Babies born in Fallujah are showing illnesses and deformities on a scale never seen before  Thursday, March 04, 2010  
Depleted Uranium and the Medical Mismanagement of Gulf War Veterans  Paul Zimmerman
How war debris could cause cancer Chris Busby of the Institute of
Plant Nutrition and Soil Science (IPNSS) in Braunschweig, Germany 8 september 2008

DEPLETED URANIUM  The brain is a 'target organ' for dissolved uranium.

<>Depleted Uranium Radioactive Contamination In Iraq: An Overview  Dr. Souad N. Al-Azzawi   August 2006 Hiroshima
Depleted Uranium: Pentagon Poison
DU - The stuff of nightmare


Soaring birth deformities and child cancer rates in Iraq

Ban DU until it is proven harmless

Weapons Dust Worries Iraqis

Weapons of Self-Destruction

Iran: A Bridge too Far?

Who Used WMD in Iraq?

Silence cloaks nuclear scandal

What Kind of Freedom?

The hysterical road from the Sept. 11 attacks to Fallujah

Deadly 'Depleted' Uranium used
by Israël in LEBANON 31-07-2006 Dough Rokke

Legacy of Treason Depleted Uranium and the Poisoning of Humanity

Depleted Uranium

During the war, US and British forces shot ammo made from Depleted Uranium (DU), a radioactive and toxic waste that is suspected as a cause of some illnesses affecting veterans of the 1991 Gulf War.

DU Patient

Scientists believe respiratory irritation caused by sand storms, oil fires, and concentrated vehicle fumes during Operation Desert Storm weakened the blood/brain barrier and allowed DU to enter the central nervous system of soldiers in the field resulting in slowly developing neurotoxic responses. Their brains, in effect, were slowly poisoned.

The brain is a 'target organ' for dissolved uranium. Tests on some Desert Storm vets show lowered ability to think and solve problems, as well as lowered motor skills in subjects with above average uranium levels.

During the latest operations in both Afghanistan and Iraq, American and British tanks fired thousands of depleted uranium armor penetrators. American A-10 and AV-8B aircraft shot hundreds of thousands of small caliber depleted uranium rounds.

Many troops in Iraq are being exposed to some level of DU, and the exposure this time may be far more long-term. The longer troops stay in theater if they are in a contaminated area, the more exposure they will have. DU is also toxic to the kidneys, and is known to cause cancer from inhalation. It is reasonable to assume that neither skin exposure nor swallowing particles of DU is wise.

The exposure to DU combined with the exposure to extensive combustion products from oil fires and blowing sand from the desert environment, however, is unique and the extent of exposure to respiratory irritants during this war was probably greater than in previous wars. These exposures for some soldiers may be more intense and more sustained now than they were in 1991.

What Are the Symptoms of D.U. Exposure?

Depleted uranium has two different effects on the body, chemical poisoning and radiation poisoning. Symptoms are similar to those described as Gulf War Syndrome. DU may also cause respiratory problems and is known to elevate the risk of lung cancer and leukemia.

• Chronic Fatigue

• Neurological signs or symptoms

• Signs or symptoms involving upper or lower respiratory system

• Menstrual disorders

• Kidney problems

What Should One Do If These
Symptoms Appear?

• Report them to a physician and get them on record. If they persist, do not be discouraged by military doctors who seem to brush them off. Return again and again if necessary as long as the symptoms persist.

• Those who are still on active duty should immediately register with DOD by calling 1-800-796-9699. Those who have left active military service should call the Veterans Administration at 1-800-PGW-VETS.

• Increase the frequency of screening for lung cancer and leukemia.

What Can One Do to Limit Exposure to
D.U. and Other Causative Agents?

Get out of Iraq or Afghanistan. If that is not an option . . . Cover the face to prevent inhalation of dust, and keep dust out of food and water. Avoid exhaust fumes and other respiratory irritants. Inform the chain of command when there is a way to reduce exposure to dust and respiratory irritants, and explain to them why.
Depleted Uranium: Pentagon Poison


Depleted Uranium: Pentagon Poison, by Minnie Bruce Pratt  2004-05-30 | New York

Deadly radioactivity is drifting in the sands and
fertile fields of Iraq, in rain falling in Europe, in
breezes that toss palm trees in Vieques, Puerto Rico,
in the water of South Korea - the toxic debris of
exploded U.S. depleted uranium (DU) shells. 

The International Action Center continued its historic
exposé of this terrible danger with a forum in New
York City on May 25, "Poison Dust - Another U.S. War
Crime: the Use of Radioactive Weapons in the Gulf."

DU is a byproduct of the process used to make nuclear
bombs and reactor fuel. Because this metal is 1.8
times denser than lead and burns on impact with steel,
bullets and shells made of DU can cut through tank
armor like butter. 

U.S. tanks, Bradley fighting machines, A-10 attack
jets and "Apache" helicopters routinely fire DU
rounds. When a DU shell hits a target, as much as 70
percent burns on impact, releasing invisible and
insoluble uranium oxide, a radioactive dust that
people inhale and ingest.

'Metal of Dishonor'

To the political hip-hop of Movement in Motion arts
collective chanting "Drop beats, not bombs," 200
people crowded the United Nations Church Center for
the meeting on "Poison Dust." The meeting was
co-chaired by Naomi Santos of Move ment in Motion and
IAC co-director Sara Flounders.

Flounders alerted the gathering that over half of the
700,000 veterans of the first U.S. invasion of Iraq in
1991 have the chronic illness dubbed "Gulf War

Millions of Iraqis died of preventable diseases from
the obliteration of water and health systems by
bombing and 12 years of sanctions starting in 1990.
More recently, Iraqi doctors began to note an ominous
increase in cancer and diseases of the immune systems.

Sharon Eolis, a health care worker who traveled to
Iraq in 1998 and 2000, confirmed that both U.S.
documents and independent scientists strongly link
this pattern of sickness and death to DU. 

IAC founder and former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey
Clark first raised the issue of DU shortly after the
1991 Gulf War. The IAC has continued to inform the
public through its DU Education Project with such
publications as "Metal of Dishonor: How the Pentagon
Radiates Soldiers and Civilians with DU Weapons."

The project also challenged U.S. government denials of
DU's impact in a video, also called "Metal of
Dishonor," produced by the People's Video Network. At
the meeting Sue Harris of PVN announced development of
a new video, "Poison Dust," which will go on tour to
military bases and communities. The film is necessary,
she said, "because the situation is getting worse." 

The U.S. dropped 375 tons of DU on Iraq during the
first Gulf War, and 2,200 tons during the current
invasion. The U.S. has also used DU weapons during its
assaults on Afghanistan and the former Yugoslavia, in
training exercises in Vieques, Okinawa and South
Korea, and doubtless in numerous U.S. military testing
grounds. Other countries also use DU weapons.

Clark: 'DU is war against the poor'

Ramsey Clark traced his journey toward understanding
the murderous impact of DU on the people of Iraq. He
noted that the first signs came two years after heavy
U.S. bombing of the desert near Kuwait in 1991.
Nomadic Bedouin people, seeking help, began to bring
newly born deformed babies into urban hospitals. 

In March 2001, Dr. Aws Albait, an Iraqi physician who
worked in Baghdad from 1990-1999, said that leukemia
and lymphomas in Iraqi children had increased 12-fold,
and in adults, six-fold.

Illness and genetic damage is also occurring in the
children of U.S. soldiers. Children of male Gulf War
veterans are born with twice the usual rate of birth
defects. In female veterans, the rate is three times
normal, with double the rate of miscarriages.

A study in the April 2003 New Scientist magazine
suggests DU toxicity combines synergistically with its
radioactivity to produce much more serious effects
than either poison alone.

Clark stressed that the impact of DU unfolds over many
years, and that the movement must be committed to an
equally long struggle: "We have to reach out, be
unified, with every ounce of energy. This is a war
against the poor with the U.S. military there only to
protect and increase the wealth of the few."

'A huge catastrophe'

Juan Gonzalez, president of the Nation al Association
of Hispanic Journ alists and a co-producer of the
"Democracy Now!" radio show, is currently running a
series of columns on DU in the New York Daily News. He
acknowledged that he was standing on the shoulders of
the IAC and other activists, saying: "A huge, huge
catastrophe has been visited upon the planet by use of
these weapons and the spread of low-level radiation." 

Gonzalez broke the story on DU after the mother of a
U.S. soldier on leave from Iraq came to him for help.
Her son, serving with a New York State National Guard
unit, was suffering from serious respiratory
problems--and being forced to return to combat. The
mother added that many other members of his unit in
Iraq were also so sick with high temperatures, kidney
ailments and respiratory problems that they'd been
sent home to Fort Dix.

Gonzalez saw a connection to the effects of DU, and
arranged for independent testing of the soldiers. Of
nine tested, four were absolutely positive for DU
contamination, and three were probable. 

Denied testing at Walter Reed Military Hospital, they
were examined in a German clinic under the supervision
of Dr. Asaf Durakovic, professor of radiology and
nuclear medicine at Georgetown Univer sity in
Washington, D.C., and a colonel in the U.S. Army
Reserves. Dr. Durakovic, who is the Veterans
Administration's nuclear-medicine expert, has
characterized DU as a "threat to humanity."

DU is the latest manifestation of the dangerous
low-level radiation that is a byproduct of U.S.
military use of nuclear weapons. Gonzalez cited a
January 2000 federal report on occupational sickness
of Department of Energy personnel that documented 50
years of deliberate government exposure of military
and civilian personnel to radiation. 

A 1990 report on the effects of DU, from the U.S. Army
Armaments, Munitions and Chemical Command, was clear:
"[L]ong term effects of low doses [of DU] have been
implicated in cancer ... There is no dose so low that
the probability of effect is zero."

Gonzalez was emphatic: "These weapons have to be
eliminated or the whole planet will be contaminated."

Resisting war crimes

Navy veteran Dustin Langley of SNAFU (Support Network
for an Armed Forces Union) stated that DU was just one
more crime of the U.S. against its own soldiers, in a
line stretching back to exposing troops to atomic
testing during the Cold War and Agent Orange in

He described how soldiers - working people forced to
enlist by the "poverty draft" - come home with
contaminated equipment, store it in the garage or
laundry room, and sicken their own families. "DU
doesn't wash off with Tide," he said.

Langley urged the crowd to join the IAC and SNAFU in
turning out for the June 5 March on Washington to end
the U.S. occu pation of Iraq, Palestine, Haiti, the
Philippines, Korea and everywhere. He indicted the
Bush administration as a regime that is "stockpiling
weapons of mass destruction, using them against its
own people, and funding a worldwide network of
terrorism" through U.S. military aggression. But by
"regime change," he said, he didn't mean the Democrats
or Ralph Nader's campaign.

The solution? "A global mass movement - a
multinational, multi-gendered anti-war movement that
will shock and awe the war-makers in Washington." 

For inspiration, he pointed to the heroic resistance
in Falluja and to the growing number of U.S. soldiers
who refuse to com mit war crimes, like Marine Corps
resister Stephen Funk and Staff Sgt. Camilo Mejia, a
Nicaraguan immigrant sentenced on May 21 to a year's
imprisonment. Mejia would not return to his unit in
Iraq, saying, "This is an oil-driven war."

More inspiration for resistance came from Frank
Velgara of the Vieques Sup port Campaign, who told how
on May 3, 2003, a decades-long struggle by determined
Puerto Rican activists shut down the U.S. Navy bombing
range in Vieques, a "victory against the most powerful
military in the world." 

Kadouri al-Kaysi, an International Action Center
member from Basra, Iraq, seconded that determination,
focusing the evening on action: "Iraqis want the U.S.
out of Iraq. The fight is still going on, and they
will never give up. Most important is to come to
Washington on June 5 to say to the Iraqis: We are with
you, not with the U.S. government!" 

Minnie Bruce Pratt
Reprinted from the June 3, 2004, issue of Workers
World newspaper
Tuesday, September 14, 2004
DU - The stuff of nightmares
By Julie Flint
Special to The Daily Star


Two years before the invasion of Iraq, a report commissioned by the World Health Organization warned that the long-term health of Iraq's civilian population would be damaged by the use of depleted uranium (DU) - radioactive waste from the nuclear industry which is used to harden missiles, shells and bullets and which slices through tank armor like a knife through butter. The WHO did not make the report public. Odd, that.

DU has been called the "Trojan Horse" of the wars in Iraq - and Afghanistan and Kosovo and Bosnia - a weapon that keeps on killing. On detonation, DU armaments release a spray of radioactive dust that can be carried in the air over long distances and which, when inhaled, goes into the body and stays there. The dust remains radioactive for 4.5 billion years.

The WHO report was written by three of Europe's top radiation scientists, including Dr. Keith Baverstock, for more than a decade the WHO's leading expert on radiation and health. After retiring from the WHO, Baverstock leaked the report to the media earlier this year. It concluded that microscopic particles of DU would be blown around and inhaled by Iraqi civilians for years to come, and could trigger the growth of malignant tumors. Baverstock believes the WHO deliberately suppressed the report - probably under pressure from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a more powerful UN body that promotes nuclear power. In response, WHO claims the IAEA's role was "very minor" and says the report was not approved for publication because "parts of it did not reflect accurately what a WHO-convened group of international experts considered the best science in the area of depleted uranium."

In other words, its own chosen experts got it wrong. Odd, again.

Had the study had been published in November 2001, Baverstock believes there would have been more pressure on the Allies to limit their use of DU during the invasion of Iraq - and to clean up afterward. But it wasn't published. As a result, Iraq is now playing host to some 350 tons of DU fired in 1991, but also to more than 1,000 tons reportedly fired in 2003. The "reportedly" is needed here because the armed forces are playing coy with figures. No wonder: handlers of DU in the US and Britain are required to wear masks and protective clothing. Imagine Iraqis having to dress like that for 4.5 billion years.

Nuha al-Radi, the much-loved Iraqi artist and diarist who died in Beirut on August 31, believed her leukemia could have been caused by DU. And if not DU, then something else to which Iraqis were knowingly exposed in the wars since Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. For DU is not the only concern in the "toxic wasteland" that many scientists say Iraq has become. There are also the chemical weapons the Baath regime used against its own people, and in its war with Iran, and, most recently, the chemical and biological materials released into the atmosphere by Allied bombing of Iraqi stockpiles in the first Gulf war of 1991.

Nuha, who didn't believe the first war would take place, was devastated by the second. "The carnage takes place in apocalyptic proportions," she wrote at her lowest point. "Sometimes I want to cry, but I resist. I am totally withered, and feel so useless." We talked of working together on a film that would investigate the pollution of Iraq and its people. Nuha was convinced that DU was entering the water table and flowing into every corner of the country, poisoning everything. But she fell ill, and we did nothing.

Looking at the DU debate now, one thing is crystal-clear: there are two very district bodies of opinion - and both claim to be informed. The question is, by what?

On one side, there are the governments that use DU weapons, the IAEA, NATO and WHO, who maintain (publicly, at least) that DU is not particularly dangerous and has no long-term effects. On the other side, united by varying degrees of concern, are the European Parliament, which has called for an immediate moratorium on the use of DU weapons, Belgium, Portugal, France, Spain and Italy, who don't use them and want an inquiry into them; the United Nations Environmental Program; and many independent scientists, several of whom have first-hand experience of the legacy of DU.

After the first Gulf war, Dr. Asaf Durakovic, a colonel in the US Army Medical Corps, was put in charge of Nuclear Medicine Service at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center. He discovered unusual radiation levels in veterans and became convinced not only that DU was killing them, but also that it was causing changes in the human gene pool that would damage future generations. He found "considerable resistance" from the government to his work on DU and was asked to stop. He refused. Two months after writing to President Bill Clinton to request an inquiry into DU contamination, he was fired - and went on to become Clinical Professor of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine at Georgetown University in Washington.

A nutter? Hardly. Yet Durakovic says soil samples from Iraq show radiation levels 17 times higher than is acceptable - threatening, he says, environmental "catastrophe." He believes that DU contamination from the 1991 war may have exposed the entire Gulf population.

When the 1991 war started, Dr. Doug Rokke, a Vietnam veteran, forensic scientist and retired army major, was recalled from academia and sent to the Gulf as part of the army's Depleted Uranium Assessment team. "The US Army made me their expert," he says. "I went into the project with the total intent to ensure they could use uranium munitions in war, because I'm a warrior. What I saw as director of the project led me to one conclusion: uranium munitions must be banned from the planet, for eternity, and medical care must be provided for everyone" - those on the firing end and those on the receiving end.

 Many in Rokke's Gulf team are now dead. He himself suffers from serious health problems including brain lesions and lung and kidney damage. When government doctors finally agreed to test him in November 1994, three-and-a-half years after he fell ill, while he was director of the Pentagon's Depleted Uranium Project, he was found to have 5,000 times the permissible level of radiation in his body - enough to light up a small village.

DU, he says, is the stuff of nightmares.

Julie Flint is a veteran journalist based in Beirut and London. This is the first of two articles on depleted uranium, which she wrote for THE DAILY STAR
Wednesday, September 15, 2004
Ban DU until it is proven harmless

By Julie Flint
Special to The Daily Star


Some called it a "dirty bomb" dropped on the Pentagon, namely the report last month that eight out of 20 men who had served in the same unit during the invasion of Iraq now have malignant cancers. That's 40 percent in 16 months. The soldiers were reportedly exposed only to vaccines and depleted uranium (DU) - and vaccines are not known to cause cancer.

It was the second such bomb in only a few months. The New York Daily News had earlier reported that four out of nine military police returning from Iraq had tested positive for DU contamination. The four - none of whom had been exposed to the heat of battle - approached the paper after being refused testing by army doctors. Here's a wild guess why: Each DU test costs $1,000 - and hundreds of thousands of U.S. servicemen are, or have been, in Iraq, (not to mention, of course, some 26 million Iraqis).

Critics of DU weaponry say money has always been at the heart of the refusal to acknowledge, and properly investigate, the effects of the low-level radiation contained in DU. On the eve of the 1991 Gulf war, the bill to clean up waste uranium from America's nuclear industry would have amounted to many tens of billions of dollars. Cheaper, by far, to recycle it in the arms industry. (DU makes the most effective anti-tank weapon ever devised.) Then, too, there is the issue of compensation: Imagine the bill if it were proven that DU is even contributing to the "anecdotal" - i.e. insufficiently researched - surge of illness among Iraqi civilians and war veterans. (Gulf war veterans on medical disability since 1991 number 518,739. There are no statistics for Iraqis.)

Government scientists say DU presents an insignificant hazard. Its radioactivity dose falls within permitted levels. But opponents of DU challenge old assumptions about the safety of even minimal exposure. They say new risk models indicate that the dangers of low-level radiation are 100 to 1,000 times greater than hitherto believed.

DU is, admittedly, only one of the possible causes of the health problems that have followed in the wake of the Allies' wars in Iraq. Professor Doug Rokke, the former director of the Pentagon's Depleted Uranium Project, has pointed out that when the U.S. military decided to blow up Iraq's chemical, biological and radiological stockpiles, in situ, "chemical agent detectors and radiological monitors were going off all over the place." Not easy, then, to prove a causal link to any one contaminant. But looking at the properties of DU and the effects it could have on the body, and comparing these with the medical problems of DU workers, Gulf war veterans and Iraqi civilians, it is clear that DU cannot be - must not be - ruled out as one of the possible causes.

The little research that has been done into the effects of low-level radiation has not been done with the victims of war, but with the perpetrators. This preoccupation with "us" as opposed to "them" is nothing short of criminal. The rate of cancer in Basra has multiplied 15 times since the Gulf war. "The only factor that has changed is radiation," says Dr. Jawad al-Ali, a British-trained oncologist at Basra's Talimi Training Hospital. Even more horrifying is a U.S. government study of 251 veteran families in Mississippi. Of children born to these families after the war, 67 percent had congenital deformations. Before the war, none had.

Coincidence, say those who fight with DU. War crimes, say those who fight against it. Cause for serious investigation, say those with any sense (or humanity). Despite differing short-term conclusions, final recommendations from the UN Environment Program, the World Health Organization and Britain's Royal Society agree on two things: There can be no definitive conclusions without more research, and areas where DU is detected must be cleaned up.

If the silence of governments can be understood - DU disposes of nuclear waste in an extremely cheap and "effective" way - the near-silence of human rights groups cannot be. Although Amnesty International has expressed "concern" about "the possible indiscriminate effects on health" of DU munitions, a Human Rights Watch report published in February 2003 about international humanitarian law issues in the coming war in Iraq did not even mention the words "depleted uranium." DU munitions, admittedly, are not specifically prohibited by international law. But a sub-commission of the UN Human Rights Commission called for their "complete elimination" almost a decade ago, in 1996, after human rights lawyer Karen Parker successfully argued that the military use of DU violates several of the requirements of the UN Convention on Human Rights - weapons must not be unduly harmful to the environment, must not act off the battlefield, and must not continue to act after battle is over.

Until it is proven, beyond a shadow of doubt, that DU is harmless, DU weapons should surely be banned. If the worst-case scenario proves correct, the effects of DU will be felt for years to come - in and around Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo and Bosnia. Dust storms will carry DU particles far and wide, and old DU munitions will retain their radioactivity for all eternity - in wrecked tanks where children play and in cooking pots made from recycled scrap.

It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that those who dispose of their DU in weapons have no right to claim the moral high ground in Iraq. A restricted British Defense Ministry document obtained by Scotland's Sunday Herald newspaper and dated Feb. 25, 1991, four days before the Gulf war cease-fire, warned that inhalation or ingestion of particles from DU shells is a health risk. It said full protective clothing and respirators should be worn when close to DU; bodies exposed to it should be hosed down before disposal; and that DU contaminated food. Yet even today the fertile, DU-contaminated grasslands west of Basra are being used to grow food and rear livestock!

A critic of DU has recalled the words of the philosopher Jean Paul Sartre during another brutal war: France's war in Algeria. He said: "It is not right, my fellow-countrymen, you who know very well all the crimes committed in our name. It's not at all right that you do not breathe a word about them to anyone, not even to your own soul, for fear of having to stand in judgment of yourself. I am willing to believe that at the beginning you did not realize what was happening; later, you doubted whether such things could be true; but now you know, and still you hold your tongues."

Not much, it seems, has changed.

Julie Flint is a veteran journalist based in Beirut and London. This is the second of two articles on depleted uranium, which she wrote for THE DAILY STAR


Who Used WMD in Iraq?

January 17, 2005

Who Used WMD in Iraq?

By: Dr. Elias Akleh*

Saddam Hussein’s possession of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) was used by the American administration as the major justification for invading Iraq.  In August 2002 Vice President Dick Cheney stated “There is no doubt he (Saddam) is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies and against us.” Secretary of State Colin Powell testified before the U.N. Security Council on February 5th 2003 that Iraq has WMD, and could launch them within 45 minutes.  His testimony included satellite pictures and illustration of mobile chemical weapon manufacturing trucks.  President Bush had chiseled the allegation of Iraq’s possession of WMD into the psyche of the American people throughout all his speeches.

After two years searching every inch of Iraq and interrogating Iraqi scientist with the cost of millions of dollars, the administration had quietly ended its search during the first week of January 2005 stating that no WMD had been found; no nuclear program and no stockpile of biological and chemical weapons.  Yet the administration was deceitful again.  Iraq is littered with WMD.  These are American WMD (nuclear, chemical and biological) used by American troops against Iraqis.  These weapons did not affect only hundreds of thousands of Iraqis as well as American troops, but had also condemned the future generations of Iraqis as well as the offspring of the American troops. This is genocide.  The administration dares not bring this fact to the spot light.

Americans had used, and are still using, nuclear weapons in the form of depleted uranium (DU). DU is a byproduct from nuclear weapons, nuclear fuel, and nuclear power industries through the process of uranium enrichment process. Due to its high density, higher than lead, DU is used to coat ammunitions such as tank shells and missiles to give them extra piercing characteristic to penetrate any armor. Thousands of DU shells and bombs had been used in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and both in 1990/91 Gulf War and the ongoing conflict in Iraq.  The term “depleted” is used to deceit people and to give the impression that DU is uranium that does not contain radioactivity any more, which is not the case. DU plated ammunition, when fired, will produce radioactive contamination, and is harmful the same way nuclear weapons are. On January 16th 2002 the American Secretary for Defense, Mr. Rumsfield in a briefing confirmed that “high levels of radioactive counts” had been confirmed due to the result of DU shells. DU has a half-life of 4.5 billion years; that means DU stays radioactive that long for just half of its atoms to decay. This makes the DU a long lasting weapon that keeps destroying life and contaminating natural resources – water, food, and vegetation. DU is a weapon that could not be turned off when war ends. It does not affect only legal military targets, but include also all civilian lives.

The UN had studied the DU weapon issue and its lasting effect on population and land in 1995, and in 1996 the UN Human Rights Commission described DU ammunition as weapons of mass destruction that should be banned. Despite this ban the American forces used DU bombs and missiles against Yugoslavia in 1999. Although scientists in Yugoslavia, Greece and Bulgaria measured elevated levels of gamma radiation after the American carpet bombing of the region, the American administration had denied the use of DU. Yet when scientists had identified a DU warhead on an American missile that landed on Bulgaria but did not explode, Lord George Roberton, the head of NATO at the time, could not but admit to the public that DU had been used. 

DU has devastating effects on both parties of a conflict, those who use it, and those targeted by it. When fired a DU round turns into a fire ball that explodes on impact, and turns into infinitesimally fine dust contaminating the targeted as well as the adjacent areas since it could be easily carried by the wind. DU individual particles are estimated to be smaller than a virus or bacteria and it was found that one millionth of a gram accumulating in a person’s body would be fatal. DU particles accumulate in the bone, kidney, reproductive systems, brain and lungs with verified gene-toxic, mutagenic and carcinogenic properties, as well as reproductive mutations even 10 years after exposure. DU destroys the body’s immune system and leaves it vulnerable to all types of diseases, even those that could be easily cured. Yet the attempt to treat these diseases is futile. There are no known methods of treatment till now.

The mass destructive characteristic of DU comes from its effect on the genetic code of persons who are exposed to it. It scrambles the genes producing horrible birth defects. New born babies of infected persons exhibited severe deformation and mutation such as missing organs or limbs, deformed genitalia, and large tumors on body among many others. Many are born in a non-human form or as a mass of unidentifiable meat. The majority of these babies live only for few days only. Those who are “unlucky” to survive are condemned to life of misery and suffering, and will be a huge burden on their families and their society.

DU had inflicted Afghans, Iraqis, as well as American troops. Birth defects are now way up in Afghanistan since the American invasion. Iraqi children, too, had suffered birth defects since the first Gulf War in 1990/91, and are still suffering now.  Thousands of American troops, who participated in the first Gulf War, had suffered what was then termed “Gulf War Syndrome”.  The American administration had denied that such syndrome was the effect of exposure to DU. The US Department of Veteran Affairs had issued a report in September 2002 confirming that over than 221 thousands of those troops are now suffering serious adverse health effects, to the point where they are on permanent disability, and so far well over than 10 thousands had already died. It was also concluded that the wives of these veterans had also been affected by DU, and that many of them had either aborted or given birth to sick or deformed babies.

American Major Doug Rokke, professor of physics and geosciences of Jacksonville State University and former director of DU weapons project of US army from 1994/95 in charge of the cleaning up of DU in Iraq, had produced a document that proves conclusively that the US government and military were aware of the genocidal nature of DU weapons since 1943. The document states “…inhaled by personnel … it is estimated that one millionth of a gram accumulating in a persons body would be fatal. There are no known methods of treatment for such casualty…. water reservoirs and wells would be contaminated….food poisoned…” 

Professor Katsuma Yagasaki of the Faculty of Science of the Ryukyus University in Okinawa had calculated that 800 tons of DU to be the atomicity equivalent to 83 thousands Nagasaki bombs.  With each round fired by an Abrams tank containing over 4,500 grams of solid uranium it was estimated the amount of DU used in Iraq is equivalent to 250 thousands Nagasaki bombs. Geologist Leuren Moret from Livermore Labs stated that “DU dust is now everywhere. A minimum of 500 – 600 tons now litter Afghanistan, and several times that amount are spread across Iraq. In terms of global atmospheric pollution the US had already released the equivalent of 400 thousands Nagasaki bombs.”

Due to its long lasting deadly effects on humans, animals, vegetations, and water resources Professor Albrecht Schott, scientist member of World Depleted Uranium Center in Berlin, described DU as “A Weapon Against This Planet.”

An International Criminal Tribunal for Afghanistan, a Japanese citizens’ initiative, was set up by prominent lawyers and judges to look into war crimes in Afghanistan after the American invasion. This tribunal, on March of 2004, had found the American president George Bush, his administration, and manufacturers of DU weapons guilty of war crimes in the Balkans, in Afghanistan, and in Iraq due to the manufacture and use of illegal weapons.

