Wednesday, November 4, 2009

“Depleted Uranium Is OK”; Brought To You By The Same Team That Gave Us “Agent Orange Is Safe”.

“Depleted Uranium Is OK”; Brought To You By The Same Team That Gave Us “Agent Orange Is Safe”.

Deadly Dust And Denials!

(“DU is a waste product of the nuclear industry and is being stored in vast compounds. It is given free of charge to weapons manufacturers and at the moment "The immediate concern for medical professionals and employees of aid organizations remains the threat of extensive depleted uranium (DU) contamination in Afghanistan.")

I just had a most troubling conversation that started with the comment: “I don’t understand what all the fuss is about Depleted Uranium. Doesn’t that mean that the stuff is dead and all the radiation shit has been used up?” Now you and I know that is not the case, but evidently some folks have no idea why Depleted Uranium is a problem!

The issue arose in conversation regarding impending decisions that will be made by the Obama Administration regarding our future policies and the execution of the War In Afghanistan. That includes the unanswered questions surrounding the ramping up of production of the MOP Ordinance and whether or not DU is incorporated as one of the components of that weapon to be surely deployed in Afghanistan.

So, let’s start with the basics and work our way up to the problem.

Depleted uranium (DU) is uranium primarily composed of the isotope uranium-238 (U-238).

Natural uranium is about 99.27 percent U-238, 0.72 percent U-235, and 0.0055 percent U-234.

U-235 is used for fission in nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons.

Uranium is enriched in U-235 by separating the isotopes by mass.

The byproduct of enrichment, called depleted uranium or DU, contains less than one third as much U-235 and U-234 as natural uranium.

The external radiation dose from DU is about 60 percent of that from the same mass of natural uranium. DU is also found in reprocessed spent nuclear reactor fuel, but that kind can be distinguished from DU produced as a byproduct of uranium enrichment by the presence of U-236

In the past, DU has been called Q-metal, depletalloy, and D-38.

To start with then; Uranium is a complex substance with several Isotopes that can be separated for constructive, but all too often, destructive, purposes.

DU is thus, primarily a Nuclear Waste Product for which the military has found deadly recycling applications. It is not lead; it is not dead Uranium; it retains radioactive levels and properties that are deadly with both immediate and long range consequences that raise grave concerns, moral questions and legitimacy issues when incorporated in the weapons of war.

I am going to concede that most scientists were unaware of those issues, and that for the most part considered them to be minimal impact and import. But then; no one had a handle on the real horrific devastation to be visited on the Japanese people by the devices unleashed on them at Hiroshima and Nagasaki or the collateral damage ushered in by “The Nuclear Age”! The outcome was beyond belief and immediate comprehension; however, we have had enough time to learn to examine carefully the outcome of anything associated with radioactive materials utilized in weaponized products.

The world has witnessed, and come to understand the awesome nature of the atom unleashed for hellish purposes in the shadows of human beings etched into concrete as they were literally vaporized. We have come to understand the grotesque horror of radiation generated birth defects and hideous malformation of fellow beings born long after the hatreds of the past have been settled.

That is a crime against humanity if there ever was one!

Unfortunately mankind discovered that DU could be useful because of its very high density of 19.1 g/cm3. Civilian uses came to include counterweights in aircraft, radiation shielding in medical radiation therapy and industrial radiography equipment, and containers used to transport radioactive materials.

Military uses developed included defensive armor plating and armor-piercing projectiles. Therein lies the problem.

The use of DU in munitions is controversial because of questions about potential long-term health effects. Normal functioning of the kidney, brain, liver, heart, as well as numerous other systems can be affected by uranium exposure, because in addition to being weakly radioactive, DU uranium is a toxic metal.

DU is less toxic than other heavy metals such as arsenic and mercury] It is weakly radioactive and remains so because of its long half-life.

The aerosol produced during impact and combustion of depleted uranium munitions can potentially contaminate wide areas around the impact sites or can be inhaled by civilians and military personnel.[6] In a three week period of conflict in Iraq during 2003 it was estimated over 1000 tons of depleted uranium munitions were used, mostly in cities.[7]

The U.S. Department of Defense claims that no human cancer of any type has been seen as a result of exposure to either natural or depleted uranium.[8] Yet, U.S. DoD studies using cultured cells and laboratory rodents continue to suggest the possibility of leukemogenic, genetic, reproductive, and neurological effects from chronic exposure.[4] In addition, the UK Pensions Appeal Tribunal Service in early 2004 attributed birth defect claims from a February 1991 Gulf War combat veteran to depleted uranium poisoning.[9][10] Also, a 2005 epidemiology review concluded: "In aggregate the human epidemiological evidence is consistent with increased risk of birth defects in offspring of persons exposed to DU."[11]

In fact, at the time, British Soldiers returning from the Gulf were offered tests to check levels of depleted uranium in their bodies to assess whether they are in danger of suffering kidney damage and lung cancer as a result of exposure, the Ministry of Defense said last night.

The ministry was responding to a warning earlier in the day from the Royal Society, Britain's premier scientific body, that soldiers and civilians might be exposed to dangerous levels. It challenged earlier reassurances from the defense secretary, Geoff Hoon, that depleted uranium was not a risk.

A ministry spokeswoman said that if soldiers followed instructions correctly and wore respirators in areas where depleted uranium might have been used they would not suffer dangerous exposure, but all would be offered urine tests. The overall results would be published.

The ministry said it would also publish details of where and how much depleted uranium was used, and hoped the Americans would do the same.

Professor Brian Spratt FRS, chairman of the society's working group on depleted uranium, said: "It is highly unsatisfactory to deploy a large amount of a material that is weakly radioactive and chemically toxic without knowing how much soldiers and civilians have been exposed to it.

"It is only by measuring the levels of DU in the urine of soldiers that we can understand the intakes of DU that occur on the battlefield, which is a requirement for a better assessment of any hazards to health. It is vital that this monitoring takes place and that it takes place within a matter of months."

He said civilians in Iraq should be protected by checking milk and water samples for depleted uranium over a prolonged period. Some soldiers might suffer kidney damage and increased risk of lung cancer if they breathed in substantial amounts.

He added: "It is essential that we measure exposures in a sample of soldiers across the battlefield, not just those who may have had substantial exposures, but also foot soldiers and field hospital staff across Iraq. We also need to know the exposures of Iraqis living in any residential areas where DU munitions were deployed. We believe that exposures to DU will be low for most individuals, but we need to take measurements."

Last month Mr Hoon was dismissive about the threat. He told the Commons that there was "not the slightest scientific evidence" to suggest that depleted uranium left a poisonous residue.

The report from the society was released on the same day as assessment by the United Nations environment program (Unep) on the situation in Iraq, which also included concerns about depleted uranium.

Depleted uranium is standard in a number of anti-tank weapons. Amounts in bullets, shells and bombs vary from 300 grams to 7 tonnes in the bunker-busters of the type dropped on Baghdad. The bombs used on the restaurant in an unsuccessful attempt to kill Saddam Hussein are believed to have contained tonnes of depleted uranium which would have contaminated the surrounding area.

Experts have calculated that from all sources between 1,000 and 2,000 tonnes of depleted uranium were used by the coalition in the three-week conflict.

Unep said immediate priorities should include restoring the water supply and sanitation systems, and cleaning pollution hot spots and waste sites to reduce the risk of epidemics from accumulated municipal and medical wastes.

Prof Spratt added: "About 340 tonnes of DU were fired in the 1991 Gulf war. The coalition needs to make clear where and how much DU was used in the recent conflict.

"Fragments of DU penetrators are potentially hazardous, and a recent Royal Society study recommended that they should be removed, and areas of contamination around impact sites identified, and where necessary made safe."

He said impact sites in residential areas should be a priority and urged long-term monitoring of water and milk.

"The question of who carries out the initial monitoring and clean-up is a political rather than scientific question," he said. Monitoring, however, is likely to be a long-term task, spanning many years, so it is vital that Iraq acquires the capabilities to undertake this itself.

"The coalition needs to acknowledge that depleted uranium is a potential hazard and make in-roads into tackling it by being open about where and how much depleted uranium has been deployed."

But let’s look at the knowledge base as regards depleted Uranium and related information as of 2003:

Depleted uranium


  • Metallic uranium (U) is a silver-white, lustrous, dense, weakly radioactive element. It is ubiquitous throughout the natural environment, and is found in varying but small amounts in rocks, soils, water, air, plants, animals and in all human beings.

  • Natural uranium consists of a mixture of three radioactive isotopes which are identified by the mass numbers 238U (99.27% by mass), 235U (0.72%) and 234U (0.0054%).

  • On average, approximately 90 µg (micrograms) of uranium exists in the human body from normal intakes of water, food and air. About 66% is found in the skeleton, 16% in the liver, 8% in the kidneys and 10% in other tissues.

  • Uranium is used primarily in nuclear power plants. However, most reactors require uranium in which the 235U content is enriched from 0.72% to about 1.5-3%.


  • The uranium remaining after removal of the enriched fraction contains about 99.8% 238U, 0.2% 235U and 0.001% 234U by mass; this is referred to as depleted uranium or DU.

  • The main difference between DU and natural uranium is that the former contains at least three times less 235U than the latter.

  • DU, consequently, is weakly radioactive and a radiation dose from it would be about 60% of that from purified natural uranium with the same mass.

  • The behaviour of DU in the body is identical to that of natural uranium.

