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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Depleted uranium - "Metal of Dishonor"

Depleted uranium - "Metal of Dishonor"


In May, 1997, the International Action Center published a book of essays and lectures on depleted uranium: the contamination of the planet by the United States military. In addition to exposing the deadly duplicity of the Department of Defense, the book documents the genocide of Native Americans and Iraqis by military radiation, the connection between depleted uranium and Gulf War Syndrome, the underestimated dangers from low-level radiation, the legal ramifications of DU Production and Use, and the growing movement against DU.





FROM: METAL OF DISHONOR
We Need an Independent Inquiry, Not a Government Whitewash
Gulf War Syndrome and Radioactive Weapons: Is there a connection?
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What Government Documents Admit
"If DU enters the body, it has the potential to generate significant medical consequences. The risks associated with DU in the body are both chemical and radiological."
"Personnel inside or near vehicles struck by DU penetrators could receive significant internal exposures."
From the Army Environmental Policy Institute (AEPI), Health and Environmental Consequences of Depleted Uranium Use in the U.S. Army, June 1995
"Short-term effects of high doses can result in death, while long-term effects of low doses have been implicated in cancer."
"Aerosol DU exposures to soldiers on the battlefield could be significant with potential radiological and toxicological effects."
From the Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) report, included as Appendix D of AMMCOM's Kinetic Energy Penetrator Long Term Strategy Study, Danesi, July 1990.
This report was completed six months before Desert Storm.
"Inhaled insoluble oxides stay in the lungs longer and pose a potential cancer risk due to radiation. Ingested DU dust can also pose both a radioactive and a toxicity risk."
Operation Desert Storm: Army Not Adequately Prepared to Deal With Depleted Uranium Contamination, United States General Accounting Office (GAO/NSIAD-93-90), January 1993, pp. 17-18.
What the Government Is Telling Us
"The Committee concludes that it is unlikely that health effects reports by Gulf War Veterans today are the result of exposure to depleted uranium during the Gulf war."
From the Final Report: Presidential Advisory Committee of Gulf War Veterans Illnesses, December 1996.
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Preface

Metal of Dishonor grew out of the work of the Depleted Uranium Education Project and the other organizations that contributed to building a meeting at the United Nations Church Center in New York on September 12, 1996. Hundreds of individuals have made Metal of Dishonor and the entire Depleted Uranium Education Project possible. Their contributions document the hazardous, radioactive nature of depleted uranium weapons.
Scientific papers, scholarly briefs, and forceful arguments—some based on talks given at the September 12 meeting—make up the articles in this book. Scientists, medical and legal experts, political analysts and community activists wrote them.
This heterogeneous collection of articles, most published here for the first time, makes a strong case that depleted-uranium weapons are not only lethal to their intended targets, they are dangerous for the humans who handle them and for the present and future environment of the planet. They also show there is potential for building a movement to end this danger.
On February 27, 1997, the Pentagon admitted that eight days of logs documenting chemical exposure have "disappeared." These logs were stored on disc and hard copy in different places. This monumental slip raises these questions: How much other information has also disappeared or been suppressed? Is an even larger coverup taking place? Is something vital about DU also being covered up?
We have not yet found data that enumerate how many women, poor people, how many African American, Latino and other people of color suffer from Gulf War Syndrome. But we know that youth in Black, Latino and other communities that face racism are disproportionately pushed into the military by lack of economic opportunity in U.S. society. Almost half the troops in the Gulf were Black and Latino. The largest number of women in military history served in the Gulf War. It is routine for both the military and the government to ignore these sectors of society regarding benefits and care. It is also that part of the population most likely to need government benefits to get any health care.
We have gathered material to explain the impact of uranium mining and waste on Native American lands, the impact on peoples of the South Pacific and U.S. veterans exposed to nuclear blast sites, the impact on peoples living near nuclear reactors and the impact on peoples in the Middle East. Further research in all of these areas is
needed along with research on the health and environmental consequences in areas surrounding military test sites and production facilities.
Although some of the articles in Metal of Dishonor cover more than one subject, we've grouped them all in specific sections based on a major subject covered. For the convenience of the reader, we've published the more important quotes from government sources in Appendix I. And we have included a section on organizations and resources in Appendix VII that should make it easy for anyone motivated by reading this book to connect with the groups that are carrying out the struggle against DU.
Some questions of style. We've presented the writers' references all as notes at the end of each article. For articles that require careful calculation or comparison of numbers, we have expressed these numbers with numerals, which is a different style from the rest of the book.
We hope Metal of Dishonor will serve as an organizing tool that will contribute to the fight for an independent inquiry into the causes of Gulf War Syndrome and an eventual ban on the use of depleted-uranium weapons.
The Depleted Uranium Education Project of the International Action Center
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1| The Struggle for an Independent Inquiry


We need a commission of those with real interest in finding the cause of Gulf War Syndrome: suffering U.S. vets, independent scientists, Iraqis, and past victims—atomic veterans and their families, veterans exposed to Agent Orange, and Native miners and community organizations.
Sara Flounders


Today in discussing the possible causes of the Gulf War Syndrome that affects over 90,000 U.S. veterans, there is an elephant in the room. The entire debate is taking place with everyone pretending the elephant doesn't exist.
This book is about the elephant—radioactive conventional weapons.
A new generation of weapons is in place around the world. These weapons contain a dense material—depleted uranium. DU weapons make all others so much scrap metal, giving the U.S. military machine and military contractors a huge advantage.
It matters little to the Pentagon in its race for unrestrained military dominance in every type of warfare that this new weapon not only kills those it targets, it poisons soldiers who handle it, civilians for hundreds of miles surrounding the battlefields who breathe the air and drink the water, and unborn generations.
DU is a delayed response weapon. It will take decades and generations before we know the true casualties as more veterans and their children cope with rare and unknown conditions, cancers, deformities and congenital diseases.
In the U.S. racism impacts on every social issue. Black, Latino and other Third World troops have been disproportionately at risk on the front lines. During the Vietnam War this meant more deaths, injuries and long term delayed combat stress syndrome. According to Department of Defense personnel data (September 30, 1992), during the Gulf War almost half the troops stationed in the Gulf region were Black or Latino, although they make up only twenty percent of the population. This means that Gulf War Syndrome had the greatest impact in communities already oppressed and impoverished.
Gulf War Syndrome's symptoms—chronic fatigue, chronic headache and joint pain, gastrointestinal distress, insomnia and memory loss—make holding a job, stabilizing a family and obtaining medical help much more difficult. Many thousands of seriously ill and demoralized, disoriented or homeless veterans are not part of the count of those suffering from Gulf War Syndrome. That one third of the homeless in the U.S. today are veterans speaks to the hidden costs of the Gulf and Vietnam wars.
Is DU the sole cause of Gulf War Syndrome? Or does DU's low-level radiation suppress people's immune system and make them more susceptible to disease? To answer either question deserves more than the passing mention and out-of-hand dismissal the Presidential Commission and the Department of Defense's public statements on Gulf War Syndrome give DU. However, even the Defense Department's own internal studies show how well it knows the dangers. We quote these studies extensively here to prove the government has too much at stake to judge DU objectively.
Those who really want to know what has happened to the health of tens of thousands of young women and men who just a few years ago were in the prime of health must raise their voices and organize to demand a genuinely independent commission to investigate this issue.
I first became aware of the dangerous radioactive impact of depleted-uranium weapons in 1991 when I was researching for Ramsey Clark's book on the Gulf War, The Fire This Time. His book predicted that "the people of the Gulf region will have to face the effects of radiation poisoning for years to come."
What raised our concern was a secret report by the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) prepared in April 1991, a month after the end of the war. Leaked to the London Independent and published that November, this early report described the potential problems of radioactive dust spreading over the battlefields and getting into the food chain and the water. At that time it warned that forty tons of radioactive debris left from DU weapons could cause over five hundred thousand deaths. Now we find the amount of radioactive debris left behind is over three hundred tons.


Iraqi Children with Cancers


In 1994 I traveled to Iraq to see the consequences of the Gulf War and the continuing sanctions. I saw infants with obvious genetic deformities who wouldn't live long and wards of children wasting away from cancers such as leukemia, lymphomas and Hodgkin's disease. Because of the sanctions, Iraqi doctors lacked even basic medicines and were helpless to intervene. They could only note the escalating numbers.
And the Iraqis are not the only ones who need to know the truth about DU and want to see that truth published. Gulf War veterans and their families are desperate to understand what has happened to their health since they returned from the Gulf.
This book attempts to explain the uses of depleted uranium in weapons and to present what is already known about exposure to low-level radiation and its threat to the environment and to all of humanity. Most important, this collection of articles is a resource for those ready to challenge the long history of government coverups and denials regarding military toxics and poisons.
For two generations the Pentagon and the entire scientific community have studied the dangers of radiation while Congress allocated a trillion dollars to build the world's largest nuclear arsenal.
Thousands of studies and hundreds of books explain the dangers of radioactivity. Millions of people worldwide have marched and organized to oppose the danger nuclear weapons pose to the future of the planet.
Billions of dollars have been put into federal funds to clean up nuclear waste sites. Now we learn that the Environmental Restoration Branch of the Department of Energy has used these funds to ship nuclear waste to countries all over the world to be recycled into weapons production.
The U.S. Department of Defense has more than a billion pounds of nuclear waste in storage from fifty years of nuclear weapons production. Part of its clean-up program is to give the depleted uranium away free to munitions manufacturers. Knowing the dangers, the military-industrial complex has moved straight ahead designing, testing and manufacturing a new generation of weapons using radioactive waste material.