American troops had also used chemical weapons in Iraq in the form of Napalm bombs.  Napalm is a deadly mixture of polystyrene and jet fuel. Napalm gel bonds to the skin of humans while burning making it very difficult to put out. It turns victims into human fireball. The famous pictures of a naked Vietnamese girl victim shocked the world, and lead a 1980 UN convention to ban the use of napalm. The US did not ratify the Napalm ban and is the only country in the world still using the weapon. It even upgraded the Napalm bomb to what they call Mark 77 firebomb that weigh 510 lbs, consisting of 44 lbs of polystyrene-like gel and 63 gallons of jet fuel.

Americans used Napalm originally in Vietnam causing the worst and most disfiguring injuries to victims.  Napalm was also used by Israeli forces against Palestinians during the 1967 war. The US used their new upgraded Mark 77 firebomb in an attack on Iraqi troops at Safwan Hill near the Kuwait border where Iraqi “…observation post was obliterated” as reported by Sydney Morning Herald correspondent on March 22nd 2003.  Last December American marines used Napalm in their invasion of the city of Fallujah. American Colonel James Alles, commander of Marine Air Group 11, stated that in March and April of 2003 Napalm bombs were also dropped near bridges over the Saddam Canal and the Tigris River, south of Baghdad, as reported by Independent reporter in August of same year. The Bush administration, then, admitted the use of napalm in Iraq. American forces used napalm as well as white phosphorous bombs, another incendiary weapon, against civilians during their assault on Fallujah last December. Melted corpses of civilians were discovered in Fallujah.

American forces had also used chemical weapons in the form of gases during their assault on Fallujah especially in the Julan district. Three types of these chemical gases were used. The first was a sleeping gas that caused people to lose consciousness, allowing American forces to run over them with their tanks, and to gather them in houses and blow up the houses over them. The other two gases were poisonous; one turned the color of the victims to yellow, while the other turned their colors into black.

The American use of these weapons, especially DU, in Afghanistan and Iraq did not affect only these two countries, but also all the countries within a radius of approximately 1000 miles. Due to the fact that DU radioactive particles travel with wind, it had already affected countries like Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Russia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, India, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.

With the use of these WMD the US had turned into the terrorist monster it claims to fight.

* Dr. Elias Akleh is an Arab writer from a Palestinian descent, born in the town of Beit-Jala and lives in the US.

posted Monday, 17 January 2005

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 9/6/08 - How war debris could cause cancer

COULD the mystery over how depleted uranium might cause genetic damage be closer to being solved? It may be, if a controversial claim by two researchers is right. They say that minute quantities of the material lodged in the body may kick out energetic electrons that mimic the effect of beta radiation. This, they argue, could explain how residues of depleted uranium scattered across former war zones could be increasing the risk of cancers and other problems among soldiers and local people.

Depleted uranium is highly valued by the military, who use it in the tips of armour-piercing weapons. The material's high density and self-sharpening properties help it to penetrate the armour of enemy tanks and bunkers. Its use in conflicts has risen sharply in recent years. The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) estimates that shells containing 1700 tonnes of the material were fired during the 2003 Iraq war.

Some researchers and campaigners are convinced that depleted uranium left in the environment by spent munitions causes cancer, birth defects and other ill effects in people exposed to it. Governments and the military disagree, and point out that there is no conclusive epidemiological evidence for this. And while they acknowledge that the material is weakly radioactive, they say this effect is too small to explain the genetic damage at the levels seen in war veterans and civilians. Studies back this up: in 2005, Albert Marshall of Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico showed that even the most heavily exposed soldiers during the Gulf war of 1990-91 had only around a 1 per cent greater risk of developing lung cancer compared with those who hadn't been exposed.

Organisations such as the UK's Royal Society, the US Department of Veterans Affairs and UNEP have called for more comprehensive epidemiological studies to clarify the link between depleted uranium and any ill effects.

Meanwhile, various test-tube and animal studies have suggested that depleted uranium may increase the risk of cancer, according to a review of the scientific literature published in May 2008 by the US National Research Council. The review cites a wide range of studies, including one from 2007 by John Wise and colleagues at the University of Southern Maine in Portland which showed that depleted uranium dust induced mutations in the chromosomes of human lung cells (Chemical Research in Toxicology , vol 20, p 815). The authors of the NRC report argue that more long-term and quantitative research is needed on the effects of uranium's chemical toxicity. They say the science seems to support the theory that genetic damage might be occurring because uranium's chemical toxicity and weak radioactivity could somehow reinforce each other, though no one knows what the mechanism for this might be.

Now two researchers have a new theory that they say explains how depleted uranium could cause genetic damage. Chris Busby of the Institute of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science (IPNSS) in Braunschweig, Germany, and the University of Ulster, UK, and Ewald Schnug, director of the IPNSS, claim that uranium atoms in the body could act as "radiation antennas". They argue that uranium atoms could be capturing photons of background gamma radiation and then re-emitting their energy as fast-moving electrons that act on the surrounding tissue in the same way as beta radiation. This "phantom radiation" could be over 1000 times more damaging than the alpha particles released by depleted uranium's slow nuclear decay, according to their preliminary calculations.

Their theory invokes a well-known process called the photoelectric effect. This is the main mechanism by which gamma photons with energies of about 100 kiloelectronvolts (keV) or less are blocked by matter: the photon transfers its energy to an electron in the atom's electron cloud, which is ejected into the surroundings.

An atom's ability to stop photons by this mechanism depends on the fourth power of its atomic number - the number of protons in its nucleus - so heavy elements are far better at intercepting gamma radiation and X-rays than light elements. This means that uranium could be especially effective at capturing photons and kicking out damaging photoelectrons: with an atomic number of 92, uranium blocks low-energy gamma photons over 450 times as effectively as the lighter element calcium, for instance.

Busby and Schnug say that previous risk models have ignored this well-established physical effect. They claim that depleted uranium could be kicking out photoelectrons in the body's most vulnerable spots. Various studies have shown that dissolved uranium - ingested in food or water, for example - is liable to attach to DNA strands within cells, because uranium binds strongly to DNA phosphate. "Photoelectrons from uranium are therefore likely to be emitted precisely where they will cause most damage to genetic material," says Busby.

Busby and Schnug base their claim on calculations of the photoelectrons that would be produced by the interaction between normal background levels of gamma radiation and uranium in the body. "Our detailed calculations indicate that the phantom photoelectrons are the predominant effect by far for uranium genome toxicity, and that uranium could be 1500 times as powerful as an emitter of photoelectrons than as an alpha emitter." Their computer modelling results are described in a peer-reviewed paper to be published in this month by the IPNSS in a book called Loads and Fate of Fertiliser Derived Uranium .

Hans-Georg Menzel, who chairs the International Commission on Radiological Protection's committee on radiation doses, acknowledges that the theory should be considered, but he doubts that it will prove significant. He suspects that under normal background radiation the effect is too weak to inflict many of the "double hits" of energy that are known to be most damaging to cells. "It is very unlikely that individual cells would be subject to two or more closely spaced photoelectron impacts under normal background gamma irradiation," he says.

Despite his doubts, Menzel raised the issue last week with his committee in St Petersburg, Russia, and says that several colleagues "intended to collect relevant data and perform calculations to check whether there was any possibility of a real effect in living tissues". Organisations in the UK contacted by New Scientist , including the Ministry of Defence and the Health Protection Agency, say they have no plans to investigate Busby's hypothesis.

Robin Forrest at the UK Atomic Energy Authority in Culham, Oxfordshire, is more positive. "It does seem that the photoelectric effect in very small uranium particles may explain some of the radiological problems with uranium," he says. "I hope that the organisations charged with radiological protection investigate this further."

Radiation biophysicist Mark Hill of the University of Oxford would also like to see a fuller investigation, though he suggests this might show that the photoelectric effect is not as powerful as Busby claims. "We really need more detailed calculations and dose estimates for realistic situations with and without uranium present," he says. Hill's doubts centre on an effect called Compton scattering, which he believes needs to be factored into any calculations. In Compton scattering, gamma photons striking an atom lose energy and momentum to an electron and bounce away, rather than being absorbed and transferring all their energy as in the photoelectric effect.

With Compton scattering, uranium is only 4.5 times as effective as calcium at stopping gamma photons, so Hill says that taking it into account would reduce the relative importance of uranium as an emitter of secondary electrons. If he is right, this would dilute the mechanism proposed by Busby and Schnug.

Busby is now working with Vyvyan Howard at the University of Ulster on test-tube experiments with depleted uranium in living cell cultures aimed at investigating the damage to DNA under different combinations of gamma irradiation and uranium concentration. He is also designing experiments aimed at finding out how far photoelectrons travel in tissue when a range of particle types and sizes are irradiated at different energies. Menzel, however, is dubious about the value of such experiments. "I believe this theory can be proved or disproved by detailed attention to what we already know," he says.

The arguments over depleted uranium are likely to continue, whatever the outcome of these experiments. Whether Busby's theory holds up or not remains to be seen, but investigating it can only help to clear up some of the doubts about this mysterious substance.

Copyright © 2008 Reed Business Information - UK. All Rights Reserved.

Weapons Dust Worries Iraqis
Published on Monday, November 1, 2004 by the Hartford Courant
Weapons Dust Worries Iraqis
Provisional Government Seeks Cleanup; U.S. Downplays Risks
by Thomas D. Williams

Despite assurances from the U.S. military that depleted uranium from
exploded munitions does not pose a significant health threat, Iraq's
provisional government is asking the United Nations for help cleaning
up the low-level radioactive, metal dust spread across local
battlefields by U.S. and British forces during the Persian Gulf wars.

  The request comes as the United States continues to defend depleted
uranium weaponry - prized for its tank-piercing and bunker- or
cave-smashing ability - against strong opposition by other countries,
scientists and veterans organizations.

  Great Britain, a major partner in the coalition now fighting in Iraq,
has provided the U.N. with the coordinates where its forces used
depleted uranium, also known as DU, in southern Iraq, but the United
States has not. Britain and Germany are supplying money to train Iraqis
in environmental science. The United Nations plans to survey for DU hot
spots from both wars in Iraq and says it needs the coordinates for an
effective survey.

  Neither British nor U.S. authorities have offered to augment the $4.7
million donated mainly by Japan to the United Nations to evaluate sites
of wartime contamination that health experts say threaten the
well-being of Iraqi civilians.

  In late October, Army Lt. Col. Mark Melanson said a five-year, $6
million Defense Department study of a simulated DU tank explosion shows
"the chemical risks of breathing in uranium dust are so low that it
won't cause any long-term health risks," even for the tank crew.

  Health Concerns Remain

  Concern about the health effects of depleted uranium is not limited
overseas countries. The Defense Department's contention that depleted
uranium has not been shown to affect health adversely and therefore
doesn't need to be cleaned up is contrary to its own rules for handling
it. Those rules mirror the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's and
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's treatment of depleted uranium as
an environmental hazard and danger to public health. Federal regulators
have shut down some U.S. nuclear weapons and uranium processing and
munitions plants, found to be contaminated by depleted uranium.
Billions of dollars are being spent on its cleanup in the United

  Depleted uranium, or U-238, is a toxic, heavy metal byproduct of
uranium enrichment that gives the world uranium suitable for use in
nuclear weapons and reactor fuel. It is also used in munitions, ballast
for airplanes, tank armor and other products. It has a half-life of 4.5
billion years.

  In 2002 at the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute in
Bethesda, Md., researchers found that even though the alpha radiation
from depleted uranium is relatively low, internalized DU as a metal can
induce DNA damage and carcinogenic lesions in the cells that make up
bones in the human body.

  Depleted uranium was first used widely in combat in the 1991 Persian
Gulf War. The material in armor-piercing munitions ignites and burns on
impact at temperatures of several thousand degrees Celsius. While
burning, tiny particles, or dust, of uranium oxide aerosol are created.
Wind can carry these considerable distances.

  Since 1991, the cancer rates in Iraq have risen sharply in areas
depleted uranium was used, according to Iraqi medical studies reviewed
by scientists from other countries. In addition, more than 230,000 of
the 697,000 U.S. soldiers who served in that war have filed disability
claims for various maladies, the majority of which fall under the broad
category of gulf war syndrome.

  With many of the causes of these illnesses still eluding researchers,
several lawmakers, at the urging of veterans groups, pushed for
legislation to study depleted uranium further, to see if there is a
connection with gulf war and other wartime illnesses. It called also
for cleaning up depleted uranium munitions firings.

  In the Republican-controlled Congress, the measures quietly died this
fall inside the House Health Subcommittee. Congress and three
presidential administrations have either remained silent on the dispute
or have dismissed the environmental and health concerns raised.

  Council Urges Ban

  U.N.-related organizations, citing studies showing more cancers and
birth defects among civilians and soldiers in countries where depleted
uranium munitions have been used, have pressed for more studies and a
ban on their use until the effects are better understood. The Council
of Europe, Europe's oldest inter-governmental organization of 46
nations, has called for a ban on the production, use, testing and sale
of munitions containing depleted uranium or plutonium.

  But U.S. political leaders in Congress and at the White House have
refused to acknowledge that depleted uranium might seriously harm
soldiers and civilians.

  At home, the United States has spent billions of dollars cleaning up
depleted uranium - at former munitions factories, military firing
ranges and nuclear fuel production sites. A General Accounting Office
report in 2000 put the cost of cleanup at the uranium enrichment plant
in Paducah, Ky., where DU is processed for use in weapons and nuclear
reactors, at $1.3 billion. By December 2003, the cost of cleaning up
and closing the plant, estimated to take until 2070, was up to $13

  Cleaning up DU contamination in Iraq, experts say, would come with a
multibillion-dollar price tag.

  Any money spent on cleaning up depleted uranium in Iraq would be in
addition to the estimated $225 billion that the United States will be
spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan if Congress approves the
Bush administration's estimated $70 billion in emergency funding
request early next year.

  Frederick Jones, a spokesman for the National Security Agency, said
the United Nations has not asked the Department of Defense or State
Department for assistance in cleaning up depleted uranium in Iraq.

  The U.N. Environmental Programme's chairman, Pekka Haavisto, however,
said his organization has kept the State Department informed of those

  Since 1991, the United States and Britain have fired hundreds of tons
of DU munitions during four wars - in the Balkans, Afghanistan and
twice in Iraq.

  U.N. environmental spokesman Michael Williams said the United States
has not supplied coordinates on the sites where DU munitions were fired
in Iraq or offered to clean it up. Haavisto added: "U.S. government has
the information that if field assessments will be done, exact DU
coordinates are needed."

  Bill Dies Quietly

  Last year, Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Washington, a U.S. Navy psychiatrist
during the Vietnam War, sponsored a bill to pay for a definitive study
of the health effect of DU munitions and to clean up dust and fragments
after their use. The bill was referred to the House Armed Services and
Energy and Commerce committees and then to the committee's Health
Subcommittee, where it died.

  McDermott's spokesman, Mike DeCesare, said the Republican leadership
blocked the bill's passage. But a spokesman for the Health Subcommittee
said the committee counsel could find no "aggressive action" by
McDermott to get a hearing for it. DeCesare insisted, however, that if
McDermott is re-elected, he intends to reintroduce the bill, which was
supported by Connecticut Rep. Chris Shays, R-4th District.

  "Depleted uranium is a potential health hazard for the Iraqi people
and we need to do all we can to make sure that as Iraq is rebuilt, we
help the new Iraqi government mitigate any public health threats,"
Shays said.

  The debate over DU has not made much of an impact on the presidential
race. President Bush sides with the Pentagon. The Democratic nominee,
Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts does not have a position on the use of
depleted uranium munitions, his communications director, Andy Davis,
said recently.

  Independent candidate Ralph Nader, a Connecticut native, said DU
munitions are environmentally dangerous and should never have been used
in the first place.

  "The denial and cruel coverup has gone on too long," Nader said.
"These soldiers and civilians who suffered [adverse health from
exposure to DU] deserve the truth and respectful assistance. The first
step is to admit the problem. The second step is to measure the size of
the problem and then clean up the environmental toxins. The next step
is to stop using depleted uranium munitions."

  But the Bush administration, which insists DU poses little
environmental risk so cleanup is not needed, takes the Pentagon's
advice on such matters.

  "If the [Defense Department] indicated to us that the DU rounds or
explosions were a cause of concern, and they have not done so, a study
or inquiry of their use would be warranted," said Bush's National
Security Council spokesman Frederick Jones. "Then we would be faced
with that decision. The [Defense Department] has not contacted us, nor
to the best of my knowledge has any international body contacted us."
Jones said.

  Kuwait Cleanup

  There have been many instances when the military directed depleted
uranium cleanups overseas.

  For example, a private contractor working for the Department of
Defense was paid $3.5 million to cleanup DU-contaminated military
equipment and a practice firing range in Kuwait. MKM Engineers Inc.
based in Stafford, Texas, performed a limited cleanup in Kuwait from
February 2003 to June 2004. The company recovered 22 tons of DU
fragments and 75 pieces of non-DU ordnance scrap. The unexploded DU
ordnance was destroyed with Kuwaiti assistance. MKM also cleaned
military hardware, including tanks, and wrapped them to contain surface
contamination before sending them back to the United States.

  The U.S. Army Material Command, responsible for the Kuwaiti project,
described the work as retrieval of equipment and munitions, not a clean

  The Department of Defense "does not clean up DU once it leaves a U.S.
weapons system such as a Bradley Fighting Vehicle and hits an enemy
building, or vehicle," said Melissa Bohan, an Army public affairs
official. Army regulations require the clean-up and proper handling of
U.S. equipment hit by depleted uranium munitions.

  MKM referred to some of its work in Kuwait as a cleanup. And, the
Defense Department has a low-level radioactive waste cleanup program,
whose goal is "the safe and compliant disposal of low-level radioactive
waste," including depleted uranium. It includes the Army Contaminated
Equipment Retrograde Team, which supervises cleanup of low-level
radioactive contamination of Army equipment worldwide.

  Military regulations require immediate medical tests and treatment for
any soldiers exposed to dust and fragments from depleted uranium shell
explosions. Some nuclear scientists studying the health effects of
those inhaling DU believe even a speck of the dust in the lungs or
bloodstream can eventually cause cancer or kidney disease in adults or
cancers or deformities in babies if even one parent has been exposed.

  Marion Fulk, 83, a former nuclear chemical physicist at Lawrence
Livermore National Laboratory who was involved with the Manhattan
Project's development of the atomic bomb, said that even nano-size
particles of DU in the blood and lungs are a serious destructive force.

  Others who support the Defense Department position say only inhalation
of large quantities creates serious health problems.

Weapons of Self-Destruction
By David Rose

Is Gulf War syndrome - possibly caused by Pentagon ammunition -
taking its toll on G.I.'s in Iraq?

When he started to get sick, Staff Sergeant Raymond Ramos's first instinct was to fight. "I had joint pains, muscle aches, chronic fatigue, but I tried to exercise it out," he says. "I was going for runs, working out. But I never got any better. The headaches were getting more frequent and sometimes lasted all day. I was losing a lot of weight. My overall physical demeanor was bad."

A 20-year veteran of the New York National Guard, Ramos had been mobilized for active duty in Iraq in the spring of 2003. His unit, the 442nd Military Police company, arrived there on Easter, 10 days before President Bush's mission accomplished appearance on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln. A tall, soft-spoken 40-year-old with four children, the youngest still an infant, Ramos was proud of his physique. In civilian life, he was a New York City cop. "I worked on a street narcotics team. It was very busy, with lots of overtime-very demanding." Now, rising unsteadily from his armchair in his thickly carpeted living room in Queens, New York, Ramos grimaces. "The shape I came back in, I cannot perform at that level. I've lost 40 pounds. I'm frail."

At first, as his unit patrolled the cities of Najaf and al-Diwaniyya, Ramos stayed healthy. But in June 2003, as temperatures climbed above 110 degrees, his unit was moved to a makeshift base in an abandoned railroad depot in Samawah, where some fierce tank battles had taken place. "When we first got there, I was a heat casualty, feeling very weak," Ramos says. He expected to recover quickly. Instead, he went rapidly downhill.

By the middle of August, when the 442nd was transferred to Babylon, Ramos says, the right side of his face and both of his hands were numb, and he had lost most of the strength in his grip. His fatigue was worse and his headaches had become migraines, frequently so severe "that I just couldn't function." His urine often contained blood, and even when it didn't he would feel a painful burning sensation, which "wouldn't subside when I finished." His upper body was covered by a rash that would open and weep when he scratched it. As he tells me this, he lifts his shirt to reveal a mass of pale, circular scars. He was also having respiratory difficulties. Later, he would develop sleep apnea, a dangerous condition in which he would stop breathing during sleep.

Eventually, Ramos was medevaced to a military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany. Doctors there were baffled and sent him on to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, on the outskirts of Washington, D.C. There, Ramos says, one neurologist suggested that his condition could have been caused by some long-forgotten head injury or might just be "signs of aging." At the end of September 2003, the staff at Walter Reed ordered him to report to Fort Dix, New Jersey, where, he says, a captain went through his record and told him, "I was clear to go back to Iraq. I got the impression they thought I was faking it." He was ordered to participate in a long-distance run. Halfway through, he collapsed. Finally, on July 31, 2004, after months of further examinations, Ramos was discharged with a medical disability and sent home.

Symptoms such as Ramos's had been seen before. In veterans of Operation Desert Storm, they came to be called Gulf War syndrome; among those posted to Bosnia and Kosovo in the 1990s, Balkans syndrome. He was not the only member of the 442nd to suffer them. Others had similar urinary problems, joint pains, fatigue, headaches, rashes, and sleep apnea. Today, some scientists believe that all these problems, together with others found in war-zone civilians, can be traced to the widespread use of a uniquely deadly form of ammunition.

In the ongoing Iraq conflict, just as in the Gulf War of 1991 and in the Balkans, American and British forces have fired tens of thousands of shells and cannon rounds made of a toxic and radioactive material called depleted uranium, or D.U. Because D.U. is dense-approximately 1.7 times as dense as lead-and ignites upon impact, at a temperature of about 5,400 degrees, it can penetrate armor more effectively than any other material.

It's also remarkably cheap. The arms industry gets its D.U. for free from nuclear-fuel processors, which generate large quantities of it as a by-product of enriching uranium for reactor fuel. Such processors would otherwise have to dispose of it in protected, regulated sites. D.U. is "depleted" only in the sense that most of its fissile U-235 isotope has been removed. What's left-mainly U-238-is still radioactive.

Three of the main weapons systems still being used in Iraq-the M-1 Abrams tank, the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, and the A-10 Warthog attack jet-use D.U. ammunition. A 120-mm. tank round contains about nine pounds of solid D.U. When a D.U. "penetrator" strikes its target, up to 70 percent of the shell's mass is flung into the air in a shower of uranium-oxide fragments and dust, some in the form of aerosolized particles less than a millionth of a meter in diameter. When inhaled, such particles lodge in the lungs and bathe the surrounding tissue with alpha radiation, known to be highly dangerous internally, and smaller amounts of beta and gamma radiation.

Even before Desert Storm, the Pentagon knew that D.U. was potentially hazardous. Before last year's Iraq invasion, it issued strict regulations designed to protect civilians, troops, and the environment after the use of D.U. But the Pentagon insists that there is little chance that these veterans' illnesses are caused by D.U.

The U.S. suffered only 167 fatal combat casualties in the first Gulf War. Since then, veterans have claimed pensions and health-care benefits at a record rate. The Veterans Administration reported this year that it was paying service-related disability pensions to 181,996 Gulf War veterans-almost a third of the total still living. Of these, 3,248 were being compensated for "undiagnosed illnesses." The Pentagon's spokesman, Dr. Michael Kilpatrick, deputy director of its Deployment Health section, says that Gulf War veterans are no less healthy than soldiers who were stationed elsewhere.

Those returning from Operation Iraqi Freedom are also beginning to report illnesses in significant numbers. In July 2004, the V.A. disclosed that 27,571 of them-16.4 percent of the total-had sought health care. Of that group, 8,134 suffered muscular and skeletal ailments; 3,505 had respiratory problems; and 5,674 had "symptoms, signs and ill-defined conditions." An additional 153 had developed cancers. The V.A. claims that such figures are "typical of young, active, healthcare-seeking populations," but does not offer figures for comparison.

There is also evidence of a large rise in birth defects and unprecedented cancer rates among civilians following the first Gulf War in the Basra region of southern Iraq, where the heaviest fighting took place. Dr. Kilpatrick says, "I think it's very important to try to understand what are the causes of that high rate of cancer and birth defects. There has to be a good look at that, but if you go to the M. D. Anderson hospital, in Houston, Texas, you're going to find a very high rate of cancer. That's because people from all over the country with cancer go there, because it's one of the premier care centers. Basra was the only major hospital in southern Iraq. Are the people there with these different problems people who lived their entire lives in Basra, or are they people who've come to Basra for care?" It is possible, he says, that some other environmental factor is responsible for the illnesses, such as Saddam's chemical weapons or poor nutrition. "I don't think anything should be taken off the table."

In October 2004, an early draft of a study by the Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses, a scientific panel run by the V.A., was leaked to The New York Times. According to the Times, the panel had concluded that there was a "probable link" between veterans' illnesses and exposure to neurotoxins, including a drug given to troops in 1991 to protect them from nerve gas, and nerve gas itself, which was released when U.S.-led forces destroyed an Iraqi arms depot. Asked why there was no mention of D.U. in the report, Dr. Lea Steele, the panel's scientific director, says that her group plans to address it in a later report: "We've only just begun work on this topic. We are certainly not ruling it out."

D.U.'s critics, meanwhile, say it's entirely possible that both neurotoxins and D.U. are responsible for the widespread sickness among veterans.

Members of the 442nd have vivid memories of being exposed to D.U. Sergeant Hector Vega, a youthful-looking 48-year-old who in civilian life works in a building opposite Manhattan's Guggenheim Museum, says he now struggles with chest pains, heart palpitations, headaches, urinary problems, body tremors, and breathlessness-none of which he'd ever experienced before going to Iraq. He recalls the unit's base there: "There were burnt-out Iraqi tanks on flatbed trucks 100 yards from where we slept. It looked like our barracks had also been hit, with black soot on the walls. It was open to the elements, and dust was coming in all the time. When the wind blew, we were eating it, breathing it. It was everywhere." (The Department of Defense, or D.O.D., says that a team of specialists is conducting an occupational and environmental health survey in the area.)

Dr. Asaf Durakovic, 64, is a retired U.S. Army colonel and the former head of nuclear medicine at a veterans' hospital in Wilmington, Delaware. Dr. Durakovic reports finding D.U. in the urine of 18 out of 30 Desert Storm veterans, sometimes up to a decade after they were exposed, and in his view D.U. fragments are both a significant cause of Gulf War syndrome and a hazard to civilians for an indefinite period of time. He says that when he began to voice these fears inside the military he was first warned, then fired: he now operates from Toronto, Canada, at the independent Uranium Medical Research Centre.

In December 2003, Dr. Durakovic analyzed the urine of nine members of the 442nd. With funds supplied by the New York Daily News, which first published the results, Durakovic sent the samples to a laboratory in Germany that has some of the world's most advanced mass-spectrometry equipment. He concluded that Ramos, Vega, Sergeant Agustin Matos, and Corporal Anthony Yonnone were "internally contaminated by depleted uranium (D.U.) as a result of exposure through [the] respiratory pathway."

The Pentagon contests these findings. Dr. Kilpatrick says that, when the D.O.D. conducted its own tests, "our results [did] not mirror the results of Dr. Durakovic." "Background" sources, such as water, soil, and therefore food, frequently contain some uranium. The Pentagon insists that the 442nd soldiers' urinary uranium is "within normal dietary ranges," and that "it was not possible to distinguish D.U. from the background levels of natural uranium." The Pentagon says it has tested about 1,000 vets from the current conflict and found D.U. contamination in only five. Its critics insist this is because its equipment is too insensitive and its testing methods are hopelessly flawed.

At a briefing before the Iraq invasion in March 2003, Dr. Kilpatrick tried to reassure reporters about D.U. by citing the cases of about 20 Desert Storm vets who had D.U. shrapnel in their bodies. "We have not seen any untoward medical consequences in these individuals," he said. "There has been no cancer of bone or lungs, where you would expect them." It appears that he misspoke on that occasion: one of these veterans had already had an arm amputated for an osteosarcoma, or bone tumor, at the site where the shrapnel entered. Dr. Kilpatrick confirms that the veteran was treated by the V.A. in Baltimore, but says his condition may not have been linked with the shrapnel: "Osteosarcomas are fairly common." Studies have shown that D.U. can begin to move through the body and concentrate in the lymph nodes, and another of the vets with shrapnel has a form of lymphatic cancer. But this, Dr. Kilpatrick says, has "no known cause." He concedes that research has not proved the negative, that D.U. doesn't cause cancer. But, he says, "science doesn't in 2004 show that D.U. causes any cancer."

It does, however, show that it may. Pentagon-sponsored studies at the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute, in Bethesda, Maryland, have found that, when D.U. was embedded in animals, several genes associated with human tumors underwent "aberrant activation," and oncoproteins of the type found in cancer patients turned up in their blood. The animals' urine was "mutagenic," meaning that it could cause cells to mutate. Another institute project found that D.U. could damage the immune system by hastening the death of white blood cells and impairing their ability to attack bacteria.

