uranium is more of a problem than we thought when it was developed.
But it was developed according to standards and was thought through
very carefully. It turned out, perhaps, to be wrong."
-- Brent Scowcroft, National Security Advisor to President George
Bush in 1991 Gulf War .
- According to a video
titled "Using Depleted Uranium as a Weapon...Putting Our
Troops and the Rest of the World at Risk", the US government
began to experiment with Uranium-238, which is simply Uranium
waste, secretly as early as the 1970's before implementing it
in the Gulf.
Uranium (DU) is a dense, radioactive metal used for armor-piercing
shells. Some DU munitions have been found to contain traces of
Plutonium, which is the most toxic substance we know of. Its half-life
is approximately 4.5 billion years, meaning that in that amount
of time half of it will have broken down. DU is ingested when
soldiers or civilians come into contact with it.
the first Gulf War in 1991, weapons containing depleted Uranium
were used for the first time in combat. Depleted
was desired because it can penetrate any material known to man.
Although it may seem a desirable weapon, the environmental consequences
and the effects on humans were not revealed and are still highly
denied by the U.S. government.
- Symptoms of being
affected by DU include achy joints, falling ill, developing rashes
and memory loss. According to Paul Sullivan, President of the
National Gulf War Resource Center,
the residue from DU weapons settles in the bone, the lungs, kidneys
and testicles. The most infamous example of the effects of DU
is that it can be passed from the mother to the child and often
causes abnormalities and other birth defects.
- In the Basra General
Hospital in Southern Iraq
according to Dr. Anuar Abdul Mehsen, MD., the number of cancer
cases he has seen in his hospital has increased significantly
since the end of the Gulf War. In 1988 he saw 34 deaths caused
by various types of cancer, and in 1988 there were 428 deaths
caused by cancer. He adds that there is an average of 1-2 deformed
babies born per day.
From 1991 to 2003, U.S.
and British jets patrolled the No-Fly-Zones in Northern and Southern
Iraq, often bombing Iraqi anti-aircraft sites that threatened them.
These air strikes also involved DU munitions.
- Because of the United
sanctions on Iraq, they are unable to provide sufficient
health care needed to treat these patients.
Q: General, how
much of your weaponry -- Michael Kearns (sp), Canadian Broadcasting
Corporation. How much of your weaponry uses depleted uranium? And
what are your concerns about the effects of that on Iraqi civilians?
There's a very small portion of our munitions that use depleted
uranium. And there have been lots of studies on what the actual
hazards are from depleted uranium. When depleted uranium hits something,
it's the residue from that that has any possible hazard at all,
and that requires close personal ingestion in order to have an effect.
We believe that the way we do our operations is
as safe as can be done for combat action and does not create the
kind of hazard that may have been thought about in the past.
- CENTCOM Operation
Iraqi Freedom Briefing ~ 26 March 2003
This is the same rhetoric
that was used in and after the first Gulf War, and there are many
civilians and military
who argue otherwise.
Even with the effects
seen since 1991, the U.S. government opted to utilize Depleted Uranium
this time around as well. Dr. Michael Kilpatrick, a top Pentagon
health official, claims that "there's going to be no impact
on the health of people in the environment or people who were there.
You would really have to have a large internalized dose," he
continues, "You are not going to get that with casual exposure."
"Dr. Doug Rokke,
a former Army colonel and professor of environmental science at
Jacksonville University, was in charge of the military's environmental
clean-up following the first Gulf War.