Metal of Dishonor Exposes the Deception


As the contributors to Metal of Dishonor expose the dangers of low-level radiation, they demonstrate that even "depleted" uranium weapons are radioactive and highly toxic. They trace a history of government lies and coverups regarding the dangers of radioactivity, with policies that have denied compensation to veterans and to Native populations hurt most by these dangers. They show the Pentagon's motives for using DU weapons, the military industry's drive to manufacture them, and the passion of both to cover up the truth.
The chapters by Helen Caldicott, Michio Kaku, Leonard A. Dietz, Rosalie Bertell and Jay M. Gould scientifically delineate the perils of low-level radiation and meticulously document the extensive knowledge the military possessed about DU's long-term consequences long before the Gulf War.
Dietz explains with mathematical detail how uranium metal burns rapidly on impact and forms tiny airborne particles that can travel tens of miles to be inhaled or ingested into the body where they lodge in vital organs. Caldicott makes the necessary but daring leap to correctly characterize the Gulf War as a nuclear war.
Kaku writes, "Our troops were used as human guinea pigs for the Pentagon. Thousands must have walked through almost invisible clouds of uranium dioxide mist, not realizing that micro-sized particles were entering into their lungs."
Gould links increases in cancers and auto-immune diseases to the impact of low-level radiation on the population surrounding nuclear weapons complexes, test sites and nuclear reactors. Bertell lists the major scientific studies that have defined the danger for many years.
A look at the experiences of earlier victims of U.S. war preparations helps expose how cover-ups, stonewalling, and fraudulent promises of compensation for unfortunate mistakes are standard operating procedures.
Pat Broudy's husband was one of the approximately eight hundred thousand GIs purposely exposed to nuclear radiation during atomic tests in the Southwest or in the Pacific. Her article exposes the Defense Department's criminal coverup.
Anna Rondon, a Navajo activist from the South West Indigenous Uranium Forum, and Manuel Pino, from the Acoma Pueblo, explain the bitter experiences of the Native nations with uranium mining and testing.
Despite Congressional hearings, media coverage and special legislation, only 455 Atomic Veterans and fifty Native miners' widows received compensation. And only seventeen families have been compensated of the twenty-three thousand Americans, mainly prisoners, poor people or disabled people, who were directly injected without their knowledge or consent with highly radioactive materials since 1945.
To these we can add the thousands of Marshall Islanders consciously used as human guinea pigs, moved back to the "most contaminated places in the world," the islands hit by fallout from sixty-seven atomic and hydrogen bombs. Glenn Alcalay describes this catastrophe in his article.
Every piece of information in this whole criminal history had to be leaked or pried out by independent efforts. The government has never willingly provided any relevant information. It is hidden under "top secret" classifications.
How can we expect anything different from government studies of Gulf War Syndrome or DU?
Dolores Lymburner exposes a leaked Army Environmental Policy Institute report that acknowledges "if DU enters the body it has the potential to generate significant medical consequences. The risks associated with DU in the body are both chemical and radiological." The Army first denied this report's existence.
With thorough documentation, Dan Fahey explains how the density, speed and impact of DU weapons greatly increased the kill range of U.S. tanks. He also shows just how well the military planners understood DU's dangers.
Former Army Nurse Carol Picou, who volunteered for front-line duty, describes her horror at passing the thousands of burning Iraqi vehicles—many destroyed by DU projectiles—on the "highway of death." Then she describes the devastating deterioration and ruin of her own health and of the others in her unit from contact with the toxins in the region, as well as the government's stonewalling and denial of responsibility.
In the Gulf War, Iraqi casualties were enormous. Over one hundred thousand troops were killed and eighty-five thousand captured. In January 1992 a Greenpeace investigation estimated that ninety thousand of the three hundred thousand injured Iraqi troops had died.
In contrast, the U.S. military suffered 147 combat deaths, more than half due to friendly fire. The low casualties were the selling point of these new, high-tech weapons. U.S. troops had become seemingly invincible. That is the lie. The ninety thousand chronically ill U.S. soldiers make up the real casualty figures. Tens of thousands of British, French, Saudi, Egyptian, Australian, Canadian and other soldiers who served in the Gulf in early 1991 are also sick.
As John Catalinotto explains, 147 combat deaths is a very important figure to the military planners and to the major corporations who profit from military production. Lower casualty figures may mean less domestic resistance to future conflicts. If the real casualty figures become a topic of debate, if long-term illness, genetic deformities to future generations and environmental damage become issues, opposition to new military adventures will surely grow.
All the government hearings, commissions and reports outdo each other talking about concern for the health of all the military personnel, protecting our soldiers, finding the cause, etc. The real casualty figures expose what the generals and military corporations think of the rank-and-file GI—an expendable item. DU's victims need to organize themselves independently of those who have the biggest stake in arranging a cover-up.
No easy task. Lenore Foerstel examines the corporate connections between the media and the military industries. The Pentagon orchestrates the news through press pools and staged events. Even after the war, the media has continued to cover up the dangers from DU and its role in Gulf War Syndrome.
High-intensity Conflict
The forty-three-day war against Iraq in 1991 was the highest intensity conflict in military history, fought for control of the richest mineral reserves in the world. The U.S.-led coalition poured unprecedented volumes of firepower, money and technology—including seven billion tons of military materiel—into the Gulf area. They fought the war with an electronic battlefield of stealth bombers, satellites and cruise missiles.
Despite all the propaganda attacking so-called Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, most analysts agree that Iraq has not one weapon in its entire arsenal that is capable of destroying a U.S. bomber, aircraft carrier or even a U.S. tank. Ramsey Clark, Eric Hoskins, Siegwart-Horst Guenther, Barbara Nimri Aziz and Suzy T. Kane discuss the impact of a war that was actually an attack on a country that was defenseless against the new weapons of mass destruction. We also publish a report on the impact of allied radioactive weapons that the Iraqi UN Mission presented to the United Nations Center for Human Rights in Geneva.
The Gulf War showed that those countries that already held nuclear monopolies also dominated in so-called conventional warfare. Furthermore, it showed that nuclear weapons have become obsolete as a distinct category. Now weapons composed of radioactive material are classified as conventional weapons and are deployed around the world by U.S. and NATO forces in Bosnia, Somalia and Haiti. These weapons are flooding the world arms market. U.S. industry provides seventy-five percent of all weapons sold worldwide. Desert Storm was a great advertisement for the DU weapons it sells.


A Field of Wheat


Dr. Barbara Nimri Aziz describes the war's impact on a field of wheat, a flock of chickens, on the children. The sanctions keep information on the scope of the catastrophe from reaching the world. Dr. Siegwart Guenther boldly brought a spent DU bullet from Iraq to Germany, where he was arrested for transporting radioactive material. But what about the tons of NATO weapons containing DU that are stored, tested and transported throughout Europe? Or the radioactive NATO shells and land mines exploded in Bosnia?
The Pentagon has issued a fumbling series of denials, cover-ups and finally partial admissions that Gulf War Syndrome exists. Yet it has omitted any mention of radioactive weapons. This omission is no accident. The Pentagon has never come forward to admit the human consequences of its actions, unless a mighty struggle forced out the truth.
Some scientists have proposed alternatives to depleted uranium weapons, claiming that fast, hard missiles could be made at greater expense by using other, perhaps less toxic heavy metals, such as tungsten or a tungsten alloy. Has this not occurred to military contractors? Is this just an oversight, a mistake in the heat of battle?
The military industry is built on super profits. How can they resist, no matter how dangerous, a raw material that is available free of charge? The Department of Defense and the major military contractors control most of the supply. The largest corporations in the U.S. today are corporations whose very existence depends on military contracts, an issue that goes to the very heart of the U.S. economy.
The Pentagon and the military corporations clearly consider contamination of their own soldiers, of the environment and of millions of civilians as an acceptable cost. As we learn from the experience of past veterans, this has always been true.
Lockheed Martin, Boeing (now merged with McDonnell Douglas), General Electric, Raytheon and AT&T have been involved for decades in the production of weapons that threaten the health of millions. How can these corporations resist a super weapon, made out of cheap material, that creates a demand for a whole new round of weapons?
Military contracts are a source of growing demand on the federal budget. The billions of dollars that they consume come at the cost of cutbacks in every social program from jobs programs to education, health care, infant immunization programs, subsidized housing, rebuilding infrastructure or environmental cleanup. People's needs are never part of the calculation.
Weapons are U.S. industry's most profitable export items. These military industries are truly merchants of death.
The U.S. military machine is larger than all of its potential competitors put together—and it is not shrinking. President Clinton has pledged a forty-percent increase in funds for new weapons development. Congress has voted to extend the Strategic Defense Initiative, or Star Wars. Nuclear weapons testing has been banned in the air, under sea and under ground, but it persists in the Pentagon's sophisticated laboratories.
The military acts like it has license to threaten the health and livelihood of millions globally and then hide it under national security. Can we challenge the military's behavior?
Today, the Pentagon fears no military weapon. The Pentagon fears only one thing: people in motion—informed, mobilized and angry. Mass protest stopped nuclear testing, stopped the use of Agent Orange, helped end the Vietnam War.
It has become impossible for generals, in the interests of corporate profit, to send tens of thousands of youth directly into machine gun fire as they did in earlier wars. But it is essential to expose that DU is a delayed response bullet that shoots both ways.
Part of changing what happens is to change the way millions of people perceive an issue. Do they have information? Do they see a way to intervene? With bold ideas, a few individuals and small groups can lay the groundwork and push the struggle forward.
We hope this book will provide the evidence and demonstrate the urgent need for an independent inquiry.


Demand an Independent Inquiry


Because of their involvement in the development of these poisonous weapons, the Department of Defense and the major military contractors cannot be trusted to give an honest review of the possible causes of Gulf War Syndrome.
The Presidential Advisory Commission whitewashes the truth, Tod Ensign shows, when it concludes: "It is unlikely that health effects reported by Gulf War veterans today are the result of exposure to depleted uranium during the Gulf War." The commission was supposedly an independent blue-ribbon panel of scientists and others who are above self-interest in their conclusion. Hardly the case.
An honest, aboveboard and exhaustive inquiry is urgently needed. The commission must be made up of those with a real interest in finding the cause of Gulf War Syndrome. And the inquiry must prominently include veterans suffering from Gulf War Syndrome. They have the most compelling incentive in truly finding the cause.
An independent commission should also include the veterans of past wars and nuclear testing who have suffered mysterious illnesses and government coverups. Atomic veterans and their families, veterans suffering from Agent Orange poisoning would help get to the bottom of what is going on. Organizations of Native peoples whose land has been poisoned should be part of the inquiry. Community organizations surrounding uranium mines, weapons-production sites, and proving and testing grounds could lend their expertise.
Since African American and Latino troops make up such a large proportion of those in the field of combat—and thus suffer disproportionately from Gulf War Syndrome—groups from these communities must also be represented in the commission.
Scientists who are independent of the nuclear industry and the military should be called on to testify, along with medical doctors, epidemiologists and geneticists, and trade unionists who work in atomic and especially DU weapons production.
To understand the full dimensions of Gulf War Syndrome, it is essential to bring into the light of day what was done to Iraq's population. Medical teams must be able to visit Iraq, and Iraqi doctors should be able to testify on the medical catastrophe they face.
Such an inquiry could give enormous impetus to an international campaign to ban DU.
Grassroots campaigns can have enormous creative dynamism if the local organizers have information. No matter how dangerous DU weapons are shown to be, the military will not of its own accord stop their production. In the past, every step in preventing use of deadly materials came about because an aroused, organized population made it unfeasible for the military to use the weapon.