In June 2004 the U.S. General Accounting Office (G.A.O.) issued a report to Congress that was highly critical of government research into Gulf War syndrome and veterans' cancer rates. The report said that the studies on which federal agencies were basing their claim that Gulf War veterans were no sicker than the veterans of other wars "may not be reliable" and had "inherent limitations," with big data gaps and methodological flaws. Because cancers can take years to develop, the G.A.O. stated, "it may be too early" to draw any conclusions. Dr. Kilpatrick dismisses this report, saying it was "just the opinion of a group of individuals."

Yet another Pentagon-funded study suggested that D.U. might have effects on unborn children. After finding that pregnant rats transmitted D.U. to their offspring through the placenta, the study concluded: "Fetal exposure to uranium during critical prenatal development may adversely impact the future behavioral and neurological development of offspring." In September 2004, the New York Daily News reported that Gerard Darren Matthew, who had served in Iraq with the 719th Transportation Company, which is based in Harlem, had tested positive for D.U. after suffering migraines, fatigue, and a burning sensation when urinating. Following his return, his wife became pregnant, and their daughter, Victoria Claudette, was born missing three fingers.

Ultimately, critics say, the Pentagon underestimates the dangers of D.U. because it measures them in the wrong way: by calculating the average amount of D.U. radiation produced throughout the body. When we meet, Dr. Kilpatrick gives me a report the Department of Defense issued in 2000. It concludes that even vets with the highest exposures from embedded shrapnel could expect over 50 years to receive a dose of just five rem, "which is the annual limit for [nuclear industry] workers." The dose for those who inhaled dust from burned-out tanks would be "far below the annual guideline (0.1 rem) for members of the public."

But to measure the effect of D.U. as a whole-body radiation dose is meaningless, Asaf Durakovic says, because the dose from D.U. is intensely concentrated in the cells around a mote of dust. The alpha particles D.U. emits-high-energy clumps of protons and neutrons-are harmless outside the body, because they cannot pass through skin. Inside tissue, however, they wreak a havoc analogous to that of a penetrating shell against an enemy tank, bombarding cell nuclei, breaking chains of DNA, damaging fragile genes. Marcelo Valdes, a physicist and computer scientist who is president of Dr. Durakovic's research institute, says the cells around a D.U. particle 2.5 microns in diameter will receive a maximum annual radiation dose of 16 rads. If every pocket of tissue in the body were to absorb that amount of radiation, the total level would reach seven trillion rads-millions of times the lethal dosage.

In the potentially thousands of hot spots inside the lungs of a person exposed to D.U. dust, the same cells will be irradiated again and again, until their ability to repair themselves is lost. In 1991, Durakovic found D.U. in the urine of 14 veterans who had returned from the Gulf with headaches, muscle and skeletal pain, fatigue, trembling, and kidney problems. "Immediately I understood from their symptoms and their histories that they could have been exposed to radiation," he says. Within three years, two were dead from lung cancer: "One was 33, the other 42. Both were nonsmokers, in previously excellent health."

D.U., he says, steadily migrates to the bones. There it irradiates the marrow, where stem cells, the progenitors of all the other cells the body manufactures in order to renew itself, are produced. "Stem cells are very vulnerable," Durakovic says. "Bombarded with alpha particles, their DNA will fall apart, potentially affecting every organ. If malfunctioning stem cells become new liver cells, then the liver will malfunction. If stem cells are damaged, they may form defective tissue."

If D.U. is as dangerous as its critics allege, it can kill even without causing cancer. At her home in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, Susan Riordon recalls the return of her husband, Terry, from the Gulf in 1991. Terry, a security captain, served in intelligence during the war: his service record refers to his setting up a "safe haven" in the Iraqi "theatre." Possibly, Susan speculates, this led him behind enemy lines and exposed him to D.U. during the long aerial bombing campaign that preceded the 1991 invasion. In any event, "when he came home, he didn't really come home," she says.

At first, Terry merely had the usual headaches, body pain, oozing rash, and other symptoms. But later he began to suffer from another symptom which afflicts some of those exposed to D.U.: burning semen. "If he leaked a little lubrication from his penis, it would feel like sunburn on your skin. If you got to the point where you did have intercourse, you were up and out of that bed so fast-it actually causes vaginal blisters that burst and bleed." Terry's medical records support her description. In England, Malcolm Hooper, professor emeritus of medicinal chemistry at the University of Sunderland, is aware of 4,000 such cases. He hypothesizes that the presence of D.U. may be associated with the transformation of semen into a caustic alkali.

"It hurt [Terry] too. He said it was like forcing it through barbed wire," Riordon says. "It seemed to burn through condoms; if he got any on his thighs or his testicles, he was in hell." In a last, desperate attempt to save their sex life, says Riordon, "I used to fill condoms with frozen peas and insert them [after sex] with a lubricant." That, she says, made her pain just about bearable. Perhaps inevitably, he became impotent. "And that was like our last little intimacy gone."

By late 1995, Terry was seriously deteriorating. Susan shows me her journal-she titled it "The Twilight Zone"-and his medical record. It makes harrowing reading. He lost his fine motor control to the point where he could not button his shirt or zip his fly. While walking, he would fall without warning. At night, he shook so violently that the bed would move across the floor. He became unpredictably violent: one terrible day in 1997 he attacked their 16-year-old son and started choking him. By the time armed police arrived to pull him off, the boy's bottom lip had turned blue. After such rages, he would fall into a deep sleep for as long as 24 hours, and awake with no memory of what had happened. That year, Terry and Susan stopped sleeping in the same bedroom. Then "he began to barricade himself in his room for days, surviving on granola bars and cartons of juice."

As he went downhill, Terry was assessed as completely disabled, but there was no diagnosis as to why. His records contain references to "somatization disorder," post-traumatic stress, and depression. In 1995 the army doctors even suggested that he had become ill only after reading of Gulf War syndrome. Through 1998 and 1999, he began to lose all cognitive functions and was sometimes lucid for just a few hours each week.

Even after he died, on April 29, 1999, Terry's Canadian doctors remained unable to explain his illness. "This patient has a history [of] 'Gulf War Syndrome' with multiple motor, sensory and emotional problems," the autopsy report by pathologist Dr. B. Jollymore, of Yarmouth, begins. "During extensive investigation, no definitive diagnosis has been determined.... Essentially it appears that this gentleman remains an enigma in death as he was in life."

Not long before Terry's death, Susan Riordon had learned of Asaf Durakovic, and of the possibility that her husband absorbed D.U. His urine-test results-showing a high D.U. concentration eight years after he was presumably exposed-came through on Monday, April 26: "Tuesday he was reasonably cognitive, and was able to tell me that he wanted his body and organs to go to Dr. Durakovic," she remembers. "He knew it was too late to help him, but he made me promise that his body could help the international community. On the Wednesday, I completed the purchase of this house. On Thursday, he was dead.

"It was a very strange death. He was very peaceful. I've always felt that Asaf allowed Terry to go: knowing he was D.U.-positive meant he wasn't crazy anymore. Those last days he was calm. He wasn't putting the phone in the microwave; he had no more mood swings."

After Riordon's death, Dr. Durakovic and his colleagues found accumulations of D.U. in his bones and lungs.

Dr. Durakovic suspects the military of minimizing the health and environmental consequences of D.U. weapons, and suggests two reasons it may have for doing so: "to keep them off the list of war criminals, and to avoid paying compensation which could run into billions of dollars." To this might be added a third: depleted uranium, because of its unique armor-penetrating capabilities, has become a defining feature of American warfare, one whose loss would be intolerable to military planners.

In 1991, the U.S. used D.U. weapons to kill thousands of Iraqis in tanks and armored vehicles on the "highway of death" from Kuwait to Basra. The one-sided victory ushered in a new era of "lethality overmatch"-the ability to strike an enemy with virtual impunity. A Pentagon pamphlet from 2003 states that a central objective of the American military is to "generate dominant lethality overmatch across the full spectrum of operations," and no weapon is better suited to achieving that goal than D.U.

The value of depleted uranium was spelled out more simply in a Pentagon briefing by Colonel James Naughton of the army's Materiel Command in March 2003, just before the Iraq invasion: "What we want to be able to do is strike the target from farther away than we can be hit back.... We don't want to fight even. Nobody goes into a war and wants to be even with the enemy. We want to be ahead, and D.U. gives us that advantage."

If the Pentagon is right about the risks of D.U., such statements should not be controversial. If it is wrong, says retired army colonel Dr. Andras Korenyi-Both, who headed one of the main field hospitals during Desert Storm and later conducted some of the first research into Gulf War syndrome, the position is less clear-cut. "You'd have to deal with the question of whether it's better not to use D.U. and have more of your soldiers die in battle or to use D.U. and lose very few in the field-but have them get sick and die when they get home."

One desert morning in the early spring of 1991, while sitting in his office at the Eskan Village military compound near Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Lieutenant Doug Rokke was shown a memorandum. Rokke, a health physicist and training specialist, was a reservist and had recently been ordered to join the Third U.S. Army's depleted-uranium-assessment team, assigned to clean up and move American vehicles hit by friendly fire during Operation Desert Storm. The memo, dated March 1, came from a senior military officer at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, in New Mexico.

During the Gulf War, it said, "D.U. penetrators were very effective against Iraqi armor." However, "there has been and continues to be a concern regarding the impact of D.U. on the environment. Therefore, if no one makes a case for the effectiveness of D.U. on the battlefield, D.U. rounds may become politically unacceptable and thus, be deleted from the arsenal.... I believe we should keep this sensitive issue at mind when after-action reports are written."

Rokke says: "I interpreted the memo to mean: we want this stuff-don't write anything that might make it difficult for us to use it again."

Rokke's assignment was dangerous and unpleasant. The vehicles were coated with uranium-oxide soot, and dust lay in the sand outside. He wore a mask, but it didn't help. "We could taste it and smell it," he says of the D.U. "It tasted very strong-and unmistakable." Years later, he says, he was found to be excreting uranium at 5,000 times the normal level. Now 55, he pants during ordinary conversation and says he still gets a rash like the one Raymond Ramos of the 442nd suffers from. In addition, Rokke has joint pains, muscle aches, and cataracts.

In 1994, Rokke became director of a Pentagon project designed to learn more about D.U. contamination and to develop training that would minimize its risks. "I'm a warrior, and warriors want to fulfill their mission," Rokke says. "I went into this wanting to make it work, to work out how to use D.U. safely, and to show other soldiers how to do so and how to clean it up. This was not science out of a book, but science done by blowing the shit out of tanks and seeing what happens. And as we did this work, slowly it dawned on me that we were screwed. You can't do this safely in combat conditions. You can't decontaminate the environment or your own troops."

Rokke and his colleagues conducted a series of experiments at the U.S. Department of Energy's Nevada nuclear-test site. They set fire to a Bradley loaded with D.U. rounds and fired D.U. shells at old Soviet tanks. At his remote, ramshackle farmhouse amid the rural flatlands of central Illinois, Rokke shows me videos of his tests. Most spectacular are those shot at night, which depict the fiery streak of the D.U. round, already burning before impact, followed by the red cascade of the debris cloud. "Everything we hit we destroyed," he says. "I tell you, these things are just ... fantastic."

The papers Rokke wrote describing his findings are more sobering. He recorded levels of contamination that were 15 times the army's permissible levels in tanks hit by D.U., and up to 4.5 times such levels in clothing exposed to D.U.

The good news was that it was possible, using a special Department of Energy vacuum cleaner designed for sucking up radioactive waste, to reduce contamination from vehicles and equipment to near official limits, and to "mask" the intense radiation around holes left by D.U. projectiles by sealing them with layers of foam caulking, paint, or cardboard. (Such work, Rokke wrote, would naturally have to be carried out by teams in full radiological-protection suits and respirators.)

When it came to clothes, however, D.U. particles "became imbedded in the clothing and could not be removed with brushing or other abrasive methods." Rokke found that even after he tried to decontaminate them the clothes were still registering between two and three times the limit. "This may pose a significant logistics impact," Rokke wrote, with some understatement.

The elaborate procedures required to decontaminate equipment, meanwhile, would be almost impossible to implement in combat. "On a real battlefield, it's not like there's any control," Rokke says. "It's chaos. Maybe it's night. Who's going to come along and isolate contaminated enemy tanks? You've got a pile of rubble and mess and you're still coming under fire. The idea that you're going to come out in radiological suits and vacuum up a building or a smashed T-72 [tank]-it's ridiculous."

Large amounts of black D.U.-oxide dust were readily visible within 50 meters of a tank hit by penetrators and within 100 meters of the D.U.-packed Bradley that was set on fire. But less obvious amounts were easily detected at much greater distances. Worse, such dust could be "re-suspended" in the atmosphere "upon contact, if wind blew, or during movement." For American troops, that meant that "respiratory and skin protection is warranted during all phases of recovery." For civilians, even ones at considerable distances, it meant they might be exposed to windblown D.U. far into the future.

After Rokke completed the project, he was appointed head of the lab at Fort McClellan where it had been based. He resigned the staff physicist post he'd held for 19 years at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and moved south with his family. Early in 1996, after he began to voice the conclusions he was drawing about the future viability of D.U. weapons, he was fired. "Then I remembered the Los Alamos memo," he says. "They'd wanted 'proponency' for D.U. weapons, and I was giving them the opposite." I ask Dr. Kilpatrick, the D.O.D. spokesman on D.U., about Rokke's test firings. His reply: "One, he never did that. He was in Nevada as an observer. He was not part of that program at all. At that time he was working in education at an army school, and his assignment was to develop educational materials for troops." Rokke, he says, may have spent a few days observing the tests but did not organize them.

Documents from Rokke's service record tell a different story. His appraisal from December 1, 1995, written by Dr. Ed Battle, then chief of the radiation laboratories at Fort McClellan, describes Rokke's mission as follows: to "plan, coordinate, supervise and implement the U.S. Army ... depleted uranium training development project." He continued: "Captain Rokke has repeatedly demonstrated the ability to function well above his current rank and is as effective as any I have known." He had directly participated in "extremely crucial tests at the Nevada Atomic Test Site," and his achievements had been "absolutely phenomenal."

Rokke was awarded two medals for his work. The citation for one commended him for "meritorious service while assigned as the depleted uranium project leader. Your outstanding achievements have prepared our soldiers for hazards and will have a vast payoff in the health, safety, and protection of all soldiers."

Rokke's work in Nevada helped persuade the military that D.U. weapons had to be dealt with carefully. On September 16, 2002, General Eric Shinseki, the U.S. Army chief of staff, signed Army Regulation 700-48, which sets forth strict rules for handling items, including destroyed or disabled enemy targets, that have been hit and contaminated by D.U. "During peacetime or as soon as operational risk permits," it states, local commanders must "identify, segregate, isolate, secure, and label all RCE [radiologically contaminated equipment]. Procedures to minimize the spread of radioactivity will be implemented as soon as possible." Under pre-existing regulations, damaged vehicles should be moved to a collection point or maintenance facility, and "covered and wrapped with canvas or plastic tarp to prevent spread of contaminants," with loose items placed in double plastic bags. Soldiers who carry out such tasks should wear protective equipment.

The burned-out tanks behind the 442nd's barracks in Samawah may not have been the only D.U.-contaminated pieces of equipment to be left where they lay. In the fall of 2003, Tedd Weyman, a colleague of Dr. Durakovic's, spent 16 days in Iraq, taking samples and observing the response of coalition forces to General Shinseki's directive. "When tanks shot up by D.U. munitions were removed, I saw no precautions being taken at all," he says. "Ordinary soldiers with no protection just came along and used chains to load them onto flatbeds, towing them away just as they might your car if it broke down on the highway. They took them to bases with British and American troops and left them in the open." Time after time, Weyman recorded high levels of contamination-so high that on his return to Canada he was found to have 4.5 times the normal level of uranium in his own urine.

A Pentagon memo, signed on May 30, 2003, by Dr. William Winkenwerder, an assistant defense secretary, says that any American personnel "who were in, on, or near combat vehicles at the time they were struck by D.U. rounds," or who entered such vehicles or fought fires involving D.U. munitions, should be assessed for possible exposure and receive appropriate health care. This category could be said to include any soldier who fought in, or cleaned up after, battles with Iraqi armor.

Still, the Pentagon insists that the risks remain acceptably small. "There isn't any recognized disease from exposure to natural or depleted uranium," Dr. Kilpatrick says. He tells me that America will mount a thorough cleanup in Iraq, disposing of any D.U. fragments and burying damaged vehicles in unpopulated locations, but that, for the time being, such an operation is impossible. "We really can't begin any environmental assessment or cleanup while there's ongoing combat." Nevertheless, he says, there's no cause for concern. "I think we can be very confident that what is in the environment does not create a hazard for those living in the environment and working in it."

As this article was going to press, the Pentagon published the findings of a new study that, according to Dr. Kilpatrick, shows D.U. to be a "lethal but safe weapons system."

In his Pentagon briefing in March 2003, Dr. Kilpatrick said that even if D.U. weapons did generate toxic dust, it would not spread. "It falls to the ground very quickly-usually within about a 50-meter range," he said. "It's heavy. It's 1.7 times as heavy as lead. So even if it's a small dust particle ... it stays on the ground." Evidence that this is not the case comes from somewhere much closer than Iraq-an abandoned D.U.-weapons factory in Colonie, New York, a few miles from Albany, the state capital.

In 1958, a corporation called National Lead began making depleted-uranium products at a plant on Central Avenue, surrounded by houses and an Amtrak line. In 1979, just as the plant was increasing its production of D.U. ammunition to meet a new Pentagon contract, a whistle-blower from inside the plant told the county health department that N.L. was releasing large amounts of D.U. oxide into the environment.

Over the next two years, he and other workers testified before both the New York State Assembly and a local residents' campaign group. They painted a picture of reckless neglect. D.U. chips and shavings were simply incinerated, and the resulting oxide dust passed into the atmosphere through the chimneys. "I used to do a lot of burning," William Luther told the governor's task force in 1982. "They told me to do it at night so the black smoke wouldn't be seen." Later, many of the workers were found to have inhaled huge doses into their lungs, and some developed cancers and other illnesses at relatively young ages.

In January 1980 the state forced N.L. to agree to limit its radioactive emissions to 500 microcuries per year. The following month, the state shut the plant down. In January alone, the D.U.-chip burner had released 2,000 microcuries. An official environmental survey produced horrifying results. Soil in the gardens of homes near the plant was emitting radiation at up to 300 times the normal background level for upstate New York. Inside the 11-acre factory site, readings were up to five times higher.

The federal government has been spending tax dollars to clean up the Colonie site for the past 19 years, under a program called fusrap-the Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program. Today, all that is left of the Colonie plant are enormous piles of earth, constantly moistened with hoses and secured by giant tarpaulins to prevent dispersal, and a few deep pits. In its autumn 2004 bulletin to residents, the fusrap team disclosed that it had so far removed 125,242 tons of contaminated soil from the area, all of which have been buried at radioactive-waste sites in Utah and Idaho. In some places, the excavations are more than 10 feet deep. fusrap had also discovered contamination in the neighboring Patroon Creek, where children used to play, and in the reservoir it feeds, and had treated 23.5 million gallons of contaminated water. The cost so far has been about $155 million, and the earliest forecast for the work's completion is 2008.

Years before fusrap began to dig, there were data to suggest that D.U. particles-and those emitted at Colonie are approximately the same size as those produced by weapons-can travel much farther than 50 meters. In 1979, nuclear physicist Len Dietz was working at a lab operated by General Electric in Schenectady, 10 miles west of Colonie. "We had air filters all around our perimeter fence," he recalls. "One day our radiological manager told me we had a problem: one of the filters was showing abnormally high alpha radiation. Much to our surprise, we found D.U. in it. There could only be one source: the N.L. plant." Dietz had other filters checked both in Schenectady and at other G.E. sites. The three that were farthest away were in West Milton, 26 miles northwest, and upwind, of Colonie. All the filters contained pure Colonie D.U. "Effectively," says Dietz, "the particles' range is unlimited."

In August 2003, the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry published a short report on Colonie. On the one hand, it declared that the pollution produced when the plant was operating could have increased the risks of kidney disease and lung cancer. Because the source of the danger had shut down, however, there was now "no apparent public health hazard." Thus there was no need to conduct a full epidemiological study of those who had lived near and worked at the factory-the one way to produce hard scientific data on what the health consequences of measurable D.U. contamination actually are.

The people of Colonie have been trying to collect health data of their own. Sharon Herr, 45, lived near the plant for nine years. She used to work 60 hours a week at two jobs-as a clerk in the state government and as a real-estate agent. Now she too is sick, and suffers symptoms which sound like a textbook case of Gulf War syndrome: "Fourteen years ago, I lost my grip to the point where I can't turn keys. I'm stiff, with bad joint and muscle pain, which has got progressively worse. I can't go upstairs without getting out of breath. I get fatigue so intense there are days I just can't do much. And I fall down-I'll be out walking and suddenly I fall." Together with her friend Anne Rabe, 49, a campaigner against N.L. since the 1980s, she has sent questionnaires to as many of the people who lived on the streets close to the plant as possible. So far, they have almost 400 replies.

Among those who responded were people with rare cancers or cancers that appeared at an unusually young age, and families whose children had birth defects. There were 17 cases of kidney problems, 15 of lung cancer, and 11 of leukemia. There were also five thyroid cancers and 16 examples of other thyroid problems-all conditions associated with radiation. Other people described symptoms similar to Herr's. Altogether, 174 of those in the sample had been diagnosed with one kind of cancer or another. American women have about a 33 percent chance of getting cancer in their lifetimes, mostly after the age of 60. (For men, it's nearly 50 percent.) Some of the Colonie cancer victims are two decades younger. "We have what look like possible suspicious clusters," says Rabe. "A health study here is a perfect opportunity to see how harmful this stuff really is."

On June 14, 2004, the army's Physical Evaluation Board, the body that decides whether a soldier should get sickness pay, convened to evaluate the case of Raymond Ramos of the 442nd Military Police company. It followed the Pentagon's approach, not Dr. Durakovic's. The board examined his Walter Reed medical-file summary, which describes his symptoms in detail, suggests that they may have been caused by serving in Iraq, and accepts that "achieving a cure is not a realistic treatment objective." But the summary mentions no physical reason for them at all, let alone depleted uranium.

Like many veterans of the first Gulf War, Ramos was told by the board that his disability had been caused primarily by post-traumatic stress. It did not derive "from injury or disease received in the line of duty as a direct result of armed conflict." Instead, his record says, he got "scared in the midst of a riot" and was "emotionally upset by reports of battle casualties." Although he was too sick to go back to work as a narcotics cop, he would get a disability benefit fixed at $1,197 a month, just 30 percent of his basic military pay.

On the day we meet, in September 2004, his symptoms are hardly alleviated. "I'm in lots of pain in my joints. I'm constantly fatigued-I can fall asleep at the drop of a dime. My wife tells me things and I just forget. It's not fair to my family."

For the time being, the case against D.U. appears to remain unproved. But if Asaf Durakovic, Doug Rokke, and their many allies around the world are right, and the Pentagon wrong, the costs-human, legal, and financial-will be incalculable. They may also be widespread. In October, the regional health authority of Sardinia, Italy, began hearings to investigate illnesses suffered by people who live near a U.S. firing range there that tests D.U. weapons.

In 2002 the United Nations Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights declared that depleted uranium was a weapon of mass destruction, and its use a breach of international law. But the difference between D.U. and the W.M.D. that formed the rationale for the Iraqi invasion is that depleted uranium may have a boomerang effect, afflicting the soldiers of the army that fires it as well as the enemy victims of "lethality overmatch."

The four members of the 442nd who tested positive all say they have met soldiers from other units during their medical treatment who complain of similar ailments, and fear that they too may have been exposed. "It's bad enough being sent out there knowing you could be killed in combat," Raymond Ramos says. "But people are at risk of bringing something back that might kill them slowly. That's not right."

David Rose is a Vanity Fair contributing editor. His book Guantánamo: The War on Human Rights is an in-depth investigation of the atrocities taking place at the Cuban prison.

We appear evil

The Salt Lake Tribune


A bubble of interest seems to be occurring on the Web:
Google recently had 360,000 hits for “depleted uranium” all
within a 24-hour period. I've been following reports of the
United States' use of depleted uranium ammunition over the
past couple of days on the Web.

Our use of this poison has hurt our troops and the
people of Iraq and Kosovo. It appears that thousands of tons
of this very dense material were used in the Gulf War of
1991. It was used in Kosovo and again in Iraq. It is
radioactive and remains dangerous virtually forever, longer
than man has walked on Earth. Its most horrible effects
appear not from cancer, but in human fetuses.

We have been terrified by the thought of some terrorist
setting off a dirty bomb and poisoning a U.S. city.
Meanwhile we have spread radioactive uranium all over Iraq.
Who answers to the Iraqi mothers whose babies cannot live,
poisoned in their wombs by dust or vapor from uranium. The
earth, air and water in Iraq has been contaminated by our
use of depleted uranium munitions. We would call it a war
crime if someone else did it. We've sunk to the level of our
adversaries the terrorists.

The radiation dangers are long-term effects. In the
short term, the attack on Fallujah during Ramadan is just
the perfect recruitment device for future terrorists. We do
appear evil.

Steve Worcester
Salt Lake City

Iran: A Bridge too Far?

The following article describes what is an interesting prospect, for a
number of reasons, although it does not take into account the possibility of
days of carpet bombing of the Iranian coast before US ships go into the
Persian Gulf -- all in the name of elminating a nuclear threat.

Could the "200-kiloton nuclear payload" version of these missiles be
equipped with uranium/depleted uranium warheads?

What makes the US-Iran confrontation fearsome and very likely is that Iran
is planning to open a petroleum "bourse" in March to rival the London and
New York petroleum markets where petroleum is sold in dollars. The new
Teheran exchange will sell petroleum for euros. Its establishment is being
supported by Saudi Arabia (the world's biggest oil exporter), Russia (the
world's second biggest oil exporter) and China (the world's fastest growing
oil consumer and already one of its biggest).

For now, central banks acquire dollars to keep on account in order to have
them at hand to pay for oil imports (which must be paid for in dollars; when
Saddam Hussein switched to selling oil for euros, in 2000, he essentially
sealed his own fate). In order to earn something on these dollars, they
convert them into US Treasury bonds, which can be readily converted back
into cash when necessary. As the US has a negative savings rate, the bulk of
the bonds sold to finance the soaring US public debt is bought by these
central banks. Because of the world-wide demand for these bonds, they pay
only modest interst rates yet still sell.

However, holding such bonds while the dollar continues its decline (and it
is far from hitting bottom) means that the central banks are watching their
reserves shrink, devalued as the dollar is devalued. Given the stringent
economic requirements imposed on the countries of the euro zone, the euro is
not only much more stable than the dollar has been for years, but likely to
remain so for a long, long time. Paying for oil in euros would mean
abandoning the dollar as the central bank reserve currency.

That would mean, for countries wanting to make the switch, a selling off of
the dollar-denominated bonds by the central banks, at a time when the US
Treasury is flooding the market with new issues that the market can barely
absorb at current central bank purchasing levels. The result would be a
drastic drop in demand for these bonds.

To make them attractive to buyers (hence to continue to borrow money), the
US Federal Reserve Bank would have to raise interest rates drastically, to
as much as 15%, 18% or 20%. That would knock the wind out of the sails of
the US economy, three-quarters of which is dependent on consumer activity,
much of that, in turn, dependent upon cheap credit. It would also raise the
cost of the debt to the US government to levels that could push it toward
bankruptcy and default, exactly as happened in Argentina in December 2001,
at which time the Argentine government was paying something in the
neighborhood of 30% on its bonds.

Given that the US has primarily military power to assert itself and that
those in command in Washington see US military power as unbeatable, the
threat to the dollar and the US bond market can best be met, according to
such a mind-set, by further military action. The possibility that Iran might
become a nuclear power to counterbalance Israel adds weight and urgency to
the arguments of those pushing for military action against Iran. A fair
number of oil analysts are now calmly predicting that if there is military
action in the Persian Gulf region and the flow of oil out of the Gulf slows
or stops, oil will easily hit $80 a barril, possibly a hundred or more,
depending upon the duration of the hostilities and the amount of

Remember that Pentagon planners were counting on a quick success in Iraq
followed by a dramatic increase in Iraqi oil production to cause oil prices
to drop back to $8 a barril, the resulting cheap energy then launching a
boom in the US economy which would generate new tax revenues to pay for the
invasion. They don't ever seem to realize how easy it is to disrupt such
markets and how hard it is after such disruptions to stabilize those markets
again. This time, however, the result, for the US, could be cataclysmic,
even worse that the 1929 stock market crash and the subsequent collapse of
the US banking system.