  • Spent uranium fuel from nuclear reactors is sometimes reprocessed in plants for natural uranium enrichment. Some reactor-created radioisotopes can consequently contaminate the reprocessing equipment and the DU. Under these conditions another uranium isotope, 236U, may be present in the DU together with very small amounts of the transuranic elements plutonium, americium and neptunium and the fission product technetium-99. However, the additional radiation dose following intake of DU into the human body from these isotopes would be less than 1%.


  • Due to its high density, about twice that of lead, the main civilian uses of DU include counterweights in aircraft, radiation shields in medical radiation therapy machines and containers for the transport of radioactive materials. The military uses DU for defensive armour plate.

  • DU is used in armour penetrating military ordnance because of its high density, and also because DU can ignite on impact if the temperature exceeds 600°C.


  • Under most circumstances, use of DU will make a negligible contribution to the overall natural background levels of uranium in the environment. Probably the greatest potential for DU exposure will follow conflict where DU munitions are used.

  • A recent United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report giving field measurements taken around selected impact sites in Kosovo (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) indicates that contamination by DU in the environment was localized to a few tens of metres around impact sites. Contamination by DU dusts of local vegetation and water supplies was found to be extremely low. Thus, the probability of significant exposure to local populations was considered to be very low.

  • A UN expert team reported in November 2002 that they found traces of DU in three locations among 14 sites investigated in Bosnia following NATO airstrikes in 1995. A full report is expected to be published by UNEP in March 2003.

  • Levels of DU may exceed background levels of uranium close to DU contaminating events. Over the days and years following such an event, 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.

  • People near an aircraft crash may be exposed to DU dusts if counterweights are exposed to prolonged intense heat. Significant exposure would be rare, as large masses of DU counterweights are unlikely to ignite and would oxidize only slowly. Exposures of clean-up and emergency workers to DU following aircraft accidents are possible, but normal occupational protection measures would prevent any significant exposure.


  • Average annual intakes of uranium by adults are estimated to be about 0.5mg (500 μg) from ingestion of food and water and 0.6 μg from breathing air.

  • Ingestion of small amounts of DU contaminated soil by small children may occur while playing.

  • Contact exposure of DU through the skin is normally very low and unimportant.

  • Intake from wound contamination or embedded fragments in skin tissues may allow DU to enter the systemic circulation.


  • About 98% of uranium entering the body via ingestion is not absorbed, but is eliminated via the faeces. Typical gut absorption rates for uranium in food and water are about 2% for soluble and about 0.2% for insoluble uranium compounds.

  • The fraction of uranium absorbed into the blood is generally greater following inhalation than following ingestion of the same chemical form. The fraction will also depend on the particle size distribution. For some soluble forms, more than 20% of the inhaled material could be absorbed into blood.

  • Of the uranium that is absorbed into the blood, approximately 70% will be filtered by the kidney and excreted in the urine within 24 hours; this amount increases to 90% within a few days.


  • In the kidneys, the proximal tubules (the main filtering component of the kidney) are considered to be the main site of potential damage from chemical toxicity of uranium. There is limited information from human studies indicating that the severity of effects on kidney function and the time taken for renal function to return to normal both increase with the level of uranium exposure.

  • In a number of studies on uranium miners, an increased risk of lung cancer was demonstrated, but this has been attributed to exposure from radon decay products. Lung tissue damage is possible leading to a risk of lung cancer that increases with increasing radiation dose. However, because DU is only weakly radioactive, very large amounts of dust (on the order of grams) would have to be inhaled for the additional risk of lung cancer to be detectable in an exposed group. Risks for other radiation-induced cancers, including leukaemia, are considered to be very much lower than for lung cancer.

  • Erythema (superficial inflammation of the skin) or other effects on the skin are unlikely to occur even if DU is held against the skin for long periods (weeks).

  • No consistent or confirmed adverse chemical effects of uranium have been reported for the skeleton or liver.

  • No reproductive or developmental effects have been reported in humans.

  • Although uranium released from embedded fragments may accumulate in the central nervous system (CNS) tissue, and some animal and human studies are suggestive of effects on CNS function, it is difficult to draw firm conclusions from the few studies reported.


The International Basic Safety Standards, agreed by all applicable UN agencies in 1996, provide for radiation dose limits above normal background exposure levels.

  • The general public should not receive a dose of more than 1 millisievert (mSv) in a year. In special circumstances, an effective dose of up to 5 mSv in a single year is permitted provided that the average dose over five consecutive years does not exceed 1 mSv per year. An equivalent dose to the skin should not exceed 50 mSv in a year.

  • Occupational exposure should not exceed an effective dose of 20 mSv per year averaged over five consecutive years or an effective dose of 50 mSv in any single year. An equivalent dose to the extremities (hands and feet) or the skin should not surpass 500 mSv in a year.

  • In case of uranium or DU intake, the radiation dose limits are applied to inhaled insoluble uranium-compounds only. For all other exposure pathways and the soluble uranium-compounds, chemical toxicity is the factor that limits exposure.


WHO has guidelines for determining the values of health-based exposure limits or tolerable intakes for chemical substances. The tolerable intakes given below are applicable to long-term exposure of the general public (as opposed to workers). For single and short-term exposures, higher exposure levels may be tolerated without adverse effects.

  • The general public's intake via inhalation or ingestion of soluble DU compounds should be based on a tolerable intake value of 0.5 µg per kg of body weight per day. This leads to an air concentration of 1 µg/m3 for inhalation, and about 11 mg/y for ingestion by the average adult.

  • Insoluble uranium compounds with very low absorption rate are markedly less toxic to the kidney, and a tolerable intake via ingestion of 5 µg per kg of body weight per day is applicable.

  • When the solubility characteristics of the uranium compounds are not known, which is often the case in exposure to DU, it would be prudent to apply 0.5 µg per kg of body weight per day for ingestion.


  • For the general population, neither civilian nor military use of DU is likely to produce exposures to DU significantly above normal background levels of uranium. Therefore, individual exposure assessments for DU will normally not be required. Exposure assessments based on environmental measurements may, however, be needed for public information and reassurance.

  • When an individual is suspected of being exposed to DU at a level significantly above the normal background level, an assessment of DU exposure may be required. This is best achieved by analysis of daily urine excretion. Urine analysis can provide useful information for the prognosis of kidney pathology from uranium or DU. The proportion of DU in the urine is determined from the 235U/238U ratio, obtained using sensitive mass spectrometric techniques.

  • Faecal measurement can also give useful information on DU intake. However, faecal excretion of natural uranium from the diet is considerable (on average 500 μg per day, but very variable) and this needs to be taken into account.

  • External radiation measurements over the chest, using radiation monitors for determining the amount of DU in the lungs, require special facilities. This technique can measure about 10 milligrams of DU in the lungs, and (except for souble compounds) can be useful soon after exposure.

  • There are no specific means to decrease the absorption of uranium from the gastrointestinal tract or lungs. Following severe internal contamination, treatment in special hospitals consists of the slow intravenous transfusion of isotonic 1.4 % sodium bicarbonate to increase excretion of uranium. DU levels in the human, however, are not expected to reach a value that would justify intravenous treatment any more than dialysis.


  • Following conflict, levels of DU contamination in food and drinking water might be detected in affected areas even after a few years. This should be monitored where it is considered there is a reasonable possibility of significant quantities of DU entering the ground water or food chain.

  • Where justified and possible, clean-up operations in impact zones should be undertaken if there are substantial numbers of radioactive projectiles remaining and where qualified experts deem contamination levels to be unacceptable. If high concentrations of DU dust or metal fragments are present, then areas may need to be cordoned off until removal can be accomplished. Such impact sites are likely to contain a variety of hazardous materials, in particular unexploded ordnance. Due consideration needs to be given to all hazards, and the potential hazard from DU kept in perspective.
  • Small children could receive greater exposure to DU when playing in or near DU impact sites. Their typical hand-to-mouth activity could lead to high DU ingestion from contaminated soil. Necessary preventative measures should be taken.
  • Disposal of DU should follow appropriate national or international recommendations.


- Depleted Uranium
Provides a summary of the scientific literature on uranium and depleted uranium.

- WHO guidance on exposure to depleted uranium [pdf 394kb]
Provides information on medical treatment from excessive DU exposure and advice for programme administrators sending personnel to DU contaminated areas.

- Uranium

For more information contact:

WHO Media centre
Telephone: +41 22 791 2222

Depleted Uranium (DU) weaponry has been used against Iraq for the first time in the history of recent wars. The magnitude of the complications and damage related to the use of such radioactive and toxic weapons on the environment and the human population mostly results from the intended concealment, denial and misleading information released by the Pentagon about the quantities, characteristics and the area’s in Iraq, in which these weapons have been used.

Revelation of information regarding what is called the Gulf War Syndrome among exposed American veterans helped Iraqi researchers and Medical Doctors to understand the nature of the effect of these weapons, and the means required to investigate further into this issue.

The synergetic impact on health due to the post Gulf War I economical sanctions and DU related radioactive contamination raised the number of casualties in contaminated areas as in southern Iraq.

Continual usage of DU after Gulf War I on other Iraqi territories through the illegal No-Fly Zones and the major DU loaded Cruise Missiles attack of year 1998, all contributed in making the problem increasingly complex.

During 2003, military operations conducted in Iraq by the invading forces used additional rounds of DU in heavily populated areas such as Baghdad, Samawa and other provinces. It is only fair to conclude that the environment in Iraq and its population have been exposed continuously to DU weaponry or its contaminating remains, since 1991.

