Subject:  [du-list] INVADING HIROSHIMA: Depleted Uranium Shock and Stun in Iraq
 Date:   Fri, 14 Feb 2003 17:11:02 -0800
 From:  Will Thomas <> (by way of Steve Kisby <>)
Invading Hiroshima A speck of Uranium-238 can cause cancer Targeting Children

Military Uses

Rokke's Radiation No Tanks Gulf War Illness - The Sequel? World Protests Irrelevant, says Bush War On Iraq - Ritter
Big USA Lies US to Use Depleted Uranium

Weapons of mass destruction: going nuclear in Iraq

List of diseases inflicted by depleted uranium internalization Uncertainty America Killing Its Own Soldiers Hiroshima group to probe uranium arms in Iraq Death By Slow Burn - How America Nukes Its Own Troops

Stichting Visie
military and civil use of  Depleted Uranium: an eternal medical disaster

"Iraq DU Invading Hiroshima Depleted Uranium kills numerous US American and UK British Soldiers in 2003 Gulfwar"

by William Thomas

American and British troops entering Iraq should bandage all cuts, keep
their overheated rubber suits zipped tight, and stop breathing. It is dust,
not bullets, that will likely pose the most lethal consequences to their
invasion of Iraq.

American military strategist Harlan Ullman will not be accompanying them.
But Ullman is excited about seeing his plan for mass murder enacted. Only
weeks away from a "live-fire" demonstration over the streets of Iraq's
biggest cities. Ullman compares hundreds of cruise missiles hitting Baghdad
to moments of total devastation directed at another war-ravaged population
half a century before.

"You have this simultaneous effect, rather like the nuclear weapons at
Hiroshima, not taking days or weeks but minutes," Ullman boasts. [The
Sun-Herald  Jan. 26 2003]

Intended as a lesson for a worldwide audience, the Pentagon says its plan is
intended to shatter Iraq "physically, emotionally and psychologically" by
raining down on its people in two days more than twice the number of
missiles launched during the entire 40 days of Desert Storm. The World
Health Organisation estimates that "as many as 500,000 people could require
treatment as a result of direct and indirect injuries" from this
unprecedented onslaught or radioactive high-explosives. [The Mirror  Jan 29,

Extensive experimentation against urban centers in Bosnia, Libya,
Afghanistan and Iraq have shown cruise missiles to be wildly inaccurate.
Military insider Al Martin recalls a U.S. general laughing during Desert
Storm at the inaccuracy of American cruise missiles. "The defense
contractors will get paid as long as the things go off and hit the right
country," the general said. [All Fall Down: The Politics of Terror and Mass

It will take up to 800 missiles to ensure complete demolition of Iraq's
remaining defences and infrastructure, including sporadically-functioning
power stations, sewage and water purification plants. Repeatedly blasted in
1991 - then denied spare parts under U.S. and British embargoes - these key
city facilities are located in crowded neighborhoods.

"The sheer size of this has never been seen before, never been contemplated
before," a Pentagon official boasted to CBS News. "There will not be a safe
place in Baghdad."

It's not safe now! Much of Iraq remains radiologically "hot" following
undeclared nuclear attacks that have randomly distributed lethal air and
food-borne radiation from Depleted Uranium (DU) munitions - without any
mushroom clouds.

With a postwar toll of perhaps 650,000 deaths from lingering wounds, illness
and DU exposure, Iraq has already suffered more radiation deaths than the
130,000 corpses produced at Hiroshima through American know-how and acute
radiation exposure.  [UN and Japanese figures]

The same type of uranium-tipped cruise missiles that carried cancer into
Bosnia and Afghanistan will only add fresh "rems" to the radioactive dust of
this distant desert land.
Even if resistance collapses following an urban bombardment unprecedented in
scale, timing and ferocity, allied forces face the specter of severe
casualties from the lethal legacy of their last munitions testing on the
people of Iraq.

"If your son or daughter is in the military today, opposition from the
hapless Iraqi army is not the greatest threat," warns Depleted Uranium (DU)
investigator John Kaminski. "In southern Iraq, American soldiers will be
sent into battle with inadequate protections against a proven health hazard
that will almost certainly doom them to lives diminished by a variety of
cancers caused by uranium 238, which means they may transmit these illnesses
to their family and friends - and birth defects to their children - when and
if they return home."

DU shells retain 60% of the radioactivity of unspent "hot" uranium.
Radiobiologist Dr. Rosalie Bertell warns that "it can be breathed in by
anyone: a baby, a pregnant woman, the elderly, the sick."

A speck of Uranium-238 can cause cancer. The Pentagon admits to firing 320
tons of DU into Iraq's farms and neighborhoods during Desert Storm.
Greenpeace puts the figure at more than 800 tons.

Foremost expert on radiation sickness, Dr. Helen Caldicott explains that DU
dust is a potent radioactive carcinogen, emitting a heavy alpha particle
that can lodge in open wounds, the lungs or the stomach depending on its
pathways of ingestion. The result: cancers in the lungs, bones, blood or

These devastating diseases are already surfacing in Afghanistan and Bosnia,
while continuing to decimate the survivors of what the City Council of
Detroit condemns as "genocide" in Iraq. With a half-life of 4.5 million
years, Caldicott says that contaminated areas "will remain effectively
radioactive for the rest of time." [San Francisco Chronicle  Oct. 10, 2002]

Former Basra Dean of Medicine Dr. Alim Abdul-Hamid says he has "plenty of
first-hand experience with Iraq's unprecedented plague of cancers and birth
defects." The Iraqi physician is seeing breast cancer among women in their
20s. "In their 20s!" he repeats. "There are increased incidences of colon
cancer, thyroid cancer - in addition to, of course, leukemias and
lymphomas."  [Counterpunch Dec. 28, 2001]

Children are 10 to 20 times more sensitive to the effects of radiation than
adults. Today more than half of all cancers in Iraq are occurring among
children under the age of five.
Helpless pediatricians in Basra have watched childhood leukemia and cancer
increase up to 12-times peacetime rates. Hospitals throughout Iraq have
reported as much as a 10-fold increase in birth defects since cities and
countryside were strafed with radioactive munitions. [Counterpunch Dec. 28,

Pointing to a map of Basra, Dr. Abdul-Hamid demonstrated the dose-response
relationship between DU and cancers, saying, "Areas which have got the
higher level of background radiation have higher levels of cancers."

American and British military doctors insist that eating and breathing
radioactive uranium is perfectly safe. So, they say, is being injected with
mycoplasma-spiked anthrax vaccine. Believing these assurances, an estimated
250,000 disposable Desert Storm veterans in Canada, the United States and
Great Britain currently suffer from debilitating "Gulf War Illness".
[Bringing The War Home]

But because Depleted Uranium is unmatched as a shield and a weapon,
international efforts to ban DU continue to be ignored by the U.S., Canada
and Britain. Radioactive warfare is also a convenient way to redistribute
mountains of mutagenic debris from  atomic warfare factories to distant
"colored" neighborhoods.