An International Ban on DU


The many groups worldwide that understand the enormous dangers of radiation must begin to organize and demand a ban on the use of depleted uranium, its containment and a cleanup of all radioactive waste. We have included a proposed ban that former U.S. Attorney General and well known human rights activist Ramsey Clark drafted. This ban proposal can be used in many ways. It can be utilized in international forums and tested in international law. With the articles by Victor Sidel, Philippa Winkler and Alyn Ware, we have also included experiences of other groups that have opposed the threat from nuclear weapons or shown how to use international law to combat specific weapons.
Most developments in technology sneak up on us. Change spreads rapidly, making earlier methods obsolete overnight. The implications can reshape our lives before we are even aware of them. But the same is true of ideas.
Former slave and great abolitionist organizer Frederick Douglass explained, "Power concedes nothing without a struggle." Every step forward in human rights seemed in the beginning like an impossible task. Whether the struggle was against slavery, for civil rights, for the right of workers to unionize, for women's suffrage, for the eight-hour day, to oppose bigotry against lesbian and gay people, or the movement against nuclear war and testing—in the beginning it always seems that all law, culture and tradition defend life the way it was at that very moment. But in the face of new ideas and a bold challenge, even entrenched power can lose its undisputed position.
Information is power. When mobilized it can undergo a transformation and become outrage. Then it has explosive potential. It has the potential to force great sweeping changes. That is our secret weapon against the Pentagon.
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2|Ban Depleted Uranium Weapons (excerpt)
Is it acceptable by any human standard that we would permit one shell of depleted uranium to be manufactured, to be stored, to be used? No! Stop it now!
Ramsey Clark
On December 4, 1990, the General Assembly of the United Nations, meeting just a few hundred yards from here and apparently having decided that the United States was determined to attack Iraq and that it was powerless to prevent the attack, resolved that no attack should be made on any nuclear reactor—an inherently dangerous facility. The vote on this resolution was 144 to 1; only the U.S. voted against.
The resolution should not have been necessary—such attacks have been war crimes since Protocol 1 Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1977. Article 56 of the Protocol prohibits what would obviously be catastrophic to life, any "attack (that) may cause the release of dangerous forces... and consequent severe losses among the civilian population." The article protects works and installations from an attack which can endanger thousands and thousands of people in the immediate vicinity and beyond and perhaps in ways we don't know.
On January 23 of 1991—the end of the first week of the assault on Iraq—General Colin Powell announced—and the international media were all there—that Iraq's "two operating reactors... are both gone. They're down. They're finished." (New York Times, January 24, 1991, p. A11.) He said it proudly and no member nation of the UN, no member of the U.S. Congress, no international leader, none of the media said a mumbling word in protest.
(Developed from a talk given September 12, 1996 at the UN Church Center in New York.)
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3| A New Kind of Nuclear War (Excerpt)
Never in my wildest dreams did I think that the United States would be detonating nuclear shells to poison its own soldiers and the surrounding civilian populations with radioactive isotopes.
Dr. Helen Caldicott
The United States has conducted two nuclear wars. The first against Japan in 1945, the second in Kuwait and Iraq in 1991.
The first nuclear war fissioned a plutonium bomb and one made of uranium. The second nuclear war utilized depleted-uranium weapons, but nuclear fission was not involved.
For many years the United States has been using depleted uranium, a by-product from the production of enriched fuel for nuclear reactors and weapons, to manufacture shells, bullets and protective armour of tanks. This excess uranium, composed mainly of the uranium isotope U-238 is called "depleted" because it has a lower than normal content of the isotope U-235, the fissionable material. But it has one very "excellent" property—it is extremely dense and capable of penetrating heavily armored vehicles. This capability was ably demonstrated in the Gulf massacre of 1991. "Massacre" describes what happened better than "war."
But another physical property, which is not so desirable, is that depleted uranium spontaneously burns on impact, creating tiny aerosolized particles less than five microns in diameter, small enough to be inhaled. At least seventy percent of the uranium in these weapons is released in this form on impact, and these tiny particles travel long distances when airborne.
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An International Appeal to Ban the Use of Depleted Uranium Weapons
Drafted by Ramsey Clark
Depleted-uranium weapons are an unacceptable threat to life, a violation of international law and an assault on human dignity. To safeguard the future of humanity, we call for an unconditional international ban forbidding research, manufacture, testing, transportation, possession and use of DU for military purposes. In addition, we call for the immediate isolation and containment of all DU weapons and waste, the reclassification of DU as a radioactive and hazardous substance, the cleanup of existing DU-contaminated areas, comprehensive efforts to prevent human exposure and medical care for those who have been exposed.
During the Gulf War, munitions and armor made with depleted uranium were used for the first time in a military action. Iraq and northern Kuwait were a virtual testing range for depleted-uranium weapons. Over 940,000 30-millimeter uranium tipped bullets and "more than 14,000 large caliber DU rounds were consumed during Operation Desert Storm/Desert Shield." (U.S. Army Environmental Policy Institute)
These weapons were used throughout Iraq with no concern for the health and environmental consequences of their use. Between 300 and 800 tons of DU particles and dust have been scattered over the ground and the water in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. As a result, hundreds of thousands of people, both civilians and soldiers, have suffered the effects of exposure to these radioactive weapons.
Of the 697,000 U.S. troops who served in the Gulf, over 90,000 have reported medical problems. Symptoms include respiratory, liver and kidney dysfunction, memory loss, headaches, fever, low blood pressure. There are birth defects among their newborn children. DU is a leading suspect for a portion of these ailments. The effects on the population living in Iraq are far greater. Under pressure, the Pentagon has been forced to acknowledge Gulf War Syndrome, but they are still stonewalling any connection to DU.
Communities near DU weapons plants, testing facilities, bases and arsenals have also been exposed to this radioactive material which has a half-life of 4.4 billion years. DU-weapons are deployed with U.S. troops in Bosnia. The spreading toxicity of depleted uranium threatens life everywhere.
DU weapons are not conventional weapons. They are highly toxic, radioactive weapons. All international law on warfare has attempted to limit violence to combatants and to prevent the use of cruel and unfocused weapons. International agreements and conventions have tried to protect civilians and non-combatants from the scourge of war and to outlaw the destruction of the environment and the food supply in order to safeguard life on earth.
Consequently, DU weapons violate international law because of their inherent cruelty and unconfined death-dealing effect. They threaten civilian populations now and for generations to come. These are precisely the weapons and uses prohibited by international law for more than a century including the Geneva Conventions and their Protocols Additional of 1977.
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5| Collateral Damage: How U.S. Troops Were Exposed to DU During the Gulf War (Excerpt)
"When DU is indicted as a causative agent for Desert Storm illness, the Army must have sufficient data to separate fiction from reality. Without forethought and data, the financial implications of long-term disability payments and health-care costs would be excessive."
—U.S. Army Environmental Policy Institute1


Dan Fahey
Introduction
One of the legacies of the 20th Century will undoubtedly be the frightening evolution of weapons capable of killing or injuring large numbers of people both during and after their intended wartime use. With the passage of time, the variety of these weapons only grows: chemical and biological agents, land mines, nuclear weapons, and poisonous herbicides. In the wake of the Persian Gulf War, we must add to this list weapons made of a nuclear waste product called depleted uranium.
Tank armor and armor-piercing rounds made of depleted uranium proved highly effective in their first wartime use, but because depleted uranium weapons were so effective, dozens of countries now have or are developing depleted uranium weapons for their arsenals. The rapid proliferation of depleted uranium weapons will, in the near future, level the playing field and eliminate any battlefield advantage they currently provide.
Unfortunately, spreading depleted uranium in an uncontrolled fashion across battlefields can have severe health consequences for friend and foe alike. During the Persian Gulf War, most U.S. troops were unaware of the presence and dangers of depleted uranium on the battlefield. As a result, thousands of servicemen and women came in contact with contaminated vehicles which had been hit by depleted uranium rounds. The Pentagon is reluctant to discuss the dangers of depleted uranium weapons because of their effectiveness in combat and the prospect of costly health care and disability compensation for U.S. veterans who have been and are being exposed.
However, the impact of depleted uranium weapons is felt far beyond the veterans of the Persian Gulf War. Workers in the domestic uranium industry who mine and process uranium and manufacture depleted uranium weapons, in addition to civilians who live near processing plants, manufacturing plants, testing ranges and contaminated battlefields, are also affected. This paper focuses on the use of depleted uranium weapons in the Persian Gulf War, and the ways in which U.S. troops were exposed to them.


What is Depleted Uranium?
Depleted uranium (DU) is the highly toxic and radioactive byproduct of the uranium enrichment process. "Depleted" uranium is so called because the content of the fissionable U-235 isotope is reduced from 0.7% to 0.2% during the enrichment process. The isotope U-238 makes up over 99% of the content of both natural uranium and depleted uranium. Depleted uranium is roughly 60% as radioactive as naturally occurring uranium, and has a half life of 4.5 billion years.2 As a result of 50 years of enriching uranium for use in nuclear weapons and reactors, the U.S. has in excess of 1.1 billion pounds of DU waste material.3
In the early 1970s, the government began exploring ways to dispose of DU which would relieve it of the burden of having to store it in low-level radioactive waste repositories. DU has several characteristics which make it attractive for use in munitions: it is extremely dense, available in large quantities, and given for free to arms manufacturers.
During the 1970s and 1980s, testing at more than a dozen domestic sites including Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, Jefferson Proving Ground in Indiana, and Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona demonstrated that large and small caliber rounds made of depleted uranium were highly effective in piercing armor. At the same time, the Army found that incorporating depleted uranium metal into tank armor made tanks less vulnerable to penetration from conventional rounds. But while the Army conducted many tests to evaluate the effectiveness of DU bullets and armor, they failed to "closely coordinate the planning and performance of experiments for DU health and environmental assessments."4 After years of research, development and testing, Operation Desert Storm provided the first opportunity for the Pentagon to test DU munitions in combat.


Depleted Uranium Weapons in the Persian Gulf War
The Tomahawk Cruise Missiles launched on the first day of Operation Desert Storm, and used during the September 3, 1996, attack on Iraq during Operation Desert Strike, contain DU in their tips to provide weight and stability. When they impact a target or other hard surface, the resultant area can become contaminated by the DU. A U.S. Navy instruction manual notes that teams involved in the recovery of Tomahawk missiles which crash during testing must have radiological protection clothing, gloves, respirators, and dosimeters.5


[EDITOR'S NOTE: Since he wrote this paper in 1996, Dan Fahey has changed his opinion on this, apparently based on new information. He wrote in a paper in 2001, “"Although some U.S. missiles contain DU, Tomahawk cruise missiles apparently do not include any depleted uranium." This 2001 paper could be found on January 15, 2002, at http://www.du.publica.cz/papers/Fahey.htm. We apologize if not correcting this earlier has caused any incorrect information to be spread.]