Accordingly millions of Iraqi’s have received higher doses of radioactivity than ordinary background levels. As a result a multi-fold increase of low level radiation exposure related diseases have been registered since 1995. An increase of children’s leukemia, congenital malformations, breast cancer etc…

The shift of leukemia incidence rates towards younger children during the recent years, and its association with geographically distributed contaminated areas, offers strong evidence of the correlation between LLR exposure and resulted health damages.

Through this paper, an overview of major scientific DU conclusions will be presented, drawn from investigations and research conducted since the year 1991 by Iraqi researchers and MDs. Schemes of these researches can be classified into three categories:

  1. DU contamination detection and exploration programs.
  2. DU effects on human body cells.
  3. DU related epidemiological studies.

1.0 Introduction:

Depleted Uranium (DU) weaponry has been used against Iraq since the Gulf War 1 in 1991. Estimated (DU) expenditure of 320 - 800 tons were mainly shot on the withdrawing Iraqi troops from Kuwait to the north of Basrah City.

The use of (DU) ammunition and bombs on Iraqi territory never stopped since 1991. Different generations of (DU) supported Tomahawk missiles & Bunker Buster Bombs [3] have been used during the 90’s on what were known as the No Fly Zones (Northern & Southern regions of Iraq), and the 1998 attack on Iraq.

With the comprehensive sanctions that were imposed on Iraq, the USA & its allies purposely used these radioactive & toxic weapons to exhaust Iraq’s strength & population to prepare for the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Hundreds of tons of (DU) expenditure were also used during the invasion of Iraq. This was done to worsen the radioactive contamination impact. Additionally, the occupying forces have forbade any kind of (DU) related exploration programs or research [2]. They have also covered up and denied DU’s damaging health effects, and refused to release information on the amounts, types and locations of these weapons within Iraq. As a consequence, thousands of Iraqi children and their families are suffering from different low level radiation (LLR) related diseases such as congenital malformations, malignancies, congenital heart diseases, chromosomal aberration and multiple malformations. Women in the contaminated areas suffered high rates of miscarriages and sterility [3].

Pressure from anti-DU groups and the international community due to the effects of the Gulf War Syndrome (GWS) on Gulf War veterans, helped Iraqi researchers start a series of investigation programs on the contaminated areas to estimate the radiation dose the people in southern Iraq and the Iraqi troops were exposed to during military engagements in 1991, and assess the level of contamination in the surrounding environment.

The American administration still claims that the biological and chemical agents of hydrocarbon smoke of oil field fires in southern Iraq are the main causes behind the (GWS) and not the exposure to the DU [2][4]. This is very false and misleading information.

The previously published data of the types and amounts of the chemical fumes and hydrocarbons that were released to Iraq’s environment in each Iraqi city due to the 1991 air raids and bombing [5] [6] proves that the areas of Ta’meem, and Salahiddin were the most polluted cities due to the destruction of mines and huge material and armed forces industries. This resulted in the formation of SOx, NOx, and COx plumes and hydrocarbon smoke clouds. In addition to the pollution that resulted from the burning of thousands of rubber tires used to mislead Tomahawk missiles off their targets (Table 1).

Registered cancer cases, congenital malformations and other related diseases are less in these cities than in Basrah [7], which proves that the major cause of the multifold increase of such diseases in the south was the extensive use of DU weapons in 1991 and the following years.

Table 1: Contaminants Released to the Environment During the Gulf War of 1991 [5]

To highlight the problem the following explains clearly the dangers of DU:

When a projectile hits a target, 70% of its depleted uranium burns and oxidizes, bursting into highly toxic, radioactive micro particles. Being so tiny, these particles can be ingested or inhaled after being deposited on the ground or carried kilometres away by the wind, the food chain or water. A 1995 technical report issued by the American Army indicates that "if depleted uranium enters the body, it has the potentiality of causing serious medical consequences. The associated risk is both chemical and radiological". Deposited in the lungs or kidneys, uranium 238 and products from its decay (thorium 234, protactinium and other uranium isotopes) give off alpha and beta radiations which cause cell death and genetic mutations causing cancer in exposed individuals and genetic abnormalities in their descendents.

Many UN member states and the EU Parliament have expressed grave concerns from their respective experts. It is clear existing testing methods are either outdated or flawed to say the least. In the meantime thousand of people have or are being caught up in a beaurocratic bundle by both the Medical Profession and respective State Governments who at best are hiding some very interesting findings.

DU is a waste product of the nuclear industry and is being stored in vast compounds. It is given free of charge to weapons manufacturers and why not! DU combined with other heavy metals does the job extremely well, but at what cost? Tunnel vision by Heads of State, Senior Government Members, Senior Members of the Military, Scientist, Senior Medical staff and the CEO of companies that manufacture such weapons is deplorable.

They have no ability to look at the bigger picture whereby as a result of their actions the earth’s atmosphere is being polluted with very high levels of DU since the onslaught of these weapons (some of which date back to the 1970's). They have no concern or intent to investigate the high rate of mortality, increased rise in levels of cancer related illnesses and deaths. The most deplorable aspect in the continued exculpation is the birth of still born or badly disfigured babies.

Only by the actions of a few who bring such events to the public eye by attempting to broadcast or print concerns will the various nations eventually be pressured into stopping the use of such weapons, demanding full and proper enquiry by independent specialists.

My intention is to continue to bring such weapons to the attention of the media and public at large and in doing so will eventually force those responsible to take action. I remember a story long ago concerning London. The people of the slums had no means of disposing of sewage and so the River Thames became the dumping source. None of the politic elite were interested in this problem until eventually, the rate of disposal caused the sewage to extend up to the Houses of Parliament. The foul smell caused much concern to the Members of the House who objected to being submitted to this terrible smell. Eventually they decided that London should have an underground sewage system.

Spreading the DU story to those that have used the weapons or to those that may have been accidently affected by it may cause those populations to protest their respective governments. It is for this reason I have written to the Haaretz newspaper in Israel and many other international newspapers in Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Iran, Qatar, Jordan and Pakistan. I know that Israel is currently using such weapons and could be contaminating their own people and agricultural areas. This also could extend to Egypt and Jordan as a result of the ongoing tunnel bombing by the IDF. Needless to say Haaretz did not respond or print my article depriving its people of learning the truth. Had they printed this story the response from members of the IDF who took part in the onslaught and residents of the region (especially in Central & Southern Israel) would have been condemnation

One could imagine the devastating impact on the people of Gaza and West Bank. The death toll from the Israeli onslaught was extremely high but what the general public do not understand is that the ongoing deaths from an increased rate of cancer will continue and as a result of Depleted Uranium (DU). Contamination of the reproductive organs will pass on to newly conceived babies with disastrous results. This contamination path continues on in future generations.

Other nations are also currently using these weapons (NATO) especially in Afghanistan and over the border in Pakistan. One must accept that this is also a crime if civilian populations are involved. However, it doesn’t match up to using them on such dense enclaves as Gaza.

If government are allowing their own troops to become victims of such weapons then they also should be held to account. More importantly the country of origin (namely the US) and their respective arms developers are equally to blame for this inhumane use of DU weaponry.

I hope you appreciate my way of thinking and agree that it doesn’t really matter how people are dying. They are dying without just cause in the most terrible way and that is an act against mankind. One would assume we learn by our mistakes and would never allow genocide to happen again. In the case of Gaza, the Israeli Government is applying a slow genocide on the Palestinians especially in the Gaza strip. You and I know this is so terribly wrong. One must also relate to the previous conflict in Lebanon (2006) where extremely high radiation readings were taken. When this report was submitted to the UNEP the data was altered so as not to reflect that a problem existed.

In the case of today’s high tech weaponry they contain Advanced Composites, Depleted Uranium and other heavy metals which in general are toxic to man. When doubt or uncertainty exists one must always stay on the side of safety and in this regard governments are not doing so. It is also interesting to note that the current method of testing using the ICRP Biokinetic Model is badly flawed.

All of my research experts state it is radiation alpha particles from uranium atoms that cause the problem, and this type of contamination can be measured very precisely. It is the alpha particle that once inside your body runs rife and the rate and type of "Cancer" is subject to if it was inhaled or ingested. The latter is caused mainly in areas where DU dust has spread in the atmosphere and returned to earth in precipitation.

It is our duty to keep this in the media spotlight, as an example our own Doctor Chris Busby carried out exhaustive tests for the UNEP in Lebanon and his findings revealed the trace of a new type of radiation (that has never been detected in conventional weapons) called Deuterium.

Some of his findings were altered or deleted when the UNEP released its report on Lebanon. It is also interesting to note that this newly detected radiation revealed that the US is using 4th Generation Nuclear Weapons. The other findings also show that the US has reclassified its weaponry to show them as conventional when in actual fact they are not.

When DU explodes the core temperature reaches extremely high levels around 5,000 C creating miniature forms of atomic weapons, some dust particles settle in the crater and its vicinity whilst others become airborne into the worlds atmosphere. As an example DU can spread from the battle fields of Iraq/Afghanistan and reach England in 7-9 days, dispersing millions of particles in any given area. It then only takes one single alpha particle from a uranium atom to start the cancer process. If one thinks of the scale of this, in England one can inhale around 23 Million over a period of weeks!

Governments have no regard for their soldiers or population, as in the case of Israel who contaminated its own IDF and the Israeli population. After the attack on the Golan Heights within one hour the contamination was over Israel. In fact, in Northern Israel (where it rained) there has been a rise in medical cases.

The radiation has entered the food chain in the entire region and since the onslaught on Gaza, no doubt Central & Southern Israel has also been contaminated, except to say the rainfall is significantly lower. In addition to the contamination of Gaza one can assume the contamination of West Bank which is the main source of water for Central & Southern Israel.