Dr. Doug Rokke knows these dangers internally. The American physician in
charge of dealing with post-war contamination in Iraqi communities saw his
medical records confiscated by the U.S. Army after long-delayed examination
results showed radiation in his body at 5,000 times maximum "safe" levels.

Rokke, who headed the army's Depleted Uranium program after the Gulf
Massacre, told reporters after returning from Iraq, "'Oh my God' is the only
way to describe it. Contamination was all over."

Rokke's recruits measured dangerous levels of radiation up to 150 feet away
from DU-fried tanks - including up to 300 millirems an hour in beta and
gamma radiation. Alpha radiation registered in the thousands to the millions
counts-per-minute on their Geiger counters.

"That whole area is still trashed," Rokke remarked. "It's hotter than heck
over there still. This stuff doesn't go away."

Rokke's team spent three months cleaning up 24 tanks for return as outdoor
exhibits to the United States. The army took another three years to clean up
the tanks. But just three days after commencing their inspections, Rokke and
his crew started getting sick." Over the past decade, 30 men out of 100
servicemen dealing with DU, "dropped dead."

Rokke says the biggest danger is the dust given off when a Depleted Uranium
shell detonates. In heat fierce enough to melt armor plating, up to 70% of a
DU round oxidizes. "This aerosolized power - uranium oxide - is the really
dangerous stuff," Rokke says. "Particularly when it is inhaled."

Rokke suspects that, like many Iraqi adults and children, radioactive
uranium oxide dust is permanently trapped in his lungs. Rokke also has
lesions on his brain. Pustules protrude from his skin. He suffers from
chronic fatigue, and cannot stop wheezing for breath and coughing. His
fibromyalgia inflicts chronic pain in his muscles, ligaments and tendons.

Rokke's radioactive regrets reveal the hazards facing unprotected U.S. and
British soldiers, as well as peacekeepers brought in from other countries -
including Canada - to secure the second biggest oil fields on Earth.

Caldicott warns, "these tiny particles travel long distances when airborne."
In Yugoslavia, Depleted Uranium fired into agricultural areas has irradiated
food. Scottish scientists recently verified that residents of the Balkans
exposed to fallout from DU-tipped cruise missiles are excreting uranium in
their urine.

Even before American and British troops enter Baghdad's radioactive environs
to "liberate" families suffering the sickening strangulation of their
sanctions - allied casualties continue to mount.

In preliminary announcements of what may later be called "Gulf War Illness
II", Reuters reports that "Veterans groups on both sides of the Atlantic say
up to one in three soldiers has fallen ill after taking the vaccine, and six
of them died in the United States."

"We have hard facts," says British-based National Gulf Veterans and Families
Association coordinator James Moore. "Two and Three Parachute Regiments have
had anthrax injections. At least a third come down with flu-like symptoms
and have been very poorly. In the United States, over 30 percent have come down with
symptoms and six have died after taking the vaccine." [Reuters  Jan. 8,

This is a war even the victors will lose.

#    #    #

Canadian journalist William Thomas has written Op Ed pieces for the
Vancouver Sun, Times-Colonist and Globe and Mail while serving as a member
of a three-man Gulf Environmental Emergency Response Team in Kuwait
immediately after Desert Storm. Producer of the award-winning documentary,
"Eco War", he is the author of Bringing The War Home  and All Fall Down: The
Politics of Terror and Mass Persuasion.

Stichting Visie
military and civil misuse of  Depleted Uranium
Howard’s End – World Protests Irrelevant Says Bush
               Wednesday, 19 February 2003, 11:41 pm
               Column: Maree Howard 

                        Howard’s End – World Protests Irrelevant Says Bush

                   Despite the UN and the Security Council resolutions, war with Iraq is definitely on
                   because US President George Bush says the millions who protested globally last
                   weekend were irrelevant to his duty to protect America, he is alluding more and
                   more to the Bible, when Israel was formed by force in 1948 dispossessing 700,000
                   Palestinians its leaders said the "Bible is our Mandate", he has told Likud Party
                   leader Ariel Sharon to form a coalition with Labour's Amram Mitzna for stability
                   while guaranteeing $US 12 billion in military aid and loans and Colin Powell says
                   the "Middle East will be reshaped." It adds up to war - ready or not! Maree
                   Howard writes.

                   Expressions of faith are familiar ground to US Presidents but President
                   Bush has gone beyond the broad-brush remarks of faith in general, to use
                   language and ideas specific to Christianity. He is a born-again Christian
                   from the 1980's after realising he was drinking too much.

                   "I welcome faith to help solve the nation's deepest problems," Bush told a
                   convention of religious broadcasters last week. Referring to the
                   September 11 terrorist attacks he said "We carried our grief to the Lord
                   Almighty in prayer."

                   Bush told the Nashville audience that he praised Americans' "deep and
                   diverse religious beliefs" but he also singled out a special place for
                   Christianity calling the gospel that the broadcasters share over the
                   airwaves "words of truth."

                   In the State of the Union address he referred to liberty as God's gift to
                   humanity and spoke about the God behind all of life and all of history.
                   "May he guide us now," he said.

                   Hours after the shuttle Columbia disintegrated Bush again turned to
                   religion and a quote from Isaiah to console the nation.

                   His is a welcome message for some, particularly the evangelical Christian
                   conservatives whom Bush is courting as he seeks a second term. Others
                   are very uncomfortable.

                   "This President is using general references and, beyond that, terminology
                   and vocabulary that comes straight out of the very particular religious
                   tradition, which is evangelical Christianity, " said Rev. Welton Gaddy,
                   Executive Director of the Interfaith Alliance Foundation.

                   Evangelical Christians seem to follow both the old and new Testament
                   particularly the observance of the ancient statutes and commandments in
                   the relevant passages of Deuteronomy and the Law of Return.

                   "When the Lord thy God shall bring thee into the land wither thou goest
                   to possess it, and shall cast nations greater and mightier than
                   thou....then thou shall utterly destroy them; thou shall make no covenant
                   with them, nor show mercy unto them......." and the related passage,
                   "thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth, but thou shall utterly destroy

                   Each Arab state still has its share of refugees from the 9 April 1948
                   massacre at Deir Yasin when terrorists from the Irgun Zvai Leumi and
                   Stern Gang forced partition of Palestine onto the UN after it passed a
                   resolution for partition in November 1947, but then later wanted to
                   reverse it following serious outbreaks of violence.

                   The meaning of Deir Yasin to the Arab residents in Palestine was so clear
                   that they fled from Haifa, Tiberia, Jaffa and all other cities, and then from
                   the entire country. Deir Yasin explains the fear and loathing of the
                   surviving Arab states today as fully as it explains the flight of the
                   Palestinian Arabs in 1948.

