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Depleted Uranium, weapons of war – the Pandora's box

The US is the largest single user of depleted uranium (DU) in weaponry.  It is also the largest seller and exporter of depleted uranium weapon technology.

DU is used in smart bombs, bunker busters, anti-tank weapons, and the tow missiles.  All very highly effective. As we saw in Gulf War I, the US bunker buster bombs tipped with DU were penetrating concrete shielding up to 10 feet thick.

The bunker buster’s effectiveness is that it can penetrate and then explode – raising the destructiveness and a higher body count than convention bombs.  Cruise missiles can penetrate deeper before the explosion happens.  As an anti-tank weapon, rounds tipped with DU can penetrate the tank’s hull and then do its dirty deed.

Deplete Uranium is actually a misnomer.  It is uranium, incredibly hard and a very dense metal, yes. But it is still very much radioactive.  The US is quick to defend the use of DUs and scorns all scientific finds that indicate there might be serious lingering problems.  Weapons using DU can be rightfully called a ‘dirty bomb’.  The US classifies a ‘dirty bomb’ as an explosive device that permeates the surrounding area with radioactive/biological/chemical material.  Such is the fears of the US homeland Security.  The bomb itself is not the object of fear; it is the spread of the radioactive/biological/chemical material that encases the bomb that brings Homeland Security the night sweats.

In the mechanics of DU tipped weapons when the device explodes, the force of the blast breaks the DU tip into a cloud of dust that coats everything within the target, and as with all explosions, there is the dust and debris that is jettisoned outward – this includes the dust from the DU.  As the dust settles, the contaminated material also settles to earth or becomes airborne and drifts to other parts of that country.  Now we have radioactive material spreading over a large area. 

The US has moved away from the term DU, and has come up with a more polite term of ‘dense metal’ – but it is still DU and still a dirty bomb.

On March 14, 2003, Colonel Jim Naughton from Army Materiel Command, took the podium and tried to justify the use of DU weapons.  He stated: “During the Gulf War, we fired ammunition weighing approximately 320 tons” and while he down played the amount of DU unleashed, he took note that if taken together, the amount of DU would be a cube about eight feet on the side.  A radioactive brick the size of 512 cubic feet – no smaller matter.

A United Nations study found DU contaminating air and water seven years after it was used.  A study that the US denies and marks as hysterical. 
Ray Bristow of the Canadian military said: "I remained in Saudi Arabia throughout the war. I never once went into Iraq or Kuwait, where these munitions were used.
But the tests showed, in layman's terms, that I have been exposed to over 100 times an individual's safe annual exposure to depleted uranium."   Natural occurring uranium does not give off the amounts of radiation that would cause this type of exposure.  The question is how Mr. Bristow was exposed.  One educated guess would be airborne radiation from the usage of DU.
Several essays of interest can be found at http://www.miltoxproj.org/DU/dupd.htm.  This site also provides a better description that I can of the mechanisms of using DUs in a battlefield setting.  I quote: “DUP's are effective antitank weapons, but when DU bullets strike, they ignite, forming fine particles of toxic and radioactive dust which can be inhaled or swallowed. DU can cause lung and other cancers, damage to the kidneys and liver and congenital malformations and genetic damage”. 
Dr. Zenad Mohammed, of Basra, has been documenting suspect birth defects and parts of her journal read: “August -- we had three babies born with no head. Four had abnormally large heads. In September we had six with no heads, none with large heads and two with short limbs or other types of deformities."  When did all this start?  Just after the US used DUs in Iraq.
Dr. Ashahine, a senior gynecologist in southern Iraq, has noted: “If it is not a child without a brain, then maybe it's one with a giant head, stumpy arms like those of a thalidomide victim, two fingers instead of five, a heart with missing valves, missing ears. The deformities have one thing in common: they are congenital”.  When did all this start?  Just after the US used DUs in Iraq.
February 1991, coalition planes fired at least 1 million rounds of ammunition coated in a radioactive material known as depleted uranium, or DU.
"We know that depleted uranium is toxic and can cause diseases," says Dr. Howard Urnovitz, a microbiologist who has testified before the Presidential Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses.
There has been a clear increase in birth defects, ranging from thalidomide-type deformities to entire villages where the children of different families are being born blind or with internal congenital defects in the heart and lungs.
The Guardian, independent foreign newspaper, said, and I quote” Using simple radiation Geiger counters, we measured high levels of radiation in the destroyed tanks and in the desert that surrounded them. The source of the radiation was a substance that had never been used in the battlefield before the Gulf War. Iraq became the laboratory for an untested and unknown material -- DU.”
Arjun Makihani, the president of the US Institute for Energy and Environmental Research says of DU: “Once released, the particles can be directly inhaled, can pollute the water table and enter the food chain, spreading radioactive pollution over thousands of square miles. Exposure to this kind of radiation, as well as to the chemical pollution, can cause genetic damage because of the ease with which the uranium can cross the placenta to the fetus. (From research carried at Oak Ridge National Laboratories which controversially used uranium to trace the passage of calcium from the placenta to the fetus.) According to the US Department of Defense, at least 40 tons of DU were left on the battlefields of southern Iraq.”
"Battlefields littered with the residue of spent DU bullets remain radioactive almost indefinitely." Christian Science Monitor, 4/30/99.
A single charred DU bullet found by US forces was emitting 260 -270 millirads per hour. The current limit of exposure for nonradiation workers is 100 millirads per year. 1991 U.S. Army Safety Memo (DU Case Narrative 9/98 , p.183, available - Military Toxics Project)
In 1991, DU penetrators were first used in the Gulf War. No information about protection was given to our soldiers. The DUs were used with no regard for the lives of the civilian population.
In 1995, DU weapons were used in Bosnia.
In Dec. 1995 and Jan. 1996 the US Marine Corps fired 1,520 DU rounds near Okinawa, Japan.
In Feb., 1999, the US Navy dropped 267 rounds of DU on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques.
In April of 1999, DU weapons were used in Kosovo.
In September of 1999, it was reported by the Canadian Broadcasting Co. TV that over the years from 1991 until about 1998, the Canadian navy fired six tons of depleted uranium shells, mostly into a fishing area off Halifax harbor. Lt.-Cmdr. Bill McKillip "said there are no plans to either clean up the slugs or test to see if radioactive material has entered the food chain."
 
