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Depleted Uranium Update

The Ministry of “Defence” claims DU munitions are preferred as the most effective against tank and other armour. Elsewhere this is challenged by claims about tungsten. Already some DU weapons are being decommissioned and returned to the US. Estimated tonnage dropped on Iraq by Britain is: 1 in 1991; 2 in 2003. The US, it is reported, dropped 400 tonnes on Iraq in 1991. It is general knowledge DU dust is highly toxic, though radiation is low level. On impact DU discharges a cloud of invisibly small particles. These are initially insoluble and it is accepted research is needed to show the effects of environment on corrosion and solubility. The dust contaminates ground and water. Studies show the dust still present years after conflicts. The dust can be ingested through mouth and nose, whence it can circulate the entire body. You might expect common sense would dictate that DU contamination be avoided. That’s what precipitated the closure of test sites in areas of America susceptible to articulate and voter sensitivities. Foreigners fare less well.

The Ministry of “Defence” enthusiastically sites studies which fail to establish evidence of causality between low-level-radiation exposure and illness. DU is not exonerated, yet is touted and used as if totally risk free. Weapons are intentionally lethal. DU is double-action; the impact and the residual poisonous radioactive dust. Studies show unusual clusters of leukaemia amongst NATO Bosnian conflict veterans. There was considerable fuss about “Gulf War Syndrome”. Veterans are subject to stress, pollutants, inappropriate medication, and combat, with consequent health problems. Signs are of some illness from radiation poisoning – not well publicised. Not everyone is affected equally; we don’t know exactly why. Children are more vulnerable. Studies of Chernobyl children confirm it. Official risk assessments of the effects of low-level-radiation poisoning may be understated by 300%. Those most vulnerable to exposure are resident populations from contaminated areas of Iraq and Bosnia; where little official monitoring and medical research is available. Local anecdotal and statistical evidence show that where DU dust contamination is present increased cancer incidence may be 250% up. Valuable opportunity to establish the link by scientific proof is being wasted. Chris Busby of the Low Level Radiation Campaign says: “The difference between external and internal exposure to low-level-radiation is like the difference between warming yourself near the fire, and swallowing hot coals.”

American physicist Doug Rokke said of DU: “You take solid radioactive waste, throw it is somebody’s back yard and refuse to clean it up. That’s what we’ve done.”

In conversation, Chris Busby and Kate Hudson (CND) agreed that Depleted Uranium poisoning be given greater prominence by CND. It is after all a nuclear weapon in all but name.

Dr. Lewis Moonie, Under-Secretary of State for “Defence”, March 2001: …“indiscriminate weapons of mass destruction (are) specifically designed to incapacitate or kill large numbers of people.” He exempted Depleted Uranium from this category.

Noel Hamel 7 February 2004.