                   It took just eleven minutes from the announcement of the formation of
                   new State of Israel for then-US President Truman to recognise the new
                   provisional government. Other nations then quickly followed suit.

                   Mr Truman (in 1956) recorded the outcome of the "solution" (the UN
                   partition recommendation) supported by him in November 1947: "
                   .....every day now brought reports of new violence in the Holy Land." He
                   said "The pressure on the White House did not diminish following the
                   partition vote in the United Nations. Individuals and groups asked me,
                   usually in rather quarrelsome and emotional ways, to stop the Arabs, to
                   keep the British from supporting theArabs, to furnish American soldiers,
                   to do this, that and the other."

                   But the deed had already been done - by force.

                   It is significant that more than 2000 Israeli's also protested last weekend
                   against war with Iraq. And why should they not - after all, Arabs and
                   Jews genetically, are both mostly semite peoples' so it is hard to reason
                   how and why the hatred continues. It is mostly fomented by Western
                   politicians like George Bush and Tony Blair who run their own political
                   agenda's. But that seems to be back-firing with popularity polls turning,
                   particularly for Tony Blair.

                   This coming weekend Bush will meet at his ranch in Texas with a
                   European supporter, Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar of Spain. Tony
                   Blair is under enormous pressure to back away from conflict with Iraq.

                   Praising both men as courageous Bush said, " These are men of vision.
                   They see the task at hand. And I'm proud to call them allies. And we'll
                   work together for the sake of peace."

                   But whose version of peace will it be, and with whom?

                   Rest assured, if Bush is the evangelical religious man I think he is, he will
                   ultimately get even with the UN, with France, with Germany and with
                   Russia for leaving him in the lurch.

                   We can only hope that his vision, his peace, his fundamental evangelical
                   conservative Christianity will not lead us all into a reshaped Middle East
                   which will have even greater consequences for the rest of the world -
                   Muslim, Jew and Christian alike.

                   But, as of today, I very much doubt it - the war is on!

military and civil criminals use Depleted Uranium
War on Iraq   William Rivers Pitt - Scott Ritter

What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know 

In this significant book, William Rivers Pitt and
former U.N. Weapons Inspector and recent Time
magazine "Man of the Week" Scott Ritter bridge
the partisan gap to make a rational case against
a war we cannot win and should not wage. 

War on Iraq offers analysis of the current
situation and an interview with Scott Ritter
dismantling the myths about Iraq's present
weapons program and uncovering the forces
behind the White House's push for war.

military and civil criminals use Depleted Uranium

US military continues to tell the media big obvious lies:
Onderwerp:   [du-list] US says it will DU in Iraq
     Datum:      Wed, 19 Mar 2003 16:00:56 -0000

WASHINGTON - The U.S. military said last week it will pound Iraqi 
tanks in any new war with depleted uranium ammunition, used in 
the 1991 Gulf War to destroy Iraqi armor and said by critics to 
cause cancer.

Defense officials told reporters the extremely hard M-1A Abrams 
tank shells and 30 mm rounds fired from A-10 attack jets easily 
sliced through Iraqi armor and that studies indicated the active 
uranium debris was not a health hazard.

"It is weapon that we will continue to use if the need is there to 
attack armor," Dr. Michael Kilpatrick, responsible for providing 
medical care to U.S. Gulf War veterans, told reporters at a 
Pentagon briefing as the United States massed troops, tanks, 
warplanes and ships in the Gulf near Iraq.

The briefing appeared designed to both again deny charges that 
depleted uranium was a health hazard and to publicly warn Iraq's 
military that more was headed their way.

Iraq and other critics, including environmental groups, have 
charged that man-made "DU" ammunition and protective armor 
draped across U.S. tanks can cause cancer and other ills. But 
Kilpatrick denied the accusations.

"Why do they (the Iraqis) want it to go away? They want it to go 
away because we kicked the crap out of them" in 1991, said Army 
Col. James Naughton.

"There is no doubt that DU gave us a huge advantage over their 
tanks. They lost a lot of tanks. Their soldiers can't be really amused 
at the idea of going out and taking on Abrams again," said 
Naughton, a depleted uranium expert with the U.S. Army Materiel 

Iraqi armored divisions do not have such ammunition.

Naughton said U.S. tanks could stand beyond the range of Iraqi 
tanks and use the hard projectiles to destroy them. Even in close 
quarters, he said, Iraqi tank shells barely "scratched" depleted 
uranium armor on the American tanks.

Despite questions raised over DU use, Kilpatrick said that a study 
of  90 U.S. Gulf War veterans injured in friendly fire accidents in 
which the ammunition was involved have showed no cancer of 
other ill effects from it.

"It is not a nuclear weapon. It just happens to be uranium," he said, 
adding that depleted uranium was 40 per cent less radioactive than 
uranium occurring naturally in soil and water.

Depleted uranium, made using centrifuges, is so heavy that the 320 
tons used by American forces during the Gulf War would represent 
a dense cube only about 8 feet (2.5 metres) on a side.
Story by Charles Aldinger

Onderwerp:   [du-list] BBC: US to use depleted uranium
     Datum:     Tue, 18 Mar 2003 21:54:13 -0800
       Van:       Steve Kisby <>
       Aan:       (Recipient list suppressed)


US to use depleted uranium 

A United States defence official has said moves to ban depleted uranium ammunition are just 
an attempt by America's enemies to blunt its military might. 

Colonel James Naughton of US Army Materiel Command said Iraqi complaints about depleted uranium (DU) shells had no medical basis. 

"They want it to go away because we kicked the crap out of them," he told a Pentagon 

If war starts, tonnes of depleted uranium (DU) weapons are likely to be used by British and 
American tanks and by ground attack aircraft. 

Some believe people are still suffering ill health from ammunition used in the Gulf War 12 
years ago, and other conflicts. 

In the House of Commons in London on Monday, Labour MP Joan Ruddock said a test of the
UK Government's pledge to keep civilian casualties to a minimum in an attack on Iraq would 
include not using depleted uranium weapons. 

Military uses 

Apparently anticipating complaints, the US defence department briefed journalists about DU - 
making it plain it would continue to be used. 

Depleted uranium, a by-product of uranium enrichment for nuclear weapons or nuclear reactors, has
valuable military properties. 

It is very dense, about 1.7 times heavier than lead, and not only very hard but unlike other
materials is self-sharpening when it penetrates armour. 
Used defensively as armour, it tends to make ordinary munitions bounce off. 

These properties contributed to the relative success of American tanks against Iraq's in 1991. 

For the M1 Abrams tank there is no other option: it uses only DU-tipped shells and has DU armour. 

'Who says?' 