The United Nations Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities voted a resolution which included the following: "Convinced that the production, sale and use of such weapons are incompatible with international human rights and humanitarian law”.  Enraged, the United States voted against the resolution – the only dissenting vote.
 
On one hand, the US strenuously counters all scientific works that point out the clear and present dangers of DU, while on the other hand talks about the dangers.  What is the reader supposed to understand from such an obvious contradiction?
 
"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.
 
The US position, as perceived by itself, is best summed up by Colin Powell when the US bombed Iraq’s two nuclear reactors.  I quote: “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.”  The UN, on December 4, 1990, 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.   Foul screamed the US and the US vetoed the vote against US action.    It is not a matter that the protests were not there, they were, but the US had muffled, gagged, and censored them. 
In the article “DU: Cancer as a Weapon -- Radioactive War” by Alexander Cockburn & Jeffrey St. Clair, they assert that we are discovering that leukemia is on a sharp incline in Iraq.  I quote: “Since 1990, the incident rate of leukemia in Iraq has grown by more than 600 percent”.
"We have proof of traces of DU in samples taken for analysis and that is really bad for those who assert that cancer cases have grown for other reasons," says Dr. Umid Mubarak, Iraq's health minister.”
 
Already medical teams inthe region have detected cancer clusters near the bomb sites. The leukemia rate in Sarajevo, pummeled by American bombs in 1996, has tripled in the last five years. But it's not just the Serbs who are ill and dying. NATO and UN peacekeepers in the region are also coming down with cancer. As of January 23, eight Italian soldiers who served in the region have died of leukemia.”
 
“Thousand of acres of land in the Balkans, Kuwait and southern Iraq have been contaminated forever.”
 
The late Terry Riordon, a member of the Canadian Armed Forces, serving in the Gulf War, rotated back after displaying the symptoms of loss of motor control, chronic fatigue, respiratory difficulties, chest pain, difficulty breathing, sleep problems, short-term memory loss, testicle pain, body pains, aching bones, diarrhea, and depression. During his autopsy, Depleted Uranium (DU) contamination was discovered in his lungs and bones. 
Mr. Riordon is not the only one either. 
 
Dr Asaf Durakovic, of the Veteran's Administration Hospital in Wilmington, Delaware, in his analysis the urine samples of 24 men sent to him observed: Serious health imbalances were found involving immune system, respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts, and severe kidney problems.
 
Serious Long-Term Effects Include: Compromised immune system, metabolic, respiratory and renal diseases, tumours, leukemia, and cancer.  We are seeing an upwards spike of leukemia in the citizens of Iraq.  Doctors without Borders have pulled out of Afghanistan and we cannot continue to study the after effects of DU there.  However, it is reasonable to rightfully conclude that there are parts of Afghanistan, and the Afghanistan-Pakistan border that a nuclear hot zones that will continue to spread their lethal atoms of death for thousands of years.
 
In a feature article in the Daily News, “Four soldiers from a New York Army National Guard company serving in Iraq are contaminated with radiation likely caused by dust from depleted uranium shells fired by U.S. troops.” 
 
“Sgt. Hector Vega, Sgt. Ray Ramos, Sgt. Agustin Matos and Cpl. Anthony Yonnone - are the first confirmed cases of inhaled depleted uranium exposure from the current Iraq conflict”.
 
Darrell Clark, a gulf war veteran, returned to the states in hopes of settling down and getting on with his life.  He and his wife became the parents of a baby girl who was born without a thyroid.  She also has hemangiomas, benign tumors made of tangled blood vessels.  Born with only hands, no arms, and stumps for legs.  Darrell, tested positive for radiation exposure. 
 
Paul Hanson, returned home from the gulf war and he and his wife wanted a child.  Their son, was also born with no arms, just hands, and stumps for legs.  What do the two children have in common?  Fathers who served in the Gulf region and had exposure to the aftermath of DU.
 