The Navy also uses DU in ammunition for its Phalanx Close-In Weapons System gun. While this gun is primarily designed for missile defense, it is also effective against other targets, as was shown in June 1996 when a Japanese ship firing a U.S.-made Phalanx gun accidentally shot down an American jet during training exercises in the Pacific. The Navy's use of weapons containing depleted uranium during Desert Storm was small, however, when compared to their use by the Army, Air Force, and Marines.
The Army and Marine Corps employed more than 1,900 M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks, plus several hundred M1 and M60 model tanks, in combat during Desert Storm.6 U.S. tanks typically carry a mixed load of high explosive and depleted uranium sabot rounds. The M1A1 tanks fire 120mm rounds, while the M1 and M60 tanks fire 105mm rounds. The weight of the DU penetrator dart in a 120mm tank round is 10.7 pounds; in a 105mm round it is 8.5 pounds.7 The Army reports that a total of 14,000 DU tank rounds were expended during the war. 7,000 rounds were fired during training before the war into sand berms in Saudi Arabia; 4,000 rounds were fired during combat; and 3,000 were lost due to fires or other accidents.8 In addition, British Challenger tanks fired at least 100 DU tank rounds in combat.
The extended range of DU penetrators combined with the highly accurate fire control system and gun of the M1A1 provided American tanks with a considerable advantage over their Iraqi counterparts. While Iraqi T-72 tanks had an effective firing range of under 2,000 meters, U.S. tanks had an effective firing range of approximately 3,000 meters. In one case, the frontal armor of a T-72 was penetrated by a 3,500 meter shot (over 2 miles) from an M1A1.9 But the longest confirmed kill of the war was by a British Challenger tank, which destroyed an Iraqi tank with a DU round over a distance of 5,100 meters (over 3 miles).10 Even over these extended ranges, the DU rounds proved highly effective in penetrating Iraqi tank armor. In one case, a DU round "hit the turret of a Russian-made Iraqi T-72 tank, passed completely through the turret, and hit (and destroyed) a second T-72."11
Though the Army and Marine Corps fired thousands of DU rounds in battle, the Air Force by far fired the majority of DU rounds used during the war. The Air Force's A-10 "tank-killer" aircraft were used extensively against Iraqi armored vehicles and artillery. The A-10 fired approximately 940,000 30mm DU rounds in combat.12 The weight of the DU penetrator in a 30mm round is 272 grams, so roughly 564,000 pounds of depleted uranium were fired from A-10s during the war.13
DU penetrator rounds fired by American aircraft and American and British tanks destroyed approximately one-third of the 3,700 Iraqi tanks lost in battle.14 In addition, artillery pieces, armored personnel carriers and other equipment destroyed by DU rounds number in the thousands. By war's end, roughly 300 tons of uranium from spent rounds lay scattered in various sizes and states of decay across the battlefields of Iraq and Kuwait.
When a depleted uranium projectile strikes a hard surface, up to 70% of the penetrator is oxidized and scattered as small particles in, on and around the target.15 A fact sheet issued by the U.S. Army Armament, Munitions, and Chemical Command (AMCCOM) states:
When a DU penetrator impacts a target surface, a large portion of the kinetic energy is dissipated as heat. The heat of the impact causes the DU to oxidize or burn momentarily. This results in smoke which contains a high concentration of DU particles. These uranium particles can be ingested or inhaled and are toxic.16
Of the aerosolized particles produced, 60% are particles less than five microns in diameter (less than 10 microns being considered as respirable size).17 Army field tests have shown that when a vehicle is struck by a DU penetrator, the heaviest contamination occurs within 5 to 7 meters of the vehicle.18 However, DU particles thrown into the air by the round's impact, or by resultant fires and explosion, can be carried downwind for 25 miles or more.19
The DU armor on the M1A1 tanks proved effective in protecting tank crews from enemy fire, although the tank crews were continually irradiated by their own armor and DU rounds for the months many of them lived with their tanks. For example, a tank driver receives a radiation dose of 0.13 mrem/hr to his head from overhead DU armor.20 After just 32 continuous days, or 64 twelve-hour days, the amount of radiation a tank driver receives to his head will exceed the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's annual standard for public whole-body exposure to man-made sources of radiation.21 Unfortunately, U.S. tank crews were not monitored for radiation exposure during the Persian Gulf War.
During the ground war, only seven M1A1's were hit by rounds fired from the Iraqi's T-72 tanks, with none being seriously damaged. The Army reported that the Iraqi armed forces "destroyed no Abrams tanks during the Persian Gulf War."22 Nine Abrams tanks were destroyed during the war: seven due to friendly fire and two were intentionally destroyed to prevent capture after they became disabled.23 One incident in particular demonstrates the effectiveness of armor-piercing rounds and tank armor made of depleted uranium. As allied forces pushed into southern Iraq at the start of the ground war, an M1A1 tank became stuck in the mud.
The unit (part of the 24th Infantry Division) had gone on, leaving this tank to wait for a recovery vehicle. Three T-72's appeared and attacked. The first fired from under 1,000 meters, scoring a hit with a shaped-charge (high explosive) round on the M1A1's frontal armor. The hit did no damage. The M1A1 fired a 120mm armor-piercing (DU) round that penetrated the T-72 turret, causing an explosion that blew the turret into the air. The second T-72 fired another shaped-charge round, hit the frontal armor, and did no damage. The T-72 turned to run, and took a 120mm round in the engine compartment (which) blew the engine into the air. The last T-72 fired a solid shot (sabot) round from 400 meters. This left a groove in the M1A1's frontal armor and bounced off. The T-72 then backed up behind a sand berm and was completely concealed from view. The M1A1 depressed its gun and put a (DU) sabot round through the berm, into the T-72, causing an explosion.24
U.S. forces came in contact with DU on the battlefield in a variety of ways. Some were exposed during combat. Some were exposed during the recovery of contaminated U.S. vehicles which had been hit by friendly fire incidents. Some were exposed during a massive fire in July, 1991, at the U.S. base in Doha, Kuwait. And some who continue to work with DU weapons, or deploy to contaminated areas in Kuwait, are being exposed today. In most of these scenarios, exposure to DU could have been prevented or minimized if our troops had been warned ahead of time about the use of DU weapons and effective safety measures, and if they had been issued protective clothing including respirators and gloves. No warnings or protective gear were issued before the war, however, because "Army officials believe that DU protective methods can be ignored during battle or other life-threatening situations because DU-related health risks are greatly outweighed by the risks of combat."25
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6| Living with Gulf War Syndrome (excerpt)
From our medical unit of 150 who went to the front, forty are sick, six have died from homicides, suicides, heart attacks and cancer. Washington told me I couldn't get tested for depleted uranium because I hadn't been hit by friendly fire.
Carol H. Picou
It has been six years now that we Gulf War veterans have been fighting for our health. The Vietnam Veterans took 22 years to bring out the issue of Agent Orange. This is an Agent Orange of the nineties for the Persian Gulf veterans. We need your help.
Before I get started, I would also like to thank my husband who is still with me after everything we've been through. I have a nine-year old boy who has been going through a lot since we came home from the Persian Gulf War.
I served my country willingly. I volunteered for patriotic reasons. I wanted to help, and joined the military. I became a drug and alcohol medical health counselor. I counseled Vietnam veterans.
I then changed my career to become a nurse. Because I had a little pull, I became a licensed practical nurse and was getting ready to get my commission. I spent five years in Germany, I went to Africa, I had many opportunities to travel, including to Korea. I spent seven years in foreign lands.
I was back in the United States after returning from Germany. I signed in on the first of August [1990] and I was alerted for the war on the second of August. I was deployed to the Persian Gulf War.
I went willingly. Unfortunately, during the Persian Gulf War the women weren't widely accepted over there and so the command decided the women would stay in the rear and the men would go forward. Our unit split. We had 300; 150 were going to the front and 150 were staying in the rear.
We were the foremost hospital going into Iraq, going into Basra, going into Kuwait. We had to make a jump. Everywhere there was a battle zone we would jump, take care of the wounded, the sick, and move on. Surprisingly when that war started, when the coalition ground forces started moving out, the Iraqi troops surrendered.
A lot of the Iraqis surrendered to us; we gave them every opportunity to surrender. Coalition planes dropped leaflets, troops raised chants to surrender, and the Iraqis surrendered willingly.
In Iraq though, as we drove on the back desert, into the desert, not even a highway, there was just a road that was created for us. There was ammunition lying everywhere, there were rounds lying everywhere, there were bunkers that were blown up, and we passed through this unprotected, our medical unit of 150. I was included as I was the next highest ranking female. Because seven men refused to go to the front, I had to take seven other women. We who went to the front are all sick. The men who stayed in the rear are perfectly healthy and they got awards. We got nothing.
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7| Another Human Experiment (excerpt)
Despite the army's own admission of health and environmental concerns, depleted-uranium arms are being proliferated largely by U.S. arms sales. The Military Toxics Project and the Depleted Uranium Citizens' Network are exposing DU dangers.

Dolores Lymburner
The Military Toxics Project works to unite activists, organizations, and communities in the struggle to clean up military pollution, to safeguard the transportation of hazardous materials, and to advance the development and implementation of preventive solutions to the toxic and radioactive pollution caused by military activities.
MTP believes that the United States government should assume responsibility for the pollution it has created by funding remediation to the highest standards of protection for health and the environment. It is our position that the military should be the nation's leader in pollution prevention, containment, cleanup, energy conservation and materials recycling.
MTP's membership is composed of individuals, organizations, regional campaigns and networks working on military toxics issues. When a specific issue concerns a number of our members and has the support of our Board, a Network is established. MTP's Networks have included, for example: Rocket Toxics, Chemical Weapons, Base Closure, Conventional Munitions, Electromagnetics and Depleted Uranium.
The Depleted Uranium Citizens' Network began its work in 1992 and introduced itself to the public in March of 1993 with the release of a report entitled Uranium Battlefields Home and Abroad. This report was written by DU Network members, the Rural Alliance for Military Accountability, the Progressive Alliance for Community Empowerment, and Citizen Alert. The DU Network's membership consists of people living near uranium enrichment plants, near facilities where DU munitions are made; former workers at those facilities, people living near where DU weapons are tested; and both Persian Gulf Veterans and Atomic Veterans.
In the 1940s and 1950s thousands of American citizens and soldiers were exposed to nuclear fallout from bomb tests. High numbers of these exposed populations have suffered from cancers and genetic effects as a result of those tests. Our country has a poor record on how it has treated military service men and women and private citizens who are exposed to toxic and radioactive poisoning, most of the time without their knowledge or consent.
Atomic Veterans have expressed their concern for the new generation of radiation-exposed veterans. In the Persian Gulf War depleted uranium was used for the first time as tank armor and armor piercing bullets. It was effective on the battlefield, melting through and destroying Iraqi armored vehicles. Iraqi victims of DU were charred in their tanks. DU also accounted for most of our "friendly fire" deaths. Thirty-three of our United States veterans carry DU fragments and many many more were exposed to DU dust particles.
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9| Military and Media Collaborate in Coverup of DU (excerpt)
The relationship between corporations, the Pentagon and the news media comprises a powerful trinity, with the Pentagon's military policies advancing the corporations' financial interests, and the media's corporate owners defining editorial policy.