R. J. P.

The weapon that could defeat the US in the Gulf

A word to the reader: The following paper is so shocking that, after
preparing the initial draft, I didn’t want to believe it myself, and
resolved to disprove it with more research. However, I only succeeded in
turning up more evidence in support of my thesis. And I repeated this cycle
of discovery and denial several more times before finally deciding to go
with the article. I believe that a serious writer must follow the trail of
evidence, no matter where it leads, and report back. So here is my story.
Don’t be surprised if it causes you to squirm. Its purpose is not to make
predictions –– history makes fools of those who claim to know the future ––
but simply to describe the peril that awaits us in the Persian Gulf. By
awakening to the extent of that danger, perhaps we can still find a way to
save our nation and the world from disaster. If we are very lucky, we might
even create an alternative future that holds some promise of resolving the
monumental conflicts of our time. MG


Iran: A Bridge too Far?
by Mark Gaffney

10/26/04 "ICH" -- Last July, they dubbed it operation Summer Pulse: a
simultaneous mustering of US Naval forces, world wide, that was
unprecedented. According to the Navy, it was the first exercise of its new
Fleet Response Plan (FRP), the purpose of which was to enable the Navy to
respond quickly to an international crisis. The Navy wanted to show its
increased force readiness, that is, its capacity to rapidly move combat
power to any global hot spot. Never in the history of the US Navy had so
many carrier battle groups been involved in a single operation. Even the US
fleet massed in the Gulf and eastern Mediterranean during operation Desert
Storm in 1991, and in the recent invasion of Iraq, never exceeded six battle
groups. But last July and August there were seven of them on the move, each
battle group consisting of a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier with its full
complement of 7-8 supporting ships, and 70 or more assorted aircraft. Most
of the activity, according to various reports, was in the Pacific, where the
fleet participated in joint exercises with the Taiwanese navy.

But why so much naval power underway at the same time? What potential world
crisis could possibly require more battle groups than were deployed during
the recent invasion of Iraq? In past years, when the US has seen fit to
“show the flag” or flex its naval muscle, one or two carrier groups have
sufficed. Why this global show of power?

The news headlines about the joint-maneuvers in the South China Sea read:
“Saber Rattling Unnerves China”, and: “Huge Show of Force Worries Chinese.”
But the reality was quite different, and, as we shall see, has grave
ramifications for the continuing US military presence in the Persian Gulf;
because operation Summer Pulse reflected a high-level Pentagon decision that
an unprecedented show of strength was needed to counter what is viewed as a
growing threat –– in the particular case of China, because of Peking’s
newest Sovremenny-class destroyers recently acquired from Russia.

“Nonsense!” you are probably thinking. That’s impossible. How could a few
picayune destroyers threaten the US Pacific fleet?”

Here is where the story thickens: Summer Pulse amounted to a tacit
acknowledgement, obvious to anyone paying attention, that the United States
has been eclipsed in an important area of military technology, and that this
qualitative edge is now being wielded by others, including the Chinese;
because those otherwise very ordinary destroyers were, in fact, launching
platforms for Russian-made 3M-82 Moskit anti-ship cruise missiles (NATO
designation: SS-N-22 Sunburn), a weapon for which the US Navy currently has
no defense. Here I am not suggesting that the US status of lone world
Superpower has been surpassed. I am simply saying that a new global balance
of power is emerging, in which other individual states may, on occasion,
achieve “an asymmetric advantage” over the US. And this, in my view,
explains the immense scale of Summer Pulse. The US show last summer of
overwhelming strength was calculated to send a message.

The Sunburn Missile

I was shocked when I learned the facts about these Russian-made cruise
missiles. The problem is that so many of us suffer from two common
misperceptions. The first follows from our assumption that Russia is
militarily weak, as a result of the breakup of the old Soviet system.
Actually, this is accurate, but it does not reflect the complexities.
Although the Russian navy continues to rust in port, and the Russian army is
in disarray, in certain key areas Russian technology is actually superior to
our own. And nowhere is this truer than in the vital area of anti-ship
cruise missile technology, where the Russians hold at least a ten-year lead
over the US. The second misperception has to do with our complacency in
general about missiles-as-weapons –– probably attributable to the pathetic
performance of Saddam Hussein’s Scuds during the first Gulf war: a dangerous
illusion that I will now attempt to rectify.

Many years ago, Soviet planners gave up trying to match the US Navy ship for
ship, gun for gun, and dollar for dollar. The Soviets simply could not
compete with the high levels of US spending required to build up and
maintain a huge naval armada. They shrewdly adopted an alternative approach
based on strategic defense. They searched for weaknesses, and sought
relatively inexpensive ways to exploit those weaknesses. The Soviets
succeeded: by developing several supersonic anti-ship missiles, one of
which, the SS-N-22 Sunburn, has been called “the most lethal missile in the
world today.”

After the collapse of the Soviet Union the old military establishment fell
upon hard times. But in the late1990s Moscow awakened to the under-utilized
potential of its missile technology to generate desperately needed foreign
exchange. A decision was made to resuscitate selected programs, and, very
soon, Russian missile technology became a hot export commodity. Today,
Russian missiles are a growth industry generating much-needed cash for
Russia, with many billions in combined sales to India, China, Viet Nam,
Cuba, and also Iran. In the near future this dissemination of advanced
technology is likely to present serious challenges to the US. Some have even
warned that the US Navy’s largest ships, the massive carriers, have now
become floating death traps, and should for this reason be mothballed.

The Sunburn missile has never seen use in combat, to my knowledge, which
probably explains why its fearsome capabilities are not more widely
recognized. Other cruise missiles have been used, of course, on several
occasions, and with devastating results. During the Falklands War,
French-made Exocet missiles, fired from Argentine fighters, sunk the HMS
Sheffield and another ship. And, in 1987, during the Iran-Iraq war, the USS
Stark was nearly cut in half by a pair of Exocets while on patrol in the
Persian Gulf. On that occasion US Aegis radar picked up the incoming Iraqi
fighter (a French-made Mirage), and tracked its approach to within 50 miles.
The radar also “saw” the Iraqi plane turn about and return to its base. But
radar never detected the pilot launch his weapons. The sea-skimming Exocets
came smoking in under radar and were only sighted by human eyes moments
before they ripped into the Stark, crippling the ship and killing 37 US

The 1987 surprise attack on the Stark exemplifies the dangers posed by
anti-ship cruise missiles. And the dangers are much more serious in the case
of the Sunburn, whose specs leave the sub-sonic Exocet in the dust. Not only
is the Sunburn much larger and faster, it has far greater range and a
superior guidance system. Those who have witnessed its performance trials
invariably come away stunned. According to one report, when the Iranian
Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani visited Moscow in October 2001 he requested a
test firing of the Sunburn, which the Russians were only too happy to
arrange. So impressed was Ali Shamkhani that he placed an order for an
undisclosed number of the missiles.

The Sunburn can deliver a 200-kiloton nuclear payload, or: a 750-pound
conventional warhead, within a range of 100 miles, more than twice the range
of the Exocet. The Sunburn combines a Mach 2.1 speed (two times the speed of
sound) with a flight pattern that hugs the deck and includes “violent end
maneuvers” to elude enemy defenses. The missile was specifically designed to
defeat the US Aegis radar defense system. Should a US Navy Phalanx point
defense somehow manage to detect an incoming Sunburn missile, the system has
only seconds to calculate a fire solution –– not enough time to take out the
intruding missile. The US Phalanx defense employs a six-barreled gun that
fires 3,000 depleted-uranium rounds a minute, but the gun must have precise
coordinates to destroy an intruder “just in time.”

The Sunburn’s combined supersonic speed and payload size produce tremendous
kinetic energy on impact, with devastating consequences for ship and crew. A
single one of these missiles can sink a large warship, yet costs
considerably less than a fighter jet. Although the Navy has been phasing out
the older Phalanx defense system, its replacement, known as the Rolling
Action Missile (RAM) has never been tested against the weapon it seems
destined to one day face in combat.

Implications For US Forces in the Gulf

The US Navy’s only plausible defense against a robust weapon like the
Sunburn missile is to detect the enemy’s approach well ahead of time,
whether destroyers, subs, or fighter-bombers, and defeat them before they
can get in range and launch their deadly cargo. For this purpose US AWACs
radar planes assigned to each naval battle group are kept aloft on a
rotating schedule. The planes “see” everything within two hundred miles of
the fleet, and are complemented with intelligence from orbiting satellites.

But US naval commanders operating in the Persian Gulf face serious
challenges that are unique to the littoral, i.e., coastal, environment.  A
glance at a map shows why: The Gulf is nothing but a large lake, with one
narrow outlet, and most of its northern shore, i.e., Iran, consists of
mountainous terrain that affords a commanding tactical advantage over ships
operating in Gulf waters. The rugged northern shore makes for easy
concealment of coastal defenses, such as mobile missile launchers, and also
makes their detection problematic. Although it was not widely reported, the
US actually lost the battle of the Scuds in the first Gulf War ––  termed
“the great Scud hunt” –– and for similar reasons. Saddam Hussein’s mobile
Scud launchers proved so difficult to detect and destroy –– over and over
again the Iraqis fooled allied reconnaissance with decoys –– that during the
course of Desert Storm the US was unable to confirm even a single kill. This
proved such an embarrassment to the Pentagon, afterwards, that the
unpleasant stats were buried in official reports. But the blunt fact is that
the US failed to stop the Scud attacks. The launches continued until the
last few days of the conflict. Luckily, the Scud’s inaccuracy made it an
almost useless weapon. At one point General Norman Schwarzkopf quipped
dismissively to the press that his soldiers had a greater chance of being
struck by lightning in Georgia than by a Scud in Kuwait.

But that was then, and it would be a grave error to allow the Scud’s
ineffectiveness to blur the facts concerning this other missile. The
Sunburn’s amazing accuracy was demonstrated not long ago in a live test
staged at sea by the Chinese –– and observed by US spy planes. Not only did
the Sunburn missile destroy the dummy target ship, it scored a perfect
bull’s eye, hitting the crosshairs of a large “X” mounted on the ship’s
bridge. The only word that does it justice, awesome, has become a cliché,
hackneyed from hyperbolic excess.

The US Navy has never faced anything in combat as formidable as the Sunburn
missile. But this will surely change if the US and Israel decide to wage a
so-called preventive war against Iran to destroy its nuclear infrastructure.
Storm clouds have been darkening over the Gulf for many months. In recent
years Israel upgraded its air force with a new fleet of long-range F-15
fighter-bombers, and even more recently took delivery of 5,000 bunker-buster
bombs from the US –– weapons that many observers think are intended for use
against Iran.

The arming for war has been matched by threats. Israeli officials have
declared repeatedly that they will not allow the Mullahs to develop nuclear
power, not even reactors to generate electricity for peaceful use. Their
threats are particularly worrisome, because Israel has a long history of
pre-emptive war. (See my 1989 book Dimona: the Third Temple? and also my
2003 article Will Iran Be Next? posted at < >)

Never mind that such a determination is not Israel’s to make, and belongs
instead to the international community, as codified in the Nonproliferation
Treaty (NPT). With regard to Iran, the International Atomic Energy Agency’s
(IAEA’s) recent report (September 2004) is well worth a look, as it
repudiates facile claims by the US and Israel that Iran is building bombs.
While the report is highly critical of Tehran for its ambiguities and its
grudging release of documents, it affirms that IAEA inspectors have been
admitted to every nuclear site in the country to which they have sought
access, without exception. Last year Iran signed the strengthened IAEA
inspection protocol, which until then had been voluntary. And the IAEA has
found no hard evidence, to date, either that bombs exist or that Iran has
made a decision to build them. (The latest IAEA report can be downloaded at:

In a talk on October 3, 2004, IAEA Director General Mohamed El Baradei made
the clearest statement yet: "Iran has no nuclear weapons program", he said,
and then repeated himself for emphasis: “Iran has no nuclear weapons
program, but I personally don’t rush to conclusions before all the realities
are clarified. So far I see nothing that could be called an imminent danger.
I have seen no nuclear weapons program in Iran. What I have seen is that
Iran is trying to gain access to nuclear enrichment technology, and so far
there is no danger from Iran. Therefore, we should make use of political and
diplomatic means before thinking of resorting to other alternatives.”


No one disputes that Tehran is pursuing a dangerous path, but with 200 or
more Israeli nukes targeted upon them the Iranians’ insistence on keeping
their options open is understandable. Clearly, the nuclear nonproliferation
regime today hangs by the slenderest of threads. The world has arrived at a
fateful crossroads.

A Fearful Symmetry?

If a showdown over Iran develops in the coming months, the man who could
hold the outcome in his hands will be thrust upon the world stage. That man,
like him or hate him, is Russian President Vladimir Putin. He has been
castigated severely in recent months for gathering too much political power
to himself. But according to former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, who
was interviewed on US television recently by David Brokaw, Putin has not
imposed a tyranny upon Russia –– yet. Gorbachev thinks the jury is still out
on Putin.

Perhaps, with this in mind, we should be asking whether Vladimir Putin is a
serious student of history. If he is, then he surely recognizes that the
deepening crisis in the Persian Gulf presents not only manifold dangers, but
also opportunities. Be assured that the Russian leader has not forgotten the
humiliating defeat Ronald Reagan inflicted upon the old Soviet state. (Have
we Americans forgotten?) By the mid-1980s the Soviets were in Kabul, and had
all but defeated the Mujahedeen. The Soviet Union appeared secure in its
military occupation of Afghanistan. But then, in 1986, the first US Stinger
missiles reached the hands of the Afghani resistance; and, quite suddenly,
Soviet helicopter gunships and MiGs began dropping out of the skies like
flaming stones. The tide swiftly turned, and by 1989 it was all over but the
hand wringing and gnashing of teeth in the Kremlin. Defeated, the Soviets
slunk back across the frontier. The whole world cheered the American
Stingers, which had carried the day.

This very night, as he sips his cognac, what is Vladimir Putin thinking? Is
he perhaps thinking about the perverse symmetries of history? If so, he may
also be wondering (and discussing with his closest aides) how a truly great
nation like the United States could be so blind and so stupid as to allow
another state, i.e., Israel, to control its foreign policy, especially in a
region as vital (and volatile) as the Mid-East. One can almost hear the
Russians’ animated conversation:

“The Americans! What is the matter with them?”
“They simply cannot help themselves.”
“What idiots!”
“A nation as foolish as this deserves to be taught a lesson…”
“Yes! For their own good.”
“It must be a painful lesson, one they will never forget…”
“Are we agreed, then, comrades?”
“Let us teach our American friends a lesson about the limits of military

Does anyone really believe that Vladimir Putin will hesitate to seize a most
rare opportunity to change the course of history and, in the bargain, take
his sweet revenge? Surely Putin understands the terrible dimensions of the
trap into which the US has blundered, thanks to the Israelis and their
neo-con supporters in Washington who lobbied so vociferously for the 2003
invasion of Iraq, against all friendly and expert advice, and who even now
beat the drums of war against Iran. Would Putin be wrong to conclude that
the US will never leave the region unless it is first defeated militarily?
Should we blame him for deciding that Iran is “one bridge too far”?

If the US and Israel overreach, and the Iranians close the net with Russian
anti-ship missiles, it will be a fearful symmetry, indeed…

Springing the Trap

At the battle of Cannae in 216 BC the great Carthaginian general, Hannibal,
tempted a much larger Roman army into a fateful advance, and then enveloped
and annihilated it with a smaller force. Out of a Roman army of 70,000 men,
no more than a few thousand escaped. It was said that after many hours of
dispatching the Romans Hannibal’s soldiers grew so tired that the fight went
out of them. In their weariness they granted the last broken and bedraggled
Romans their lives…

Let us pray that the US sailors who are unlucky enough to be on duty in the
Persian Gulf when the shooting starts can escape the fate of the Roman army
at Cannae. The odds will be heavily against them, however, because they will
face the same type of danger, tantamount to envelopment. The US ships in the
Gulf will already have come within range of the Sunburn missiles and the
even more-advanced SS-NX-26 Yakhonts missiles, also Russian-made (speed:
Mach 2.9; range: 180 miles) deployed by the Iranians along the Gulf’s
northern shore. Every US ship will be exposed and vulnerable. When the
Iranians spring the trap, the entire lake will become a killing field.

Anti-ship cruise missiles are not new, as I’ve mentioned. Nor have they yet
determined the outcome in a conflict. But this is probably only because
these horrible weapons have never been deployed in sufficient numbers. At
the time of the Falklands war the Argentine air force possessed only five
Exocets, yet managed to sink two ships. With enough of them, the
Argentineans might have sunk the entire British fleet, and won the war.
Although we’ve never seen a massed attack of cruise missiles, this is
exactly what the US Navy could face in the next war in the Gulf. Try and
imagine it if you can: barrage after barrage of Exocet-class missiles, which
the Iranians are known to possess in the hundreds, as well as the
unstoppable Sunburn and Yakhonts missiles. The questions that our purblind
government leaders should be asking themselves, today, if they value what
historians will one day write about them, are two: how many of the Russian
anti-ship missiles has Putin already supplied to Iran? And: How many more
are currently in the pipeline? In 2001 Jane’s Defense Weekly reported that
Iran was attempting to acquire anti-ship missiles from Russia. Ominously,
the same report also mentioned that the more advanced Yakhonts missile was
“optimized for attacks against carrier task forces.” Apparently its guidance
system is “able to distinguish an aircraft carrier from its escorts.” The
numbers were not disclosed…

The US Navy will come under fire even if the US does not participate in the
first so-called surgical raids on Iran’s nuclear sites, that is, even if
Israel goes it alone. Israel’s brand-new fleet of 25 F-15s (paid for by
American taxpayers) has sufficient range to target Iran, but the Israelis
cannot mount an attack without crossing US-occupied Iraqi air space. It will
hardly matter if Washington gives the green light, or is dragged into the
conflict by a recalcitrant Israel. Either way, the result will be the same.
The Iranians will interpret US acquiescence as complicity, and, in any
event, they will understand that the real fight is with the Americans. The
Iranians will be entirely within their rights to counter-attack in
self-defense. Most of the world will see it this way, and will support them,
not America. The US and Israel will be viewed as the aggressors, even as the
unfortunate US sailors in harm’s way become cannon fodder. In the Gulf’s
shallow and confined waters evasive maneuvers will be difficult, at best,
and escape impossible. Even if US planes control of the skies over the
battlefield, the sailors caught in the net below will be hard-pressed to
survive. The Gulf will run red with American blood…

>From here, it only gets worse. Armed with their Russian-supplied cruise
missiles, the Iranians will close the lake’s only outlet, the strategic
Strait of Hormuz, cutting off the trapped and dying Americans from help and
rescue. The US fleet massing in the Indian Ocean will stand by helplessly,
unable to enter the Gulf to assist the survivors or bring logistical support
to the other US forces on duty in Iraq. Couple this with a major new ground
offensive by the Iraqi insurgents, and, quite suddenly, the tables could
turn against the Americans in Baghdad. As supplies and ammunition begin to
run out, the status of US forces in the region will become precarious. The
occupiers will become the besieged…

With enough anti-ship missiles, the Iranians can halt tanker traffic through
Hormuz for weeks, even months. With the flow of oil from the Gulf curtailed,
the price of a barrel of crude will skyrocket on the world market. Within
days the global economy will begin to grind to a halt. Tempers at an
emergency round-the-clock session of the UN Security Council will flare and
likely explode into shouting and recriminations as French, German, Chinese
and even British ambassadors angrily accuse the US of allowing Israel to
threaten world order. But, as always, because of the US veto the world body
will be powerless to act...

America will stand alone, completely isolated. Yet, despite the increasingly
hostile international mood, elements of the US media will spin the crisis
very differently here at home, in a way that is sympathetic to Israel.
Members of Congress will rise to speak in the House and Senate, and rally to
Israel’s defense, while blaming the victim of the attack, Iran.
Fundamentalist Christian talk show hosts will proclaim the historic
fulfillment of biblical prophecy in our time, and will call upon the Jews of
Israel to accept Jesus into their hearts; meanwhile, urging the president to
nuke the evil empire of Islam. From across America will be heard histrionic
cries for fresh reinforcements, even a military draft. Patriots will demand
victory at any cost. Pundits will scream for an escalation of the conflict.

A war that ostensibly began as an attempt to prevent the spread of nuclear
weapons will teeter on the brink of their use…


Friends, we must work together to prevent such a catastrophe. We must stop
the next Middle East war before it starts. The US government must turn over
to the United Nations the primary responsibility for resolving the deepening
crisis in Iraq, and, immediately thereafter, withdraw US forces from the
country. We must also prevail upon the Israelis to sign the Nonproliferation
Treaty (NPT) and open all of their nuclear sites to IAEA inspectors. Only
then can serious talks begin with Iran and other states to establish a
nuclear weapon free zone (NWFZ) in the Mid East –– so essential to the
region’s long-term peace and security.

*   *   *
Mark Gaffney’s first book, Dimona the Third Temple? (1989), was a pioneering
study of Israel’s nuclear weapons program. Mark’s articles about the
Mid-East and proliferation issues have appeared in the Middle East Policy
Journal, Washington Report On Middle East Affairs, the Earth Island Journal,
The Oregonian, the Daily Californian, and have been posted on numerous web
sites, especially Mark’s 2003 paper Will Iran Be Next? can
be viewed at <> Mark’s newest
book, Gnostic Secrets of the Naassenes, was released by Inner Traditions
Press in May 2003. Email  <> For more information go to

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Information Clearing House has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator
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the originator.)

May 10, 2005

Soaring birth deformities and child cancer rates in Iraq

By James Cogan
10 May 2005

Iraqi doctors are making renewed efforts to bring to the world's attention the growth in birth deformities and cancer rates among the country's children. The medical crisis is being directly blamed on the widespread use of depleted uranium (DU) munitions by the US and British forces in southern Iraq during the 1991 Gulf War, and the even greater use of DU during the 2003 invasion.

The rate of birth defects, after increasing ten-fold from 11 per 100,000 births in 1989 to 116 per 100,000 in 2001, is soaring further. Dr Nawar Ali, a medical researcher into birth deformities at Baghdad University, told the UN's Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) last month: "There have been 650 cases [birth deformities] in total since August 2003 reported in government hospitals. That is a 20 percent increase from the previous regime. Private hospitals were not included in the study, so the number could be higher."

His colleague, Dr Ibrahim al-Jabouri, reported: "In my experiments we have found some cases where the mother and father were suffering from pollution from weapons used in the south and we believe that it is affecting newborn babies in the country."

The director of the Central Teaching Hospital in Baghdad, Wathiq Ibrahim, said: "We have asked for help from the government to make a more profound study on such cases as it is affecting thousands of families."

The rise in birth defects is matched by a continuing increase in the incidence of childhood cancers.

Six years ago, the College of Medicine at Basra University carried out a study into the rate of cancer among children under the age of 15 in southern Iraq from 1976 to 1999. It revealed a horrific change between 1990 and 1999. In the province of Basra, the incidence of cancer of all types rose by 242 percent, while the rate of leukaemia among children rose 100 percent. Children living in the area were falling ill with cancer at the rate of 10.1 per 100,000. In districts where the use of DU had been the most concentrated, the rate rose to 13.2 per 100,000.

The results were cited at the time in campaigns to end the UN-imposed and US-enforced sanctions against Iraq, which were held responsible for the death of as many as 500,000 Iraqi children from malnutrition and inadequate medical treatment.

The study noted: "Most doctors and scientists agree that even mild radiation is dangerous and increases the risk of cancer. The health risk becomes much greater once the [DU] projectile has been fired. After they have been fired, the broken shells release uranium particles. The airborne particles enter the body easily. The uranium then deposits itself in bones, organs and cells. Children are especially vulnerable because their cells divide rapidly as they grow. In pregnant women, absorbed uranium can cross the placenta into the bloodstream of the foetus.

"In addition to its radioactive dangers, uranium is chemically toxic, like lead, and can damage the kidneys and lungs. Perhaps, the fatal epidemic of swollen abdomens among Iraqi children is caused by kidney failure resulting from uranium poisoning. Whatever the effect of the DU shells, it is made worse by malnutrition and poor health conditions....

"Iraq holds the United States and Britain legally and morally responsible for the grave health and environmental impact of the use of DU ..." (A version of the report is available at:

Terrible as these results were, the last six years have witnessed a further rise in the number of children under 15 falling ill with cancer in Iraq. The rate has now reached 22.4 per 100,000—more than five times the 1990 rate of 3.98 per 100,000.

Dr Janan Hassan of the Basra Maternity and Childrens Hospital told IRIN in November 2004 that as many as 56 percent of all cancer patients in Iraq were now children under 5, compared with just 13 percent 15 years earlier. "Also," he said, "it is notable that the number of babies born with defects is rising astonishingly. In 1990, there were seven cases of babies born with multiple congenital anomalies. This has gone up to as high as 224 cases in the past three years."

The statistics point to the long-term consequences of depleted uranium contamination. Munitions containing an estimated 300 tonnes of DU were unleashed by coalition forces in southern Iraq in 1991. A decade after the war, DU shell holes are still 1,000 times more radioactive than the normal level of background radiation. The surrounding areas are still 100 times more radioactive. Experts surmise that fine uranium dust has been spread by the wind, contaminating swathes of the surrounding region, including Basra, which is some 200 kilometres away from sites where large numbers of DU shells were fired.

A 1997 study into the cancer rate among Iraqi soldiers who fought in the Basra area during the 1991 Gulf War found a statistically significant increase in the rate at which they were stricken with lymphomas, leukaemia, and lung, brain, gastrointestinal, bone and liver cancers, as compared to personnel who had not fought in the south. One in four of the American personnel who fought in first Iraq war—more than 150,000 people—are also suffering a range of medical disorders collectively described as "Gulf War Syndrome". While the US military denies there is any relationship, exposure to depleted uranium is one of the factors blamed by veterans and medical researchers.

Somewhere between 1,000 and 3,000 tonnes of DU was expended during the three-week war in 2003. Unlike 1991, however, where most of the fighting took place outside major population centres, the 2003 invasion witnessed the wholesale bombardment of targets inside densely-populated cities with DU shells. Christian Science Monitor journalist Scott Peterson registered radiation on a simple Geiger counter at levels some 1,900 times the normal background rate in parts of Baghdad in May 2003. The city has a population of six million.

Given that it was two to four years after the 1991 war before cancer and birth defect rates began to rise dramatically, the fear among medical specialists is that Iraq will face an epidemic of cancers by the end of the decade, under conditions where the medical system, devastated by years of sanctions and war, is unable to cope with the existing crisis.

Dr Amar, the deputy head of the Al-Sadr Teaching Hospital in Basra, one of the main hospitals treating Iraqi cancer patients, told the Sydney Morning Herald on April 29: “We don’t have drugs to treat tumours. I have a patient with tumours who is unconscious and I don’t have drugs or a bed in which to treat him. I have two women with advanced ovarian cancer but I can give them only minimum doses of only some of the drugs they need.

"Two or three days ago we had to cancel all surgery because we had no gauze and no anaesthetics. Our wards are like stables for horses, not humans. We can't properly isolate patients or manage their diets. We don'€™t have proper laboratory facilities....

"If you are sick don't come to this hospital for treatment. It is collapsing around us. We a€™re going down in a heap."

What Kind of Freedom?

By Tucker Foehl, Posted January 28, 2005.

After three trips there, journalist Christian Parenti reflects
on the "meltdown" and "total destruction" that is Iraq.

President Bush, fresh off an inaugural address that committed the United States anew to the cause of global freedom, will find his soaring rhetoric put to its latest test in Iraq's national vote this Sunday. And it's a tough test. With the country in flames and insurgent attacks seemingly rising to an election-timed crescendo, Iraq makes a distinctly uninspiring showcase for the neoconservative foreign policy project.

Just ask Christian Parenti. The author and journalist made three trips to Iraq to see for himself how the newly "liberated" country was faring. As the rare correspondent who has "embedded" on both sides of this war – with the U.S. military and the Iraqi resistance – Parenti brought an immediacy and vividness to his reporting for The Nation, and now in his new book, The Freedom: Shadows and Hallucinations in Occupied Iraq.

As Akeel, a resident of Baghdad and Parenti's 26-year-old translator, remarked when asked of life in the newly freed Iraq: "Ah, the freedom. Look, we have the gas-line freedom, the looting freedom, the killing freedom, the rape freedom, the hash-smoking freedom. I don't know what to do with all this freedom."

Parenti recently came by the office to discuss his reporting from Iraq.

What made you want to go to Iraq?

Christian Parenti: Well, I wanted to see the situation and I also wanted to have the right to speak about the war. I noticed, perhaps at the level of subtext, that some writers were definitely implying that if you were not there you didn't have the right to comment. I also knew the war in Iraq was not going to be quick and clean. This war is simply the biggest story of our generation. After my initial trip, I wanted to go back and better understand the situation there. Immediately people suggested that I write a book, which required return trips, so I went back two more times for roughly a total of four months. So that's why – to weigh in on the largest story of our time.

You got access to both sides of the conflict. How difficult was that to do?

Well, getting access to the U.S. military is not so hard. They have a structure for embedding journalists; it's just a matter of wading through their bureaucracy. One time I was with the Florida National Guard and on a return trip I ended up in Fallujah. The official setting up the embed said, "There's a long line with everyone here in Baghdad, but if you want to go out to the Wild West there's nobody really out there." So I said, "O.K., I'll go there," and they sent me to Fallujah with the 82nd Airborne.