"In the last war, Iraqi tanks at fairly close ranges - not nose to nose - fired at our tanks and 
the shot bounced off the heavy armour... and our shot did not bounce off their armour," Col 
Naughton told the briefing. 

"So the result was Iraqi tanks destroyed - US tanks with scrape marks." 

He questioned the motives of those who challenged US use of depleted uranium. 

"Who's asking the question? The Iraqis tell us 'terrible things happened to our people because you used it last time'. 
"Why do they want it to go away? They want it to go away because we kicked the crap out of 
them, OK?

"I mean, there's no doubt that DU gave us a huge advantage over their tanks. They lost a lot
of tanks. 

"Their soldiers can't be really amused at the idea of going out in basically the same tanks with
some slight improvements and taking on Abrams again." 

'Marked increase in cancers' 

Cancer surgeons in the southern Iraqi port of Basra report a marked increase in cancers 
which they suspect were caused by DU contamination from tank battles on the farmland to the 
west of the city. 

But the director of the Pentagon's deployment health support directorate, Dr Michael 
Kilpatrick, said: "To the question, could depleted uranium be playing a role, the medical 
answer is no." 

Depleted uranium is mildly radioactive but the main health concern is that it is a heavy metal,
potentially poisonous. 

The likelihood of absorbing it is increased significantly if a weapon has struck a target and
exploded because the DU vaporises into a fine dust and can be inhaled. 

Dr Kilpatrick said a study that had followed 90 US Gulf War veterans exposed to the dust and to shrapnel from DU rounds in "friendly fire" incidents had found no DU-related medical 


Some Gulf War veterans believe DU might have contributed to health problems they have
suffered. And it has been blamed for a number of leukaemia cases among former Balkans 

BBC News Online environment correspondent Alex Kirby says scientists disagree about the
ability of DU to cause the horrific problems that have been reported. 

The World Health Organisation recommends cleaning areas with high concentrations of 

"There is real controversy, and real uncertainty," he said. 

There have also been various health warnings. A 1995 report from the US Army
environmental Policy Institute, for example, said: "If DU enters the body, it has the potential to generate significant medical consequences." 

Alex Kirby says the Pentagon claim that criticisms of DU come only from Iraq and "other
countries that are not friendly to the US" is demonstrably untrue. 

"To sum up, I guess the Iraqis have got much worse things than DU to worry about in the 
immediate future, and any risk to environment and health over the longer term remains
unproven and perhaps circumstantial. 

"But that does not mean the risk is proven not to exist." 

Published: 2003/03/18 16:28:23


Stichting Visie
America Killing Its Own Soldiers 
               Scoop Wednesday, 8 January 2003, 11:03 am
               Column: John Kaminski 

                   America Killing Its Own Soldiers - Depleted uranium making all wars nuclear 

                   By John Kaminski 

                   John Kaminski is a writer who lives on the coast of Florida. 

                   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, Metal of Dishonor 

                   No one with any brains should ever consider enlisting in the U.S. armed
                   forces because the people in charge of America's defenses have clearly
                   demonstrated they have absolutely no regard for the health and welfare of
                   their troops. A study of the irresponsible and continuing use of depleted
                   uranium ammunition proves this beyond a shadow of a doubt. 

                   For the past decade, America's leaders have fought to prevent depleted
                   uranium (DU) ammunition from being declared a weapon of mass
                   destruction by the United Nations, despite knowing that exposure to this
                   poisonous substance guarantees cancer, birth defects and a host of other
                   lethal health hazards. Despite tens of thousands of Gulf War veterans in
                   bad health that many have blamed on DU and many veterans of the conflict
                   in Yugoslavia now urinating uranium, the politicians and generals have
                   refused to ban this deadly substance because it is simply too effective a
                   weapon. And they continue to deny appropriate health care to U.S. military
                   veterans who have suffered because of it. 

                   Now a new invasion is set to unfold in the one place in the world where
                   depleted uranium contamination is worst — southern Iraq. American
                   soldiers will be sent into battle with inadequate protections against a proven
                   health hazard that will almost certainly doom them to lives diminished by a
                   variety of cancers caused by uranium 238, which means they may transmit
                   these illnesses to their family and friends — and birth defects to their
                   children — when and if they return home. 

                   In recent days, an evocative fourplex of stories has been posted on the
          website that vividly portrays the danger and depravity of the
                   depleted uranium issue. This is not an attempt to steal the thunder from
                   those writers (especially the great profile by Travis Dunn of Disaster
         , but is a recommendation to all to read these four pieces (the
                   URLs are listed at the bottom), Or, for those who don't have the two hours
                   to read all four stories, this is simply a briefer synopsis. In addition, the web
                   is full of stories about the dangers of depleted uranium and the coverup of
                   those dangers by U.S. authorities. 

                   When you read them, it will become clear that American officials far more
                   interested in taking lives than saving them are jeopardizing the lives and
                   futures of all personnel now serving in the U.S. military. 

                   Dr. Doug Rokke is the man the U.S. government put in charge of trying to
                   clean up and assess certain aspects of contamination after the first Gulf
                   War. When he finally reached his conclusions, the Army ignored them, hid
                   his medical records from him, and insisted he didn't get sick as a result of
                   his work. A later examination revealed Rokke had 5000 times the normal
                   amount of 
                   radiation in his body. 

                   Rokke ran the U.S. Army's depleted uranium project in the mid-90s, and he
                   was in charge of the Army's effort to clean up DU after the Persian Gulf
                   War. He also directed the Edwin R. Bradley Radiological Laboratories at
                   Fort McClellan, Ala. What Rokke found after the Persian Gulf massacre
                   terrified him. "'Oh my God' is the only way to describe it," Rokke said.
                   "Contamination was all over." And it still is, and will be for 4.5 million years.

                   Rokke and his crew were measuring significant levels of radiation up to 50
                   meters away from affected tanks: up to 300 millirems an hour in beta and
                   gamma radiation, and alpha radiation from the thousands to the millions in
                   counts per minute (CPM) on a Geiger counter. "That whole area is still
                   trashed," he said. "It's hotter than heck over there still. This stuff doesn't go

                   This is the situation new U.S. troops now face as George W. Bush masses
                   American troops for another invasion of Iraq, this attack having even less
                   moral justification than the first Gulf War in 1990. 

                   Rokke's team took three months to clean up 24 tanks for transport back to
                   the U.S. The Army, Rokke said, took another three years to fully
                   decontaminate the same 24 tanks. But the contaminated tanks weren't the
                   only problem. Within 72 hours of their inspections, Rokke and his crew
                   started getting sick. In the past decade, Rokke said 30 men out of 100 who
                   were closely involved in these operations dropped dead. 

                   Rokke's lungs and kidneys are damaged. He believes that uranium oxide
                   dust is permanently trapped inside his lungs. He has lesions on his brain,
                   pustules on his skin. He suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome. He has
                   reactive airway disease, which means he can't stop wheezing and coughing,
                   and experiences a loss of breath when he exercises. He also has
                   fibromyalgia, a condition that causes chronic pain in his muscles, ligaments
                   and tendons. 