Lenora Foerstel
In April 1994, Women for Mutual Security received an invitation to meet with members of the Iraqi women's organization in Baghdad. While in Baghdad, WMS delegates visited the Amiria bomb shelter. The shelter was considered safe for the eight hundred women and children who fled there during the Gulf War, yet a depleted-uranium projectile fired by a U.S. plane was able to penetrate the shelter's walls, killing every mother and child. Long after the mass burials of the victims, one can still see the imprint of their bodies pressed against the walls of the shelter.
A visit to a hospital in Baghdad revealed other insidious effects of the intensive Gulf War bombing campaign. In a special ward of newborn babies suffering from radiation diseases and mutations, babies had extra toes, fused fingers and missing ears. The young doctors attending the ward reported that the babies also had internal problems which had not been seen before the war. Many of the same symptoms seen among the Iraqi babies have appeared in the newborn of American soldiers who fought in the Gulf War.
Laura Flanders, journalist for FAIR magazine, published a report prepared by the U.S. Veterans Administration covering a state-wide survey done on 251 families of Gulf War veterans living in Mississippi. A study of their children conceived and born since the war shows that sixty-seven percent were born with severe eye defects or no eyes and ears. They also suffer from blood infections and respiratory problems.
New studies demonstrate that low-level radiation can cause genetic instability and cancer in the children of exposed parents. This means that the exposed persons may or may not die of cancer, but their offspring have a greater chance of inheriting the mutated cells.1
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10| Burying the Past, Protecting DU Weapons for Future Wars (excerpt)
The Committee concludes that it is unlikely that health effect reports by Gulf War veterans today are the result of exposure to depleted uranium during the Gulf War.
—Final Report: Presidential Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans Illnesses (PAC)1

Tod Ensign
With one sentence, a blue-ribbon panel of scientists and public health experts denied that the extensive use of depleted uranium during the Gulf War contributed, in any way, to the chronic health problems that have been reported by over ninety thousand veterans.
The Clinton administration created its PAC in May 1995 in response to growing criticism by Gulf War vets about the way their concerns were being handled by the Pentagon and the Veterans Administration.
President Clinton was undoubtedly happy to be able to showcase the PAC's Final Report on January 7, 1997, since it allowed him to broadcast his concerns about ailing vets while at the same time requiring him to do almost nothing about their problems. The report also boosted the Pentagon's efforts to keep one of its favorite new weapons—depleted uranium, free from any restrictions on future use.
Early in its report, the panel acknowledges that, "many of the health concerns of Gulf War veterans may never be resolved fully because of the lack of data." It dryly ticks off some of the problems; missing medical records, absence of baseline (pre-war) health data, inaccurate and incomplete data on troop locations and incomplete data on health risks that could have been anticipated.2
Although it concedes these deficiencies, the panel nonetheless was not deterred from concluding that eight risk factors in the Gulf War—chemical weapons, biological weapons, vaccines, pyridostigmine bromide (PB-an experimental nerve-gas antidote), infectious diseases, oil-well smoke and fires, petroleum products and depleted uranium, were not "causal[ly] link[ed]" to the health problems reported by Gulf vets.
The Pentagon was quick to claim a victory with the report's conclusions. "This is a very important finding and one on which the committee deliberated long and hard," crowed Assistant Defense Secretary for Health, Stephen Joseph, M.D.3
The process whereby the PAC determined that depleted uranium is not responsible for Gulf War illness is our concern here. A close examination of how this decision was made raises several important questions.
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11| 'National Security' Kept Atomic Veterans' Suffering a Secret (excerpt)
Of the hundreds of thousands of Atomic Veterans exposed to radiation by the military, at most 455 have received compensation.

Pat Broudy
This article will cover the uses of depleted uranium before and during the Gulf War, the exposures of military and civilian personnel and the resultant coverup of the records of the "Atomic Veterans" exposed to ionizing radiation during the Cold War, as well as the expectation of the same treatment of the Gulf War veterans.
Separation of the slow-neutron-fissionable uranium 235 (U-235) isotope from the major isotope, uranium 238 (U-238), was necessary to build the uranium bomb detonated over Hiroshima, Japan, and other gun-type uranium weapons. Natural uranium is almost 99.3 percent U-238 and only about 0.7 percent U-235. To obtain a few kilograms of U-235 leaves more than a ton of U-238 and remaining U-235 waste.
DU-waste removal discussed 1957
What to do with about a billion pounds of DU waste was discussed in meetings as early as 1957. One of the earliest uses of DU was as a substitute for U-235 in the test firings of the Hiroshima gun-type weapons at Los Alamos, New Mexico, in 1945.
A more important early use was as the "tamping" material between the high explosives and plutonium core of implosion bombs, such as the first Fat Man bomb design used at Alamogordo, New Mexico; Nagasaki, Japan; and twice at Operation CROSSROADS. A large mass of U-238 acted both to hold the core together until it could fission more efficiently and to reflect neutrons back into the core for more fissions. The plutonium core of Fat Man was only the size of a grapefruit, but the U-238 tamper and explosive lens surrounding it increased the bomb diameter to five feet.
In addition, about 20 percent of the Fat Man TNT-equivalent explosive yield of twenty-one thousand tons was from fast-neutron fission of U-238, because large quantities of fast neutrons are produced in a fission explosion.
This capability of U-238 to fast fission led to its use in thermonuclear bombs to create more explosive yield. The reaction became fission of a small trigger fission bomb to create the heat and pressure for fusion of hydrogen-containing components, then fission of U-238 by fast neutrons produced in copious amounts by both the fission trigger and fusion reaction.
A negative aspect was production of large amounts of fission products in the fission-fusion-fission reaction from the large amount of DU employed to enhance total explosive yield significantly compared to the large fusion yield. This greatly increased fission product inventory was essentially the opposite of the "clean bomb" development intent.
Resultant heavy fallout from tests such as Shot Bravo, during 1954 in the Pacific, caused beta burns and overexposure of Japanese working on the "Lucky Dragon" fishing boat, Americans on Navy ships caught in the fallout, Marshall Islanders exposed on Rongelap Island, as well as American military personnel on Rongerik Island.
Besides nuclear bomb munitions, other military uses were found for DU. Armor-piercing shells made of DU or with DU claddings were developed as well as hardening of armor with DU cladding. Burn tests of DU munitions alone, as well as DU munitions in shipping containers, in lightly armored Bradley fighting vehicles, and turrets and hulls of Abrams tanks, were conducted at the Nevada Test Site to determine hazards. These uses were prevalent in the Gulf War, the cause of "friendly fire" deaths and injuries.
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13| Uranium Development on Indian Land
In remote areas of the Navajo Reservation there are still over one thousand unreclaimed uranium pit mines open, filled with water, inviting children to swim and animals to drink.

By Manuel Pino
Uranium development on Indian land parallels the history of the nuclear industry in the United States. When the race to build atomic weapons began in secrecy during World War II, nuclear weapons research had been established in New Mexico, right in the heart of Indian country. Six Pueblo nations in northern New Mexico are within thirty miles of the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, where the first atomic bomb was developed. The remote desert spot called Trinity, New Mexico, where on July 16, 1945, the first atomic bomb was tested, is withing sixty miles of the Mescalero Apache Nation. The Grants Mineral Belt—which would ultimately become the largest uranium belt in the world—was located on or near the Navajo nation and Laguna and Acoma Pueblo lands.
A majority of uranium produced on Indian land between 1950 and 1968 went to one source: the Atomic Energy Commission of the United States. The supply was found in the Grants Mineral Belt of the Southwest, in the midst of Navajo and Pueblo lands. Because the government was the sole purchaser of uranium mined during the early years—and because the government neglected to regulate the health and safety of miners—a large percentage of Navajo, Laguna and Acoma miners have developed cancer and other related illnesses. The U.S. government gave the mining companies financial incentives to increase productivity, and repeatedly reminded the Indian miners of their patriotic obligation, stating that U.S. security was at stake.
In those early years of production, uranium development was a pick and shovel operation. The Indian miners were virtually "miners' canaries," who were sent into the crude, unventilated mines called "dog holds" immediately after dynamite blasting. There they breathed radon gas and silica-laden dust.
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14| Uranium, the Pentagon and the Navajo People (excerpt)
Out of five hundred claims from Navajo uranium miners' widows, only fifty received any compensation—a $75,000 check. Now there are two mines proposed to open up in the same vicinity of a test range for cruise missiles near Gallup, New Mexico.

Anna Rondon
In our Navajo creation story we have always learned that uranium—the Navajo call it "cledge" from the underworld in our creation stories—was to be left in the ground. It is a yellow substance, we knew that from our legends. We were told from the gods in our songs and our creation stories that we had a choice, a choice between uranium and the yellow corn pollen that we pray with every morning and carry in our medicine bags. The yellow corn pollen possesses the positive elements of life in our belief.
We chose that way, which is the beauty way of life. Uranium was to remain in the ground. If it is released, as all other native indigenous cultures around the world believe, it would be a serpent. It will bring you evil, death, and destruction, and we are at that brink today. That is a little background on the spiritual natural laws that we have known and we join the people here today to create an alliance, a world-wide movement to educate the public, the international community.
On our reservation back in 1941 a mineral called carnotite was found. Those from the United States Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs, had discovered it. They in turn told the Department of Defense and the Atomic Energy Commission that carnotite was within the Carrizo Mountains, which are by Shiprock, New Mexico, on our reservation. Carnotite is an element that contains both vanadium and uranium. They mined and used the vanadium to create a hard steel alloy for battleships. They mined it from 1942 to 1945.
They also used the uranium. Eleven thousand tons of uranium were mined between 1942 and 1945. The Manhattan Project—which we all know now as the project to create the atomic bomb—was then a secret project that made use of the uranium. From 1943 to 1945 the Manhattan Project Engineering District contracted with Union Mines Development Corporation to mine additional carnotite and use the vanadium for U.S. battleships.
From 1946 to 1968 thirteen million tons of uranium were mined. Fifteen hundred uranium miners were used on that work. Today more than half these miners have passed away from cancer and respiratory diseases.
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15| Nuclear Testing, Government Secrecy and the Marshall Islanders (excerpt)
[Rongelap] is safe to live on but is by far the most contaminated place in the world, and it will be very interesting to go back and get good environmental data. ... While it is true that these people do not live ... the way Westerners do, civilized people, it is nevertheless also true that these people are more like us than the mice.
—AEC Director of Health and Safety Merril Eisenbud7

Glenn Alcalay
The half-million Gulf War veterans enmeshed in the macabre net of continuing U.S. government secrecy and coverup are not unique and follow a long lineage, including the 250,000 "atomic veterans," the Utah downwinders near the Nevada Test Site, the Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange, and the 23,000 American citizens involuntarily used as human guinea pigs in plutonium injection and other equally grotesque experiments in the last half century.
An especially odious and infamous chapter of official Washington secrecy was the Tuskegee syphilis experiment conducted for nearly forty years by the U.S. Dept. of Public Health among four hundred African-American sharecroppers.
Such a history of secrecy and coverup makes it seem obvious that to get to the root of the causes of Gulf War Syndrome, it will be necessary to carry out a study independent of the government. To see just how far the government will go in its callous mistreatment of Cold War victims, just look at the story of the Marshall Islanders and U.S. hydrogen bomb testing.
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17|Depleted Uranium: Huge Quantities of Dangerous Waste (excerpt)
U.S. troops were used as human guinea pigs for the Pentagon. Thousands must have walked through almost invisible clouds of uranium dioxide mist, not realizing that micron-sized particles were entering into their lungs.