As a result of the worldwide DU fallout one can expect dramatic rises in related diseases. The WHO predicts a rise in Diabetes from 32 million to 230 million by the year 2020 and a 50% rise in cancer. In Canada some of the expected target levels have already been achieved. Recently there was a report that many Israeli's had become either sterile or infertile, which can also be linked to pollution. I think it is vital, the Israeli Government has a duty to make this known to the residents of Israel. The US and Israeli governments are killing their own people.

Should a contaminated male be lucky enough (or should I say unlucky enough) to remain fertile then he will then pass on his contamination to his partner who in turn passes it on to the unborn child who then passes it one to his/her child and the trend just keeps happening. The damage to the genes or the DNA is the most important aspect of DU and some say this is a conspiracy that is intended for populations that own large reserves of oil/gas or minerals. In this context it could be said that this is a deliberate ploy to kill off by mass Arabic peoples thus leaving such reserves under the control of either US or Zionist minded economic developers.

A report once compared a certain type of weapon, alone, capable of spreading pollution equal to 83,000 nuclear bombs as used in Japan!! I guess in some respects, such as the case with Gaza, the damage has already been done. However, we the public must stop the use of DU and have them banned as being part of the Nuclear Arsenal.

I again repeat that the US and its current and past Presidents (Commander in Chief) are directly responsible for this situation. It is the President who has to authorise the export of such weapons to Israel or other nations, though it has to pass through Congress first

Finally on the question of legality. It is very clear that the US is in violation of its own export regulations and more importantly the use of DU violates many Geneva Conventions.

All of these issues must remain in the spotlight of the media and the public at large until by public pressure alone, the UN or Governments of the World ban the manufacturing and use of Depleted Uranium in weaponry.

I would like to close this report with the words of a prominent American - Henry Kissinger who became National Security Advisor to Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford and eventually Secretary of State (1968-1977). One would have thought that with his Jewish background he would have been more compassionate to fellow man. However some of his statements show a more sinister side. He once said “Military men are just dumb stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy.” Can one imagine the military men of today being sent to far away places such as Iraq and Afghanistan? Can those soldiers ever imagine such thoughts in the minds of their own government? They are sent to satisfy the economic greed of their countries foreign policy and to shine the so called beacon of liberty.

Henry Kissinger was also a strong supporter of America’s Dominance of the World and believed in the following concepts:

If you want to control a country you must control the food.

If you want to control a region you must control the energy and if you want to control the world you must control the banking.

This philosophy is slowly taking place. The US have control over food both within the US and in some regards around the world. The US are starting to take control of energy in the Middle East by securing oil/gas markets and energy in Asia. On the banking side we have seen the collapse of the banking sector in the US rapidly followed by banks around the World. We can clearly see a connection between past and present governments

It is our duty to protect our fellow man and our precious environment from the ravages of unscrupulous governments who’s only aim is economic growth at any cost. In the case of Depleted Uranium (DU), it is our duty to make sure that our respective governments ban the use of these weapons. Our leaders talk about mans pollution, carbon footprints and that we will all have to pay for its upkeep. Those same leaders do not tell you that they have put their signatures to the manufacture of DU weaponry (Mini Nukes) and have allowed these weapons to be exported for use in the Balkans, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Gaza and maybe now Pakistan.

This is an international crime of giant proportions and may also be in violation of the US export law and several Geneva Conventions. The airborne pollution from DU is showing up in many countries and has the overall potential of killing many thousands of people if not millions. Why can't Israelis understand their country is adding to this potential catastrophe by using US manufactured DU weaponry. One cannot just blame the US as other NATO forces also use DU in all theatres of war.

We can expect the usual rejection of these claims from the IDF. They claim DU weapons have not been used in Gaza, in much the same way as they rejected the claims of DU use made in Lebanon in 2006. However I can now confirm that one expert has now received samples directly from Gaza which are now undergoing tests in both the UK and Sweden. The initial preliminary report reads as follows:

The Arab Medical League obtained an air filter from an ambulance; also a missile crater sample. They have been analyzed here, at Harwell and in Sweden and they show the presence of uranium at levels higher than the Lebanon filter. There is both enriched and depleted uranium in different portions of the material, very strange; the actual isotope ratios vary and we are also using CR39 analysis. the results are not fully written up yet and need some thinking about, but there is certainly uranium in Gaza from weapons usage.

Based on this brief report the media should approach the UN delegation currently in Gaza and ask the following questions for their response:

Are they aware that independent tests have revealed the use of DU weaponry in Gaza?

Are they aware that DU Dust from such weapons becomes an aerosol and contaminates the target area, the civilian population, the land/crops and water supply?

Are they aware that this contamination drifts on the wind and also into the upper atmosphere possibly contaminating areas such as Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and the Middle East in general, and also has the potential to travel around the world?

Are they aware that evidence reveals that insufficient and out dated tests have resulted in deeply flawed reports by such authorities as the UNEP, WHO, IAEA, many Governments and their respective Departments of Defence?

Are they aware that there is no safe level of DU Dust or Low Level Radiation for humans and once it enters the body by inhalation or ingestion the effects can be catastrophic?

Are they aware that these authorities have not carried out any substantial tests on humans in relation to the effects of such contamination?

Are they aware that when these weapons were and are used in the Balkans, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Gaza and and now possible Pakistan that millions of DU particles enter the upper atmosphere and can be detected in the UK within 7-9 days and that the levels detected are well above the legally acceptable levels? Recordings were made in the UK that gave rise to an urgent alert to the British Environmental Agency.

Are they aware that many thousands of troops and civilians in the above areas have or will become victims of cancer in its many forms, increasing still births and creating badly disfigured babies?

When will the UN, WHO, US, UK and other NATO countries be forced to stop using these nuclear weapons and when will the President of the United States stop the manufacture of these weapons in the US?

When will all Governments accept the use of Depleted Uranium Weaponry is an act against the whole of mankind?

When will they accept that their respective War Veterans and the innocent civilians victims in each of the above countries have a case to answer for, and must have their day in court and receive compensation for the pain and suffering your respective Governments have caused?

We insist that whilst the UN War Crimes delegation is in Gaza that they test all respective sites for DU contamination, consult the hospital for medical records and more importantly establish a close monitoring system throughout Gaza and West Bank for the potential increase in cancer related illnesses as per above (this would also be advisable in adjacent countries).

Gaza will have to be totally reconstructed and this leads to another major problem for contaminated sites. It is normal protocol that if a country contaminates another, it is responsible for the clean up and for the removal of contaminated waste. In this case Israel delivered the DU and the US supplied the weapons. With this in mind will the UN ensure that all existing sites are fenced off to avoid public access (especially the children who are extremely venerable to this type of contamination)? We would also insist that when such sites are cleaned up that weather conditions and wind direction are taken into account to reduce the downwind risk to the population.

Of all the Israeli violations, the use of Depleted Uranium would have to take center stage, adding to all the other issues regarding WP and other breaches of human rights.

Finally we insist that the United Nations Forces (Blue Helmet troops not combat troops from NATO) take control off all borders (on both sides) Once in place, the blockade of Gaza/West Bank can be lifted both by Land Sea and air. It would also be a requirement for an elevated highway between Gaza and West Bank be constructed to allow trade between the two, trade with Jordan, and trade with the rest of the world. Construction of a commercial port/container base and the reconstruction of the airport should also be of the highest priority.

To summarise, it would appear that the many international troops and civilian populations that were contaminated throughout the world will never have their day in court. It is also extremely important to remember the worldwide atmospheric pollution by Depleted Uranium, which in some cases greatly exceeds permitted levels. Tests in the UK revealed extremely high levels of DU that had drifted over from the Middle East areas of conflict causing urgent alerts to the British Environmental Agency.

Only by going out into the field of conflict and its aftermath will people believe that what I am saying is correct. My time in the military revealed so many wrong doings. Since that time I have spent considerable time with the innocent victims and IDP's that flow from areas of conflict. I rest my case. I hope and pray that Pakistan does not encounter the same problems as the Balkans, Kuwait, Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan and Gaza.

"The immediate concern for medical professionals and employees of aid organizations remains the threat of extensive depleted uranium (DU) contamination in Afghanistan." This is one of the conclusions of a 130-page report, Mystery Metal Nightmare in Afghanistan? (1), by Dai Williams, an independent researcher and occupational psychologist. It is the result of more than a year of research into DU and its effects on those exposed to it. Using internet sites of both NGOs (2) and arms manufacturers, Williams has come up with information that he has cross-checked and compared with weapons that the Pentagon has reported — indeed boasted about — using during the war. What emerges is a startling and frightening vision of war, both in Afghanistan and in the future.

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 (3,422°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 1,132°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.

This type of weapon can penetrate many metres of reinforced concrete or rock in seconds. It is equipped with a detonator controlled by a computer that measures the density of the material passed through and, when the warhead reaches the targeted void or a set depth, detonates the warhead, which then has an explosive and incendiary effect. The DU burns fiercely and rapidly, carbonizing everything in the void, while the DU itself is transformed into a fine uranium oxide powder. Although only 30% of the DU of a 30mm penetrator round is oxidized, the DU charge of a missile oxidizes 100%. Most of the dust particles produced measure less than 1.5 microns, small enough to be breathed in.

For a few researchers in this area, the controversy over the use of DU weapons during the Kosovo war got side-tracked. Instead of asking what weapons might have been used against most of the targets (underground mountain bunkers) acknowledged by Nato, discussion focused on 30mm anti-tank penetrator rounds, which Nato had admitted using but which would have been ineffective against super hardened underground installations.