Meeting the resistance was much more complicated: it involved gaining the trust of Iraqis who in turn were equally trusted by the resistance. Organizing the first meetings took a long time – many visits with former soldiers who claimed not to be in the resistance but who wanted to have long conversations, wanted to look at my books, and wanted me to come back the next day to check me out some more. Now, I would be extremely wary if I went back. I definitely would not meet with the resistance now because the kidnapping, especially in central Iraq, is completely uncontrollable.

How, structurally, would you characterize the insurgency?

I see it as a horizontal network made up of cells, with individual groups and clusters of cells. Within this network there are nodes, which have different levels of organization. The nodes with greater organization pulsate out more resources, ideology, direction, and a program to the rest of the network. Some of these nodes are Jihadist, and some are remnants from the old police state, and these factions may or may not relate to one another. The former police forces have relationships with informants as well as with self-organized cells. They can mobilize them and pull them into actions and create networks of alliances for actions and then disband. They are basically horizontal networks of autonomous groups.

Not all of these groups are equal. Some cells are more powerful and connected than others. For example, former security forces are more powerful than, say, a group of farmers from outside of Baghdad. People want to dismiss the role of former security forces because Donald Rumsfeld blames the resistance on old security forces, but that's ridiculous. You don't simply make an army of 400,000 people go away. It just doesn't happen.

What is your prediction for how insurgents will disrupt the election?

I really have no idea, except that there's probably going to be a lot of violence, rampant vote fraud, and some spectacular hits on political people. But maybe it's not Election Day we should be focused on – because it is happening right now. There's no functioning infrastructure for this election in the central part of Iraq, where roughly half of the population lives. The elections will be a sham and a disaster.

Every single nostrum the administration put forward is a complete deception. Remember Fallujah? That was going to be the big showdown with the resistance. So far, U.S. Marines have searched every single house in the entire city and they are now forced to search them again because the resistance is still killing Marines. That's how intense the resistance is – they can't even tame this leveled ghost town.

The book reads, at times, as a portrayal of the underbelly of the war. What kind of underworld exists in Iraq?

I think we forget about the other major war going on in Iraq, which is essentially an apolitical Hobbesian war of all against all. Total criminality and a massive crime wave: people constantly being carjacked, people constantly raiding each other's houses, and countless scores being settled through murder. It is like an extreme version of the Wild West. There is a lot of drug use and prostitution. Drugs, especially Valium and other sedatives, are readily available throughout the urban centers. Prostitution is rampant because women are hungry, women are widowed, and there is a type of lawlessness that encourages it. Most of the prostitution caters to Iraqi men, but it also involves many U.S. soldiers. But much of this so-called underbelly exists in and around Baghdad. When you get into Iraq's rural environment this form of disorder considerably decreases. As a result of all this, a lot of marriages fall apart in the immediate aftermath of war. It gets overlooked because it is somewhat mundane, but it is a major concern to soldiers because so many relationships fall apart.

You close the book with a trip to Florida where you visit with soldiers back from Iraq. What has it been like for you to be back home?

The situation in Iraq is so grim that I immediately noticed a type of political, intellectual and emotional lassitude set in when I returned. It left me profoundly depressed. It is difficult to find a silver lining in the current occupation. The meltdown and total destruction of the homeland of 25 million people – the slaughter and the destabilization of the entire region – could potentially force the U.S. to suffer a form of defeat. That could lead to restructured and improved relationships with other countries, except that the U.S. refuses to cooperate on any topic and with any country. Even that scenario is hollow and unsatisfactory because there will be little left in Iraq and there is no guarantee that political and military defeat in Iraq will result in a restructuring of American foreign policy.

On the subject of trauma, Dan Baum wrote an excellent piece in The New Yorker about soldiers and their reactions to killing people. The fact is that soldiers who kill suffer much worse upon their return than those who do not. So, as a journalist you come away depressed and having witnessed first-hand how dire world politics are. But that pales in comparison to the life-long struggle facing soldiers – the ones who've killed – when they return home.

You spend a lot of time with soldiers in Iraq. Do you see any signs of anti-war activism taking root among returning soldiers?

It's hard to say. I did not see a lot of defiance among U.S. soldiers, but there is a growing amount of activism. The discipline in the U.S. military is pretty strong and morale is fairly high. We are not going to see a mass protest of GIs for some time to come. More of what you see is passive resistance from soldiers – where people file administrative complaints to avoid service, or soldiers just desert.

Traditionally, if you went AWOL and deserted they did not want you in the army. That may be changing with this war given the low troop levels, but the army still wants a force that is committed – or at least guilt tripped – to serve. The military is, generally, a bunch of regular working-class Americans from all over the country. They work extremely hard and remain serious with whatever their task is: changing tires, getting computers to work, making sure communications are operational, making sure there is enough water and food, etc. You just get this serious, all-business, approach to the operations as a whole.

You wrote the book Lockdown America, which details the rise of the prison industrial complex in the U.S. Talk about your visit to Abu Ghraib.

I did not actually get into the Abu Ghraib prison. They were not offering tours, although I could have attended a briefing in a room without access to any prisoners. Instead, I went with a family of a prisoner and hung out in line. There is always a huge crowd outside of Abu Ghraib, many are former prisoners trying to find relatives still incarcerated, and I visited this mass of people several times to conduct interviews. This space, enclosed by all this wire, is essentially part of Abu Ghraib; you are not actually inside the prison but many ex-prisoners are available. The average person detained at Abu Ghraib was not tortured by Charles Graner or Lynndie England, but snatched up in a raid and dumped in an open-air prison camp.

Abu Ghraib and operations there represent just total chaos. The prison is full of people on a giant backlog who have absolutely no intelligence value whatsoever to the U.S. In the outdoor tent-prison, guards do stuff like throw rocks at them and put sand in their food to harass them, but by and large they just ignore them and prisoners try to survive the freezing cold and the heat. After roughly two months, finally someone would come along and put them in a truck and dump them somewhere. Numerous people told me they were questioned and interrogated when they were arrested but never spoken to again once they got to Abu Ghraib. Then there are people like Salah Hassan, a cameraman with Al Jazeera, who described to me the capture and torture he faced at Abu Ghraib. I give credit to The Nation for publishing the story, which broke two months before the torture scandal became more widely known. Hassan described various types of torture used against him while he was wrongly imprisoned at Abu Ghraib.

More recently, I went to Chicago to interview an interrogator who works with the 10th Mountain, which is stationed at Camp Victory surrounding the Baghdad Airport. The interrogators routinely grill people who are completely innocent of anything and snatched at random and brought to Abu Ghraib. This source wouldn't tell the entire story to me. He was too scared to tell it because he had to go back to Iraq and continue in this position. But he did describe an intelligence system that was in complete chaos – where all intelligence has equal value and people are indiscriminately imprisoned. He also discussed an operation called "Clean Sweep" in advance of the Jan. 30 election, which basically rounds up every male in the area between 18-40.

This is just pathetic and ridiculous. It represents a blatant admission of defeat – they have no idea how to fight the resistance, so they are just going to round up Iraqis and throw them into Abu Ghraib. That's not a strategy and this soldier, who is completely pro-war, was extremely worried about that. Imagine if you were pro-war and wanted to invade Iraq, which is what this soldier believed, the way they are doing it is just insane. You grab a bunch of civilians and then throw them into prison camps where there are actually people active in the resistance. You basically allow people who are pissed off to associate with those active in the war and the prison becomes this massive recruiting center.

Why, in your opinion, has the U.S. made such a mess of Iraq?

The clique of wise men around George Bush felt, and still feels, that the U.S. is in a unique position, that this position allows them to solidify a type of global control and reverse the Clinton years, which they see as marked by a failed strategy of humanitarian interventionism and alliance-building. They want decisive, aggressive, and unilateral action that demonstrates, on a global scale, that this is Planet America and this country is in control. They basically took leave of their senses in Iraq because they were completely high off their successes elsewhere. They did not want to listen to anyone who told them otherwise. For example, they didn't want to read the State Department's one-year, $5 million study, which stated that invading Iraq would be incredibly difficult. And now they are in serious trouble.

I don't think we totally understand how bad the situation is in Iraq or that the entire region is primed for instability. The lessons they learned in Vietnam – stay out of guerilla wars and do not engage an enemy with a full-fledged military force – worked well for them in Central America and elsewhere. But they abandoned that strategy and are now lost without any strategy in Iraq.

The opening chapter of The Freedom dissects the cinematic narrative of American imperialism, what you describe as "an exciting drama in which the American national character is being put to the test," from the initial challenge and first easy victory through the moment of doubt and concluding with the inevitable final victory. How can the Bush administration or subsequent administrations possibly spin the inevitable "final victory" this time around?

That part of the story is endlessly regressing, and we always have to wait a little longer for that ending. There is no understanding of history and there is no accountability to history. So the pundit class never holds leaders accountable. Americans simply do not know what is occurring because television news does not cover the facts.

So Americans are free to think that there is really all of this good work going on and schools are being rebuilt. Basically believing that everything is getting better every day and in every way. A lot of people believe that because they only watch television and they simply have no idea of what's going on in the region. Then there is an entire segment of the population who are so ideologically committed to a racist, often religious, American nationalism that they do not care what the facts are, and actively don't want to hear any facts that contradict their worldview of the U.S. as a righteous victim that goes out and helps people. But, by and large, most Americans don't know, don't understand, and don't know how to figure it out.

You got into some trouble last March during an appearance on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, in which you were interviewed by Ray Suarez and stated that Halliburton and Bechtel's failure to provide "meaningful reconstruction" was contributing to instability in Iraq. What happened next?

I got a call the next morning from producer Dan Sagalyn, who was a nice guy and said he liked my reporting, but I could immediately tell something was wrong. He said "some people high up at The Newshour are really upset and think your segment was unbalanced." I was completely surprised because my comments were not that controversial, but he said we needed a right-winger to balance my comments. I said I don't consider myself particularly left-wing, and simply reported the reality in Iraq.

The next day he called back and said Jim Lehrer is extremely upset and he's going to say something at the end of the next broadcast. Sure enough, after interviewing Gen. John Abizaid – and they did not have anyone countering Abizaid's points on that broadcast – Lehrer apologized for what I'd said two nights earlier. Then, what I find really insane, the Village Voice reported on the story because people at The Nation were upset about the incident and The Newshour admitted to the entire thing. It is ridiculous and pathetic how serious they take themselves because I think their show is completely lopsided and mainstream. Unfortunately, they think they represent this independent voice in the media and that is just completely inaccurate.

How are mainstream American media outlets performing in their Iraq coverage?

They're failing us, the citizenry, but [they're] doing a damn fine job of keeping people in a position where they are willing to spend $5 billion a month on this war and tolerate thousands of casualties. They are doing an incredible job of making the Iraq war work for this administration. But how many people have actually been injured in this war? We know that over 10,000 people have been seriously injured, but how many amputees have there been from this war? That should be a standard number from this war. We know that thousands have been wounded, many returned to service, but many horribly maimed. So they're both failing and succeeding – depending on the perspective you have on their mission.

Tucker Foehl

Silence cloaks nuclear scandal
Silence cloaks nuclear scandal
Scientist who profited by spreading atomic secrets to U.S. foes is
shielded by Pakistani president and President Bush
By ERIC ROSENBERG, Washington bureau
First published: Sunday, January 16, 2005
WASHINGTON -- Public enemy No. 1 for most Americans is Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, who continues to threaten more deadly strikes against the United States.

In close competition for that dubious title should be Abdul Qadeer Khan, 68, also known as A.Q. Khan, the Pakistani nuclear scientist who oversaw the spread of nuclear weapons to U.S. adversaries, possibly including al-Qaida, bin Laden's terrorist group.

Khan arguably has done more to undermine U.S. security than bin Laden. He has confessed to transferring nuclear weapons know-how to Iran, Libya and North Korea. U.S. officials and investigators at the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency are still searching for other possible customers who possess Khan's digitized blueprints for nuclear-specific manufacturing equipment and how-to manuals for running uranium enrichment centrifuges, much of it on handy compact discs.

Since the invention of nuclear weapons 60 years ago, no one has done more to spread those weapons to more countries than Khan. His network of suppliers, middlemen and front companies flourished in 30 countries. He was a for-profit nuclear peddler, with a one-stop atomic emporium that allowed shoppers to buy bomb designs, centrifuges for enriching uranium from uranium hexafluoride and consulting services to help get weapons plants up and running.

Despite his notoriety, Khan has escaped the "most-wanted" label applied to bin Laden because of a delicate diplomatic and political minuet linking Khan, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and President Bush. Each man for his own reasons has thrown a cloak of silence over what is emerging as the biggest nuclear scandal in history.

In contrast to the missing bin Laden -- target of a global manhunt -- Khan's whereabouts are well known. He is living under house arrest in a tony section of Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, as part of a deal that Musharraf unveiled last year.

That deal gave Khan a full pardon and allowed him to keep the millions of dollars he is believed to have netted from the illicit sales. In exchange, Khan took responsibility for the crimes and agreed to the house arrest -- a punishment that forced Khan, a high-profile and beloved figure in Pakistan, to vanish from public life and scientific endeavor.

A U.S. alert to Musharraf apparently triggered Khan's confession.

According to Secretary of State Colin Powell, the United States by early 2004 had amassed so much evidence that Khan was peddling nuclear secrets that Powell telephoned Musharraf and told him to "deal with" Khan.

"I said to him, 'We know so much about this that we're going to go public with it, and within a few weeks, OK? And you need to deal with this before you have to deal with it publicly.' "

The next step came on Feb. 4 when, in a dramatic televised speech, Khan confessed and -- without naming the countries that had received his services -- accepted "full responsibility" for exporting nuclear technology.

He was quick to absolve the Musharraf government of any involvement. While some of his colleagues at the A.Q. Khan Research Laboratories -- Pakistan's top nuclear facility -- are also under investigation for trafficking, "there was never any kind of authorization for these activities by the government," he said.

The next day, it was Musharraf's turn to appear before the TV cameras.

Dressed in an army jacket, khaki trousers and combat boots, the Pakistani leader announced at a news conference that he had pardoned Khan for spreading the potential for nuclear terror. The Pakistani president signed off saying how much he admired the scientist.

"All the proliferation, unfortunately, was under the supervision or orders of Dr. A.Q. Khan," Musharraf told a news conference, quickly adding that Khan is "still my hero" for developing atomic weapons for Pakistan.

Musharraf insisted the Pakistani government had no knowledge of Khan's extensive proliferation network because the scientist had amassed enormous autonomy during the previous two decades as he developed nuclear weapons for Pakistan.

Musharraf's eagerness to whisk the matter out of sight reflects a harsh political fact of life for the 61-year-old general. Khan is a hero in Pakistan and throughout the Islamic world for perfecting his country's first nuclear weapon -- and, by definition, the much-anticipated first "Muslim bomb." Pakistan exploded a series of atomic bombs in 1998, bringing that country into nuclear parity with archrival India, with whom it has fought three wars.

Husain Haqqani, a former Pakistani ambassador to Sri Lanka and adviser to prime ministers Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto, says Khan is so popular in Pakistan that if he announced he wanted his countrymen to give him money, "150 million Pakistanis would give it to him. Pakistani kids would empty their pockets for him." Haqqani teaches international relations at Boston University and is author of the forthcoming "Pakistan Between Mosque and Military."

Musharraf presides over a nation festering with Islamic militants, with large segments of the population sympathetic to al-Qaida and remnants of the fundamentalist Taliban regime in Afghanistan, which the U.S. military toppled three years ago. The general is in no position to get tough with Khan by, for example, putting him on trial, especially since such a step would appear to be catering to the United States, which is widely unpopular throughout the country. Pakistan's religious parties already are angry with Musharraf for placing Khan and at least a half-dozen of his associates under house arrest.

Musharraf won't let U.S. investigators or officials from the International Atomic Energy Agency question Khan directly -- "It's a matter of national pride" he says -- to find out more about his far-flung proliferation network. From the Pakistani dictator's point of view, the least said about Khan, the better.

The Pakistani leader, who has narrowly escaped two assassination attempts, keeps one eye nervously focused at all times on how Islamic militants in his nation react to his policies, especially when they involve coordination with the United States. And there is a huge amount of coordination. Powell said he speaks with Musharraf more than with any other foreign leader. "We talk all the time," Powell said of the estimated 90 conversations he said they have had.

The Bush administration is also tiptoeing around the issue.

Because Musharraf is a key ally in the U.S. war against terrorism -- after the Sept. 11 strikes he agreed to withdraw support for the Taliban, a regime that had supported al-Qaida -- the White House doesn't want to add to Musharraf's precarious domestic circumstances by pushing too hard to gain access to Khan.

Another reason the Bush administration is eager to let the Khan case gently disappear is that it represents a failure of American intelligence and diplomacy that one man -- the leading nuclear scientist of a U.S. ally -- could do so much damage for so long and escape detection.

In his infrequent interviews and public statements, Khan has revealed that he is a virulent Muslim nationalist with an Islamist's hatred of the United States, Israel and the West.

"All the western countries, including Israel, are not only Pakistan's enemies but also enemies of Islam," he charged in a 1984 interview. He called the U.S. effort to prevent the flow of nuclear technology around the globe "part of the crusades which the Christians and Jews had initiated against the Muslims 1,000 years ago." Like many Muslims, Khan has spoken of a worldwide "Zionist" conspiracy to rob Muslim nations of their power and glory.

posted Monday, 17 January 2005


Douglas Westerman
Weapons of mass destruction are all over Iraq. Iraqi children are playing among them every day. According to Iraqi doctors, many are developing cancer as a result. The WMD in question is depleted uranium (DU). Left over after natural uranium has been processed, DU is 1.7 times denser than lead - effective in penetrating armored vehicles such as tanks. After a DU shell strikes, it penetrates before exploding into a burning vapor that turns to dust.
"Depleted uranium has a half life of 4.7 billion years - that means thousands upon thousands of Iraqi children will suffer for tens of thousands of years to come. This is what I call terrorism," says Dr Ahmad Hardan.
As a special scientific adviser to the World Health Organization, the United Nations and the Iraqi Ministry of Health, Dr Hardan is the man who documented the effects of depleted uranium in Iraq between 1991 and 2002. U.S. forces admit to using at least 300 tons of D.U. ordinance in Gulf War I, with up to six times that amount in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
When a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, it can dramatically alter the entire fabric of family life. The emotional impact can be huge. Imagine having nine members of your family with malignancies at the same time. Welcome to Basra, Iraq.
Dr. Jawad Al-Ali, educated in England, is head oncologist at the Saddam teaching hospital in Basra. There are nine people with cancer in his wife's family. They are not alone. At a conference in Japan in 2004 he stated:
"Two strange phenomena have come about in Basra which I have never seen before. The first is double and triple cancers in one patient. For example, leukemia and cancer of the stomach. We had one patient with 2 cancers - one in his stomach and kidney. Months later, primary cancer was developing in his other kidney--he had three different cancer types. The second is the clustering of cancer in families. We have 58 families here with more than one person affected by cancer. Dr Yasin, a general Surgeon here has two uncles, a sister and cousin affected with cancer. Dr Mazen, another specialist, has six family members suffering from cancer. My wife has nine members of her family with cancer".
"Children in particular are susceptible to depleted uranium( DU) poisoning. They have a much higher absorption rate as their blood is being used to build and nourish their bones and they have a lot of soft tissues. Bone cancer and leukemia used to be diseases affecting them the most, however, cancer of the lymph system, which can develop anywhere on the body, and has rarely been seen before the age of 12 is now also common."
At one point after the war, a Basra hospital reported treating upwards of 600 children per day with symptoms of radiation sickness. 600 children per day?
The widespread use of DU weapons was not limited to Iraq. The Uranium Medical Research Center (UMRC), founded by Dr. Asaf Durakovic, a former U.S. Army Colonel, did extensive field studies in Afghanistan just after the invasion. Excerpts from their field reports read:
"We took both soil and biological samples, and found considerable presence in urine samples of radioactivity; the heavy concentration astonished us. They were beyond our wildest imagination."......."The UMRC field team was shocked by the breadth of public health impacts coincident with the bombing. Without exception, at every bombsite investigated, people are ill. A significant portion of the civilian population presents symptoms consistent with internal contamination by uranium."
In Afghanistan, unlike Iraq, UMRC lab results indicated high concentrations of NON-DEPLETED URANIUM, with the concentrations being much higher than in DU victims from Iraq. Afghanistan was evidently used as a testing ground for a new generation of "bunker buster" bombs containing high concentrations of other uranium alloys
Dr. Durakovic stated, "The [U.S.] Veteran's Administration asked me to lie about the risks of incorporating depleted uranium in the human body ...uranium does cause cancer, uranium does cause mutation, and uranium does kill. If we continue with the irresponsible contamination of the biosphere, the denial of the fact that human life is endangered by the deadly uranium isotope, then we are doing disservice to ourselves, disservice to the truth, disservice to God and to all the generations who follow."
Living in Iraq under Saddam Hussein was pretty bad much of the time, and being ruled by the Taliban in Afghanistan was no picnic either, but DU is worse. It's not safe even to breathe. It's the ultimate tyranny.
NOTE: Mr. Westerman blogs at:, which contains a much longer and more comprehensive report on the horrors of Depleted Uranium. He can be reached via e-mail at:

Deadly 'Depleted' Uranium used in LEBANON by Israël
NukeNet Anti-Nuclear Network (

Depleted Uranium Situation Worsens Requires Action
Monday, 31 July 2006, 1:39 pm
Opinion: Dr. Doug Rokke Ph.D.

Depleted Uranium Situation Worsens Requiring Immediate Action By President
Bush, Prime Minister Blair, and Prime Minister Olmert

Dr. Doug Rokke, PhD., former Director, U.S. Army Depleted Uranium project

July 24, 2006

The delivery of at least 100 GBU 28 bunker busters bombs containing depleted
uranium warheads by the United States to Israel for use against targets in
Lebanon will result in additional radioactive and chemical toxic
contamination with consequent adverse health and environmental effects
throughout the middle east.

Today, U.S., British, and now Israeli military personnel are using illegal
uranium munitions- America's and England's own "dirty bombs" while U.S.
Army, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Department of Defense, and British
Ministry of Defence officials deny that there are any adverse health and
environmental effects as a consequence of the manufacture, testing, and/or
use of uranium munitions to avoid liability for the willful and illegal
dispersal of a radioactive toxic material - depleted uranium.

The use of uranium weapons is absolutely unacceptable, and a crime against
humanity. Consequently the citizens of the world and all governments must
force cessation of uranium weapons use. I must demand that Israel now
provide medical care to all DU casualties in Lebanon and clean up all DU

U.S. and British officials have arrogantly refused to comply with their own
regulations, orders, and directives that require United States Department of
Defense officials to provide prompt and effective medical care to "all"
exposed individuals. Reference: Medical Management of Unusual Depleted
Uranium Casualties, DOD, Pentagon, 10/14/93, Medical Management of Army
personnel Exposed to Depleted Uranium (DU) Headquarters, U.S. Army Medical
Command 29 April 2004, and section 2-5 of U.S. Army Regulation 700-48.
Israeli officials must not do so now.

They also refuse to clean up dispersed radioactive Contamination as required
by Army Regulation- AR 700-48: "Management of Equipment Contaminated With
Depleted Uranium or Radioactive Commodities" (Headquarters, Department Of
The Army, Washington, D.C., September 2002) and U.S. Army Technical
Bulletin- TB 9-1300-278: "Guidelines For Safe Response To Handling, Storage,
And Transportation Accidents Involving Army Tank Munitions Or Armor Which
Contain Depleted Uranium" (Headquarters, Department Of The Army, Washington,
D.C., JULY 1996). Specifically section 2-4 of United States Army
Regulation-AR 700-48 dated September 16, 2002 requires that:

(1) "Military personnel "identify, segregate, isolate, secure, and label all
RCE" (radiologically contaminated equipment).

(2) "Procedures to minimize the spread of radioactivity will be implemented
as soon as possible."

(3) "Radioactive material and waste will not be locally disposed of through
burial, submersion, incineration, destruction in place, or abandonment" and

(4) "All equipment, to include captured or combat RCE, will be surveyed,
packaged, retrograded, decontaminated and released IAW Technical Bulletin
9-1300-278, DA PAM 700-48" (Note: Maximum exposure limits are specified in
Appendix F).

The previous and current use of uranium weapons, the release of radioactive
components in destroyed U.S. and foreign military equipment, and releases of
industrial, medical, research facility radioactive materials have resulted
in unacceptable exposures. Therefore, decontamination must be completed as
required by U.S. Army Regulation 700-48 and should include releases of all
radioactive materials resulting from military operations.

The extent of adverse health and environmental effects of uranium weapons
contamination is not limited to combat zones but includes facilities and
sites where uranium weapons were manufactured or tested including Vieques;
Puerto Rico; Colonie, New York; Concord, MA; Jefferson Proving Grounds,
Indiana; and Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. Therefore medical care must be
provided by the United States Department of Defense officials to all
individuals affected by the manufacturing, testing, and/or use of uranium
munitions. Thorough environmental remediation also must be completed without
further delay.

I am amazed that fifteen years after was I asked to clean up the initial DU
mess from Gulf War 1 and over ten years since I finished the depleted
uranium project that United States Department of Defense officials and
others still attempt to justify uranium munitions use while ignoring
mandatory requirements. I am dismayed that Department of Defense and
Department of Energy officials and representatives continue personal attacks
aimed to silence or discredit those of us who are demanding that medical
care be provided to all DU casualties and that environmental remediation is
completed in compliance with U.S. Army Regulation 700-48.

But beyond the ignored mandatory actions the willful dispersal of tons of
solid radioactive and chemically toxic waste in the form of uranium
munitions is illegal
( and just does
not even pass the common sense test and according to the U.S. Department of
Homeland Security, DHS, is a dirty bomb. DHS issued "dirty bomb" response
guidelines, ( ), on
January 3, 2006 for incidents within the United States but ignore DOD use of
uranium weapons and existing DOD regulations.

These guidelines specifically state that: "Characteristics of RDD and IND
Incidents: A radiological incident is defined as an event or series of
events, deliberate or accidental, leading to the release, or potential
release, into the environment of radioactive material in sufficient quantity
to warrant consideration of protective actions. Use of an RDD or IND is an
act of terror that produces a radiological incident." Thus the use of
uranium munitions is "an act or terror" as defined by DHS. Finally continued
compliance with the infamous March 1991 Los Alamos Memorandum that was
issued to ensure continued use of uranium munitions can not be justified.
In conclusion: the President of the United States- George W. Bush, the Prime
Minister of Great Britain-Tony Blair, and the Prime Minister of Israel
Olmert must acknowledge and accept responsibility for willful use of illegal
uranium munitions- their own "dirty bombs"- resulting in adverse health and
environmental effects.

President Bush, Prime Minister Blair, and Prime Minister Olmert should

1. medical care for all casualties,
2. thorough environmental remediation,
3. immediate cessation of retaliation against all of us who demand
compliance with medical care and environmental remediation requirements,
4. and stop the already illegal the use (UN finding) of depleted uranium

References- these references are copies the actual regulations and orders
and other pertinent official documents:


Legacy of Treason
Depleted Uranium and the Poisoning of Humanity

By Alok O'Brien


In recent years I have become aware of the issue of depleted uranium (DU) and its use by the US Military in Iraq in 1991 and again in the current Iraq war. The photos of birth deformities and stories of suffering resulting from DU shocked me, reminding me of the Agent Orange victims of America's Vietnam war. Then I watched David Bradbury and Peter Scott's new film, Blowin' in the Wind . Its content shocked and appalled me, and spurred me into researching and writing this article. It is undoubtedly by far the most significant issue on the planet today, and yet the mainstream media stays quiet.

Published March 06 issue byronchild magazine

Republished Living Now magazine, May 06

treason n 1 betrayal of one's sovereign or country. 2 any treachery or betrayal. treasonable adj treasonous adj

Depleted uranium (DU) is what is left after raw uranium has been enriched to the highly radioactive isotope U-235 used for weapons and power generation. For every ton of U-235 produced, there are seven tons of DU. Estimates vary, but it seems that currently the US alone has in excess of five million tons of stockpiles of DU. This has no commercial use beyond its use as a radiation shield in medical devices, and for adding to concrete to form radiation containing bunkers. However, this requires an insignificant quantity of the DU produced each year.

The half-life of DU is 4.5 billion years, so storing it safely and indefinitely is cost prohibitive. To remedy the situation, the US Department of Energy has made it freely available to the Pentagon and US armaments and armour manufacturers, and it has been used in weapons exported to 29 countries. It is simply cheaper to make it into weapons than store it.

It is widely accepted that DU itself is fairly stable, as the dangerous alpha particles which it emits cannot pass through more than a couple of centimetres of air. The problems arise when DU is in contact with water or is used in weaponry and explodes. (See the photo above — the sparks are DU that is on fire and exploding.) It then creates a vapourised, radioactive gas comprising of tiny nano-particles. The microscopic particles in this vapour are then littered, depending upon prevailing winds, up to 100 kms around (estimates on this vary — with some sources citing up to 1000 kms), where they fall on crops, water, or just on the ground to be picked up by the next gust of wind or by car tyres. Later, when this gas enters the atmosphere, it can spread worldwide.