Dr. Michio Kaku
The use of depleted uranium for military purposes is a deplorable development that, if unchecked, could have serious consequences. The widespread use of DU in the Gulf War can be directly linked to the Gulf War Syndrome. Although most of the publicity has gone to plutonium-239, uranium-235, and uranium-233 (the only substances in the universe which can sustain an uncontrolled chain reaction), the dangers of waste uranium-238 are much more pervasive, simply because there are huge quantities of waste U-238 lying around and because most people do not think it is that dangerous. Now that DU is being used in warfare, steps must be made to prevent its use.
It has been known for over three hundred years that U-238 harms people's health. For example, Bohemian miners in what is now the Czech Republic would often come across pitchblende ore in their work. Pitchblende ore contains uranium-238. Because of its unusual weight, it would often be used as doorstops in Europe. It was also used to create beautiful colors in ceramic glazes. However, the Bohemian miners would often come down with a mysterious "mountain disease."
We now know that this mountain disease is really lung cancer, caused by the radioactive emissions of radon gas, a standard byproduct of radioactive decay. Even today the emission of radioactive radon gas and the dispersal of uranium particulates poses a health risk. In the American Southwest, there are hundreds of millions of tons of waste uranium "tailings" left over from the mining and milling of uranium ore. Unscrupulous contractors would sell the uranium tailings to Native Americans, who would then use them to build their adobe homes. It was also sold to developers, who would use the waste uranium for landfill for suburban housing tracts.
It is one of the great unpublicized scandals in this country that Native Americans would breathe the radon gas and uranium particulates, both as miners in unventilated mines, as well as residents in their own radioactive homes. Illness and death have ravaged those in the Native American community who came in contact with uranium waste. But most of the publicity went to several middle-class housing tracts (like Grand Junction, Colorado), which were actually built on top of waste uranium. Much to the embarrassment of the old Atomic Energy Commission, measurements of the radioactive waste uranium showed high levels of radiation and radon gas, so the basements of many of these homes had to be dug up at the taxpayers expense.
Even today, uranium ore poses a problem. During the scandals related to human radiation experimentation, it was revealed two years ago that several million pounds of uranium dust were dispersed over an area near Cincinnati, near suburban homes, in an experiment conducted by the U.S. government to determine the dispersal of radioactive materials in the atmosphere in populated areas. Not long ago, there was a truck accident where uranium "yellow cake" (uranium ore after being processed) spilled onto an interstate in the Midwest. Local, state, and federal officials argued for days as to who was responsible for cleaning up this radioactive mess, even as cars drove through the dust left by the yellow cake ore.
Even in many homes in the Northeast, a persistent problem is radioactive radon gas that seeps into people's basements, contaminating the house. Radon gas is quite radioactive but is also an inert gas, so it will seep right through the cracks in people's walls and floors. It will also go right through activated charcoal in a gas mask as if it weren't even there, so gas masks provide no protection whatsoever.
Today the military has found a new use for waste uranium—as a weapon of war. Precisely because uranium is quite heavy as a metal, it has ideal armor-piercing capabilities against tanks and artillery. If you hold uranium, you are surprised how dense it is.
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18| Nuclear Testing, Power Plants and a Breast Cancer Epidemic (excerpt)
The anguish of the Gulf War veterans suffering from the ravages of DU is only a small part of the damage exacted by the American nuclear addiction. A cumulated total of twenty million premature deaths can be attributed to the post-war interaction of both chemical and radioactive pollutants.

Dr. Jay M. Gould
The illnesses affecting veterans of the Gulf War are all symptomatic of the same immune system deficiencies that have affected the atomic veterans deliberately exposed to the Nevada nuclear bomb tests, Native American miners exposed to uranium dust and indeed the many millions of victims who since the birth of the nuclear age in 1945 have inhaled or ingested radioactive fission products never before encountered in nature. When uranium and strontium-90 are ingested—especially because they have long half-lives—both have immediate and delayed adverse effects on the immune system's response capabilities. These effects were clearly indicated by classified animal experiments conducted by American nuclear scientists as far back as 1943.
The name for this condition is low-level radiation, which has little relation to background radiation from natural causes such as cosmic rays and radioactive minerals in the soil. Over the course of countless millennia, human immune defenses have developed the capacity to resist cancer from such natural sources, only to be overwhelmed in 1945 by the sudden introduction into a previously pristine atmosphere of huge amounts of man-made radiation.
The Department of Energy has recently admitted that in the haste to produce plutonium for the first atomic bombs, the Hanford nuclear weapons complex released 550,000 curies of radioactive iodine in 1945. In terms of picocuries, the unit now used to measure radioactivity in a liter of milk or water, this means that in 1945, one-hundred-fifty million Americans were unwittingly exposed to more than four billion picocuries per-capita of this lethal radionuclide, comparable to releases from the Chernobyl accident—the worst in human history.
This was followed by two decades of atmospheric bomb tests recently estimated by the Natural Resources Defense Council to be equivalent to exploding forty thousand Hiroshima bombs. The effects of this testing were revealed by a sudden epidemic increase in cancer among children five to nine years old. Since 1945, female breast cancer incidence has nearly tripled, and we have established that a significant number of the eighty million baby boomers born in the bomb-test years 1945 to 1965—literally the worst time in history—did in fact subsequently display evidences of the damage to hormonal and immune systems sustained in utero.
We can show that in the period 1945-1965 there had indeed been an anomalous forty percent increase in underweight live births, perfectly correlated with the rise in strontium-90 found in human bone and especially in baby teeth. In fact, it was the concern expressed by mothers, as in the Women's Strike for Peace movement that helped prod President John Kennedy and Premier Nikita Khrushchev to finally terminate above-ground nuclear tests in 1963. There was a brief period of improvement thereafter until fallout from civilian power reactors replaced bomb-test fallout, especially after the Three-Mile-Island and Chernobyl accidents of 1979 and 1986. Since 1979, the ominous rise in the percentage of underweight live births that first surfaced in 1945 has resumed.
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19| Nine-Legged Frogs, Gulf War Syndrome and Chernobyl Studies (excerpt)
Desert Storm veterans along with the people of Iraq and Kuwait were victims of one of the latest military experiments on human beings. I believe that the ignorance was culpable and criminal.

Dr. Rosalie Bertell
I first heard about the military using depleted uranium for bullets from the Native Americans for a Clean Environment (NACE) in Gore, Oklahoma. Kerr Magee was operating a factory there, and in a liquid waste spill a young man, about twenty-one years old, was sprayed with the mixture and died. Many members of the public were also exposed, and were taken to the University in Oklahoma City for medical examination and feces analysis. It seems that the liquid waste contained primarily uranium and other heavy metals.
Local people had found this factory to be very polluting. When I visited the town to see what was happening and to decide whether or not I could help, they showed me rust marks scattered over the surface of their automobiles where the toxic corrosive spray released from the factory routinely had impacted on the paint. People complained of burning throats and eyes, some with even more serious complaints, but little systematic information which would show that the factory was the source of their problem.
I met a young boy who showed me a frog he had caught—the frog had nine legs. It was in a bottle of formaldehyde. I wanted to take it for some tissue and bone analysis but it was his prize possession and he would not part with it.
I learned that the Kerr Magee plant had been disposing of its waste by deep-well injection in this rural, primarily farming area. The people, becoming alarmed at this practice which threatened the water table, got a court injunction to stop it. In an action, which seemed to the local farmers to be a retaliation, Kerr Magee had applied to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to call their waste an "experimental fertilizer" and just spread it over the top of the land. The stories were quite strong evidence that this so-called fertilizer was sometimes just released into the local river, or released in one place on the factory property, with no pretense even to spread it.
The young boy had found his nine-legged frog on the hill which served as the "experimental plot." Hunters had found a rabbit with two hearts, and the local taxidermist told me that he had tried to mount two deer heads and the fur came off in his hands in clumps. He had never seen anything like it in his whole career.
As local people became sick and started to complain, Kerr Magee bought them out, and took over their land. The Native people, who were determined to preserve their land, formed a Coalition of Whites and Natives Concerned, and began the long legal fight with the company. They learned about environmental assessment hearings, licensing hearings, etc. and began to seriously participate. They also undertook a human health survey of all families—there were about four hundred of them—living within four miles of the factory. Every family was included in the survey, which was very comprehensive and carefully administered.
The International Institute of Concern for Public Health agreed to analyze this data for the citizens. The outstanding illnesses in the area were respiratory and kidney problems. There were significantly more persons with respiratory illnesses downwind of the plant, and significantly more with kidney problems downstream of the plant.
We intended to do a clinical follow-up of this survey, and designed the study with the cooperation of the Occupational Health and Respiratory Units at the University Medical School of New Jersey. We were not able to obtain funding for this study. Nevertheless, with the health survey and a great deal of local perseverance, Kerr Magee moved out. A second multinational tried to take over the factory—I think it was General Dynamics—but it failed.
I learned much about uranium bullets during this research:
• They are incendiary; that is, after piercing the object they can burst into flame.
• They are fragmentary; they disintegrate into small fragments inside the body, and cannot be removed.
• They are more dense than lead, and can pierce a bullet-proof vest, or a light armored car or tank.
• Because the "enemy" might also use them, the military made uranium armor as a protection.
• They were cheap, because the depleted uranium was a waste product of the nuclear-bomb program.
• They were radioactive, which meant that even handling them was risky, but no one seemed to be worrying about this!
Research into Gulf War Syndrome
Six years after the Gulf War there is still deep controversy over the causes of the severe health problems observed in the veterans. Reluctantly, the U.S. government has been slowly releasing data on possible Iraqi chemical exposures of the veterans, but many physicians, some of whom have reported that their jobs are being threatened, have said that this information does not explain the variety of symptoms observed.
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20| DU Spread and Contamination of Gulf War Veterans and Others (excerpt)
The fallout range of airborne DU aerosol dust is virtually unlimited. These micro-particles can be inhaled and ingested easily and that makes them dangerous to human health.

Leonard A. Dietz
Abstract
We develop background information about depleted uranium (DU) and use it to describe a physical model of how on the battlefields in Kuwait and Iraq a large number of unprotected Gulf War veterans could easily have acquired dangerous quantities of DU in their bodies.
We examine how U-238, which comprises more than 99% of DU, decays radioactively, producing two decay progeny that are always present with it and add significantly to its radioactivity. The pyrophoric nature of uranium metal causes it to burn (oxidize rapidly) when heated by impact or in fires to form invisible aerosol particles that become airborne.
We refer to scientific measurements that have been made of the atmospheric wind-borne transport of uranium aerosols over distances up to 25 miles (42 km) from their sources. Stokes' well-known physical law helps to explain how airborne transport of DU particles can occur over large distances.
We describe how gamma rays and energetic beta particles become absorbed in body tissue and can traverse large numbers of body cells, potentially causing damage to genetic material in the nuclei of living cells. We describe a biokinetic model developed by the International Commission on Radiation Protection that explains how uranium microparticles can enter the body and spread to vital organs. The model predicts that an acute intake of uranium particles can result in urinary excretions of uranium for years afterward.
We review estimates of the tonnage of DU munitions fired during the Gulf War. Even if only one or two percent of a low estimate of 300 metric tons of DU fired had burned up, this would have produced 3,000-6,000 kg of DU aerosols.
This background information allows us to propose a plausible contamination model at a battle site. It consists of three steps:
1. a source of hundreds of kilograms of DU aerosols generated suddenly against concentrated Iraqi armor;
2. widespread rapid dispersal of DU aerosol particles by wind action;
3. inhalation and ingestion of DU particles by unprotected U.S. service personnel on the battlefield.
The U.S. military and its representatives claim that DU munitions are safe, but they have not publicly addressed health and safety issues that apply after DU munitions have been fired. Apparently the official view is that in a combat situation it is acceptable for unprotected personnel to be exposed to the combustion products of fired DU munitions and assume any health risks involved.
We mention that 22 U.S. service personnel have been reported to have suffered imbedded fragments of DU in their bodies from "friendly fire." More than five years after the Gulf War, few of these fragments have been removed and the long-term health situation for these veterans has not yet been determined. We note the astonishingly high incidence of serious birth defects in families of Gulf War veterans in the State of Mississippi.
Finally, we mention how commonly used DU flight-control counterweights in aircraft and DU munitions can burn in intense fires and produce dangerous concentrations of airborne DU aerosol particles that can be inhaled and ingested.
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21| Gravesites: Environmental Ruin in Iraq (excerpt)
The chain of death created by the Gulf War is an awesome thing. But the really scary part comes later—now—when we find that things which looked alive are really dead or doomed.