However, as long as the questions focused on such anti-tank penetrators, they dealt with rounds whose maximum weight was five kilos for a 120mm round. The DU explosive charges in the guided bomb systems used in Afghanistan can weigh as much as one and a half metric tons (as in Raytheon's Bunker Buster — GBU-28) (4). Who cares?

In Geneva, where most of the aid agencies active in Afghanistan are based, Williams's report has caused varied reactions. The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees and the Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs have circulated it. But it does not seem to have worried agency and program directors much. Only Médecins sans Frontiéres and the UN Environment Program (UNEP) say they fear an environmental and health catastrophe.

In March and April 2001, UNEP and the World Health Organization (WHO) published reports on DU, reports that are frequently cited by those claiming DU is innocuous. The Pentagon emphasizes that the organizations are independent and neutral. But the UNEP study is, at best, compromised. The WHO study is unreliable.

The Kosovo assessment mission that provided the basis for the UNEP analysis was organized using maps supplied by Nato; Nato troops accompanied the researchers to protect them from unexploded munitions, including cluster bomb sub-munitions. These sub-munitions, as Williams discovered, were probably equipped with DU shaped-charges. Nato troops prevented researchers from any contact with DU sub-munitions, even from discovering their existence. During the 16 months before the UNEP mission, the Pentagon sent at least 10 study teams into the field and did major clean-up operations (5). Out of 8,112 anti-tank penetrator rounds fired on the sites studied, the UNEP team recovered only 11, although many more would not have been burned. And, 18 to 20 months after the firing, the amount of dust found directly on sites hit by these rounds was particularly small.

The WHO undertook no proper epidemiological study, only an academic desk study. Under pressure from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the WHO confined itself to studying DU as a heavy-metal, chemical contaminant. In January 2001, alerted to the imminent publication by Le Monde diplomatique of an article attacking its inaction (6), the WHO held a press conference and announced a $2m fund — eventually $20m — for research into DU. According Dr Michael Repacholi of the WHO, the report on DU, under way since 1999 and supervised by the British geologist Barry Smith, would be expanded to include radiation contamination. The work would include analyses of urine of people exposed to DU, conducted to determine the exposure level.

But the monograph, published 10 weeks later, was merely a survey of existing literature on the subject. Out of hundreds of thousands of monographs published since 1945, which ought to have been explored in depth, the report covered only monographs on chemical contamination, with a few noteworthy exceptions. The few articles about dealing with radiation contamination that had been consulted came from the Pentagon and the Rand Corporation, the Pentagon think- tank. It is unsurprising that the report was bland.

The recommendations of the two reports were common sense, and repeated advice already given by the WHO and echoed regularly by the aid organizations working in Kosovo. This included marking off known target sites, collecting penetrator rounds wherever possible, keeping children away from contaminated sites, and the suggested monitoring of some wells later on. Uranium plus

The problem can be summed up as two key findings:

o Radiation emitted by DU threatens the human body because, once DU dust has been inhaled, it becomes an internal radiation source; international radiation protection standards, the basis of expert claims that DU is harmless, deal only with external radiation sources;

o Dirty DU — the UNEP report, for all its failings, deserves credit for mentioning this. Uranium from reactors, recycled for use in munitions, contains additional highly toxic elements, such as plutonium, 1.6 kilogrammes of which could kill 8bn people. Rather than depleted uranium, it should be called uranium plus.

In a French TV documentary on Canal+ in January 2001 (7), a team of researchers presented the results of an investigation into a gaseous diffusion — recycling — plant in Paducah, Kentucky, US. According to the lawyer for 100,000 plaintiffs, who are past and present plant employees, they were contaminated because of flagrant non-compliance with basic safety standards; the entire plant is irrevocably contaminated, as is everything it produces. The documentary claimed that the DU in the missiles that were dropped on Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq is likely to be a product of this plant.

These weapons represent more than just a new approach to warfare. The US rearmament program launched during Ronald Reagan's presidency was based on the premise that the victor in future conflicts would be the side that destroyed the enemy's command and communications centers. Such centers are increasingly located in super hardened bunkers deep underground. Hitting such sites with nuclear weapons would do the job well, but also produce radiation that even the Pentagon would have to acknowledge as fearsome, not to mention the bad public relations arising from mushroom-shaped clouds in a world aware of the dangers of nuclear war. DU warheads seem clean: they produce a fire modest in comparison with a nuclear detonation, though the incendiary effect can be just as destructive.

The information that Williams has gathered (8) shows that after computer modelling in 1987, the US conducted the first real operational tests against Baghdad in 1991. The war in Kosovo provided further opportunity to test, on impressively hard targets, DU weapon prototypes as well as weapons already in production. Afghan-istan has seen an extension and amplification of such tests. But at the Pentagon there is little transparency about this.

Williams cites several press articles (9) in December 2001 mentioning NBC (nuclear-biological-chemical) teams in the field checking for possible contamination. Such contamination, according to the US government, would be attributed to the Taliban. But, last October, Afghan doctors, citing rapid deaths from internal ailments, were accusing the coalition of using chemical and radioactive weapons. The symptoms they reported (hemorrhaging, pulmonary constriction and vomiting) could have resulted from radiation contamination.

On 5 December, when a friendly-fire bomb hit coalition soldiers, media representatives were all immediately removed from the scene and locked up in a hangar. According to the Pentagon, the bomb was a GBU-31, carrying a BLU-109 warhead. The Canal+ documentary shows an arms manufacturer's sales representative at an international fair in Dubai in 1999, just after the Kosovo war. He is presenting a BLU-109 warhead and describing its penetration capabilities against super hardened underground targets, explaining that this model had been tested in a recent war.

Donald Rumsfeld, US Secretary of Defense, on 16 January this year admitted that the US had found radiation in Afghanistan (10). But this, he reassured, was merely from DU warheads (supposedly belonging to al-Qaida); he did not explain how al-Qaida could have launched them without planes. Williams points out that, even if the coalition has used no DU weapons, those attributed to al-Qaida might turn out to be an even greater source of contamination, especially if they came from Russia, in which case the DU could be even dirtier than that from Paducah.

Following its assessment mission in the Balkans, UNEP set up a post-conflict assessment unit. Its director, Henrik Slotte, has announced that it is ready to work in Afghanistan as soon as possible, given proper security, unimpeded access to hit sites, and financing. The WHO remains silent. When questions about the current state of the DU research fund were addressed to Jon Lidon, spokesman for the director general, Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, the WHO did not answer. Yet Williams urges that studies begin immediately, as victims of severe UD exposure may soon all be dead, yet with their deaths attributed to the rigors of winter.

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.

* Journalist, Geneva

(1) See website

(2) The internet sites of Janes Defense Information, the Federation of American Scientists, the Centre of Defense Information.

(3) See FAS Website

(4) FAS and USA Today

(5) Chronology of environmental sampling in the Balkans

(6) See Deafening silence on depleted uranium, Le Monde diplomatique English edition, February 2001.

(7) La Guerre radioactive secrète, by Martin Meissonnier, Roger Trilling, Guillaume d'Allessandro and Luc Hermann, first broadcast in February 2000; updated and rebroadcast in January 2001 under the title L'Uranium appauvri, nous avons retrouvé l'usine contaminée by Roger Trilling and Luc Hermann.

(8) The Use of Modeling and Simulation in the Planning of Attacks on Iraqi Chemical and Biological Warfare Targets

(9) For example "New Evidence is Adding to US Fears of Al-Qaida Dirty Bomb", International Herald Tribune, December 5, 2001; "Uranium Reportedly Found in Tunnel Complex", USA Today, December 24, 2001.

(10) "US Says More Weapons Sites Found in Afghanistan", Reuters, January 16, 2002.

Translated by the author

Under the direction of Secretary of Defense Cheney, the 1991 Gulf War began with a "shock and awe" bombing campaign that destroyed large biological laboratories, chemical plants, and nuclear enrichment facilities, most of them around Baghdad. Many sites were illegally supplied by the Reagan-Bush administration, in which both Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld served, so the United States government knew their locations.

Biological, chemical and nuclear weapons damage the bodies of soldiers in distinct ways. The first employs deadly bacteria and viruses to cause known illnesses. The second uses poisonous, or toxic, substances to attack the body's chemistry. Nuclear weapons, such as depleted uranium (D.U.), were unimaginable before World War II. They attack the body with invisible radioactive energy that, as you will soon read, produces a wider variety of symptoms that develop over a longer period of time. Radioactive heavy metal particles embedded in the body are both radioactive and toxic.

Biological, chemical and nuclear weapons can potentially "blow back." Once they are released, they can kill and maim civilians as well as enemy soldiers. Hence all three have been banned by international treaties which the United States signed.

They also blow back on the army that uses them. The practical danger to America's own troops prevented the widespread use of WMD's until the atomic bombs in World War II and the chemical herbicide Agent Orange in Vietnam. Hundreds of thousands of American troops suffered and died because of the testing and use of these weapons.

When George Bush Sr., Cheney, and Rumsfeld supplied brutal tyrant Saddam Hussein with these substances in the 1980's they showed disregard for the lives of folks living in the Middle East. When they ordered the 1991 aerial destruction of stockpiles of these weapons, they showed a deadly contempt for their own citizen-soldiers.

Those early bombing attacks sent clouds of miniscule toxic and radioactive particles into the air that floated over the future battlefield and bivouac camps where hundreds of thousands of American troops were awaiting the invasion.