                   The VA tested Rokke for uranium levels in his body in 1994. He got the
                   results back two and a half years later. His urine had 5000 times the
                   amount of permissible uranium. After years of fighting with the VA, Rokke
                   said he managed to get a 40 percent disability, but there is no official
                   acknowledgement that his illnesses were caused by his work with DU. 

                   Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the Army and the
                   Pentagon continue to insist that DU is safe. U.S. authorities continue to
                   cover up the DU scandal for two reasons: first, because DU coated shells
                   are far more powerful than ordinary ordnance, and second, because the
                   policy of making DU weaponry provides the beleaguered U.S. nuclear
                   industry with a handy and lucrative way to dispose of its waste material. 

                   The problem with DU, Rokke points out, is the dust that's given off when a
                   round is fired. The projectile begins burning immediately, and up to 70
                   percent of it oxidizes. "This aerosolized power — uranium oxide— is the
                   really dangerous stuff," Rokke said, "particularly when it is inhaled." 

                   Dr. Helen Caldicott, probably the world's foremost critic of nuclear power,
                   agrees: " ... 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." 

                   About one quarter of the 700,000 troops sent to the Persian Gulf War have
                   reported some sort of Gulf War-related illness, and Rokke is convinced that
                   DU has something to do with it, along with the host of other chemicals to
                   which troops were exposed, including low levels of sarin gas, smoke from
                   oil fires, countless pesticides as well as anti-nerve gas tablets which troops
                   were required to ingest. 

                   Rokke: "Today, at least one decade after thousands and maybe millions of
                   individuals were exposed to DU contamination and who should have
                   received medical care per our original 1991 recommendations and as
                   specified in the October 14, 1993 directive, less than 500 individuals have
                   ever been provided the required radio-bioassay testing and consequent
                   medical care. We must note that if United States personnel should receive
                   medical care then all exposed individuals also must receive medical care." 

                   Just imagine the top brass in Washington actually caring about what their
                   Dr. Strangelove contraptions have done to the million or so sick people in
                   the Persian Gulf. 

                   But the problem is not just in faraway Iraq. Similar health effects also have
                   been documented in uranium processing facility employees of and residents
                   living near Paducah, Kentucky; Portsmouth, Ohio; Los Alamos, New
                   Mexico; Oak Ridge, Tennessee; and Hanford, Washington, where the DU
                   weaponry was made. Employees at uranium manufacturing or processing
                   facilities in New York, Tennessee, Iowa, Massachusetts, and the four
                   corners area of southwest Colorado also have repeatedly reported health
                   effects similar to those reported by verified Gulf War DU casualties. Iraqi
                   and other humanitarian agency physicians are reporting the same health
                   effects in exposed populations. Scottish scientists recently verified that
                   residents of the Balkans were excreting uranium in their urine. 

                   Recently, the U.S. Navy willfully used DU munitions during peacetime
                   exercises on the Puerto Rican Island of Vieques in violation of laws and
                   regulations, jeopardizing U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico. Still there is no
                   accountability for these actions that spread radioactive waste that causes
                   indiscriminate harm to all that are exposed for 4.5 billion years unless
                   contamination is cleaned up. 

                   Depleted uranium was only one of the verified exposures in the Persian
                   Gulf theater which also included chemical warfare agents, biological
                   warfare agents, pesticides, industrial chemicals, endemic diseases, sand (El
                   Eskan disease), food borne illnesses, water borne illness, organic and
                   inorganic byproduct compounds from oil well fires, airborne particulates,
                   asbestos, cleaning compounds, low level radioactive materials, and then the
                   deliberate immunizations and drugs designed to protect individuals from
                   verified threats. 

                   If your son or daughter is in the military today, opposition from the hapless
                   Iraqi army is not the greatest threat. 

                   Apart from DU, Rokke listed other hazards facing America's military

                   "Today, we know that the anthrax manufacturing process was never
                   inspected and approved by the FDA before 1993 and today the FDA still
                   has not approved the facility. We also know that there are adverse short
                   term and probably long-term effects. The anthrax vaccine that we
                   administered was licensed for prevention of cutaneous and not respiratory
                   anthrax. Then just within the last month, Department of Defense officials
                   finally admitted after continued denials that an illegal adjuvant, squalene
                   was used instead of alum in some vaccine batches. Consequently, we
                   probably reduced the ability of the immune system to fight off the multitude
                   of exposures that occurred. 

                   "Troops were also immunized against a whole host of diseases and
                   biological warfare toxins such as anthrax and botulism. If immunizations
                   been maintained rather than giving individuals 4 or 5 or even more
                   simultaneous immunizations we could have reduced adverse effects on the
                   immune system. But we did not; we gave individuals numerous shots at the
                   same time and then did not keep track of what was given or what adverse
                   reactions occurred. We messed up immune systems before deployment.
                   Basically, after we declared war we had to immunize everyone. As I
                   administered hundreds of anthrax and botulinum shots in Saudi Arabia, I
                   could only wonder why we were ordered not to record any information.
                   Once more, our actions to protect individuals against a verified threat
                   ignored common sense." 

                   This is the way America's military leaders protect the welfare of their
                   troops. And there's more. 

                   Rokke: "The confirmed nerve agent threat resulted in the use of PB, which
                   is actually a reversible bond nerve agent, in an attempt to reduce the effects
                   of chemical warfare nerve agents such as Sarin, VX, Soman, Novachuks,
                   and Multiple 7. PB can be compared to spraying gumdrops with Raid or
                   Black Flag and then eating them. We expected adverse reactions from
                   consumption of PB because it is a carbamate pesticide compound.
                   Therefore, we made sure that NBC operations and medical personnel knew
                   of potential adverse effects. 

                   "Again, we knew there would be health effects and yet commanders
                   decided to ignore our warnings and force individuals to eat PB tablets. As
                   part of our discussions we also identified and warned about the anticipated
                   interactions between pesticides, nerve agents, and drugs such as PB
                   (pyridiostigmine bromide / mestinon). Official Department of Army medical
                   records confirm that over 50 % of the individuals who took the PB got sick
                   with nerve agent effects. American officials ignored the problem. 

                   "Today, many of us; including scientists, physicians, pastors, and others;
                   who decided to speak up about what occurred, why it occurred, what
                   should have been done years ago, and what should be done now have lost
                   jobs, experienced retaliation, and been threatened by Department of
                   Defense, Department of the Army, and Department of Veterans Affairs
                   officials. The direct and indirect threats, warnings, and attacks also have
                   been directed to our family members to bring pressure on us to stop
                   demanding accountability. This is all about liability! Therefore the truth must
                   be suppressed! If what happened is acknowledged, then specific individuals
                   within our government and other governments will be required to accept
                   responsibility for the consequences of deliberate actions. 