Barbara Nimri Aziz
It was a sunny spring afternoon in North Iraq in 1996. I stood on a gently sloping verge overlooking meadows of what was supposed to be young wheat. A cover of green tinged with a soft yellow extended as far as one could see in all directions and, from a distance, it appeared to be an undisturbed pastoral setting. On the surface, it looked serene.
Had I traveled four hundred kilometers just to escape the ugliness of Baghdad and the constant sight of beggars there? Did I come to this green landscape to shut out those endless complaints about food prices, and the now tedious questions put to me as a visiting journalist about when the UN sanctions might end? As much as I could, I had addressed those issues. Now I was pursuing my own agenda—to investigate agricultural production.
Why should the United Nations economic sanctions, imposed in August 1990 and still strictly enforced, hamper local food production? I wanted to know. So I travelled to the northern wheat-growing area around Mosul, as well as to small family farms both north and south of Baghdad.
With me on that tour in the north were agronomists from the agricultural office in Mosul. This was the administrative center for the entire northern governate. This region was Iraq's breadbasket—a grain-growing center for the country of nineteen million people. The Iraqis were to show me the farms, and when we pulled off the road and walked up the slope, I waited for them to lead me to fields where wheat grew. Yet the men did not move beyond where we stood when I asked to see the wheat.
"This is it," said the officer quietly, looking at the ground. "This is the crop."
I looked down at the growth at my feet, then around the hill, and finally at my Iraqi hosts. I was confused.
"I do not believe this is a wheat field."
I was stunned that I had blurted this out; I felt embarrassed. It was as if I had accused the men of deception.
Mohammed Sheet is chief plant protection officer for Mosul, a trained agronomist. Neither he nor his assistants responded to my observation. What were they to reply?
I broke into the awful silence and asked if we could move deeper into the field, as if our proximity to the road somehow was responsible for the sickly growth around us. They obliged and we walked five hundred meters up the slope. It was the same. I said nothing. "Yes, this is also wheat," said the official. It was no different from what grew at the first site. Now all of us were silent, gazing at the ground, as if standing on a grave.
Recovering from the shock, I apologized. I knew what ripe, healthy grain fields look like and I could recognize young stands of wheat. Elsewhere in the world, I had witnessed bad crops, too, places where seventy percent was lost due to drought, and I had observed thin fields planted with bad seed or crops eaten back by pests. But I had never seen anything as bad as this.
I asked Mr. Sheet to point out which was the wheat plant. He bent down and touched some of the grass shoots visible among the growth. Hardly more than shreds had reached the surface. The grass was just no more than four inches high, whereas a normal crop should be eighteen inches by this time of the year. Low yield is one thing. But this wheat was so badly infested, it was virtually destroyed. Moreover, this tragedy seemed to be no accident.
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22| Depleted Uranium Shells Make the Desert Glow (excerpt)
The Pentagon insists that depleted uranium is "very, very mildly radioactive" and that the shells are not radioactive enough to be classified as a "radiological weapon."

Eric Hoskins
The Gulf War lives on, as this week's air strikes against Iraq have proved (January 21, 1993). But the conflict goes beyond Iraqi missile batteries in forbidden places. It extends, frighteningly, to radioactive artillery shells used by coalition forces in early 1991. The spent rounds may be the cause of fatal illnesses, including cancer and mysterious new stomach ailments, showing up in Iraqi children. Because of sanctions and war, the death rate of children under five has tripled. In the first eight months of 1991 alone, fifty thousand children died.
Known as depleted uranium penetrators, the shells were developed by the Pentagon in the late 1970s as anti-tank, armor-piercing projectiles. DU, which makes up the shell's core, is a radioactive byproduct of the enrichment process used to make atomic bombs and nuclear fuel rods. The material is extremely hard and abundant, and provided free to weapons manufacturers by the nuclear industry.
When fired, the core bursts into a searing flame that helps it pierce the armor of tanks and other military targets. Diesel vapors inside the tank are ignited, and the crew is burned alive.
In the six-week air and land war against Iraq, U.S. and allied coalition tanks, artillery and attack planes fired at least ten thousand of the six-inch, six-to-eight pound shells. A confidential report by the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority, written in April 1991 and leaked to The Independent newspaper of London in November of that year, estimates that at least forty tons of depleted uranium were dispersed in Iraq and Kuwait during the war.
Among other things, the depleted uranium rounds forced the Pentagon to concede additional friendly-fire casualties when traces of radioactivity were found on destroyed coalition military vehicles. Iraqi forces did not have uranium penetrators.
While it's too early to prove a link, many health experts suspect that the postwar increase in childhood cancer and mysterious swollen abdomens is at least in part due to the radioactive shells. UN personnel and aid workers have seen children playing with empty shells, abandoned weapons and destroyed tanks. In Basra, a foreign doctor saw a child using depleted uranium shells as hand puppets.
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23| How DU Shell Residues Poison Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia (excerpt)
A spent depleted-uranium shell I found in Iraq was confiscated by a large police detachment in Germany, carried away under enormous safety precautions and stored in a specially shielded deposit. My efforts to have it examined got me into serious trouble.

Prof. Dr. Siegwart-Horst Guenther
Depleted-uranium projectiles were used for the first time by the allied troops during the Gulf War in 1991, with devastating effects and consequences.
At the beginning of March 1991, I detected projectiles in an Iraqi combat area that had the form and size of a cigar and were extraordinarily heavy.
At a later point in time, I saw children play with projectiles of this kind; one of them died from leukemia.
As early as at the end of 1991 I diagnosed a hitherto unknown disease among the Iraqi population which is caused by renal and hepatic dysfunctions.
My efforts to have one of these hitherto unknown projectiles examined brought me into serious trouble in Germany: the material was highly toxic and radioactive. The projectile was confiscated by a large police detachment, carried away under enormous safety precautions and stored in a specially shielded deposit.
During the last five years I have been able to carry out extensive studies in Iraq. Their results produced ample evidence to show that contact with DU ammunition has the following consequences, especially for children:
• A considerable increase in infectious diseases caused by most severe immunodeficiencies in a great part of the population;
• Frequent occurrence of massive herpes and zoster afflictions, also in children;
• AIDS-like syndromes;
• A hitherto unknown syndrome caused by renal and hepatic dysfunctions;
• Leukemia, aplastic anemia and malignant neoplasms;
• Congenital deformities caused by genetic defects, which are also to be found in animals.
The results of my studies show similarities to a clinical picture described recently by the term of the so-called Gulf War Syndrome in American and British soldiers and their children. The congenital deformities caused by genetic defects in American and Iraqi children are identical.
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24| Note from the Permanent Mission of Iraq
to the UN Center for Human Rights
Geneva, Switzerland 21 May 1996

Teams of Iraqi specialists proved that the coalition states had used radioactive weapons against the Iraqi armed forces, particularly their armored and mechanized units.
Some facts concerning the use of radioactive weapons by the coalition forces and their effects on the environment and the population in Iraq.
It is now common knowledge that, in their attack on Iraq following the events that took place in Kuwait in August 1990, the coalition forces used internationally prohibited weapons of mass destruction. Accordingly, in this paper we do not intend to elaborate on those forces' violations of the established principles of international humanitarian law, particularly the right to life, in spite of the serious nature of this issue in so far as it constitutes a flagrant violation of human rights; nor do we intend to speak of the intensive and unjustified bombardment of all areas of Iraq, including towns and villages situated at a great distance from the battlefields, which proved highly detrimental to the economic, social and cultural rights of the Iraqi people. Iraq has already provided details of those violations during previous sessions of the Commission on Human Rights.