Bush Sr.'s February 1991 ground war was even shorter than Bush Jr.'s 2003 "Mission Accomplished" operation. The former lasted only 100 hours. Afterwards 105 sites stockpiling dangerous chemical and biological weapons were destroyed, contaminating everything around them. In March, a huge weapons storage dump in Khamisiyah was blown up by American engineers, sending a second huge toxic cloud over troops preparing to depart for home.

Sgt. Dan Topolski, of the 87th Engineer Battalion, participated in the Khamisiyah demolition. He speculates in the excellent DVD Beyond Treason that the hasty action, without prior inspection, inventory, or proper safety precautions, was political. Topolski suggests this stupid order was motivated by Bush Sr.'s desperate desire to hide the United States origin of that weaponry from United Nations inspectors and the American people.

Dr. Doug Rokke states, "General Powell, General Schwarzkopf, General Horner, and Secretary Cheney. . .made a conscience decision. . . to blow up Iraq’s chemical-biological stockpiles in place. [They] also decided to blow up their nuclear reactors in place. This is all confirmed in Schwarzkopf’s autobiography. . .We warned everybody that these exposures – downwind exposures – were going to have a disastrous effect on U.S. military personnel, on coalition personnel, on Iraqi personnel, and on the civilians and non-combatants in the region. That warning was ignored."

Years later, ailing vets would force the government to admit that CIA satellites had tracked the movement of the mass of Khamisiyah contaminants in real time. The size and path of the cloud explains the otherwise inexplicable incidences of Gulf War illness among Navy personnel and pilots on battleships in the Persian Gulf downwind.

During the early aerial bombardment and later tank war, President Bush and Secretary Cheney authorized the use of massive amounts of depleted uranium armaments for the first time in the history of warfare. This material is produced only by the United States and had been used experimentally in Vietnam and the 1973 Israel-Arab War. Internal Department of Defense reports had warned since 1943 about its use, and accurately predicted its poison gas effects on our troops.

In his article, "The Gulf War Was The Most Toxic Battle In Western Military History," Dr. Malcolm Hooper, emeritus professor of medicinal chemistry at the University of Sunderland UK, attributes the symptoms of mysterious "Gulf War Illness" among American and coalition troops to a combination of toxic substances to which they were subjected.

These included, in addition to weapons of mass destruction, experimental vaccines, anti-nerve gas tablets, aerosolized pesticides, and smoke from hundreds of burning oil wells. Some of the vaccines were not approved by the FDA and had never been used on human subjects. No one had studied the interactive effects of as many as seventeen vaccines administered at the same time. Many soldiers became violently ill immediately after receiving the battery of shots and others developed a variety of symptoms later. Strangely, the normally bureaucratic military kept no records of who received what shots and when.

However, most researchers cite radioactive poisoning from depleted uranium shells as the deadliest element in the Gulf War Illness "cocktail." In the 1991 war the Pentagon fired more than 340 tons of D.U. projectiles at targets in Iraq and Kuwait. More than a half million Gulf era veterans are on medical disability.

At last count, more than 1,000 tons have been used in Afghanistan and more than 3,000 tons in Iraq. Significantly, most Gulf War tours of duty were short. Three quarters of today's troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have served multiple tours: 26% are on their first tour of duty, 45% are on their second tour, and 29% are in Iraq for a third time or more. Some are now being ordered to a fourth tour of duty.

Simple math suggests that depleted uranium may eventually prove a hundred times more deadly to our forces than all the Iraqi resistance fighters' improvised explosive devices (I.E.D.s) and rocket propelled grenades (R.P.G.'s) combined.

Leonard Dietz is a retired physicist from the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory in upstate New York. Dietz, who pioneered the technology to measure uranium isotopes, is quoted as saying, "Anybody, civilian or soldier, who breathes these particles has a permanent dose, and it's not going to decrease very much over time. . .In the long run. . .veterans exposed to ceramic uranium oxide have a major problem."

A D.U shell bursts into flames as soon as it leaves the delivery device. When it hits a target, as much as 70 percent burns on impact at a high temperature, releasing into the air billions of invisible radioactive particles. This infinitesimally fine dust of aerosolized uranium oxide consists of metallic micro-particles that are smaller than viruses or bacteria.

All of our bodies contain tiny amounts of natural uranium because it is found in water and in the food supply. But natural uranium is quickly and harmlessly excreted by the body. However the velocity and heat of the impact of D.U munitions convert the poisonous uranium oxide from a heavy metal into a ceramic heavy metal that makes it insoluble and therefore difficult to excrete.

Where does depleted uranium come from? It doesn't occur in nature. Natural uranium has to be “processed' to remove less than one half of one percent of a special kind of uranium called U-235. Bomb makers use U-235 to make thermonuclear bombs that can explode with a force equivalent to 100 million tons of TNT.

U-235 is also used to make fuel rods for nuclear reactors. Used fuel rods are extremely radioactive for many years and will kill any person near them in ten seconds. No one on earth knows what to do with used fuel rods. Tons of deadly, radioactive used fuel rods have been in temporary storage for more than 50 years.

D.U. is "depleted" only in the sense that more highly radioactive forms of uranium have been partially removed. What's left, depleted uranium, mainly U-238, is still highly radioactive and dangerous. It is used to make military bullets, shells, land mines, armor plating, missiles and bombs.

As we are all taught in elementary school, radioactivity is dangerous because it causes cancer. That's why your dentist covers your body with a lead apron before your X-ray.

According to a June 2002 National Radiological Protection Board report,

"All uranium, whether natural, depleted or enriched, is a toxic radiological element. Each differs from the other in atomic structure by less than one percent. D.U. emits three types of ionizing radiation: alpha and beta particles and photons. Alpha particles are blocked by objects as light as a sheet of paper and humans exposed to them are naturally protected by their skin. Beta particles (high speed electrons) can penetrate human skin to a depth of one centimeter while photons (x-rays and gamma rays) are more penetrating and can pass completely through a human body."

Although blocked by the skin, alpha radiation can be inhaled, ingested, and absorbed into the blood stream through scratches and wounds. It is highly dangerous internally. In addition to being physically radioactive it is also chemically toxic. This explains the "double whammy" effect. Soldiers who are exposed can become immediately ill from the toxicity, recover, and then suffer severe additional symptoms from the radioactivity years or decades later.

A study in the April 2003 New Scientist magazine suggested that D.U. toxicity combines synergistically with its radioactivity to produce more serious effects.

Dr Keith Baverstock, a senior radiation advisor to the World Health Organization, is quoted as saying, “The radiation and the chemical toxicity of D.U. could also act together to create a ‘cocktail effect’ that further increases the risk of cancer.”

Hence Gulf War vets were served a cocktail inside a cocktail.

More troubling still is another study of the materials inside the D.U. weapons used in Iraq and Afghanistan. That report found that in addition to U-238, today's munitions contain plutonium, neptunium, and the highly radioactive uranium isotope U-236. An isotope is one of several slightly different atomic structures within the same element, in this case uranium. According to a 1991 study by the UK Atomic Energy Authority, these elements are 100,000 times more dangerous than the U-238 in so-called depleted uranium.

U-236 is another man-made metal. It is created inside operating nuclear reactors and is intensely radioactive. U-236 has been found in the urine of sick Afghan and Iraqi villagers and on the ground next to bomb craters.

Geologist Leuren Moret is an independent scientist and internationally recognized expert on radiation, D.U., and public health. She estimates that "one millionth of a gram [of depleted uranium] accumulating in a person's body would be fatal. There are no known methods of treatment."

Why the wide variety of illnesses?

Depleted uranium contamination causes virtually every known illness from acute skin rashes, severe headaches, muscle and joint pain, and general fatigue, to major birth defects, infection, depression, cardiovascular disease, brain tumors, and every other type of cancer. Uranium replaces calcium, destroying teeth and bones.

D.U. is causing permanent disability and death for hundreds of thousands of American veterans who served in the Middle East.

For more information, every military family should watch Beyond Treason, and every high school should play the DVD for students subjected to military recruitment. According to experts interviewed on the DVD, some soldiers return home contaminated with billions of radioactive ceramic particles.

Leuren Moret states, "In a cubic meter of air there are one billion particles a tenth of a micron in diameter. An ordinary man breathes twenty-eight cubic meters of air a day and for that reason our soldiers internally contaminated to depleted uranium have billions of particles of depleted uranium distributed throughout their bodies."

Let's follow the journey of these microscopic invaders after they are inhaled. They attach first to the trachea and stick to lung tissue. The heavy metal ceramic specks are practically insoluble; so they so don’t easily dissolve into the bloodstream. They cling to the respiratory system for years, even decades, and irradiate the surrounding tissues, damaging neighboring organs. Gradually they pass through the lung-blood membranes into the bloodstream and lymphatic system, causing illnesses and damage to the entire body. Radiation mutates cells, causing cancers, leukemia, lymphoma, congenital disorders, and birth defects.

Here's what happens when these microscopic radioactive particles are ingested through the mouth or penetrate the body through buried D.U. shrapnel or open wounds. They enter the bloodstream and circulate freely throughout the body, emitting radiation as they travel. Some concentrate in the lymph nodes and cause lymphatic cancer. D.U. also damages the immune system by hastening the death of white blood cells, and impairing their ability to attack bacteria.

Other ceramic particles cause "low-level" cell irradiation in the bone marrow and the stem cells that the body creates there. Stem cells are the progenitors of all the other cells that the body manufactures in order to renew itself.