Neither couple is getting any assistance from a “grateful nation”.  Nor are the returning troops who have been exposed to a nuclear nightmare caused by their own government.  The US is engaging in a nuclear war minus the mushroom cloud. And maybe we have found the true cause of “Gulf War Syndrome” and we will refuse to recognize it.
 
While doing discovery for this article, I can across another article that indicated the use of the Atomic bomb is considered as a viable means of subduing Iraq if things get too out of hand. 
 
In June 2005, the Selective Service is scheduled to resume full operation.  With declining enlistments and soldiers mustering out, plus the number of soldiers who are being evacuated for non-combat related health issues have all taken their toll to the troop strength of the US. The Individual Ready Reserve has already been exploited to its fullest. The only way to offset this reduction is through forced military service, a.k.a. ‘The draft’. As with the draft of Viet Nam era, the only complete exemptions will be the family and friends of the President, the Vice President, the white house cabinet, and family and friends of the members of congress.
 
The age groups that will be considered eligible are people 18 – 34.  Women will be included in this new draft.  Conscientious objectors will be drafted into internal service in one of the national defense industries located in any part of the country – provided they meet the qualifications outlined for conscientious objector status.
Because of the racial inequality in the last draft, there will be no deferments awarded.  Being a full time student will not be of any benefit in avoiding being drafted.
 
One of the new changes is that because of the number people who fled to Canada in the last draft, the US and Canadian governments have signed off on an agreement - if you are of draft age, crossing the Canadian border will result in arrest, and extradition to the United States for immediate induction into the armed forces or imprisonment.
As with the last draft, a two year obligation to the active service is required, but it is reasonable to assume that once a person’s two year obligation is up, one will be required by law to report to the active reserve components.  Of course, reserve units will be subject to activation and rotation into regular service and overseas deployments.
 
With the talk now turning towards military intervention in Iran and the Sudan, a larger sustainable military force will be required.  A larger force is also necessary to offset the number of countries that are withdrawing from the Middle East conflict, the president of the US has committed the US to ‘going it alone’ in the conquest of the Middle East and surrounding countries. 
 
There are no indications that the GI Bill will be afforded to those inducted.  This country can ill afford the additional strain on an already back breaking deficit.  The downsized, and under funded, VA hospitals will probably be able to administer only to those whose battle injuries and disease are going to result in death.
 
There also exists the very real possibility that US troops will be introduced into the conflict in Israel.  The US might act as the buffer zone between Israel and Syria, the west bank and possible the Gaza strip.  A seriously large military force would probably be stationed at the Mountain of Megiddo. 
 
The US will probably become embroiled in Chechnya, fighting what Bush and the US Government has deemed human rights violations.  Despite what the US public has been told, the Russian military is still very strong and Russia is still very capable of stopping US global military presence. 
 
Russia also has something the US wants – oil.  Oil in quantities that far exceed that of the Middle East oil producing countries.  It is also estimated that there is more gold underneath the Russian soil and for a cash strapped US, the temptations might prove to be too much.  The potential for the US disassembling Russia is not unlikely.  There are elements within the US who are convinced that the US flag should fly over the Kremlin.
 
Russia has also adopted the use of DU as a weapon.  However, if attacked, we cannot rule out the possibility that Russian tactical nuclear weapons will be used. 
 
With indicators are pointing to an aggressive American stance, the role of securing the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan become paramount.  Using Pakistan and Afghanistan as launching points, the US would have a straight shot at the Russian under belly. 
 
The US would need to secure the border between Russia and China should China elected to intervene. The US would also need to secure the border between Tajikistan and China.
 
Increased US troop strength will be needed to both fight in Sudan, and to hold Chad, Libya, and Egypt in check. These countries will not sit idly by with US military involvement so close to their sovereignty.  
 
The US will have to have absolute control over the Suez Canal and a heavy military force will be needed on both sides of the cancel along with heavy US navel warships patrolling the entrances.
 
The US will not be able to count on Nato for assistance as the number of US supporter is dwindling quickly. Nato might find itself now on the defensive.
 
The massive manpower of the US and the seizure of all Hispanics crossing the Mexican/US border to be immediately handed over the US military will be able to supply enough manpower for at least a two generation war. Mexican’s impressed into service for the US might be offered a green card in exchange for their service.
 
Bush has outlined a very aggressive US global presence and there are far right religious organizations that are pushing Bush to initiate such actions to hasten the war of Armageddon.  Bush also shares in the religious beliefs of the extreme right wing and he, in all reality, probably sees bringing Armageddon to fruition as his holy mission.
 
The UN has already resigned itself to the fact the US cannot be controlled any longer, and the US fits squarely into the category of a ‘rouge’ nation.  The survival of the US depends on an unlimited amount of free oil, and staggering amounts of gold to balance the budget, pay off the cost of war, and to refill the empty coffers of the depleted social security. There are some who believe it is imperative that the US gains total control of the world to continue our way of life.


Michael Berglin

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