The nanoparticles of DU enter the body, from the air, from landing on clothing or skin and from food or water. These nanoparticles penetrate all protective clothing and masks, and once it comes in contact with the body it immediately disperses and begins to alter DNA. As it is not soluble it cannot be excreted from the body. Uranium is a toxic chemical element, just like lead, mercury, cadmium and chromium.

According to the declassified Groves memo from the Manhattan Project in 1943, the properties of DU in weapons has been known and strategised with for 60 years. It is clear that the US has known for 60 years about the effects of DU on the battlefield, also the danger to its own soldiers.

Why is DU so useful as a weapon?

DU is very hard, the hardest and densest of metals, and so is used for armour piercing rounds, fired from tanks, ships, aircraft and snipers, and for the bunker buster bombs made famous in the 2003 attack on Baghdad. It is also in the Tomahawk Cruise missiles fired from ships. Being so hard, it is also used extensively in the armour plating of tanks and armoured cars.

DU is a pyroforic metal, meaning it burns. The bullets and large calibre shells are actually on fire when they come out of the gun barrel because they are ignited by the friction in the barrel and explode on contact — armour piercing incendiary ammunition. Most of the DU metal becomes a metal vapour, so it is really a radioactive gas weapon once the initial destruction has occurred. DU weaponry are nuclear weapons. No question.

However, the military use of DU violates current international law including the principle that there is no unlimited right to choose the means and methods of warfare.

When speaking of the quantities of DU used in various wars it is worth understanding that the amount of uranium used in the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima was approximately 13kg, about the size of a two-litre milk container. A Japanese professor, Dr. K. Yagasaki, has calculated that in terms of the atomicity, (the amount of radiation produced), a ton of DU used on the battlefield releases the equivalent of 100 Hiroshima bombs worth of radiation released into the atmosphere. Thus when experts refer to the 2000 tons of DU dropped on Iraq in the past three years, what is being released in the Iraqi atmosphere, and then spreading worldwide, is the equivalent of 200,000 Hiroshima bombs. The total amount of DU the US has used since 1991 is approximately 4600 tons (1000 in the first Gulf War, 800 in Kosovo, 800 in Afghanistan and a further 2000 tons in the current Iraq war.) This amounts to approximately 460,000 Hiroshima bombs, ten times the amount of radiation released into the atmosphere from all previous nuclear testing worldwide.

Sailors sort blue-tipped depleted uranium MK-38 25mm machine-gun shells while another fires them out to sea in exercises at Shoalwater Bay. Notice the protective clothing and gloves.

Gulf War Syndrome

Over the past 18 months there has been an erupting scandal in the US in the Department of Veterans Affairs as DU is blamed by more and more respected scientists for Gulf War Syndrome (and also, Balkans War Syndrome).

Of the 580,000 US soldiers that served in Iraq in 1991, by mid 2004 518,739 were on medical disability pensions. This figure is 150,000 higher than just one year earlier. There are no more recent statistics, but it would appear that by now the percentages of soldiers affected would be reaching 100%

According to Leuren Moret in a group of 251 soldiers from a study group in Mississippi who had all had normal babies before the first Gulf War, 67% of their post-war babies were born with severe birth defects. They were born with missing legs, arms, organs or eyes or had immune system and blood diseases. In some veterans' families now, the only normal or healthy members of the family are the children born before the war. 'The use of depleted uranium weapons is a crime against humanity, a crime against all species, and a war against the earth,' says Moret. ‘It is imperative that we demand a permanent international moratorium on the sale and the use of depleted uranium weaponry.'

DU: Coming to a country near you 

A 20-year agreement was signed last year between the United States and Australia, the specific terms of which are secret, but which allows the US military to train and test its latest weapons in Australia. This involves bombing ranges in the pristine Shoalwater Bay near Rockhampton in Queensland and at Lancelin, the lobster fishing village 150kms north of Perth where there would be ship-to-shore bombing from nuclear powered and capable US navy ships.

Also in the Northern Territory a ‘test' bombing range has been designated where B52s and Stealth bombers will, as of January 06, and as you read this, be dumping their payloads on their flights from Guam. The US Navy uses DU in its shelling, and the B52s will be most likely (presumably they will be testing the weapons they actually use) carrying bunker buster bombs with their 2.2 tons of DU each. Retrospective legislation was passed to remove the need for any Environmental Impact Study (EIS) before or after the duration of this agreement.

When asked in the Australian Senate about whether or not the US would be using DU in its bombing of Australian sites, Defence Minister Senator Hill said, ‘In relation to Depleted Uranium used by our allies we have said that, if they believe it is the most appropriate element to use in their particular munitions in certain circumstances, we do not think it is appropriate for us to press a different view upon them.' Senator Hill has since retired from Australian politics and has taken up residence as the Australian UN Ambassador in New York

The death economy

More and more it appears that the things which are most important are simply those that generate the biggest growth in profits, in the GDP. Sickness generates business, cancer rates generate research dollars, war accelerates growth, and we wonder why peace is so elusive when we worship the economy. The following is equally applicable to Australia now as it was to the US in the 1960s.

Too much and for too long we seem to have surrendered personal excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our gross national product now is over $800 billion a year.

But that gross national product, if we judge the United States of America by that, counts air pollution, and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors, and the jails for people who break them. It counts the destruction of redwoods and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and it counts nuclear warheads, and armoured cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities. It counts Whitman's rifle and Speck's knife, and the television program which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.

Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our passion nor our devotion to our country.

It measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it can tell us everything about America — except why we are proud that we are Americans.

— Robert Kennedy, 18/3/1968

Ultimately we do not know how much DU is being used in Shoalwater Bay, or Lancelin or dumped daily in the Northern Territory.

We do know that Japan, the Philippines and Puerto Rica no longer allow the US to bomb their lands with DU, and that there is no ship-to-shore bombing allowed anymore on the US mainland.

We know that there are hundreds of very vocal groups in opposition worldwide to the use of DU, who have devoted their lives to this issue.

We also know that the US government does not particularly care about the safety of their troops or anyone else's, and is seemingly content to poison the world for eternity, and poison themselves in the process. We know that weapons usage is classified and that such information will never be freely supplied to the Australian people, while nuclear powered and armed ships are cruising the waters of the Great Barrier Reef. In January, the largest nuclear powered and capable aircraft carrier in the world, boasting 6000 marines on board, docked in Brisbane.

If the contamination of Shoalwater Bay and Lancelin is anything like Iraq, Kosovo, or Afghanistan, then the vicinity of these places should be avoided. But it would be a mistake to think that the troubles are confined to those areas. The beef and pineapples from Rockhampton, and the seafood from Lancelin, could be contaminated and end up on your bbq. After this article was first published a reader contacted the West Australian Government who assured them that the Federal Government had told them, in writing, that DU was not being used in WA. The Federal Government may in fact believe what it is saying, but given the photo that appeared on the US Navy's own website, of DU shells being loaded into a ship's gun in Shoalwater Bay (see , scroll to near bottom of page), it beggars belief that they would not be using DU in WA. After all, according to the Defence Department, DU is perfectly safe. They test weapons that they use, and they certainly use DU weapons.

According to Leuren Moret, it is simply no longer possible to go to Afghanistan or the Middle East without being contaminated. How long before that is also true of Australia?

There are questions that need to be asked by everyone related to the integrity of our political leadership.

Does our government have our best interests in mind

• when they sign up for bombardments on Australian soil and in Australian waters by DU tipped weaponry?

• when they refuse to stipulate that no nuclear weapons are to be used on our shores, and will they guarantee that our children will not grow up breathing in DU nanoparticles?

• when they sign up for Son of Star Wars , which will cost in excess of $50 billion? (To protect us from what? Who?)

Does our government have our best interests in mind when they decide to sequester large tracts of land in the Northern Territory for eternity for a nuclear dump, so the US and UK can dump their ‘spent' nuclear fuel and we can export more uranium?

Do they have our best interests at heart when they sign up for a de facto [unshielded] nuclear dump under the guise of a joint bombing facility in the Northern Territory?

Who is running the agenda that says that all of a sudden it is OK to talk about new nuclear power stations as if nuclear power is an answer to global warming? David Goodstein, professor of physics at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) said on ABC's Lateline in October 2004 that if nuclear power were to provide all of the energy that fossil fuel currently provides there would be enough uranium for just 10 years!

Westinghouse and GE build most of the nuclear power stations in the world, and also happen to own significant stakes in most major media companies in the US, which is largely why no real discussion will arise from the US on this issue. Nuclear power becomes unviable if the cost of disposing of the DU is factored in, which is why it is given to the Pentagon. Now Australia wants to expand the number and size of its uranium mines to sell to India and China (Who knows how they will dispose of their DU!). Now Australia, thanks to John Howard, is talking seriously about building power stations when our largest single electricity supplier, the Snowy Mountains company, is running at 13% capacity! (SMH,24/5/06)

Together we need to do something. Research the internet, find out for yourself what the DU debate is about. Do the research before you speak to anyone so you know what you are talking about, as you will find that most people will not want to believe that this is happening. The list of websites supplied at the end of this article is by no means definitive, but is a good place to start. Get in touch with any of the many groups that have mobilised over this issue all over the world. Start your own group. Do not let the size of the opposition and the scale of the ignorance and unwillingness to know the truth that you will be confronted with, convince you that you are helpless and cannot do anything about DU. This is what they depend on .

Contact your local politician, and do not accept anything that smells like a brush-off. This may well be the most important thing you ever do.

Buy a copy and arrange a showing of the film Blowin' in the Wind at your local cinema, and get your local community radio station to broadcast talks, interviews and lectures like those available on or and many other websites.

If you live or holiday near the affected areas, make lots of noise with the local councillors and media. Be disobedient. Be seditious. Get the use of DU weaponry stopped. It is nuclear weaponry.

Find out who provides the Public Liability insurance for the army, and does that insurer know the risks associated with DU? Perhaps the way to stop this is through the public liability requirements that the Australian population is tied up with. Any insurance lawyers out there?

This is our home that is being poisoned. It is our country. Demand that it is respected and protected for our children and their children. History will not forgive us if we stand by idly.


This article was first published in byronchild magazine, issue 17 (

Alok O'Brien is a writer and publisher who believes that there is no longer time to pretend that everything will be alright, and that all thinking and feeling people need to unite in their hopes and dreams and reclaim the earth and their birthright before it is too late. With wife Kali he publishes byronchild and holds together the technical aspect of the magazine. For a pdf version of this article for photocopying and/or reprinting, email Alok at


• Depleted uranium: Dirty bombs, dirty missiles, dirty bullets , by Leuren Moret

• Depleted Uranium Shells, The Radioactive Weapons: Perpetuation of War Damage by Radiation (PDF) Prof. Katsuma Yagasaki Professor, University of the Ryukyus.

Discussion on DU in Australian Senate, June 2003

US Nuclear policy and Depleted Uranium: Testimony at the 28/6/2003 International War Crimes Tribunal on Afghanistan, by Leuren Moret

Depleted Uranium101, by Glen Lawrence.

Shoalwater Bay Photos, US Navy website,

What you can do?

Activists websites


Dusk: Depleted uranium, Silent Killer

IDUST. International Depleted Uranium Study Team

Campaign Against Depleted Uranium (UK)

Sea Swap. Lancellin bombing, Western Australia, DU.

Irati Want. Site related to proposed nuclear dump in South Australia.

Depleted Uranium Education Project

Depleted Uranium: Hysteria or health threat? Anti Nuclear Alliance of Western Australia website

WISE (World Information Service on Energy) Uranium Project.

Map of Uranium mines and facilities in Australia:

DVDs, radio interviews, talks


• Blowin' In The Wind , DVD by David Bradbury, Peter Scott.

• The Doctor, the Depleted Uranium and the Dying Children. German documentary exposes current radioactive warfare in Iraq

DU discussion with Leuren Moret and others, USA

Dr. Doug Rokke, USA,

Further reading


What does the US government know about DU? By Leuren Moret

Selected resources for Depleted Uranium information

Depleted Uranium: Origin, properties, and health consequences, One of many articles/studies by Glen Lawrence, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Long Island University, Brooklyn, NY 11201.

The Depleted Uranium Project

Depleted uranium and health: Facts and helpful suggestions

‘The Trail of a Bullet,' Christian Science Monitor .

Heads roll at Veteran's Admin: Mushrooming DU scandal blamed, Bob Nichols, San Francisco Bay View, December 14, 2005.

DU FAQ. What the Pentagon has to say

Local troops victims of America's high tech weapons. Juan Gonzalez, New York Daily News , April 2, 2004.

Radioactive Wounds of War. Dave Lindorff, In These Times , August 25, 2005

‘Where and how much depleted uranium has been fired?'

Depleted Uranium Weapons and Acute Post- War Health Effects: An IPPNW (International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War) Assessment.

• American Free Press four-part series on DU by Christopher Bollyn.

- Part I: ‘Depleted Uranium: US commits war crime against Iraq, humanity,'

- Part II: ‘Cancer epidemic caused by US WMD: MD says depleted uranium definitively implicated'

- Part III: ‘DU Syndrome stricken Vets denied care: Pentagon hides DU dangers to deny medical care to Vets',

- Part IV: Pentagon Brass suppresses truth about Toxic Weapons: poisonous uranium munitions threaten world,

Depleted Uranium: The Trojan Horse of Nuclear War. Leuren Moret: August 2004. World Affairs Journal.

‘Marin Depleted Uranium resolution heats up - GI's will come home to a slow death,' Carol Sterrit: August 2004 Coastal Post Online.

World Depleted Uranium Weapons Conference, Hamburg, Germany, October 16-19, 2004:

International Criminal Tribunal for Afghanistan. Written opinion of Judge Niloufer Baghwat:

Discounted Casualties: The human cost of Nuclear war. Series of articles. Akira Tashiro, foreword by Leuren Moret.

Depleted uranium may stop kidneys ‘in days', Rob Edwards, , March 12, 2002

The War Against Ourselves, Doug Rokke, YES! , Spring 2003.

Science or Science Fiction? Facts, myths and propaganda in the debate over depleted uranium weapons, Dan Fahey, March 12, 2003.

US Army Training Video: Depleted Uranium Hazard Awareness

Extreme birth deformities of Iraqi children (Warning: these photos may distress viewers)

Deadly 'Depleted' Uranium used in LEBANON by Israël »As the Iraq war intensifies, recall Saddam's contempt »The hysterical road from the Sept. 11 attacks to Fallujah »Ban DU until it is proven harmless »A sea of new challenges: Iran and postwar Iraq »The Gaza turmoil renewed demands for Palestinian reform »The ominous backlash of an attack against Iran »Release Palestinian prisoners and favor the peacemakers »Israelis, read the writing on wall »A 'victory' that looks suspiciously like a Syrian defeat »A conference that supported Allawi, but less so democracy »Too little too late in Kuwait »Fight terror with less force and more flexibility

The hysterical road from the Sept. 11 attacks to Fallujah

By Rami G. Khouri
Daily Star staff
Wednesday, September 15, 2004

It was not inevitable, but this is how it turned out: Three years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks when Arab terrorists used commercial planes to strike the United States, the U.S. Army is using its planes to attack individual houses in Fallujah. For the past five days, American planes have bombed targets in Fallujah, routinely killing 15, 20 or 30 people at a time. The U.S. Marines carrying out the attack say they are killing members of the Al-Qaeda-related terror group headed by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, while Iraqis on the ground say many of the dead are civilians, including women and children.

President George W. Bush argues that Iraq is the front line in the "war against terror." If this is true - which most of the world doubts - then we have two large problems on our hands, and not only the terror problem that erupted on Sept. 11: the war against terror is not being won, and terrorist networks and incidents are expanding steadily around the world.

The single most common emotion that describes the prevalent attitudes toward terror and anti-terror in the U.S. and the Arab-Asian region is probably hysteria. Bush and his ice-hearted Republican political strategists have crassly exploited the shock, fear and bewilderment that gripped Americans on Sept. 11 and turned the U.S. into a hysterical arena defined by a peculiar combination of exaggerated jingoism and militarism as the appropriate response to a constant perceived threat. The Arab-Asian region that spawns much global terror suffers a parallel hysteria, manifested in slightly different ways among three sectors of society: The bombers and killers are more active than ever, against innocent civilians in most cases; government authorities use police powers more forcefully to stamp out terror, with very mixed results; and the vast masses of the public have essentially suspended their humanity and shelved their emotions and basic values, neither condemning the terrorists very clearly nor supporting their governments or the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

Otherwise rational people everywhere have been transformed into agents of emotional and political fury, using and accepting severe violence as an inevitable consequence of our times. The political iconography in both worlds is frightening: an American president who brandishes his fighter jets, and Arab-Islamic terrorists who brandish long knives for cutting off the head of foreigners. And so, perhaps inevitably, we find ourselves again following events in Fallujah.

This Iraqi city west of Baghdad, like Najaf a month ago, is this week's symbol of hysteria's crazed consequences, for both Iraqis and Americans. The U.S. Army surrounded and bombed Fallujah in April, killing hundreds of Iraqis, but then pulled back when the cost in public opinion terms around the Middle East and the world seemed too high. Now the Marines are attacking again, but in a very different political context marked by many more daily attacks against the U.S. occupation army and Iraqi government targets.

One reason for the stepped up attacks against the U.S. and Iraqi governing forces is the backlash from the April attacks in Fallujah, and other American attacks since then against other Iraqi cities. With every American military assault against Iraqis defending their own homeland, more Iraqis emerge from the experience hardened, angry and determined to kill Americans - i.e., hysterical, willing to fight to the death, wanting only to hurt or humiliate the United States and its partners in occupation.

This is a strange and bitter place to find ourselves three years after the Sept. 11 attacks, which were seen by people everywhere as a horrendous and unjustifiable crime against Americans and the world. Bush's militantly hysterical foreign policy that claims to fight terror in fact has been a major global catalyst and recruiting agent for terror. Najaf, Fallujah, Ramadi, Baqouba and other Iraqi towns did not exist in the American political or popular imagination three years ago. Today, many citizens in those towns only wish to haunt, terrorize and kill Americans, and militants from other countries join them as well. In this respect, Osama bin Laden has lured Bush into a trap.

How did we get from the crimes of Sept. 11 to the shared hysteria of Fallujah? One of the disappointments of the past three years, in my view, has been the low priority given to assessing the nature and efficacy of the American-led war against terror. Such an effort that impacts on the entire world cannot be left to the inhumanly calculating political operatives of the Bush White House and the Republican Party. The United States needs and deserves the world's help in responding more effectively and rationally to the attacks of Sept. 11.

As important as how we got to Fallujah is how we get out of it, what to do next to stop and reverse the growing global terror industry. It is morally and politically unacceptable for the world to watch on television as Donald Rumsfeld and Osama bin Laden slug it out in a duel of two crazed gladiators who will only end up killing each other and inflicting immense casualties on innocent people in their respective societies.

As we enter into the fourth year since the Sept. 11 attacks, all of us in the U.S. and the Arab world are challenged to acknowledge that Fallujah and all it represents is not the answer to the Sept. 11 terror against the U.S.

There must be a better answer, and it can only be found through a closer consultative political partnership between Washington and the rest of the world - one that would replace hysteria by rationality, and militarism by sound political and economic foreign policy.

Rami G. Khouri is executive editor of THE DAILY STAR

Depleted Uranium Radioactive Contamination In Iraq: An Overview
Dr. Souad N. Al-Azzawi
Assoc. Prof. / Mamoun Univ. for Science & Technology
Member of the BRussells Tribunal Advisory Committee
Presented at The 3rd ICBUW International Conference Hiroshima, August 3-6, 2006.
[ Powerpoint presentation ]
[ PDF file ]

Depleted Uranium Radioactive Contamination In Iraq: An Overview

Dr. Souad N. Al-Azzawi

Assoc. Prof. / Mamoun Univ. for Science & Technology

Member of the BRussells Tribunal Advisory Committee

Presented at The 3rd ICBUW International Conference Hiroshima, August 3-6, 2006.

[ Powerpoint presentation ]

[ PDF file ]


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


1.0 Introduction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Air Pollution burning of

Water pollution, release of

Soil Pollution


224,000 m3 of Hydrocarbons burning and crude oils

Soot of burning 2000 rubber tires

300 m³/hr sewage released to soil and Tigris river

Underground storage fuel tanks rupture and leaks


551 m³ of gas oil

167 m³ gasoline and kerosene

300 liters of HCl

835 Kg of Sodium Hypochlorites

1150 rubber tire burning

Release of 1000 m³ of gas oils to surface water

41,457 liters of gas oil to soil


No record

40 liters of transformer oils

250 m³ of oil


4,681,000 m³ of crude oil

910 m³ gas oil

285 m³ naphtha

20 × 106 m³ H2S gas

200 m³ liquid gas

50 m³ gasoline

4000 burning of rubber tires

No records

60 m³ engine oils

50 l of conc. Acid H2SO4

53,674,000 m³ crude oil


6,228,000 m³ of light fuel

8,250,000 m³ of naphtha

288,000 m³ of heavy oils (hydrocarbons)

13,000 m³ turbine

10 m³ engine oil

20 m³ transformers oils

200 tons of ammonium hydroxides


10 m³ of oils


3,188,000 m³ heavy oils

235,910 m³ of liquefied gas

18,000 tons of raw sulfur

53,600 tons of liquid sulfur

No records

223,000 m³ crude oils

100 m³ kerosene

5,616 tons of H2SO4

180 tons of other acids


1,250,000 m³ of gas oil

No records

3000 m³ of gas oil

3000 m³ of turbine oils


150 m³ of heavy oils

35 m³ of turbine oils

240,000 m³ gas oils

30,000 m³ oils

No records

250,000 m³ gas oils


36,000 m³ heavy oils

No records

No records


2000 m³ kerosene

11,000 m³ gasoline

11,000 m³ crude oils

No records

No records


23,000 rubber tires burning

Plastic and rubbr pipes

No records

1000 m³ fuel oil pesticides


86,240 m³ of oils

36,729 rubber tires and pipes

No records

No records

Thi Qar

1000 m³ gasoline

No records

10 tons of garbage


No records

No records

4 kg of cyanide


7,032,000 m³ heavy naphtha

84,824 m³ gasoline

20,000 m³ heavy oils

547 m³ solvents

28,000 m³ natural gas

3.4 million barrels of crude oil from carriers

17,000 m³ crude oil

60 m³ kerosene

76 m³ transformers oil

50 m³ turbines oil

15,000 tons sodium hydroxide

40,000 barrels crude oil

1.314 million barrels of crude oil


        The American and British occupation forces are totally responsible for:

1-      Forbidding any release of statistics related to civilian casualties after the occupation  [8].

2-      Refusal to clean up contaminated areas [9].

3-      Depriving international agencies and Iraqi researchers the right to conduct full (DU) related exploration programs by USA occupation forces [2] to prevent further damages is the best evidence that these forces are covering up their certain conclusive evidence of the harmful health impacts of DU.  

All these acts are crimes against humanity because these weapons are causing undifferentiated harm and suffering to civilians in all contaminated areas. Health effects can range from fatigue and muscular pain to genetic disorder, chromosome aberrations, and malignancies. Existence of DU in the environment will maintain continuous exposure to both toxic and radioactive effects which represent continuous systematic attacks on civilians in an armed conflict  (Article 4 of the official regulations and article 7 of ICC).  

In this paper the genuine scientific efforts of the Iraqi scientists and researchers who tried hard to define and prove the (DU) contaminated areas in southern Iraq and its health consequences will be reviewed. 

Most of these researches couldn’t find their way to international peer-reviewed journals because of the comprehensive sanctions imposed on Iraq, even thought they have been published in Iraqi universities scientific peer-reviewed journals. 

We feel obligated to let the world know that some of these researches cost the authors their lives e.g. Dr. Alim Abdul Hameed Yacoub who was killed, along with his son,  when his car was forced off the highway on the way to his home town of Basrah after being attacked twice at his home by pro-occupation militias two weeks before his death. They cost other researchers their freedom, such as Dr. Huda Ammash who was accused of being (Lady Anthrax) and imprisoned without any real accusation for 3 years. 

The assassination of 250 Iraqi scientists after Iraq’s invasion by occupation militias is the best way not to continue any kind of research including DU-related research [12] in occupied Iraq.

2.0           Schemes of DU related research that have been conducted and published in Iraq (1991-2003): 

We can classify research and studies that have been conducted by Iraqi researchers into the following schemes: 

2.1    Detection and modeling of DU contamination through site measurements and laboratory tests. 

In 1993 the first Iraqi team of researchers from the Iraqi Atomic Commission and  the science college of Baghdad University [7] [13] investigated the increase of DU related radioactivity in selected areas west of Al-Basrah where destroyed tanks and vehicles with DU ammunition were still laying around. The areas were: Northern Rumaila oil fields, Al-Shamia, Kharanje, Rumaila and Jabal Sanam. Exposure measurements revealed the existence of DU contamination in the studied areas. Tables 1, 2, and 3 show the results of these measurements. 

Table (2) Field Measurements at North Rumaila Area [7]


Type of Chose Sample


Chosen Sample


Armoured Personnel Carrier BMB-1




Armoured Personnel Carrier MTLB




T-72 Tank




Rescue Tank




Table (3) Field Measurements at Shamia Airffield /Gudairat al-Audhaimi Area [7]


Type of Chose Sample


Chosen Sample


T-72 Tank




Armoured Personnel Carrier (Watercan)




Far away area from chosen sample (1)/ T-72




Far away area from chosen sample (2)/ Watercan




Table (4) Field Measurements at DMZ and Surrounding Area [7]


Type of Chose Sample


Chosen Sample


Unexploded DU Warhead (near Karrange Oil Pumping Station on the Iraqi-Saudi border




Tank/T-55 (between crossroads Nos. 13 and 14)




Tank/T-72 (No. 16107)




Tank/T-55 (left of crossroads No. 9)




Tank/T-72 (near international observation post between crossroads Nos. 12 and 13)




Tank/T-72 (south west on Mount Sanam)



 * Exposure measurements (Micro Roentgen/hr)

 In 1996 Al-Azzawi and her team conducted a comprehensive exploration program through the Environmental Engineering Deptartment in Baghdad University [14], [15], [16], [17], [18], [19] (Al-Azzawi et al).  The program involved taking hundreds of exposure measurements, soil samples, surface waterway channels, sediments and bio-samples from vegetation cover, fish and grazing animal tissues from areas of heavy military engagement during the first Gulf War  like Safwan, Jabal Sanam, al-Zubair, Northern Rumaila oil fields, and Southern Rumaila Oil Fields (Figures 1 and 2). 

Scintillation counters were used for exposure measurements and high purity germanium detectors for soil and sediment samples, surface and ground water samples and bio-samples. 

Selected measurements from exploration program results are shown in (Table 5). Modeling pollution transport from hundreds of destroyed artilleries to surrounding areas showed the following extensions of DU contamination in the area from 1991 – 1996 [17] [18] [19]: 

-          1718 km² of soil contaminated with DU oxides and particles,

-          140,000 m² of channel sediments,

-          845, 100 tons of vegetation cover 


Table 5 : Selected Exposure and Soil Radioactivity Measurements [15] 

Sample Symbol


Type of Sampled Target

Exposure µR/hr

Activity Concentration in Soil (Bq/Kg)



U235 / U 238


Northern Jabal Sanam







Northern Jabal Sanam







Jabal Sanam







Jabal Sanam







NW Jabal Sanam







North Safwan City







North Safwan City







Northern Rumeila Oil Field







Northern Rumeila Oil Field







Northern Rumeila Oil Field







Southern Rumaila Oil Field







Southern Rumaila Oil Field







Southern Rumaila Oil Field







Southern Rumaila Oil Field







Jabal Sanam






T: Destroyed Tank        A: Destroyed Armored Vehicle


Risk assessment related to previous measurements showed that people in the western part of Basrah City, and the Iraqi and American troops received a total whole body radioactive dosage of (442 – 577) mSv [20] [21], mostly in the first six months of 1991 Gulf War military operations.  

In 1999 – 2000 a follow-up exploration program in the same area was done by the Environmental Engineering Department (Al-Azzawi et al) through which site exposure, and soil sediments, water samples, and laboratory tests were also conducted in previously studied areas plus areas where most of the DU contaminated tanks were gathered, on the banks of Wafaa Al Qaied waterway causing further contamination [22] [23].  

Results of this program indicated the existence of slightly higher radioactivity in some of the areas, but generally sand storms and the weathering process contributed to the dispersion of these contaminants to nearby populated areas. Table (6) shows conclusions of the the results of these tests and measurements. 

Table (6): Conclusion of (1999 – 2000) Exploration Program in Basrah 

Type of Measurement

No. A *

No. B **

Range of Measurements

Background Levels





8.2 – 11.6

4 – 7





80 – 788

42 – 70


Surface and Ground Water



Not detected

Not detected


Waterway Sediment Samples



50 – 85

30 – 40


 *  No. A: Number of Samples

** No. B: Number of Samples with Higher Activity 

Also in 1999-2000 Al-Azzawi, Maarouf and Al-Mousori investigated the possibility of radiological contamination in Ninevah Governorate and its center Mosul City [Northern Iraq (Map 2)] after being attacked during 1999 by new generations (AGM 154 J50W) of Cruise missiles on three targets on the eastern bank of Tigris River in Mosul city. The program also involved checking the extension of Chernobyl plume on Iraqi territories after 13 years [24].