Dr. Asaf Durakovic, formerly in charge of Nuclear Medicine Service at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, was ailing veteran Terry Riordan's doctor whom we cite in "Dick and Hillary's Dirty Little Secret," on Dr. Durakovic is now the Director of the Uranium Medical Research Institute.

"Stem cells are very vulnerable," he says. "Bombarded with alpha particles, their DNA will fall apart, potentially affecting every organ."

The process is similar to building a house with defective materials or cooking a meal with spoiled ingredients. If malfunctioning stem cells become new liver cells, then the liver will malfunction. Hence defective stem cells cause many veterans to suffer kidney failure, brain damage, and poorly functioning joints and muscles.

D.U. may transform semen into a caustic alkali, which explains Terry and Susan Reardon's experiences during lovemaking that we described on March 8. This explains the severe urinary problems among veterans just back from Iraq to be described in the April 4 installment of We're Not in Kansas Anymore. Dr. Malcolm Hooper, at the University of Sunderland, is familiar with 4,000 such cases among UK Gulf War veterans.

Radiation expert Leuren Moret calls D.U, "The Trojan Horse of nuclear war. . .There's no way to clean it up, and no way to turn it off because it continues to decay into other radioactive isotopes. . ."

As far back as 1979, Leonard Dietz, the retired New York State physicist, discovered that aerosolized D.U. particles less than a millionth of a meter in diameter can travel long distances. Some months ago, Leuren Moret told Dr. Elias Akleh, an Arab-American writer, “D.U. dust is now everywhere. A minimum of 500 – 600 tons now litter Afghanistan, and several times that amount are spread across Iraq." As you will read on April 4, a serious level of depleted uranium particles reached the UK nine hours after the United States 2003 "Shock and Awe" bombing of Iraq. It's likely that I am inhaling them as I peck on my keyboard, and so are you as you read my words.

Compare the latest tonnage to the 340 tons used in the Gulf War. Dr. Doug Rokke, the health physicist for the US Army, who oversaw the partial clean up of depleted uranium bomb fragments in Kuwait in 1991, reminded Alliance of Atomic Veterans writer Vincent L. Guarisco that, in Bush and Cheney's new war, the massive radioactive arsenal has been used mainly in Iraqi urban centers and civilian neighborhoods, rather than in desert battlefields.

Over time, the health of all foreign troops will be affected. The health effects on the natives of Iraq and Afghanistan will be catastrophic. Based on the increase in cancer rates in the aftermath of the Chernobyl and Three Mile Island nuclear meltdowns, many Iranians, Saudis, Syrians, Lebanese, Palestinians, and Israelis will die prematurely thanks to our government's unprovoked nuclear attack on Iraq.

As you will read on April 18, because of their more rapid cellular development, children are the most vulnerable to depleted uranium poisoning.

In Iraq’s arid climate, sandstorms blow tiny particles of D.U. away from the blast epicenter, impacting the surrounding environment without geographical limitations. It enters the soil, polluting the water table, the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, and infecting the food chain. Fertile, D.U.-contaminated grasslands west of Basra in southern Iraq produce vegetables and grains for livestock that are consumed by American troops as well as Iraqis.

The New York State National Guard Rainbow Division just returned from six months stationed in Camp Forward Danger on the Tigris River near Tikrit, north of Baghdad. Saddam Hussein's rebellious hometown was the site of major combat using D.U. munitions during the initial invasion and for months afterward.

An official June 2005 United States Central Command communiqué reported that soldiers of the 62nd Quartermaster Company from Fort Hood, Texas were supplying Camp Forward Danger's water from the Tigris River. The engineers ran it through a reverse osmosis water purification unit that dissolved the solids. The water is purified again and chlorinated. However it seems that it is not tested for radioactivity.

I have attempted to verify the degree of radioactive poisoning to which the New York National Guard members were subjected. I had contacts with officers at the base before this series went on line. However, Pentagon public relations officers, Capt. Bill Roberts and 1st Lt. Tawny M. Dotson, have ignored several requests for email access to Camp Forward Danger. I've appealed to Maj. Richard J. McNorton, the CENTCOM's special officer in charge of helping bloggers obtain accurate information, but he hasn't responded either. We'll keep you posted on We're Not in Kansas Anymore.

Even if the water were monitored, there is no way, outside a sophisticated nuclear laboratory, to remove carcinogenic depleted uranium from water, air or food—as you can understand from the discussion above.

According to a recent interview with Dr, Doug Rokke, formerly the military's top expert in this field, the only way to monitor bacteria-sized D.U. particles would be to send samples to a specialized laboratory.

Depleted uranium is nasty stuff. Think about this as you read news reports of the current massive aerial bombing campaign the U.S. is waging around Samarra, north of Baghdad. You might have thought "insurgents" would be the only casualties before you read "Depleted Uranium For Dummies." But you're not a "dummie" anymore.

Our men and women of the New York State National Guard have just spent six months taking radioactive showers and washing small open wounds in a depleted uranium broth. They've eaten over 500 meals with food, plates and silverware washed with hot water, in two senses of the word. Thanks to George Bush Sr. and Dick Cheney's decision to use depleted uranium munitions in 1991, the Tigris river, the Bible's Edenic river of life, has become a modern river of death. And our brothers and sisters are drinking the forbidden water, with knowing it—despite informational videotapes produced for them by Major Doug Rokke and his team. The tapes, pamphlets, and bulletin board posters are mandatory, but how many of our men and woman serving in radioactive areas have seen them?

Our troops inhale depleted uranium with every single breath. Radioactive particles the size of a virus cannot be filtered outside a laboratory. Even the 800,000 gas masks provided Gulf War troops were useless because the charcoal filters became inert within days. The only protection is airtight MOPP suits connected to oxygen tanks.

No place in Iraq is free from radioactive contamination, including today's supposedly "safe" Green Zone in Baghdad where top military officers, civilian occupation authorities, international journalists, and the Iraqi government leaders live and work.

Saddam Hussein's former palace is now the middle of the Green Zone. It was bombarded with D.U. munitions before and during the invasion. So has greater Baghdad ever since. So Green Zone residents inhale and ingest depleted uranium every day. Perhaps that's why, during President Bush's Thanksgiving visit, he was served a plastic turkey.

UPI reported last December that Wilder Gutierrez Rubio, 38, had died a few hours after returning home to Lima, Peru. He had been diagnosed by doctors at Ibn Sina Hospital in Baghdad with severe leukemia, which they attributed to depleted uranium exposure, even though he had served in Baghdad only a short time. Gutierrez was part of a contingent of Latin Americans recruited by a U.S. company to provide security for Baghdad's Green Zone.

Tragically, our celebrated comrades of the New York State National Guard Rainbow Division are home from Camp Forward Danger, but not home free from danger.

After Dick Cheney sprayed the entire Army, Army Reserves, and National Guard with God-zillions of time-release miniscule radioactive ceramic buckshot, why should he feel guilty about shooting a few dozen ordinary pellets into one Texas lawyer?

A majority of Americans, recently polled agree that Bush and Cheney should be impeached if they lied to Congress and the American people in order to launch this war. According to the latest poll, a plurality of Americans say that it's time for impeachment, period.

The troops want to come home.

Last month's Zogby poll of troops on the ground in Iraq reported that 29% of the respondents, serving in various branches of the armed forces, said the U.S. should leave Iraq “immediately.” And 89% of the reserves and 82% of those in the National Guard said the U.S. should leave Iraq within a year.

And most of these folks have yet to read about the depleted uranium lodged throughout their bodies.

The 2006 election is nine months away. Are you registered to vote? Have you called your congressperson, senator, or local opposition candidates?

We did—earlier this month. We emailed all five candidates for New York's 24th Congressional district. We also reached both Democratic contenders for New York's 20th district.

We urged that they check out this website and our sources.

Four out of seven responded promptly--with thanks. These were Michael A. Arcuri, Kirsten Gillibrand, Leon Koziol, and Les Roberts, all Democrats. Like the overwhelming majority of citizens, they were not fully informed about depleted uranium. Their positions on eliminating D.U. and promptly withdrawing the troops will be announced on Now that you understand D.U., you can oppose the position of many "Bush-lite" Democrats who want to withdraw some troops but to increase the tonnage of D.U. bombs dropped in civilian areas. Only ignorance prevents them from realizing this policy will kill more American troops than Iraqi resistance fighters. Imagine the long-range effects on 26 million Iraqi civilians. Do you want that on your conscience?

Contact your representative about We're Not in Kansas Anymore. Let us know their responses. Call your current representative in Washington, D.C. at 1-800-426-8073. It's toll free. Warn them about the devastating effects on our troops, and the residents of the Middle East if Bush and Cheney launch a nuclear attack on Iran's nuclear facilities. Such an action is a death warrant for most of our loved ones in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Please don’t just sit in your chair while a million men and women--who volunteered to defend your freedoms--are exposed to a triple whammy of deadly radiation and condemned to a slow and agonizing death like a half million Gulf War vets before them.

This is an abridged version of the third in a comprehensive series on depleted uranium, Over the Rainbow, dedicated to the New York National Guard to appear on the website We're Not in Kansas Anymore, where you will find sources and a bibliography.

Since you are likely asking about both depleted Plutonium and depleted Uranium, I will give you data on both.

Uranium is a naturally occurring weakly radioactive mineral that is used to fuel nuclear reactors and is the primary component of Nuclear Weapons.

Uranium, like most elements, come in various "flavors," if you will, called isotopes. Isotopes refer to the fact that many elements can exist with more or less than the normal amount of neutrons in them. Uranium's natural weight is 238, but there are U234 and U235 isotopes, that is, a small portion of uranium atoms have three or four fewer neutrons than normal.