                   "The health and environmental problems are not limited to Iraq or
                   surrounding areas. Similar adverse health and environmental effects have
                   been identified within and around U.S. military installations or Department
                   of Energy facilities in Alabama, Washington, California, Alaska, Tennessee,
                   Korea, Panama, Germany, Philippines, Maryland, Nevada, Florida,
                   California, and especially surrounding the U.S. Navy range on the Vieques,
                   Puerto Rico. I recently had the father of a warrior stationed in California
                   come up to me while I was eating supper in a restaurant outside Chicago to
                   ask for help in obtaining medical care for his family who was sick from

                   "Another dangerous location is Calhoun County (Fort McClellan) Alabama.
                   Extensive PCB contamination mixed with contamination from DOD
                   activities and the potential release of nerve and mustard agents during
                   weapons incineration without any effective emergency response threatens
                   the residents and the environment. DOD and Army representatives have
                   told the residents of Calhoun County to just close their doors and windows
                   and hold their breath in the event of releases. OH MY GOD!!!!!" 

                   Why is DU such a good weapon? Because it hardens the tank shells and
                   makes them more effective. Also, the material is readily available from
                   America's vast stockpiles of nuclear waste. As an alternative, Germany
                   uses tungsten to coat its shells, eliminating the radioactivity but having a far
                   great cost because tungsten has to be mined while uranium waste is lying
                   around everywhere. 

                   A majority of international experts agrees that DU is already a banned
                   weapon because it is incompatible with existing humanitarian law and
                   qualifies as a weapon of mass destruction. 

                   In 1996 this issue was brought before the Human Rights Tribunal in Geneva
                   and the Tribunal condemned it as warfare. They actually called depleted
                   uranium a weapon of mass destruction, one that destroys the user as well
                   as the used, the abuser and well as the abused. 

                   The top brass in Washington continue to say our soldiers — your children,
                   or husbands and wives — are perfectly safe. 

                   Information for this story was culled from: 
                   and other websites 

Group to probe Iraq uranium arms

HIROSHIMA (Kyodo) Japanese peace activists plan to visit Iraq next week 
to investigate possible radioactive hazards from depleted uranium rounds 
used by the U.S. military.
The four-member group, led by Haruko Moritaki, head of a Hiroshima 
antinuclear group, plans to leave for Iraq on Tuesday and stay in the country 
for 10 days.

Other members of the group include Nobuo Kazashi, a professor of Kobe 
University, and Naomi Toyota, a professional photographer who covered the 

Moritaki said the group plans to visit Baghdad and the southern city of 
Basra to check for radioactivity in government buildings and other military 
targets believed to have been hit by depleted uranium rounds.

The Japan Times: June 19, 2003
(C) All rights reserved 

Stichting Visie
Eternal Medical disaster
Via Workers World News Service
Reprinted from the Aug. 21, 2003
issue of Workers World newspaper

By Sara Flounders

Has U.S. use of depleted-uranium weapons turned Iraq into a radioactive
danger area for both Iraqis and occupation troops?

This question has already had serious consequences. In hot spots in
downtown Baghdad, reporters have measured radiation levels that are
1,000 to 1,900 times higher than normal background radiation levels.

It has also opened a debate in the Netherlands parliament and media as
1,100 Dutch troops in Kuwait prepare to enter Iraq as part of the
U.S./British-led occupation forces. The Dutch are concerned about the
danger of radioactive poisoning and radiation sickness in Iraq.

Washington has assured the Dutch government that it used no DU weapons
near Al-Samawah, the town where Dutch troops will be stationed. But
Dutch journalists and anti-war forces have already found holes in the
U.S. stories, according to an article on the Radio Free Europe website.

DU-caused radiation had already raised alarms in Europe after studies
showed increased rates of cancers, respiratory ailments and other
disabilities of occupation troops from NATO countries stationed in
Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan.

In general, the health and environmental dangers of weapons made with DU
radioactive waste have received far more attention in Europe than in the

In this year's war on Iraq, the Pentagon used its radioactive arsenal
mainly in the urban centers, rather than in desert battlefields as in
1991. Many hundreds of thousands of Iraqi people and U.S. soldiers,
along with British, Polish, Japanese and Dutch soldiers sent to join the
occupation, will suffer the consequences. The real extent of injuries,
chronic illness, long-term disabilities and genetic birth defects won't
be apparent for five to 10 years.

By now, half of all the 697,000 U.S. soldiers involved in the 1991 war
have reported serious illnesses. According to the American Gulf War
Veterans Association, more than 30 percent of these soldiers are
chronically ill and are receiving disability benefits from the Veterans
Administration. Such a high occurrence of various symptoms has led to
the illnesses being named Gulf War Syndrome.

This number of disabled veterans is shockingly high. Most are in their
mid-thirties and should be in the prime of health. Before sending troops
to the Gulf region, the military had already sifted out those with
disabilities or chronic health problems from asthma, diabetes, heart
conditions, cancers and birth defects.


The impact of tons of radioactive waste polluting major urban centers
may seem a distant problem to Iraqis now trying to survive in the chaos
of military occupation. They must cope with power outages during the
intense heat of summer, door-to-door searches, arbitrary arrests,
civilians routinely shot at roadblocks, outbreaks of cholera and
dysentery from untreated water, untreated sewage and uncollected
garbage, more than half the work force unemployed, and a lack of food--
which before the war was distributed by the Baathist regime.

But along with these current threats are long-range problems. Around the
world a growing number of scientific organizations and studies have
linked Gulf War Syndrome and the high rate of assorted and mysterious
sicknesses to radiation poisoning from weapons made with depleted

Scott Peterson, a staff writer for the Christian Science Monitor,
reported on May 15 about taking Geiger counter readings at several sites
in Baghdad. Near the Republican Palace where U.S. troops stood guard and
over 1,000 employees walked in and out of the building, his radiation
readings were the "hottest" in Iraq, at nearly 1,900 times background
radiation levels. Spent shell casings still littered the ground.

At a roadside vegetable stand selling fresh bunches of parsley, mint and
onions outside Baghdad, children played on a burnt-out Iraqi tank. The
reporter's Geiger counter registered nearly 1,000 times normal
background radiation. The U.S. uses armor-piercing shells coated with DU
to destroy tanks.

The Aug. 4 Seattle Post Intelligencer reported elevated radiation levels
at six sites from Basra to Baghdad. One destroyed tank near Baghdad had
1,500 times the normal background radiation. "The Pentagon and the
United Nations estimate that the U.S. and Britain used 1,100 to 2,200
tons of armor-piercing shells made of depleted uranium during attacks on
Iraq in March and April--far more than the 375 tons used in the 1991
Gulf War," wrote the Post Intelligencer.