Dangers from Depleted Uranium
However, almost five years after the aggression which was launched against Iraq, alarming facts are coming to light concerning the extremely dangerous effects of the use of radioactive weapons on the environment and the population. This applies in particular to projectiles made from depleted uranium, these being weapons that are internationally prohibited under the terms of the 1980 Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects.
In fact, weapons and munitions of this type cause unjustifiable pain and suffering to both the civilian population and the belligerents and are an expression of hatred and of a desire to engage in random destruction and slaughter bordering on genocide, which the international community regards as a prohibited act, the perpetrators of which must be punished. Their use also constitutes a flagrant and gross violation of human rights.
In a letter (DS/S/SS 0692/94m dated 6 December 1994) addressed to the British Member of Parliament Sir David Steel, Malcolm Rifkind, the British Minister of Defense, admitted that depleted uranium had been used by the British forces in order to improve their ability to confront Iraqi armored vehicles. In that letter, the minister of defense also stated that, in their armored units and A-10 aircraft, the United States forces had used much larger quantities of depleted uranium than the British forces.
In his letter, the British Minister of Defense acknowledged that DU shells could disperse small quantities of toxic radioactive substances when they impacted on a hard surface and those substances posed a health hazard if they were inhaled or ingested. However, he thought that it was improbable that persons other than those targeted by such shells would be exposed to sufficient quantities of those substances to endanger their health. In his letter, the British Minister of Defense claimed that those shells had been used in sparsely populated desert areas and that the direct and immediate danger, namely the dust produced by those shells, dissipated rapidly, although the hazards arising from the contact with destroyed vehicles remained. He claimed that the residual hazards in both Iraq and Kuwait were considered to be limited.
In this connection, in its edition published in April 1995, the newspaper Le Monde Diplomatique quoted William M. Arkin, president of the Washington-based Institute of Science and International Security, as saying that the number of 30mm rounds containing three hundred grams of depleted uranium fired by A-10 aircraft amounted to 940,000, which the number of 120mm shells containing 1 kg of depleted uranium fired by tanks amounted to 4,000, in the light of which the total amount of uranium dropped on Iraq and Kuwait could be estimated at about three hundred tons.
That same newspaper also quoted the confidential report submitted by the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority to the British government in November 1991, which stated that there will be specific areas in which many rounds would have been fired where localized contamination of vehicles and the soil may exceed permissible limits and these could be hazardous to the local population. According to that report, the real danger arose from the inhalation of airborne particles of uranium dust produced when DU shells hit and burned armored vehicles since, when the shell impacted, a large proportion of its metallic mass was pulverized and the resulting fine airborne particles, which were toxic to the kidneys and lungs, could easily be swallowed.
The same Le Monde Diplomatique article mentioned above indicated that a program broadcast by NBC in February 1994 had reviewed two cases of possible contamination by DU. The first case was that of Sergeant Daryll Clark, who recalled that his unit had been in the vicinity of Iraqi tanks when A-10 aircraft destroyed them with 30mm shells. His young daughter had been born after the war with a tumor of the gall bladder and without a thyroid gland. The second case was that of Carol Picou, whose medical unit had also been caught in the smoke billowing from those Iraqi tanks. According to Thomas Callender, the physician treating her, her case was very similar to that of persons who had ingested radioactive substances.
The newspaper article affirmed that the U.S. Army had admitted that DU could be dangerous. It was impossible for it to conceal from the public the fact that it had repatriated twenty-nine vehicles hit by rounds of that type in order to decontaminate them on U.S. territory, where thirty-five soldiers had thus been exposed to radiation.
In addition to the above-mentioned facts, research has also been conducted by three American specialists (Grace Bukowski, Damacio Lopez and Fielding McGehee from three American organizations: the Rural Alliance for Military Accountability, the Progressive Alliance for Community Empowerment and Citizen Alert) on the use of DU by the U.S. Department of Defense during the attack on Iraq by the thirty-member coalition. Their research confirmed that depleted uranium rounds had been used, for the first time in the history of modern warfare, during the Gulf War and countless Iraqi soldiers had been killed either directly by DU shells or as a result of exposure to their radiation. They estimated that fifty thousand Iraqi children had probably died during the first eight months of 1991 from various diseases, including cancer, kidney failure and previously unknown internal diseases, caused by the use of DU.
In this connection, the researchers noted that, according to the U.S. Department of Defense, an unspecified number of American soldiers had been wounded or burnt when they were struck by uranium-contaminated shrapnel and others had died as a result of inhaling uranium when their tanks were burnt. In this context, the researchers stated that the fission of a DU atom produced gamma rays that led to radiation exposure. They also indicated that the reluctance of governments, particularly the USA, to study and publicize the hazardous effects of the use of depleted uranium was attributable to their desire to avoid having to pay compensation to the victims of radiation exposure, since the use of that type of uranium led to a wide variety of health hazards and incurable diseases, ranging from cancer to kidney failure, respiratory disorders, congenital abnormalities, skin diseases and other obscure, unknown and fatal diseases.
When uranium oxide entered the lungs, it remained there for long periods of time and, consequently, reduced the capacity of the lungs by half and led to their functional paralysis and total collapse of the respiratory system within one year or more. The continued presence of uranium oxide particles in the lung tissue caused continuous swelling therein as long as the affected person remained alive. With the passage of time, affliction with lung cancer became highly probable, if not certain. Their research showed that a single tank carried fifty thousand pounds of uranium-contaminated rounds; that the quantities of ammunition used by the aircraft and tanks of the United States and its allies were large enough to insure that their hazards and damage were not confined to the battlefield but extended into areas a great distance therefrom; and that the largest quantity of uranium fallout could be found in Iraqi territory.
They added that the quantities of DU used and consumed by U.S. and British aircraft and tanks in their battle against Iraq had never been made public and remained classified as confidential information. They emphasized that, according to the report of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority, the real danger arose from the uranium dust produced when depleted uranium hit and burned out Iraqi armored vehicles, dispersing a large number of very small particles of uranium oxide, which were carried by the winds over great distances and, on entering the respiratory system, caused lung cancer.
The researchers quoted a telegram from the Munitions and Chemical Command addressed to Colonel Landri, one of the field commanders in the war, which stated as follows:
Please take the following information into consideration:
1. Any appliance containing and firing depleted uranium should be considered to be contaminated.
2. Any appliance that is attacked with depleted uranium should be considered to be contaminated.
3. No one should enter contaminated appliances before ascertaining that they have been decontaminated.
4. Protective gloves should be worn when handling bodies that are suspected of being contaminated by depleted uranium.
Iraqi Specialists Conduct Study
Teams of Iraqi specialists were formed to conduct a specialized study comprising measurements of radioactivity in areas of military operations. They also carried out such measurements and surveys of destroyed armored and other motorized vehicles (including those that had been damaged and withdrawn to repair locations) and took soil samples to measure their level of contamination. The conclusive material evidence obtained by these teams proved that the coalition states had used radioactive weapons against the Iraqi armed forces, particularly their armored and mechanized units.
The spectroscopic analysis of the environmental sample taken from inside destroyed armored vehicles, as well as some other environmental samples from the northern areas of Rumaila, Artawi and the border and demilitarized zones, proved that the radioactive contamination resulted from the use of warheads made of DU since some of the samples taken from inside destroyed armored vehicles in those areas were found to be highly radioactive and the laboratory tests of the environmental samples taken from the areas studied showed very high concentrations of uranium 238.
The competent Iraqi authorities also formed specialized teams from medical and other scientific research institutions to conduct medical and scientific field and clinical research and surveys concerning the effects on human health of the use of radioactive weapons by the coalition forces in the war against Iraq. Unusual pathological cases have appeared in Iraq, as illustrated by the abnormal increase in the incidence of cancer of the blood, the lungs, the digestive system and the skin, and there has also been a notable increase in the incidence of congenital diseases and fetal deformities, such as the presence of additional abnormal organs, hydrocephaly, anencephaly, eye diseases, and even the total absence or deformity of eyes.
Cases of twin births with Down's syndrome have appeared, in addition to skeletal abnormalities, congenital syndromes and chromosomal trisomies, as well as unexplained cases of falling hair and rare skin diseases among persons affected by, or living in the vicinity of areas affected by, the bombardments. There has been an increase in the number of persons afflicted with attacks of epidemic vertigo and severe vertigo accompanied by nausea and loss of balance, and also in the numbers of patients afflicted with attacks of distorted vision and loss of sight in part of the eye, accompanied by severe migraine, in addition to unexplained cases of sterility among both sexes and an increase in the incidence of miscarriages and of still, premature and difficult births.
The large-scale use of these militarily unjustifiable weapons contradicts the affirmations of the coalition states to the effect that the weapons they used were conventional weapons and that the war was a clean war.
The use of these weapons resulted in the mass slaughter of individuals, due to the highly destructive nature of the rounds, and the contamination of persons outside the theater of military operations due to the toxicity of the radioactive substance used, as well as the strange and unprecedented pathological symptoms with which they were afflicted. Moreover, they resulted in widespread contamination of the environment in Iraq and human suffering to which not only the present generation but also the future generations will be subjected as a result of their use.
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25| U.S. First to Target Nuclear Reactor (excerpt)
"Every target that we have attacked, be it nuclear, chemical or biological, we have very carefully selected the destruction means, okay, after a lot of advice from a lot of very, very prominent scientists."—Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, January 1991.
Suzy T. Kane
One fact of the Persian Gulf War seems to have been recorded in invisible ink: the United States is the first nation in history to have intentionally bombed an operating nuclear reactor.
When asked the Defense Department's position on the issue of nuclear reactors as military targets, Admiral Eugene Carroll of the Center for Defense Information was not aware that the reactor at the Tuwaitha Nuclear Research Center in Iraq had been in operation at the time it was bombed. "It's a legitimate cause of concern," Carroll admitted. "Once a war starts, the value system changes and anything you can do to hurt the adversary and cause him problems, you find justification for doing."
The military advantage is obvious in the quip Carroll recalled hearing: " 'You don't have to take the bang to the enemy; the bang is already there when you take out his nuclear plants.' " 1
The reactor the U.S. destroyed at the Tuwaitha Nuclear Research Center in Iraq, just ten kilometers southeast of Baghdad, was a small Russian-made research reactor typical of the kind found at Western universities (Berkeley, the University of Chicago, New York University have them). Vulnerable now as military targets are the world's other three hundred research reactors in addition to almost five hundred larger nuclear power reactors for generating electricity that could become deliberate Chernobyls.2
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26| The Role of Physicians in the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons (excerpt)
I believe those groups concerned with abolition of nuclear weapons should broaden their agendas to include abolition of depleted uranium weapons and other weapons, such as anti-personnel land mines, that are indiscriminate and inhumane.

Victor W. Sidel, MD
The Work of PSR and IPPNW
In 1961 a group of Boston physicians, led by the renowned cardiologist Dr. Bernard Lown, analyzed in detail the potential medical consequences of use of the then newly-developed thermonuclear bombs.
While the physicians in the group had for years been individually concerned about the medical consequences of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the implications of the use of these weapons for the future, this concern was intensified by the development during the 1950s of much more powerful nuclear weapons. These new weapons, using nuclear fusion rather than nuclear fission and called hydrogen bombs or thermonuclear bombs, could produce an explosive force over one-thousand-fold greater than the bombs used in 1945.
When the energy distribution of these new weapons was published in the open literature in the late 1950s, the group in Boston, of which I was privileged to be a member, analyzed the potential medical consequences if these weapons were to be detonated over cities in the United States. This analysis, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1962,1 concluded that the use of thermonuclear weapons would be so destructive to human health, to the environment, and to medical personnel and facilities that attempts at response by health professionals after the bombs had fallen would be almost entirely futile.
The report argued that physicians, because of their special knowledge of the medical effects of these weapons and because of their special responsibility to protect the health of their patients and their communities, had a special responsibility to help prevent the use of nuclear weapons. The report gained worldwide attention and contributed to the rapid growth of a group formed by the authors and other health professionals, Physicians for Social Responsibility, which has worked for over one-third of a century for the prevention of the use of nuclear weapons.2
The report documented both the short-term and the long-term health effects caused by the enormous blast energy, heat flux and ionizing radiation produced by nuclear weapons. The blast wave would cause severe trauma by collapse of buildings, flying debris and the throwing about of humans. The immediate radiation of enormous heat and the ignition of conflagrations and fires would cause severe burns and lung damage. The neutron and gamma ray flux from the initial detonation and alpha, beta and gamma radiation from short-range and long-range fallout of the radionuclides produced by the detonation would cause damage to tissues and organs. There would also be severe psychological damage to the survivors, both in the short-term and the long-term.
We pointed out that the use of nuclear weapons is likely to cause greatest injury to those most vulnerable—infants, the elderly and the infirm—a direct violation of one of the fundamental principles of international law. We also noted that the radioactive fallout, carried by the prevailing winds, would inevitably cross national boundaries and cause radiation injury among the population of neutral nations, another direct violation of a fundamental principle of international law.
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28| Depleted-Uranium Weapons and International Law (excerpt)
The real objective must be the abolition of war. ...In the meantime it is possible to achieve prohibitions on certain practices or weapons which routinely violate the laws of war, including DU weapons.

Alyn Ware
"When the king fights with his foes in battle, let him not strike with weapons concealed in wood, nor with such as are barbed, poisoned, or the points of which are blazing with fire." (Seventh book of the legendary Hindu lawyer, Manu.)
For most of history there has been a battle between those who would justify the use of war as a necessary political tool, and those who would classify war as a crime of mass murder which must be abolished. Up until the twentieth century, war may have been opposed by the masses, but was seen by powerful rulers as politics by other means. However the devastation of the European wars and the two world wars moved even those in power to see the inhumanity of war and consider the possibility of prohibiting it.
The Hague Peace Conferences of 1899 and 1907 and the formation of the League of Nations and the United Nations had the abolition of war in mind, but failed to deliver due to the vested interests in continuing to use force and to the strongly held notion that force may be necessary in self-defense. What they could agree to, however, was that certain acts of war are "inhumane" and not necessary for the purpose of defeating the enemy. They therefore agreed to prohibit such acts. Other initiatives, such as the work of the International Committee of the Red Cross, have added to the list of proscribed actions.
What has emerged, therefore, is the development of a body of international law termed the humanitarian laws of warfare, which prohibit certain "inhumane" acts during wartime while not prohibiting the inhumane act of war itself. Such law was seriously debated during the recent International Court of Justice advisory opinion on the legality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons. The ICJ concluded that "the threat or use of nuclear weapons would generally be contrary to the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, and in particular the principles and rules of humanitarian law."1
The question that arises, therefore, is whether the use of depleted uranium (DU) in weapons systems violates this body of law, and if so whether the law can be used to effectively constrain or prohibit such use.
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