and our Common Future
Genova - July 2001 - had a big impact on my life, probably on anybody's life here in Italy. Several hundred thousand protested the gathering of Heads of State - the G8 - and were brutally beaten by police who had been instructed, on Bush's orders, to "be tough this time". Some of my Italian friends, Ivan and Vitale, were there and they returned shocked at the unprecedented violence that... [read more]
June 28, 2003 - Sepp Hasslberger
Depleted Uranium Coming Home To Roost - Dillon Bill In Conn Legislature
Depleted uranium is the "less rich" uranium that remains as waste in the uranium enrichment process. The metal is radioactive and stays so for billions of years. According to the Sierra Club's Nuclear Waste information, there are massive quantities that need to be either stored or re-cycled. Could it be that the need to re-cycle the dangerous material plays a part in the U.S. military's decision to use thousands of... [read more]
February 13, 2005 - Sepp Hasslberger