One of the differences between U235 and its common relative U238 is that U235 fissions very easily. Fission is the process of "splitting" an atom, releasing large amounts of energy, mostly in the form of heat.

Unfortunately, U235 is relatively rare (approx. 0.71% of natural Uranium ore) so the uranium ore is processed to provide a mixture that has more of the U235 isotope in it (around 4%). This is called "enriched uranium." The byproduct of this processing is U238 with almost no U235 in it at all, and that is "depleted uranium."

U238 in and of itself is not very fissile. When bombarded by neutrons released by U235 fission, it absorbs neutrons to become Pu239-- Plutonium. The Pu239 isotope of plutonium is fissile, and works even better than U238. It occurs very rarely in nature, and is mostly produced in nuclear reactors as a byproduct (or in so-called breeder reactors designed specifically to produce plutonium) and is used almost exclusively in nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons. Plutonium is also used in some spacecraft (explorers travelling outside earth orbit) as a power source.

Plutonium's primary radioactive decay product is alpha rays. Alpha radiation cannot penetrate a sheet of paper, and human skin is more than enough protection against it. If ingested, breathed in, or if plutonium gets into the blood stream through a wound, then the alpha radiation can cause damage to DNA and increases an individual's chances of acquiring cancer. When in the blood stream, plutonium will settle in the liver and bones.

Depleted Uranium is 40% less radioactive than natural uranium and, like plutonium, emits primarily alpha radiation. Because it has 1.7 time the mass of lead, depleted uranium has been used as projectiles in certain types of weapons. The additional mass provides more kinetic energy to the projectile and therefore has more penetrating power when used against armor (the A-10 Warthog aircraft houses a 30mm cannon using depleted uranium rounds as an anti-tank weapon).

Depleted plutonium contains 19% or more of the heavier Pu240, Pu241and Pu242 isotopes, the even isotopes are not very fissile. P241 emits low-energy beta radiation (clothing is typically sufficient to protect an individual from beta rays) to become Americium241, which emits gamma radiation at a much lower rate. Gamma radiation will penetrate deeply in to the body. Because Pu241 has a half-life of around 14.4 years and Am241 has a half-life of 432 years, the older a sample gets, the more dangerous it becomes as a radioactive material.

Contrary to popular (in some circles) belief, depleted plutonium is not used in weapons, it is too radioactive for conventional weapons and too unpredictable in nuclear weapons. But it is far from being "the most dangerous substance known to man," as there are other, more common non-radioactive materials that can kill a person a lot faster than exposure to depleted plutonium.

Answered by: D. Paradis, Avionics Instructor, NAMTRAU Lemoore, CA

The is no such beast as 'depleted plutonium'. The substance I believe you're after is 'depleted uranium', which is used in weapons projectiles and has been in the news recently over alleged health complications in Kosovo and the Persian Gulf.

Depleted uranium is produced during the recycling of spent fuel rods from nuclear reactors, during which plutonium, thorium and the most radioactive isotope of uranium (U235) are recovered for re-use in new fuel rods. The remaining 'depleted' uranium has very low levels of radioactivity - in fact, less than the original unrefined uranium oxide dug out of the ground to produce the fuel rods in the first place.

Uranium is a wonderfully dense metal - nearly twice as dense as lead - meaning that a given volume of it (say, an artillery or tank shell) packs more wallop than other metals. This is obviously attractive from a military standpoint. The problem arises not from the radioactive characteristics of the depleted metal but its chemical properties. When DU-tipped armament explodes the uranium can be rendered as very fine dust, easily ingested or breathed in, especially by children playing in burned-out wrecks. Uranium is chemically toxic, but not in low concentrations. However, there are unknowns, for example, about the long-term risks from ground water contaminated by buried DU shrapnel.

The top U.S. military brass are complicit in the cover-up of DU's harmful effects on civilians and soldiers. The current attitude of the U.S. military leadership is similar to the approach taken during the Vietnam War, when military leaders ignored the health risks connected to the use of Agent Orange as a defoliant.

The horrors of the US Agent Orange defoliation campaign in Vietnam, about which I wrote on Oct. 15, could ultimately be dwarfed by the horrors caused by the depleted uranium weapons which the US began using in the 1991 Gulf War (300 tons), and which it has used much more extensively -- and in more urban, populated areas -- in the Iraq War and the now intensifying Afghanistan War.

Depleted uranium, despite its rather benign-sounding name, is not depleted of radioactivity or toxicity. The term "depleted" refers only to its being depleted of the U-235 isotope needed for fission reactions in nuclear reactors. The nuclear waste material from nuclear power plants, DU as it is known, is what is removed from the power plants' spent fuel rods and is essentially composed of the uranium isotope U-238 as well as U-236 (a product of nuclear reactor fission, not found in nature), as well as other trace radioactive elements.

Once simply a nuisance for the industry, that still has no permanent way to dispose of the dangerous stuff, it turns out to be an ideal metal for a number of weapons uses, and has been capitalized on by the Pentagon. 1.7 times heavier than lead, and much harder than steel, and with the added property of burning at a super-hot temperature, DU has proven to be an ideal penetrator for warheads that need to pierce thick armor or dense concrete bunkers made of reinforced concrete and steel.

Once through the defenses, it burns at a temperature that incinerates anyone inside (which is why we see the carbonized bodies of bodies in the wreckage of Iraqi tanks hit by US fire). Accordingly it has found its way into 30 mm machine gun ammunition, especially that used by the A-10 Warthog ground-attack fighter planes used extensively in Iraq and Afghanistan (as well as Kosovo). It is also the warhead of choice for Abrams tanks and is also reportedly used in GBU-28 and the later GBU-37 bunker buster bombs, each of which can have 1-2 tons of the stuff in its warhead.

DU is also used as ballast in cruise missiles, and this burns up when a missile detonates its conventional explosive. Some cruise missiles are also designed to hit hardened targets and reportedly feature DU warheads, as does the AGM-130 air-to-ground missile, which carries a one-ton penetrating warhead. In addition, depleted uranium is used in large quantities in the armor of tanks and other equipment. This material becomes a toxic source of CU pollution when these vehicles are attacked and burned.

While the Pentagon has continued to claim, against all scientific evidence, that there is no hazard posed by depleted uranium, US troops in Iraq have reportedly been instructed to avoid any sites where these weapons have been used -- destroyed Iraqi tanks, exploded bunkers, etc. -- and to wear masks if they do have to approach.

Many torched vehicles have been brought back to the US, where they have been buried in special sites reserved for dangerously contaminated nuclear materials. (Thousands of tons of DU-contaminated sand from Kuwait, polluted with DU during the US destruction of Iraq's tank forces in the 1991 war, were removed and shipped to a waste site in Idaho last year with little fanfare.)

Suspiciously, international health officials have been prevented or obstructed from doing medical studies of DU sites in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But an excellent series of articles several years ago by the Christian Science Monitor described how reporters from that newspaper had visited such sites in Iraq with Geiger-counters and had found them to be extremely "hot" with radioactivity.

The big danger with DU is not as a pure metal, but after it has exploded and burned, when the particles of uranium oxide, which are just as radioactive as the pure isotopes, can be inhaled or ingested. Even the smallest particle of uranium in the body is both deadly poisonous as a chemical, and over time can cause cancer -- particularly in the lungs, but also the kidneys, testes and ovaries.

There are reports of a dramatic increase in the incidence of deformed babies being born in the city of Fallujah, where DU weapons were in wide use during the November 2004 assault on that city by US Marines. The British TV station SKY UK, in a report last month that has received no mention in any mainstream American news organization, found a marked increase in birth defects at local hospitals. Birth defects have also been high for years in the Basra area in the south of Iraq, where DU was used not just during America's 2003 "shock and awe" attack on Iraq, but also in the 1991 Gulf War.

Further, a report sent to the UN General Assembly by Dr Nawal Majeed Al-Sammarai, Iraq's Minister of Women's Affairs since 2006, stated that in September 2009, Fallujah General Hospital had 170 babies born, 24% of which died within their first week of life. Worse yet, fully 75% of the babies born that month were deformed. This compares to August 2002, six months before the US invasion, when 530 live births were reported with only six dying in the first week, and only one deformity. Clearly something terrible is happening in Fallujah, and many doctors suspect it's the depleted uranium dust that is permeating the city.

But the real impact of the first heavy use of depleted uranium weaponry in populous urban environments (DU was used widely especially in 2003 in Baghdad, Samara, Mosul and other big Iraqi cities), will come over the years, as the toxic legacy of this latest American war crime begins to show up in rising numbers of cancers, birth defects and other genetic disorders in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Of course, as in the case of Agent Orange in Vietnam, the toxic effects of this latest battlefield use of toxic materials by the US military will also be felt for years to come by the men and women who were sent over to fight America's latest wars. As with Agent Orange, the Pentagon and the Veterans Affairs Department have been assiduously denying the problem, and have been just as assiduously denying claims by veterans of the Gulf War and the two current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who claim their cancers and other diseases have anything to do with their exposure to DU.

The record on Agent Orange should lead us to be suspicious of the government's claims.

The deformed and dead babies in Iraq should make us demand a cleanup of Iraq and Afghanistan, medical aid for the victims, and a ban on all depleted uranium weapons.

DAVE LINDORFF is a Philadelphia-based journalist. His latest work is "The Case for Impeachment" (St. Martin's Press, 2006). His work is available at

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