The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle analyzed swabs
from bullet holes in Iraqi tanks and confirmed elevated radiation


The extremely dense DU shells easily penetrate steel armor and burn on
impact. The fire releases microscopic, radioactive and toxic dust
particles of uranium oxide that travel with the wind and can be inhaled
or ingested. They also spread contamination by seeping into the land and

In the human body, DU may cause harm to the internal organs due both to
its chemical toxicity as a heavy metal and its release of radiation.

An otherwise useless by-product of the uranium-enrichment process, DU is
attractive to military contractors because it is so cheap, often offered
for free by the government.

According to the Uranium Medical Research Center, the toxic and
radiological effects of uranium contamination may weaken the immune
system. They may cause acute respiratory conditions like pneumonia, flu-
like symptoms and severe coughs, renal or gastrointestinal illnesses.

Dr. Asaf Durakovic of UMRC explains that the initial symptoms will be
mostly neurological, showing up as headaches, weakness, dizziness and
muscle fatigue. The long-term effects are cancers and other radiation-
related illnesses, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, joint and muscle
pain, rashes, neurological and/or nerve damage, mood disturbances,
infections, lung and kidney damage, vision problems, auto-immune
deficiencies and severe skin conditions. It also causes increases in
miscarriages, maternal mortality and genetic birth defects.

For years the government described Gulf War Syndrome as a post-traumatic
stress disorder. It was labeled a psychological problem or simply
dismissed as mysterious unrelated ailments. In this same way the
Pentagon and the Veterans Administration treated the health problems of
Vietnam vets suffering from Agent Orange poisoning.


The U.S. government denies that DU weapons can cause sickness. But
before the first Gulf War, where DU weapons were used extensively, the
Pentagon's own internal reports warned that the radiation and heavy
metal of DU weapons could cause kidney, lung and liver damage and
increased rates of cancer.

Ignoring these dangers, the Pentagon went on to use these weapons, which
gave it a big advantage in tank battles. But it denied publicly that DU
use was related to the enormously high rate of sicknesses among GIs
following the war.

Today the Pentagon plays an even more duplicitous role. It continues to
assert that there are no "known" health problems associated with DU. But
Army training manuals require anyone who comes within 75 feet of any DU-
contaminated equipment or terrain to wear respiratory and skin

The manuals say that "contamination will make food and water unsafe for
consumption." According to the Army Environmental Policy Institute,
holding a spent DU round exposes a person to about 200 rems per hour, or
twice the annual radiation exposure limit.

This March and April U.S. and British forces fired hundreds of thousands
of DU rounds in dense urban areas. Superfine uranium oxide particles
were blown about in dust storms. Yet the Pentagon refuses to track,
report or mark off where DU was fired. There is no way Iraqis or the
occupying soldiers can keep 75 feet away or use respiratory and skin
protection in 120-degree heat.

The American Gulf War Veterans Association (AGWVA) reports that
suffering veterans are receiving little, if any, medical treatment for
their illnesses. "Whenever veterans become ill, the term 'mystery
illness' seems to be the first and often the only diagnosis that is ever
made. Veterans are then left to fend for themselves, sick and unable to
work, with little hope of a normal life again."

Iraq's National Ministry of Health organized two international
conferences to present data on the relationship between the high
incidence of cancer and the use of DU weapons. It produced detailed
epidemiological reports and statistical studies. This data showed a six-
fold increase in breast cancer, a five-fold increase in lung cancer and
a 16-fold increase in ovarian cancer.

Because of the U.S.-imposed sanctions, Iraqi doctors and scientists were
barred from presenting their research papers in most of the world.

Doug Rokke of AGWVA, former head of the U.S. Army DU Project, who is
seriously ill with respiratory problems, has been campaigning against
the use of DU. Rokke reports that U.S. troops presently in Iraq are
already falling sick with a series of Gulf War Syndrome symptoms.

The AGWVA says the Department of Defense has information regarding
"mystery" deaths of soldiers in this latest war and the emergence of a
mysterious pneumonia that has sickened at least 100 men and women.


While the U.K. has admitted that British Challenger tanks expended some
1.9 tons of DU ammunition during major combat operations in Iraq this
year, the U.S. has refused to disclose specific information about
whether and where it used DU during this yearcampaign. It also is
refusing to let a team from the United Nations Environmental Program
(UNEP) study the environmental impact of DU contamination in Iraq.

Despite this refusal, it is public knowledge that the U.S. made
extensive use of weapons that can fire DU shells. These include the A-10
Warthog tank-buster aircraft with 30-mm cannons that can fire up to
4,200 DU rounds per minute; the AC-130 gunship; the "Apache" helicopter,
and Bradley fighting vehicles that fire anti-armor 105-mm to 120-mm tank
rounds containing DU.

The U.S. followed the same tactics in the wars in the Balkans. While
claiming full cooperation with UNEP's Balkans studies, the Pentagon
delayed releasing target locations for 16 months. It gave misleading map
information. Then bomb, missile and cluster-bomb targets were excluded.
NATO allowed 10 other teams to visit or clean up sites before UNEP
inspections started.

Washington refuses to acknowledge DU use anywhere or that it poses any
danger. To acknowledge radiation poisoning would immediately raise
demands for a cleanup.

According to Alex Kirby, BBC News Online environment correspondent: "The
U.S. says it has no plans to remove the debris left over from depleted
uranium weapons it is using in Iraq. It says no cleanup is needed,
because research shows DU has no long-term effects."


But in the information age, the Pentagon can't suppress all the
evidence. The Dutch example shows this. Though the U.S. government
specifically denied any firing of DU weapons near the city of Al-
Samawah, where Dutch troops were to be stationed, a simple Internet
search by journalists undid this lie.

The Dutch government, to get a resolution through the parliament to
authorize sending troops to Iraq, depicted the Al-Samawah region as a
remote, barely inhabited desert where no noteworthy events had occurred.

In actual fact, Al-Samawah is strategically located on the road from
Basra to Baghdad, providing access to a bridge over the Euphrates River.
On its march to Baghdad, the U.S. Army encountered fierce resistance
from Iraqi forces there, according to American officers. This was well
covered by their embedded media.

It was more than a week before the town and the road were cleared of all
pockets of resistance. Some 112 civilians, most of them inhabitants of
Al-Samawah, were killed in battle.

DU ammunition was widely used during this operation. In a widely
distributed field message, Sergeant First Class Cooper reported that the
weapons systems used by the 3rd Infantry, 7th Cavalry, en route to Al-
Samawah and on to Najaf, were performing well, especially the 25-mm DU
and 7.62.

Of greater interest to Internet researchers was a letter a young soldier
sent home to his parents, which they posted in their church bulletin on
the Internet. In the letter E. Pennell, a crew member on a Bradley
Fighting Vehicle of the 1st Infantry Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment,
described how his crew fired a 25-mm DU rounds as they encountered seven
Iraqi troops in the town of Al-Samawah.