Rokke fears that because the military relied more heavily on DU
munitions in the second Iraq war than in the first, postwar casualties
may be even greater." (http://news.pacificnews.org/news/view_article.html?article_id=84a8df02a7c1f370c5ca152d5ef14d6b)
Maybe if they had defined
of Toxic Bullets Litter Iraq:
The Monitor finds high levels of radiation left by US armor-piercing
By Scott Peterson, Christian
Science Monitor, May 15, 2003
"The Monitor visited four sites in the city - including two
randomly chosen destroyed Iraqi armored vehicles, a clutch of burned
American ammunition trucks, and the downtown planning ministry -
and found significant levels of radioactive contamination from the
US battle for Baghdad. In the first partial Pentagon disclosure
of the amount of DU used in Iraq, a US Central Command spokesman
told the Monitor that A-10 Warthog aircraft
- the same planes that shot at the Iraqi planning ministry - fired
300,000 bullets. The normal combat mix for these 30-mm rounds is
five DU bullets to 1 - a mix that would have left about 75 tons
of DU in Iraq. The Monitor saw only one site where US troops had
put up handwritten warnings in Arabic for Iraqis to stay away. There,
a 3-foot-long DU dart
from a 120 mm tank shell, was found producing radiation at more
times background levels. It made the instrument's staccato bursts
turn into a steady whine....While the Pentagon says there's no risk
to Baghdad residents, US soldiers are taking their own precautions
in Iraq, and in some cases have handed out warning leaflets and
put up signs. "After we shoot something with DU, we're not
supposed to go around it, due to the fact that it could cause cancer,"
says a sergeant in Baghdad from New York, assigned to a Bradley,
who asked not to be further identified. "We don't know the
effects of what it could do," says the sergeant. "If one
of our vehicles burnt with a DU round inside, or an ammo truck,
we wouldn't go near it, even if it had important documents inside.
We play it safe." Six American vehicles struck with DU "friendly
fire" in 1991 were deemed to be too contaminated to take home,
and were buried in Saudi Arabia. Of 16
more brought back to a purpose-built facility in South Carolina,
to be buried in a low-level radioactive waste dump. Television footage
of the war last month showed Iraqi armored vehicles burning as US
columns drove by, a common sign of a strike by DU, which burns through
armor on impact, and often ignites the ammunition carried by the
targeted vehicle. "We were buttoned up when we drove by that
- all our hatches were closed," the US sergeant says. "If
we saw anything on fire, we wouldn't stop
anywhere near it. We would just keep on driving."....There
is a warning now at the Doura intersection on the southern outskirts
of Baghdad. In the days before the capital fell, four US supply
trucks clustered near an array of highway off-ramps caught fire,
cooking off a
number of DU tank rounds. American troops wearing facemasks for
protection arrived a few days later and bulldozed the topsoil around
the site to limit the contamination.
The troops taped handwritten warning signs in Arabic to the burned
vehicles, which read: "Danger - Get away from this area."
These were the only warnings seen by this reporter among dozens
of destroyed Iraqi armored vehicles littering the city. "All
of them were wearing masks," says Abbas Mohsin, a teenage cousin
of a drink seller 50 yards away, said referring to the US military
U.S. covering up "depleted" uranium health impacts in
By the Association of Humanitarian Lawyers, San
Francisco Bay View, May 14, 2003
"To activists working
on a campaign to permanently ban the use of "depleted"
uranium weapons, the destruction of hospitals and baseline health
data serves an obvious legal purpose. The looting has made it impossible
for hospitals to function at the present
time and obstructs the ability to document or report symptoms linked
to the use of "depleted" uranium or other more experimental
weapons used by the U.S./U.K.
military. Furthering suspicions, the U.S. Agency for International
Development (USAID) has hired the World Health Organization (WHO)
to identify the population's immediate health needs, at a cost of
$10 million. This raises concerns about a conflict of interest.
Any data-gathering of immediate health impacts of "depleted"
uranium is being paid for by the U.S., which is the major entity
potentially liable for costs relating to those impacts. This conflict
of interest could compromise the goals of H.R. 1483, a bill introduced
by U.S. Congressman Jim McDermott, D-Wash., requiring studies on
the health effects of DU munitions."
Depleted Uranium Education
Campaign Against Depleted
WISE Uranium Project
Depleted Uranuim: A
FAQ compiled by the Office of the Special Assistantfor Gulf War
Gulf War Syndrome, Depleted
Uranium and the Dangers of Low-Level Radiation
Gulf War Veterans and
Depleted Uranium's Effect
on Veterans, Iraqis
National Gulf War Resource
A Ravaged Land
US to use depleted uranium
Military Toxics Project