Results of this program (Table 7) showed slightly higher radioactivity in and around destroyed targeted areas than other areas of Mosul and Ninevah governerate. These results proved that Cruise Missiles also contain DU. 

Table (7): Conclusion of Ninevah and Mosul City Exploration Program of 2000 [24] 

Type of Measurement


No. A *

No. B **

Range of Measurements

Background Levels






8.5 – 14




Mosul City



8.5 – 14







80 – 107




Mosul City



100 – 142




Mosul City






                         *  No. A: Number of Samples

** No. B: Number of Samples with Higher Activity  

Tawfiq, N. F. et al in 2000 [25] measured alpha-emitters concentrations in soil samples from different Iraqi cities using Solid State Nuclear Track detectors CR-39 and CN-85. Her team found out that high concentration radioisotopes of (7.8) ppm was measured in Muthana governorate. The Dutch troops later in 2003 refused to camp in the center of Muthana, Samawa City, due to high DU related radioactivity detection by those troops. After a few days they finally moved to a nearby desert area [26]. It was also confirmed by Dr. Durakovich that New York Guardsmen serving in Samawe during 2003 were exposed to DU [27]. Other cities with high radioisotope concentrations are   Basrah (7.2) ppm, Nasria(Al-Shatra)(6.2) ppm. Generally, locations where the Iraqi withdrawing tanks were intercepted by US troops, and where the massacre of February 27 occurred- and Iraqi POWs were buried alive under the order of General Macaffery [28].  

In 2000, Al-Gurabi, S. and her team measured DU related increases in radioactivity along the areas bordering Kuwait and Saudia Arabia. They also measured Northern Rumaila Oil Field areas and northwest Basrah City [3]. Results showed higher activity concentrations of DU related radioisotopes in all investigated areas except the center of Basrah City.  

In 2001-2002 Butras, Wartan and Butras [29] measured radioactivity in three different areas of Basrah using Alpha and Beta measuring LB1200 detectors. The measured areas:

A: Iraqi-Saudi-Kuwaiti borders

B: Qurna, Zubair, Faw and Umm Kasir seaport.

C: Shatt Al-Arab district in Basrah 

Results proved the existence of higher radioactivity measurements than background levels of (18*10-3) mRm/hr in area (A) after 10 years of the war. Umm Kasir area registered (10 * 10-3 ) mRm/hr.  Normal background levels in the area are within the range of 7 – 8 * 10-3 mRm/hr [34]. 

In 2000, Al-Kinani, et al [30] collected (11) soil samples from Safwan, S. Rumaila and unarmed border zone using gamma radiation detector. Results indicated that (7) of these samples were contaminated with DU radioisotopes. Sample (SSI) U235/U238 ratio was found to be (0.00351) which indicates highly DU contamination under that destroyed tank. Other ratios ranged between (0.0041-0.0037). 

Dozens of other studies were made and published in Arabic or English peer-reviewed scientific journals of various Iraqi universities. The published investigation programs were all conducted by well-known professors and researchers who followed the IAEA and other international scientific standards procedures. All research and radiological laboratory tests that were done in conjunction of the environmental department of the Iraqi Atomic Commission were searched and reviewed by periodic inspection teams of the IAEA who were checking the IAEC activities throughout the nineties until the invasion of Iraq in 2003.  

A UNEP report in 2005 specified the existence of 311 sites related to DU contamination without any measurements [43].

2.2           Epidemiological Studies Related to (DU) Contamination Health Effects:

Epidemiological studies about the correlation between (DU) radioactive contamination and the increase of malignancies incidence rates in Basrah Governorate  have been noticed and studied by Al-Basra college of Medicine faculty members since 1995. Some of these studies were published in the University of Basrah Medical Journal. Others were presented in the two Iraqi conferences about the effect of economical sanction and the (DU) weaponry use against the human and environment in Iraq, held in 1998 and 2002 respectively. 

Results of these studies pointed out very important facts concerning the direct correlation between DU radiological contamination and the resulted increase of the related diseases in geographically contaminated areas. Among others, the following studies are specifically important: 

-          1998: Alim Yacoub et al [31] [32] presented an analysis of recorded cases of registered malignant diseases among children under 15 years of age in Basrah for the period (1990 – 1997). This analysis showed a rise of 60% in children’s leukemia from 1990 to 1997. Also, a 120% increase in all malignant cases among children under the age of 15 for the same period were registered. The study also showed the shift of age distribution of leukemia cases towards younger, than 5 years of  age from 13% in 1990 to 41% of total cases in 1997. 

-          1998 Al-Sadoon, et al [33] showed a three fold increase in congenital malformations registered cases in 1998 compared to 1990. Congenital heart diseases, chromosomal aberrations, and multiple malformations all indicate exposure to teratogenic environmental factor. 

-          In 1998,  Alim Yacoub et, al [34] also introduced an analysis of the incidence and pattern of malignant diseases in Basra from the analysis of the histo-pathological reports of Basra University Teaching Hospital for the period 1990-1997. The study indicated that there was a rise of about 160% in reported cases of uterine cancer in 1997 compared to 1990 and an increase of 143% in thyroid cancer cases in 1997 compared to 1990 recordings. Also a 102% increase in breast cancer  and 82% rise in lymphomas in 1997 compared to 1990. The shift in the types of the five major leading malignancies in Basrah in 1997 were malignant diseases such as breast, bladder, lymphomas, uterine, and skin cancers. While those of 1990 were malignant diseases of bladder, skin, breast, lung and larynx.  

-          2002: Alim Yacoub, Imad Al-Sadoon and Jenan Hasan presented a paper [35] that examines the association between exposure to DU radiation and the rising incidence of malignancies among children in Basra through time sequence criteria, and dose-response criteria through the geographical shift of the increase of incidence rates in Al-Zubair and other western areas from less than 5/100,000 prior to 1993 to 22/100,000 in 2000  compared to only Al-Hartha area (north of Basrah) only prior to 1993 (with highest incidence rates of > 10/100,000 in 1993). They also tested the biological plausibility criteria through the shift of the increase of leukemia incidence rate towards younger ages of less than 5 years old after 1995. Figures 3, 4, and 5 conclude these results. 

Yacoub et al, 2002, couldn’t explain the reason for the constant increase of malignancies incidence rates among children in Al-Hartha district in northern Basrah City, figure 2,  from (10 incidents / 100,000) to (42.7 / 100,000) in the year 2000. This can be explained by the existence of the largest electrical power generation and transformation facilities in Iraq of 800 MW. This power plant was destroyed during air raids several times in 1991. Nobody measured the radioactivity in Al-Hartha, which might also have been destroyed with DU bombing.

-          2002: Abbas Ali & Jawad Ali [26] presented an evaluation of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) annual incidence which started to rise from 1995 up to the year 2000, when the increase began to plateau. 



 2.3           DU Effects on Human Health Pathological Studies: 

1998: Huda Ammash- Professor of Molecular Biology in the Science College of the University of Baghdad-  presented a paper on the mechanisms of toxicity induced by free radicals resulting from irradiation with DU and ionization of the atmosphere in Iraq [37][38]. This paper pinpointed the need for DU toxicity researches on enzymes (SOD), Caralase, hydrogenates and Glyceraldehydes Dehydrogenates levels. She also presented the multiaborative cases on the DNA level where out of 50 studied cases, 29 cases were found with DNA abnormalities (with no hereditary evidence). Other multiaborative cases investigating the toxoplasmosis effect showed that out of 130 cases,  over 65% more were infected than those recorded in 1989. 

2002: Muhammed, Z.T. et al [39] published a paper about the effects of DU radiation on the human immune system enzyme. A group of (26) Iraqi veterans who were exposed to DU radiation with (43) control individuals were all subjected to tests for Adenosine DA Amines (ADN) enzyme activity. Results indicated mean activity of the enzyme of the exposed individuals of (0.184 ±0.016) U/g protein, while the unexposed individuals enzyme activity (0.291 ±0.022)U/mg protein. 

ADA enzyme activity in the exposed individuals were found to be significantly lower than the control group. P<0.05 significant correlation  coefficient was found between ADA activity as an important immune enzyme and related clinical signs and symptoms related to defective cellular immune functions. 

2002: Ammash, H., Alwan, L. and Marouf, B.A. published a paper (in Arabic) [40] about the results of Genetic hematological analysis for a group of individuals lives in DU contaminated areas southern Iraq. Blood tests for the (47) individuals who lived in Basra contaminated areas and other (30) individuals as a control group who lived in Baghdad were conducted with the study of other clinical and correlated factors.  

Blood tests included hemoglobin concentration, packed cell volume test (PCV), total count (WBC) test and chromosomal changes and defects tests. Factors such as exposure type and exposure time due to nature of work were taken into consideration  (45% of the studied groups are from Iraqi troops who were involved in military engagements of the Gulf War 1). The others were civilians who lived in contaminated areas. 

The test results of the study clearly showed that a 21% of the studied individuals in Basrah group suffered a reduction in hemoglobin concentration of (9-13) g/dl.

The other 79% of the individuals from Al-Basrah studied groups with normal hemoglobin concentrations of (12-15) g/dl and (13-18) g/dl for males and females in the group respectively. 

The blood Packed Cell Volume (PCV) test results showed that 25.5% of the Basrah study group showed abnormal (PCV) rates of (30-39)% less than the normal rate. One male’s individual blood (PCV) was 3% higher than normal. Other individuals’ blood (PCV) in the studied group had normal rates ranging between (40-54)%. 

Total count of white blood cells (WBC) test results showed that 8% of the individuals in the Basrah study group have (WBC) less than normal which is 4000 c/ml or higher than the normal rate or (11000) c/ml. Control group individuals all had normal (WBC). 

Compound chromosomal changes in the lymphocytes of periphal blood of the individuals of the Basrah studied group have been found at a ratio of (0.1118)% which is significantly higher than that of the control group. The ratio of dicenteric and ringcentric chromosomal abnormality fraction was found to be (0.04479) which is also higher than ordinary ratio. Chromosomal damages were mostly in male veteran individuals. One case was that of a 13-year-old at the time of exposure in Al-Zubair contaminated area. 

In 2000: From the Veterinary College of Basrah University,  Khadier, A.A. et al [41] conducted a study to detect levels of DU related radioactivity in pastures and animals within the contaminated areas of Safwan, Al-Zubair, N. Rumaila, Jabal Sanam, Kharanje Village, etc.  

Blood samples from sheep and other grazing animals were collected. Analysis of blood samples using Lyoluminescence  and Track Detectors proved the existing of very small concentrations of radioisotopes in a few sheep that fed from and around the destroyed artillery and tanks within the studied areas. It is believed the polluted dust on the leaves was the source of radioisotopes in the tested blood samples. 

2002: Al-Sadi, H.I. and Sawad, A. [42] from the Veterinary College of the University of Basrah also presented a study about the pathological conditions of the  animals in Basrah. The study reported the existing of three types of animal neoplasm; seminoma in rams, mesotheliomas in buffalo, and ovarian cystademonas in bitches.  

These types of neoplasms have never been reported in these regions before the Nineties. Also some types of congenital defects in farm animals have been described. 

3. 0  Conclusion: 

1-      The USA and UK continuously used Depleted Uranium weapons against the population and environment in Iraq from 1991 until today.  

2-     Occupation forces in Iraq intentionally denied and covered up the types, locations and amounts of weapons that were used to prevent taking measures which could reduce health damages resulting from LLR exposure.  

3-     Occupation forces prohibited UNEP, WHO and other international agencies  to conduct any exploration programs to assess the health risks to the people of Iraq of these radioactive contaminants. 

4-     Forbidding the release of any casualty statistics by the health ministry in Iraq right after the occupation is part of the crime that has been continuously committed against Iraq and Iraqis.  

5-     Exploration programs and site measurements proved without a doubt that the existence of DU related radioactive contamination all over most of Iraq (except the northern area of Kurdistan).  

6-     Published epidemiological studies in Basrah introduced a clear correlation between DU related exposure to LLR and the multifold increase of malignancies, congenital malformations and multiple malformations in detected DU contaminated areas.

7-     Other pathological and hematological studies indicated the existence of chromosomal and DNA aberrations and abnormalities in the 1991 Iraqi Gulf War veterans. Other studies proved their effects on lowering the activities of the human immune system in exposed individuals.  

8-     Iraqi researchers’ site measurements of 2000 revealed the fact that the Muthana governorate and Al-Samawa city were contaminated since 1991. This fact was proven by the Dutch troops in 2003, and then the American Guardsmen who served in that area after the invasion and confirmed exposure to DU contamination after coming back home by Dr. Drakovic.  

9-     Intentional continuous use of DU against the people and environment of Iraq is a crime against humanity due to its undifferentiated harmful health impacts on civilian long times after the military operations. Existing DU contamination in the surrounding environment is a continuous source of (LLR) exposure to civilians which can be considered systematic attacks on civilians in an armed conflict. Article 4 of the official regulations and Article 7 of the ICC.  

4.0 Recommendations: 

In light of the stated facts and evidences, the following is recommended: 

1-      Occupation forces must allow UNEP to conduct a full exploration program in Iraq in order to assess human health and environmental damages caused by these weapons since 1991. 

2-     Occupation forces should clearly submit all necessary information and data about the types, amounts, and locations of all DU expenditures that have been used on Iraqi territories. 

3-     Occupation forces should allow WHO to conduct comprehensive health surveys and investigations in DU contaminated areas to help the Iraqi people and children coping with the consequences of DU related health damages. 

4-     Occupation forces should help in managing all contaminated wreckage and destroyed contaminated artilleries, top soil, waterways, bottom sediments through a comprehensive clean-up and remedy plan.  

5-     The doors for further research must be opened concerning studies about the impact of DU on the population and the environment in Iraq. This includes the release of statistics related to occupation crimes and casualties that have been committed against Iraqi people during the last two decades.  

6-     The accused administrations responsible for committing war crimes against Iraqi people and the environment through subjecting them to this suffering and gradual death as a result of DU weaponry use should be convicted and sentenced for war crimes and crimes against humanity.  

7-     The international community must work together to promote a resolution banning DU weapons as a first step to abolish these weapons from the army arsenals of the countries that currently use them.


1.       Williams, Dai. , 2002, “Hazards of Uranium weapons in proposed war on Iraq”, sept. 22nd, 2002. 

2.      Bernard, K., 2005, “DU: Health and public health issues arising from the use of depleted Uranium munitions”, PSR, October 2005, page 8. 

3.      Al Ghurabi, S. et. al., 2002, “DU pollution in southern Iraq after ten years”, Proceedings of the Conference on the effects of the use of DU weaponry on human and environment in Iraq, published in Arabic, Vol. 1, March 26-27, 2002, Baghdad, Iraq. 

4.      Fahey, Dan, 2003, “Myths about depleted Uranium (DU) munitions”, March 12, 2003. [

5.      Al Omar, M., 1998, “Pollutants released to the environment in the 30th aggression and economic sanctions”, Um Al-Maarek Research Center, published in Arabic, Baghdad, Iraq. 

6.      IDUST, 2000, “Contaminants released to environment during 1991 aggression on Iraq”, 

7.      International Conference on DU, 2000, “Health, ecological, legal, and economic aspects of conventional radioactive weapons”, Committee of Solidarity   with the Arab Cause, Nov. 26-27 2000, Gehone, Spain. 

8.      USA Today, 2003, Iraq’s Health Ministry ordered to stop counting civilian dead from war, Dec. 12 2003. 

9.      Kirby, A., 2003, “US rejects Iraq DU clean-up”, BBC news online, April 14th 2003. 

10.  Busby, C., 2003, “Depleted Science: Health consequences and mechanisms of exposure to fallout from depleted Uranium weapons”, Aberystwyth: Green audit, Occasional paper 2003/06; July 2003. 

11.   Nadeshda, 2004, Iraq/USA/DU: the use of depleted Uranium, 

12.   Brussel Tribunal, 

13.    Iraq Foreign Affairs Ministry, 1995, “Radiation effects”, an official paper submitted by the Iraqi delegation to the briefing meeting on nuclear liability during the 42nd Session of the General Conference, Vienna, 1995. 

14.   Al-Azzawi, S., Maarouf, B., Seleh, M.J., Al-Saji, M., Al-Hilli, W., and Maguar, A., 1997, “Damages resulted from the use of DU weaponry against Iraq”, Technical Report published in Arabic, Environmental Engineering Dept., College of Engineering, University of Baghdad, Baghdad, Iraq, 157pp. 

15.   Al-Azzawi, S., and Al-Saji, M., 1998, “Effects of radioactive on surface and ground water in selected regions in southern Iraq”, Journal of Arabic Universities Association, vol. 6, no. 1, Baghdad, 1999. 

16.   Al-azzawi, S.,, 1999, “Environmental pollution resulting from the use of depleted Uranium weaponry against Iraq during 1991”, the Journal of Arabic Universities Association, college of engineering, university of Baghdad, vol. 6, no. 2, Baghdad, Iraq. 

17.  Al-Hilli, W., 1998, “Effects of radioactive weapons on the soil and air quality in Iraq”, un-published M. Sc. Thesis, environmental engineering dept., college of engineering, University of Baghdad, Baghdad, Iraq.

18.   Al-Saji, M., 1998, “Effects of radiological weapons on surface and groundwater quality in selected areas southern Iraq”, un-published M. Sc. thesis, environmental engineering dept., college of engineering, University of Baghdad, Baghdad, Iraq. 

19.   Maguar, A., 1998, “Effects of radiological pollution on human and the environment in southern Iraq”, un-published M. Sc. thesis, environmental engineering dept., college of engineering, University of Baghdad, Baghdad, Iraq. 

20.  Al-Azzawi, S., and Al Naemi, A., 2002, “Assessment of radiological doses and risks resulted from DU contamination in the highway war zone in al-Basrah governorate”, proceedings of the conference on the effects of the use of DU weaponry on human and environment in Iraq, March 26-27 2002, Baghdad, Iraq. 

21.   Al-Azzawi, S., and Al Naemi, A., 2002, “Risk assessment related to radiological contamination resulted from the use of DU ammunition in al-Basrah war zone”, proceedings of the conference on the effects of the use of DU weaponry on human and environment in Iraq, March 26-27 2002, Baghdad, Iraq. 

22.  Al-Azzawi, S., Maarouf, B., and Hussein, S., 2002, “Environmental consequences resulted from the use of DU weapons on soil and air at selected areas in al-Basrah governorate”, Journal of Engineering, college of engineering, vol. 7, no. 1, University of Baghdad, Baghdad, Iraq. 

23.  Al-Azzawi, S., Maarouf, B., and Arif, A., 2002, “Environmental consequences resulted from the use of DU weapons on water and selected areas in al-Basrah governorate”, Journal of Engineering, college of engineering, vol. 7, no. 1, University of Baghdad, Baghdad, Iraq. 

24.  Al-Azzawi, S., Maarouf, B., and Mazouri, N., 2002, “Environmental radiological pollution from the use of DU weaponry against Ninevah governorate during the war”, proceedings of the conference on the effects of the use of DU weaponry on human and environment in Iraq, March 26-27 2002, Baghdad, Iraq. 

25.  Tawfiq, N.,, 2002, Determination of Alpha-emitters in Iraqi soil samples using solid state nuclear track detectors CR-39 and CN-85, Proceeding of Conference on the Effects of DU Weaponary on Human and Environment in Iraq, March 26-27, 2002, Baghdad, Iraq.

26.  Flounders, S., 2005, “Another war crime? Iraqi cities “Hot” with Depleted Uranium”, Anti Imperialist League, Peace and Resistance, 

27.  Joanne, L., 2004, “Testing of New York guardsmen: first confirmed cases of Iraq war depleted Uranium exposure”, World Scientist web-site; 

28.  Hersh, S., 1991, “Washington slaughter in the Arab-Persian Gulf”, New Yorker magazine, N.Y., U.S., May 22, 1991. 

29.  Butrus, S., Wartan, K., and Butrus, L., 2002, “Assessing radioactive contamination levels in Basrah governorate”, Proceedings of the conference on the effects of the use of DU weaponry on human and environment in Iraq, March 26-27, 2002, Baghdad, Iraq, published in Arabic. 

30.  Alkinany, A., Twege, D., and Abdul Allah, K., 2002, “Investigating DU radioactivity in selected locations in Basrah”, Proceedings of the conference on the effects of the use of DU weaponry on human and environment in Iraq, March 26-27, 2002, Baghdad, Iraq, published in Arabic. 

31.   Yaqoub, A.A., Al-Sadoon, I., and Hassan, J., 1998, “Incidence and pattern of malignant diseases among children in Basrah with specific reference to leukemia during the period of 1990-1998”, Proceeding of the conference on health and environmental consequences of DU used by U.S. and British forces in the 1991 Gulf War, Dec. 2-3, 1998, Baghdad, Iraq.

32.  Yaqoub, A.,, 1999, “Depleted Uranium and health of people in Basrah: an epidemiological evidence; 1-The incidence and pattern of malignant diseases among children in Basrah with specific reference to leukemia during the period of 1990-1998”, the medical journal of Basrah University (MJBU), vol.17, no.1&2, 1999, Basrah, Iraq. 

33.  Al-Sadoon, I., Hassan, J., and Yaqoub, A., 1998, “Incidence and pattern of congenital anomalies among birth in Basrah during the period 1990-1998”, Proceeding of the conference on health and environmental consequences of DU used by U.S. and British forces in the 1991 Gulf War, Dec. 2-3, 1998, Baghdad, Iraq. 

34.  Yaqoub, A., Ajeel, N., and Al-Wiswasy, M., 1998, “Incidence and pattern of malignant diseases (excluding leukemia) during 1990-1997”, Proceeding of the conference on health and environmental consequences of DU used by U.S. and British forces in the 1991 Gulf War, Dec. 2-3, 1998, Baghdad, Iraq. 

35.  Yaqoub, A., Al-Sadoon, I., and Hassan, J., 2002, “The evidence of casual association between exposure to DU and malignancies among children in Basrah by applying epidemiological criteria of causality”, Proceedings of the conference on the effects of the use of DU weaponry on human and environment in Iraq, March 26-27, 2002, Baghdad, Iraq. 

36.  Ali, A., and Al-Ali, J., 2002, “Chronic myeloid leukemia in Basrah after the Gulf War II”, Proceedings of the conference on the effects of the use of DU weaponry on human and environment in Iraq, March 26-27, 2002, Baghdad, Iraq. 

37.  Ammash, H., 1998, “Mechanism of toxicity induced by free radicals resulting from irradiation with DU and ionization of atmosphere in Iraq”, Proceeding of the conference on health and environmental consequences of DU used by U.S. and British forces in the 1991 Gulf War, Dec. 2-3, 1998, Baghdad, Iraq. 

38.  Ammash, H., 2000, “Toxic pollution, the Gulf War, and sanctions, the impact on the environment and health in Iraq”, Iraq under Siege, editor: Anthony Arnove, South End Press, Cambridge, Mass, 2000. 

39.  Al-Waheeb, Z.,, 2002, “Detection of DU effects on human by use of immune system enzyme”, Proceedings of the conference on the effects of the use of DU weaponry on human and environment in Iraq, March 26-27, 2002, Baghdad, Iraq. 

40.  Ammash, H., Alwan, L., and Maarouf, B., 2002, “Genetic hematological study for a selected population from DU contaminated areas in Basrah”, Proceedings of the conference on the effects of the use of DU weaponry on human and environment in Iraq, March 26-27, 2002, Baghdad, Iraq.

41.   Al-Sadi, H., and Sawad, A., 2002, “Some interesting pathological conditions in animals in Basrah and the possible etiological role of DU used in 1991 aggression against Iraq”, Proceedings of the conference on the effects of the use of DU weaponry on human and environment in Iraq, March 26-27, 2002, Baghdad, Iraq. 

42.  Khudair, A., Abdul Kader, K., and Al-Taha, T., 2002, “Study of the radiological pollution level in pastures of Basrah in 2000”, Proceedings of the conference on the effects of the use of DU weaponry on human and environment in Iraq, March 26-27, 2002, Baghdad, Iraq. 

URL of this page:



 Depleted Uranium and the Medical Mismanagement of Gulf War Veterans


This is an article that I just finished writing. I hope it is of interest to the group. Please share it with any Gulf War veterans you may know or forward it to websites concerned with the topic of Gulf War Illness.

Depleted Uranium and the Medical Mismanagement of Gulf War Veterans

by Paul Zimmerman

The United States insists that weapons containing depleted uranium pose no health hazards to exposed populations. This charade persists because an artful propaganda matrix has infiltrated and corrupted certain aspects of the radiation and biological sciences. The facts which follow will introduce how our debilitated veterans are being misinformed of the possible role played by uranium in their illnesses.

1. Within the medical system of the Veterans Administration, veterans are misled into believing that no medical test exists that can determine DU contamination. This stance was echoed in a 2006 study by the Institute of Medicine, lauded as "...the authoritative word on Gulf War Illness" (1). In the preface of the IOM's definitive study, this quote appears: "Although there is a blood test that can provide an indication of exposure to Agent Orange and dioxin that occurred many years ago, there is not (sic) biological measure that can be employed today to assess exposures during the Gulf War" (2).

This statement is a lie. A protocol does exist which can determine depleted uranium contamination years after the exposure event. The methodology was published in 2002 by Durakovic, Horan and Dietz (3). Essentially it involves collecting a 24-hour urine sample and analyzing the uranium content by means of multicollector, inductively coupled plasma ionization mass spectrometry. By this means the relative concentration of the different uranium isotopes can be measured. This information can then be used to determine whether or not the test subject was contaminated with DU. This test has been reproduced by a number of research groups around the world and has been confirmed as the state-of-the-art means of accurately determining DU exposure. The Veterans Administration ignores this scientific breakthrough and does not offer it to veterans attempting to come to terms with the cause of their illnesses.

2. The US government ardently wishes to convince the public that the only battlefield hazard posed by DU munitions is shrapnel injuries. Again, the Institute of Medicine study succinctly states this position: " is now understood that retention of DU-containing embedded shrapnel is the major source of increased DU exposure in military personnel." This too is a lie. Its purpose is to draw attention away from the inhalation pathway. In the study by Durakovic et al. mentioned above, 27 veterans were studied. All presented complex, nonspecific symptoms of Gulf War Illness. None of them had suffered shrapnel injury. Among this cohort, 14 were found to have been contaminated with depleted uranium. It is important to note that this test was conducted nine years after the Gulf War, demonstrating the long residency time of inhaled uranium and the ability to identify such contamination years after the exposure event.

3. According to conventional wisdom, there are two vectors to uranium's toxicity: it is radioactive and it is a heavy metal capable of producing adverse chemical effects. These two phenomenon are usually treated separately despite the fact that abundant research has proven that the two work synergistically, each enhancing the deleterious effects of the other. Uranium's radioactivity is rejected out of hand as hazardous because the "dose" of radiation likely to be absorbed on the contaminated battlefield is too low to produce cancer. Cancer? Why does cancer enter the discussion of the unexplained illness of Gulf War veterans? Unbeknownst to most people, the current science of radiation safety confines itself to cancer causation. This is a sophisticated ruse that has held sway over radiation protection for half a century. There exists a large body of research on noncancerous effects of radiation that is ignored by the international radiation protection community and the Veterans Administration. [A complete explanation can be found in (4) in the bibliography].

As for uranium's chemical toxicity, typical acute exposure events prior to the first Gulf War, such as with uranium miners, led to the determination that the kidney was the organ most susceptible to damage. However, battlefield exposure has no corollary to any other type of uranium exposure and, as a consequence, may produce unique physiological effects. In no other circumstances do humans inhale aerosolized micro- and nano-sized particles of highly insoluble ceramic uranium-bearing material. Innovative research is urgently needed to confirm if other types of injury may be initiated in the contaminated individual that bypasses observable damage to the kidney. (See discussion below).

4. The first Gulf War ignited a renewed interest in the toxicology of uranium. Numerous laboratory studies have documented that uranium is genotoxic (capable of damaging DNA), cytotoxic (poisonous to cells), mutagenic (capable of inducing mutations), teratogenic (capable of interfering with normal embryonic development) and neurotoxic (capable of harming nerve tissue). This research has yet to dislodge the stale mantra that uranium is only capable of causing cancer or kidney damage. [For an extensive review of recent research on the toxicology of uranium, see (4)].

5. Here's an example of blatant medical fraud. A veteran suffering from the undiagnosed illness commonly referred to as Gulf War Syndrome, goes to his doctor concerned that uranium exposure may have been a factor in his deteriorating condition. In response, the physician orders a test to measure the total concentration of uranium in a 24-hour urine sample. (This is an entirely different test from the one described earlier.) When the test results return from the lab, the GI is informed that the amount of uranium in his urine is within the normal range. Uranium contamination is not a problem. What he is not told is that this was a foregone conclusion. Why? Because he was given the wrong diagnostic test!