Pennell's letter has raised concern among groups like the United
Federation of Military Personnel, a kind of labor union for Dutch
troops. It fears that its members might be at risk of contracting cancer
or other diseases because of exposure to DU ammunition.


Officers and politicians in imperialist countries have always treated
rank-and-file soldiers as cannon fodder. These young lives are totally
expendable. The occupied or colonized people are not counted at all.

As a global movement against imperialist wars grew over the past
century, military planners made great efforts to hide the true costs of
war, especially the human cost. The nearly 60,000 U.S. casualties in the
Vietnam War provoked a mighty mass anti-war movement. This time, long
before U.S. casualties reached 100 soldiers, the movement to "Bring the
Troops Home" had gained momentum.

This new movement must demand a true accounting of the enormous human
costs of the war. The impact on the health and future of not only U.S.
troops but the millions of people in Iraq must be part of the demand.

A growing international movement must demand full reparations for the
Iraqi people. A cleanup of the toxic, radioactive waste is in the
interests of all the people of the region. The cost of the war must be
calculated in terms of bankrupt social programs here in the U.S. and the
health of all the people who were in the region during the war and will
be in the years to come.

Sara Flounders is co-director of the International Action Center and
coordinator of the DU Education Project. She is an editor and a
contributing author of the book "Metal of Dishonor: Depleted Uranium,"
and helped produce a video by the same name. The IAC helped organize an
international effort to bring the issue of DU to the UN Human Rights
Commission in Geneva and helped measure radiation levels in Iraq before
the 2003 war.
Peace Newsgroup    George Skuse  <>

Date: Thu, 27 Dec 2001 19:54:41 +0200

Weapons of mass destruction — going nuclear in Iraq 
By Ramzi Kysia 
BAGHDAD — Dr Alim Abdul-Hamid's office at Al Mustanseriya Medical College in Baghdad is decorated 
in bright, cheerful colours, but what he has to say is anything but cheerful. Formerly Dean of 
Basra Medical College, Abdul-Hamid has had plenty of first-hand experience with Iraq's 
unprecedented plague of cancers and birth defects. 
“We have seen cases of breast cancer among women in their 20s. In their 20s!,” says Abdul-Hamid. 
“This is really tragic, because, you know, in America, probably when you come across a case of 
breast cancer in a woman in her late 30s, you would consider that this is a young age for cancer, 
while we see cases of breast cancer in the 20s. There are increased incidences of colon cancer, 
thyroid cancer, in addition to, of course, leukaemias and lymphomas.” 

What's the source of this epidemic? According to Abdul-Hamid the problem is depleted uranium. 
Depleted uranium, or “DU”, is an extremely dense, heavy metal, and a waste product of atomic bomb 
production. It has a half-life of over 4 billion years. It contains trace amounts of plutonium and 
is 60 per cent as radioactive as naturally occurring uranium. The US military uses it as ballast in 
their missiles, and they use it to coat shells and pellets. Because of its density, it is armour 
piercing — so it is used as an anti-tank weapon. DU is also aerosolising. When a shell coated with 
DU hits, it burns, releasing uranium oxide dust. This dust then rises in the air, is carried by the 
winds, and contaminates the entire surrounding environment. 

The Pentagon admits to dropping 320 tonnes of DU in Iraq. The environmental organisation Greenpeace 
puts the estimate at over 800 tonnes. Hospitals throughout Iraq have reported as much as a 10-fold 
increase in overall cancer rates and birth defects over the last 11 years. 

Abdul-Hamid points to an epidemiological study he headed in Basra, demonstrating the connection 
between DU and cancer in Iraq. The study looked at five factors: biological plausibility, strength 
of association, incidence rate, increased incidences of cancer among younger children, and the 
dose-response relationship. According to Abdul-Hamid, all these factors point to a strong, casual 
link between DU exposure and cancer in Iraq. 

To test the biological plausibility of their hypothesis, the team of scientists studied the types 
of cancer being reported, most notably leukaemias, and explored their relationship to DU. The 
results strongly indicate a radioactive, rather than chemical, contaminant. Explains Abdul-Hamid: 
“Leukaemia is known to be related to radiation. We don't have evidence that leukaemia is related to 

Additionally, if the source of the epidemic were chemical, there would have been a sharp spike in 
cancer rates following the Gulf war, followed by rapid decreases as the source of the contamination 
disappeared. In contrast, with radiation the strength of association increases as time passes. The 
fact that cancer rates are still increasing at an exponential rate in Iraq strongly implies a 
radioactive source. 

This increase is enormous. According to the study, malignancies and leukaemias among children under 
the age of 15 have more than tripled since 1990. Whereas in 1990 young children accounted for only 
13 per cent of cancer cases, today over 56 per cent of all cancer in Iraq occurs among children 
under the age of 5. Abdul-Hamid explains that it isn't just direct exposure of the children to the 
radiation still present in the environment; it's also the cumulative exposure of their parents over 
time. This cumulative exposure does permanent damage to parental genes, damage which is then passed 
on to their children. 

Finally, pointing to a map of Basra, Abdul-Hamid highlights the dose-response relationship between 
DU and cancers. “If we look at the map of Basra, southern Iraq, and monitor the incidences in 
different districts over time, we can come out with a very important conclusion. And that is that 
areas which have got the higher level of background radiation have higher levels of cancers.” These 
factors overwhelmingly point to DU as the source of Iraq's current cancer plague. 

Iraqi doctors aren't the only ones complaining about DU. US veterans are upset as well. DU may be a 
leading cause of the unprecedented levels of illnesses effecting Gulf war veterans. “The Pentagon 
claims that there are no significant health effects from exposure to depleted uranium, but their 
own research and documents show that this is not true,” says Charles Sheehan-Miles, a Gulf war 
veteran and former president of the National Gulf War Resource Centre. Almost 25 per cent of US 
soldiers who fought in the Gulf war are currently receiving disability benefits from the US 
Veteran's Administration. This is twice the rate of disabilities as among Vietnam veterans. 

Unfortunately, DU remains an integral part of the American military arsenal. According to 
Sheehan-Miles, “Depleted uranium, like landmines and cluster bombs, is a weapon with effects far 
beyond the battlefield, with innocents and children as the frequent victims. I resent this. As a 
former American soldier, I was trained to protect the innocent, not to kill them.” 

As the United States gears up for a new “Desert Storm” against Iraq, using weapons like DU, that is 
a lesson that more American soldiers, and the politicians who command them, should be reminded of. 

The writer is a Muslim-American peace activist, and serves on the board of directors for the 
Education for Peace in Iraq Centre ( He is currently in Iraq as part of a 
Voices in the Wilderness ( peace delegation trying to end the war . He contributed 
this article to The Jordan Times.