In accidents where people absorb into their bodies an abnormal amount of uranium, the soluble portion relatively rapidly enters the blood, is transported to the kidneys and is then excreted. During this period, measured in days to weeks, the uranium concentration in the urine will be elevated while the body efficiently goes about ridding itself of excess uranium. Measurement of total uranium in urine during this time will demonstrate abnormally high levels which can be used to determine if kidney damage is a possible concern. Similarly, a veteran injured by shrapnel will show an elevated concentration of uranium in his urine for years as uranium slowly dissolves from the metal fragments in his body. In the case of inhalation exposure, measurement of total uranium would be elevated only if measured on the battlefield soon after exposure while the soluble fraction of uranium is being eliminated from the body. But conducted years after exposure, the test would provide no useful information because uranium levels would have returned to within the normal range. What's not being addressed is the fate of the insoluble portion of the absorbed uranium. This uranium dissolves very slowly, over a period of years. While this is taking place, the total concentration of uranium in the urine may never rise above the normal range. If a veteran wants to know whether he is carrying depleted uranium in his body years after exposure, he requires the proper diagnostic test, the one mentioned in #1 above.

5. The war is Bosnia was fought between March 1992 and November 1995. In its aftermath, soldiers serving in the former Yugoslavian army, staffers of humanitarian missions and Yugoslavian residents began manifesting symptoms of some unidentified illness similar to that suffered by US soldiers who served in the Gulf. Belatedly, NATO announced in 2000 that munitions containing depleted uranium had been fired on the Bosnian battlefields. This revelation was groundbreaking. The Bosnian theater contained none of the risk factors for Gulf War Illness that veterans were exposed to who served in Iraq and Kuwait such as oil well fires, vaccines for anthrax or botulinum toxins, Iraqi chemical and biological warfare agents, etc. The only factor that linked the two theaters together were DU munitions.

Using an innovative technique of electronic microscopy, Antonietta Gatti and Stephano Montanari analyzed tissue samples taken from those suffering so-called Balkan War Syndrome (5). Every tissue sample and lymph node that was examined contained spherical, combustion-derived metal-alloyed microparticles and nanoparticles. To confirm an environmental origin of this debris, the researchers noted that particles found in the tissues of diseased soldiers and civilians were "mutually compatible" with those found on the ground in the territories where battles had been fought and where the pathologies were contracted.

This avenue of investigation reveals a third vector of DU's toxicity which acts synergistically with DU's radiation and chemical effects. Nanoparticles have recently received a great deal of attention due the numerous proposed applications of nanotechnology, the use of materials smaller than 100 nanometers (0.1 microns). Nanoparticles have been shown to exhibit many unusual properties. They possess the ability to pass directly through certain tissue types, travel along neurons, escape filtration from the blood by the spleen and the liver, and avoid immune system detection by macrophages. These unusual characteristics give nanoparticles ready access to all tissues of the body. While circulating through the body, their surface chemistry provides a platform for ongoing heavy metal interactions with the body's molecular makeup. Thus, insoluble uranium nanoparticles represent point sources for chronic chemical and radiological poisoning to the body's interior. In addition, nanoparticles of many different compositions have been implicated in initiating inflammation, oxidative stress and gene activation.

With over 100,000 Gulf War veterans ill with an undiagnosed illness, one would think that the work of Gatti and Montanari would have stimulated medical follow-up among researchers sincerely interested in exploring the origins of Gulf War Illness. However, their work has so far remained ignored by the Veterans Administration.

6. On August 20, 2007, the Discovery Channel aired an episode in its series Conspiracy Test entitled "Gulf War Illness". During the program, the results of research undertaken at the Molecular Medicine and Genetics Lab at Wayne State University were presented. In a preliminary study supervised by Dr. Henry Heng, blood samples were collected from five veterans of the 1991 Gulf War who were suffering symptoms of the undiagnosed illness they had contracted while in military service. All had previously tested positive for the presence of DU in their urine and none had served in any area of Iraq where possible exposure to chemical warfare agents might have occurred as a result of the destruction of weapon caches at Khamisiyah. Using spectral karyotyping (SKY), Heng and his graduate students imaged and analyzed the chromosome structure of blood cells in each of the veterans. What Heng and his colleagues found using this technique was startling. The karyotype of each of the veterans clearly displayed significant levels of chromosome damage. According to Heng, the damage widely exceeded that observed in cancer patients. Translocations, broken chromosomes, centromere displacements and aneuploidy (a gain or loss in the number of chromosomes) were observed. According to Heng, the chromosome aberrations observed were typical of the type of damage produced by radiation. This is another avenue of investigation ignored by VA.

7. In 2003, Heike Schröder and her research associates published a study of 16 British Gulf War and Balkan War veterans who suspected that they had been exposed to depleted uranium. When compared to suitable controls, the study group demonstrated a statistically significant increase in the frequency of dicentric chromosomes and centric-ring chromosomes in peripheral lymphocytes (6). (These aberrantly shaped chromosomes are created when two double-strand breaks in DNA are improperly repaired, either between the DNA from two separate chromosomes or within the DNA of a single chromosome. The elevated occurrence of these in individuals serves as a biological indicator of exposure to ionizing radiation.)

The findings of Schröder and her colleagues are extremely significant. The observed chromosome aberration frequency they observed should not have been occurring at the "dose" delivered by battlefield DU. According to the authors: "However, as dicentric chromosomes are reliable indicators of ionizing radiation, our findings contradict official releases from the IAEA, the WHO, the MOD and the DOE, stating that the radiotoxicity of DU would be negligible" (7). A further bewildering discovery was that the observed chromosome aberrations should not have been so prevalent 10 years after exposure, which was when the veterans in this study were tested. Schröder offered the observation that soluble DU would have been flushed from the bodies of test subjects relatively soon after exposure. Further, the biological half-life of dicentric chromosomes is 3.5 years. As a consequence, the observed chromosome aberrations could not have been produced at the time of the exposure event. So how were they produced? Schröder proposed that the chromosome aberrations were a manifestation of ongoing damage to the body's interior produced by the radiation emitted from insoluble particles that were lodged in the body since the moment they were absorbed on the contaminated battlefield.

The scientific research mentioned above clearly suggests that depleted uranium is a factor in the undiagnosed illness suffered by veterans. Yet numerous publications from the world's guardian institutions continue to proclaim that this is impossible. The VA has aligned itself with this political propaganda and, in the process, makes a mockery of science.

To conclude, the Veterans Administration is being lackadaisical at best, criminally negligent at worst, in its treatment of veterans suffering from symptoms of so-called Gulf War Illness. Valuable avenues of research are being intentionally ignored because they raise disturbing questions of the impact to health from radioactive material released into the environment. Rather than throw a disparaging light on cherished weapon systems, our cherished veterans are being abused by an uncaring medical system.

Paul Zimmerman is the author of A Primer in the Art of Deception: The Cult of Nuclearists, Uranium Weapons and Fraudulent Science. Excerpts, free to download, are available at


1. Sartin J.S. "Gulf War Syndrome: The Final Chapter?" Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2006; 81(11):1425-1426.
2. Institute of Medicine. Committee on Gulf War and Health. A Review of the Medical Literature Relative to the Gulf War Veterans' Health. Gulf War and Health. Volume 4: Health Effects of Serving in the Gulf War. Washington, DC: National Academies Press; 2006.
3. Durakovic A., Horan P., Dietz L. "The Quantitative Analysis of Depleted Uranium Isotopes in British, Canadian, and U.S. Gulf War Veterans". Military Medicine. 2002; 167(8):620-627.
4. Zimmerman P. A Primer in the Art of Deception: The Cult of Nuclearists, Uranium Weapons and Fraudulent Science. August, 2009.
5. Gatti A.M., Montanari S. "So-called Balkan Syndrome: A Bioengineering Approach". Emilia, Italy: Laboratory of Biomaterials of the University of Modena and Reggio; February 2004.
6. Schröder H. Presentation at the World Uranium Weapons Conference. October 16-19, 2003. University of Hamburg, Germany.
7. Schröder H., Heimers A., Frentzel-Beyme R., Schott A., Hoffmann W. Chromosome Aberration Analysis in Peripheral Lymphocytes of Gulf War and Balkans War Veterans.
Radiation Protection Dosimetry. 2003; 103(3):211-219.

'Special Weapons' Have a Fallout on Babies
by Ali al-Fadhily and Dahr Jamail*
  Thursday, March 04, 2010   

FALLUJAH, Jun 12 (IPS) - Babies born in Fallujah are showing illnesses and deformities on a scale never seen before, doctors and residents say.

The new cases, and the number of deaths among children, have risen after "special weaponry" was used in the two massive bombing campaigns in Fallujah in 2004.

After denying it at first, the Pentagon admitted in November 2005 that white phosphorous, a restricted incendiary weapon, was used a year earlier in Fallujah.

In addition, depleted uranium (DU) munitions, which contain low-level radioactive waste, were used heavily in Fallujah. The Pentagon admits to having used 1,200 tonnes of DU in Iraq thus far.

Many doctors believe DU to be the cause of a severe increase in the incidence of cancer in Iraq, as well as among U.S. veterans who served in the 1991 Gulf War and through the current occupation.

"We saw all the colours of the rainbow coming out of the exploding American shells and missiles," Ali Sarhan, a 50-year-old teacher who lived through the two U.S. sieges of 2004 told IPS. "I saw bodies that turned into bones and coal right after they were exposed to bombs that we learned later to be phosphorus.

"The most worrying is that many of our women have suffered loss of their babies, and some had babies born with deformations."

"I had two children who had brain damage from birth," 28-year-old Hayfa' Shukur told IPS. "My husband has been detained by the Americans since November 2004 and so I had to take the children around by myself to hospitals and private clinics. They died. I spent all our savings and borrowed a considerable amount of money."

Shukur said doctors told her that it was use of the restricted weapons that caused her children's brain damage and subsequent deaths, "but none of them had the courage to give me a written report."

"Many babies were born with major congenital malformations," a paediatric doctor, speaking on condition of anonymity, told IPS. "These infants include many with heart defects, cleft lip or palate, Down's syndrome, and limb defects."

The doctor added, "I can say all kinds of problems related to toxic pollution took place in Fallujah after the November 2004 massacre."

Many doctors speak of similar cases and a similar pattern. The indications remain anecdotal, in the absence of either a study, or any available official records.

The Fallujah General Hospital administration was unwilling to give any statistics on deformed babies, but one doctor volunteered to speak on condition of anonymity - for fear of reprisals if seen to be critical of the administration.

"Maternal exposure to toxins and radioactive material can lead to miscarriage and frequent abortions, still birth, and congenital malformation," the doctor told IPS. There have been many such cases, and the government "did not move to contain the damage, or present any assistance to the hospital whatsoever.

"These cases need intensive international efforts that provide the highest and most recent technologies that we will not have here in a hundred years," he added.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) expressed concern Mar. 31 about the lack of medical supplies in hospitals in Baghdad and Basra.

"Hospitals have used up stocks of vital medical items, and require further supplies to cope with the influx of wounded patients. Access to water remains a matter of concern in certain areas," the ICRC said in a statement.

A senior Iraqi health ministry official was quoted as saying Feb. 26 that the health sector is under "great pressure", with scores of doctors killed, an exodus of medical personnel, poor medical infrastructure, and shortage of medicines.

"We are experiencing a big shortage of everything," said the official, "We don't have enough specialist doctors and medicines, and most of the medical equipment is outdated.

"We used to get many spinal and head injures, but were unable to do anything as we didn't have enough specialists and medicines," he added. "Intravenous fluid, which is a simple thing, is not available all the time." He said no new hospitals had been built since 1986.

Iraqi Health Minister Salih al-Hassnawi highlighted the shortage of medicines at a press conference in Arbil in the Kurdistan region in the north Feb. 22. "The Iraqi Health Ministry is suffering from an acute shortage of medicines...We have decided to import medicines immediately to meet the needs."

He said the 2008 health budget meant that total expenditure on medicines, medical equipment and ambulances would amount to an average of 22 dollars per citizen.

But this is too late for the unknown number of babies and their families who bore the consequences of the earlier devastation. And it is too little to cover the special needs of babies who survived with deformations.

(*Ali, our correspondent in Baghdad, works in close collaboration with Dahr Jamail, our U.S.-based specialist writer on Iraq who has reported extensively from Iraq and the Middle East). (FIN/2008)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Paul Zimmerman: The Cult of Nuclearists, Uranium Weapons and Fraudulent Science

Paul Zimmerman releases chapter of new book to Censored News to aid in the struggle of Indigenous Peoples fighting uranium mining and the nuclear industry

Photo: Rex Tilousi sings at the Havasupai Gathering to Halt Uranium Mining in the Grand Canyon 2009/Photo Brenda Norrell

From author Paul Zimmerman to Brenda Norrell:

"I recently read your article on about proposed uranium mining in the Grand Canyon. It got me thinking as to whether or not I could make some small contribution to the struggle, being played out yet again, between native peoples and what I call the Cult of Nuclearists. I decided to release a chapter that I'm very proud of from my newly published book. When you read the attached document, and if you find it of worth, I would be honored if you would share it with whatever groups and individuals you are aware of who may find it interesting and informative.

"A Primer in the Art of Deception The Cult of Nuclearists, Uranium Weapons and Fraudulent Science by Paul Zimmerman
Copies of this book can be ordered at or by contacting the author at either or P.O. Box 145, Lyndonville, NY 14098

"... Peoples of the Navajo Nation, Laguna Pueblo and Acoma Pueblo suffered the greatest impact from this invasion by the large energy companies. Their familiar pastoral economy was rapidly transformed into a mining-industrial economy,and they became a mining-dependent population (Kuletz). Recruited as a cheap source of labor for the mines, Native Americans were exploited economically, receiving two-thirds the salary of employees brought in from off the reservation (Churchill). During the uranium boom of the 1970s, the median salary for the Laguna Pueblo was 50 dollars per week(Kuletz). Maximum economic gain for the mining companies was the driving force for the abuses showered on Native American communities in the Four Corners region ... " -- Paul Zimmerman

Uranium mining in the Grand Canyon, CounterPunch

A Primer in the Art of Deception
The Cult of Nuclearists, Uranium Weapons and Fraudulent Science
by Paul Zimmerman
Bedtime stories are the love of every child. They are a bridge from harsh reality into
the comforting world of slumber. Fairy tales enliven the imagination, create an endearing
bond between child and storyteller and quell the fears of encroaching darkness.
Adults never quite lose their craving for hypnotic fables. The history books, penned
by the victors, are replete with brave accounts of daring, chivalry and laurels. The tale of
the development of the atomic bomb is a classic. The standard narrative begins with a portrait
of brilliant emigré physicists struggling to understand the ultimate secrets of the atom.
As recognition dawns that a chain reaction initiated by fissioning atoms is humanly producible,
the purity of their quest becomes tarnished. Then dread overwhelms their hearts
as they envision colleagues in Nazi Germany, armed with the same insight, applying nuclear
physics to a hellish conquest of the world. Stalwart as righteous knights ready to defend the
kingdom, they dispatch a communiqué to Roosevelt, warning of the impending peril and
volunteering their services to bring the hellions to their knees. In this story, the United
States government is the lumbering hero. It long procrastinates. Then, by fits and starts, it
rises to the call. The Manhattan Project is inaugurated, physicists are secretly recruited,
clandestine outposts spring up in the wilderness, and a fevered race against time ensues to
transform abstract theories into a deliverable weapon. What follows is a blinding accomplishment:
As the wafting wind over the New Mexico desert dissipates the radioactive cloud, the
setting of this tale switches to the corridors of power. There, a conscientious debate unfolds
as to the wisdom of incinerating a metropolis or two of the villainous Japanese. Reluctantly,
Nuclear Colonialism
This is an excerpt from the book A Primer in the Art of Deception
by Paul Zimmerman
to save a million brave boys from slaughter in an invasion of the evil enemy’s homeland, the
gallant decision is made to drop the bomb. This heroic sacrifice leads rapidly to the cessation
of hostilities, victory, and American supremacy in the postwar world.
In the uneasy peace that follows, the “Bomb” becomes the nation’s new hero, the
guardian of national security and the unrivaled instrument for containing Soviet expansionism.
When the Soviets achieve parity with the detonation of their own bomb, an
uncompromising duel breaks out between the “superpowers.” Mushroom clouds routinely
blot out the sun, and terror grips the hearts of all humankind. The puny atom bomb is
surpassed by the hydrogen bomb. Ballistic missiles, buried in their darkened silos, point
menacingly at the enemy. Submarines creep silently along the ocean depths. Armageddon
awaits but an instant away. Then a mighty warrior arises. Single-handedly, Ronald Reagan
defeats the evil empire. A new era of peace dawns. Diplomatic negotiations replace
nuclear terror as the nuclear haves bond together to prevent proliferation of WMDs into
the hands of the nuclear have-nots.
A fine story, indeed.
Such narrative constructions have power. They shape mental landscapes. They create
worldviews. They structure behavior. Some stories serve an important political purpose.
Those in power tell stories as a means of educating the rest of us to see the world as
they wish us to see it. If they are good storytellers, we accept their view of the world and
endorse their deeds even though we will not personally profit, and may in fact, ultimately
suffer from them.
Our perceptions are shackled by the stories we are told. If we wish to gain a fresh
perspective on the entire nuclear enterprise, we must tell stories other than those conjured
by the devotees to a culture built on nuclear weapons. One line of storytelling all but absent
from our proud history books is the chronicle of those vanquished by nuclear weapon development.
The path to the ascendancy of the nuclear powers is paved with exploited peoples,
ruined cultures, poisoned lands, disease and death. By compiling this tale, we pay
homage to the victimized and in the process, perhaps, catch a glimpse of the breed of man
who today rules the world.
Nuclear and radiological weapons did not magically appear one day upon the Earth.
They were an artifact, born of the culture in which they arose. The men who fathered
them embodied a worldview which had taken shape over centuries. In the process of conceiving
and creating these devices of merciless destruction, these men were expressing their
values, values forged by their economic outlook, political institutions, military posture, cul-
Nucl e a r C o l o n i a l i s m
A P r i m e r i n t h e A r t o f D e c e p t i o n
tural traditions, religious beliefs, attitudes toward foreign cultures, and attitudes about the
environment. Producing the bomb was a bold move, for it was a naked expression of hidden
secrets lurking within some human hearts. Ruthless domination, brutality, terrorism,
uncompromising threat and the acceptability of mass casualties were some of the values
which found expression and embodiment in the Bomb. To endure, the weapons and the
mentality which wielded them required the complacency of those who acceded to be governed
by this mentality. Such was the inspiration for the vast body of lies and deceptions
exposed in this book.
Left to the social psychologists and the historians is the job of explaining the origins
of the mindset that felt perfectly justified in developing and deploying weapons of mass
destruction. Sufficient for purposes here is the observation that the seeds for this proclivity
had already taken root in the minds of the conquerors and conquistadors who set forth
from Europe during the period of colonial expansionism. What these men brought to their
endeavor serve as a mirror to what men of the twentieth century brought to their project
of developing the atomic bomb.
During the Middle Ages, the socio-economic framework of central and western
Europe was feudalism and manorialism. The land was the source of livelihood and the
economy was fundamentally agrarian. By the thirteenth century, this way of life was in
transition. The feudal order began giving way to the rise of national states ruled by royal
families. A class of merchants and artisans arose. The population had increased to the
point where manorial farming could no longer support it. People began flocking into towns
to seek new sources of livelihood. Increasingly, manufacturing and trade supplanted farming
as the driving forces of the economy and a money-based system of exchange for goods
and services gained acceptance. With a liquid form of wealth in ascendancy, numerous
opportunities arose for individuals to make their own niche in the market economy and
accumulate personal wealth. The doors were open for upward social mobility on a scale
that was unprecedented in feudal society. Accompanying this trend was a new ethic of private
property and the absolute right of ownership.
Manufacturing and trade, the buying and selling of goods, created the economic system
of mercantilism which arose among the major trading nations of Europe. These
nations recognized that their wealth and their power could best be enhanced by exporting
more goods than they imported, forcing their foreign trading partners to make up the difference
in gold and other precious metals. With bullion universally accepted as a medium
of exchange, the wealth of a nation became equated with the size of its bullion reserves.
Foreign policy was inextricably bound to foreign trade because this was the means for
Nucl e a r C o l o n i a l i s m
enrichment of the ruling elite and of the nation. Within this system, overseas traders came
to play an essential role in the burgeoning international economy. They transported manufactured
goods between trading partners, ferried home the raw materials needed by the
manufacturing base of their nation and introduced their people to spices and other exotic
commodities from far-off lands.
Within this economy, monarchs and traders sought riches over the horizon. With
advancements in cartography, navigation and shipbuilding, expeditions set sail upon
uncharted waters to seek out new routes, new trading partners, new commodities and new
sources of gold and silver. In their quest to expand their capitalistic enterprises, the seafaring
nations of Europe began extending their sovereignty to territories beyond their borders.
To administer distant lands and maintain exclusive rights to their resources, settler colonies
or administrative dependencies were established and the indigenous populations were
either displaced or subjugated.
In the process of colonizing the lands they “discovered” and confronting that which
was foreign to themselves, European colonists gave blatant expression to a number of attitudes
of mind that had long been nurtured by their culture. Most prominently, colonizers
carried within themselves a rigid ethnocentricity. They were convinced of the superiority
of European culture, of themselves being the crown of creation, and encounters with aboriginal
peoples only served to reenforce this belief. European behaviors, customs, values,
patterns of thought, interpretation of events and meaning were good, right and proper,
while those of foreigners were inferior and primitive. Coupled with this attitude, or perhaps
because of it, colonists believed themselves entitled to lay claim to the lands of others
in the name of king or queen and country. Although the right to private property was recognized
in Europe, property rights did not extend to native populations. Needless to say,
the superiority of European culture and the right to the expropriation of native lands and
resources was given teeth by steel sword, armor, gunpowder and cannon.
As adherents to Christianity, colonizers held the unwavering belief that they were in
possession of the only true religion. This attitude of spiritual and moral superiority alienated
them further from the indigenous peoples they encountered and blinded them to the
experience of the sacred which was woven into the lifestyles and observances of those they
judged to be heathens. An important aspect of this spiritual divide related to differing attitudes
toward the land and nature. By the time of colonial expansion, Europeans generally
were alienated from the land and scared of nature. The natural world was primarily a
backdrop to life. Its chief value lay in its utility. Land was lifeless, without spirit, and the
plants and animals were present in the world to be of service to mankind. Over the cenA
P r i m e r i n t h e A r t o f D e c e p t i o n
turies, this attitude gave license to numerous environmental abuses in conquered territories
which included strip mining, clear-cutting forests, intensive mono-cropping, overhunting,
overfishing, and various types of pollution. The utilitarian value of nature, however, was
compromised by its unpredictability. Seen as capricious, nature was perceived as a frightening
adversary that required taming. No wonder that the scientific revolution of the seventeenth
century, focusing on the conquest, domination and control of nature, was of
European origin (Pattberg). In stark contrast, aboriginal people living off the land were so
alien to Europeans as to be incomprehensible. Their way of life was integrated with the
natural world. Their survival and livelihood depended on their knowledge of nature and
their ability to harmonize with the forces at play around them. The direct experience of
the interrelatedness of all aspects of the natural world provided for them a never-ending
source of spiritual inspiration. The land was sacred and valued for itself. It was the key to
divine mysteries, and it inspired reverence.
The subjugation of native peoples was followed by economic exploitation. Reaping
the rewards from colonized lands required cheap and abundant labor. The most readily
available work force was the native population. Pushed off their land and robbed of their
traditional lifestyles, members of native populations were forced into servitude or willingly
submitted to exchanging their labor for the bare necessities of subsistence. After the discovery
of the New World and the bounties which it promised, the colonizing powers were
forced to experiment with different labor practices. Some colonies modeled their economy
on feudalism, transforming native inhabitants into serfs. In other colonies, labor was provided
by indentured servants brought over from Europe. A successful resolution of the
labor problem in the Americas and the Caribbean colonies was finally resolved by the mass
importation of slaves from Africa.
In the process of intermixing with native cultures, European colonizers succeeded in
imposing their sociocultural traditions and values on their wards. The introduction of
European languages was an invasion of the mental landscape of the conquered, creating
new cognitive structures and meanings. Over time, native culture and native wisdom were
lost. Generations of people cut off from their roots, displaced and alienated from the culture
that overwhelmed them, sank into poverty, substance abuse, mental illness and suicide.
Alternatively, native peoples, clinging to remnants of the traditional life of their ancestors,
took up residence on marginal lands which remained pristine only because they lacked economic
There is no other term but racism that adequately describes the European attitude
toward colonized populations. The ethnocentricity, moral superiority, cultural arrogance,
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feeling of entitlement to others’ land and wealth, the exploitation, the imposed servitude
could not have been rationalized over and over again without the underlying conviction of
white Europeans that they and their culture were superior and deserved to dominate what
they perceived as inferior races. More the rule than the exception, when white Europeans
encountered peoples of color, what followed was bigotry, prejudice, oppression and violence.
The holocaust suffered by native populations throughout the Americas provides
clear testimony of the uncompromising ruthlessness of the European invaders.
Oh, if only we could comfort ourselves by relegating the crimes of colonial expansionism
to a bygone era, distancing ourselves and our supposed enlightenment from the
deeds of our backward ancestors. But to do so would be reprehensible. In truth, the same
ugly vector of attitude and behavior that facilitated colonialism has been an indispensable
element in the development of nuclear weapons and the current deployment of radiological
weapons. This fact is conveniently overlooked by the storytellers of our age. Their histories
are mute as to the fact that nuclear weapons and reactors would not exist without
human rights abuse, ill treatment of indigenous peoples, the expropriation of resources
from traditional landholders, environmental devastation and indifference to the safety and
well-being of just about everybody. To aptly characterize this phenomenon, activists have
coined the term “nuclear colonialism.” This expression denotes the appropriation of aboriginal
lands and the exploitation and oppression of aboriginal peoples for the purpose of
developing, testing and deploying nuclear and radiological weapons. Subsumed within this
term is an interrelated concept: “environmental racism.” Wikipedia provides a quite adequate
definition of this phenomenon: “Environmental racism is intentional or unintentional
racial discrimination in the enforcement of environmental rules and regulations, the
intentional or unintentional targeting of minority communities for the siting of polluting
industries such as toxic waste disposal, or the exclusion of people of color from public and
private boards, commissions, and regulatory bodies.” The bond between nuclear colonialism
and environmental racism is made bitingly clear in this observation by Anne Herbert
and Margaret M. Pavel:
Racism makes the continuing production of nuclear waste possible. If
the white people who make decisions about nuclear waste felt that the
people of color in poor areas are as valuable as the decision makers’
own mothers and fathers and sons and daughters, would they continue
to dump nuclear waste in those areas? If tailings from uranium
mining were located next to the homes of investment bankers instead
of the homes of indigenous people, would uranium mining continue?
The continuation of the nuclear fuel cycle depends, in effect, on the
practice of human sacrifice. It depends on affluent whites deciding to
A P r i m e r i n t h e A r t o f D e c e p t i o n
risk the health and lives of people who are not affluent or white. This
is what ‘acceptable risk’ often means in practice (Herbert and Pavel).
This portrait of those who today actively practice human sacrifice is not without
validity. People who control nuclear and radiological weapons are not stupid. Fully cognizant
of the lethality of radiation exposure, they strive their utmost to put as much distance
between themselves and the radioactive offal they unleash. They flex their subatomic
might far from their centers of power and, both by accident and design, decimate Third
World peoples, ancient cultures and devotees of non-Christian religions. To date, the testing
of nuclear weapons and the deployment of uranium weapons by the nuclear powers
evidence an ugly campaign of ethnic and religious discrimination and subjugation.
Ancestral homelands and food supplies are contaminated. Sacred grounds and holy shrines
are desecrated. Populations are uprooted at best or at worst left to suffer epidemics of radiation-
induced illnesses. Such open disdain for so-called “marginal” people by the lordly
possessors of infernal weapons is an indelible sign of their cold cruelty, cultural arrogance,
and will to supremacy. We who have yet to taste the bitterness of nuclear devastation and
radiological ruination, what guarantees do we have that we will not be the next victims?
With the coming of the first nuclear exchange between nations, all of us will be rendered
marginal people, victimized, dehumanized and incinerated by the machinations of the Cult
of Nuclearists. Lest we lose sight of the crimes foreshadowing Armageddon, it behooves us
to remember the ethnic cleansing made possible by the splitting of the atom.
Nuclear weapons are built upon nuclear colonialism and environmental racism.
This is a sad commentary on the type of people who embrace these weapons and the mentality
they harbor. In the process of developing nuclear weapons, bomb builders must fulfill
certain basic requirements. Three of these will be considered here because, historically,
they provoked a confrontation with indigenous populations and were resolved by actions
arising from a colonial and racist mentality. First, the development of nuclear weapons is
contingent upon a large supply of uranium. By some quirk of fate, the major uranium
deposits of the world are located beneath marginal lands occupied by aboriginal peoples.
As a consequence, native landholders have borne the brunt of uranium mining operations.
They have been forcibly removed from ancestral lands, suffered the destruction of sacred
sites, been exploited economically, witnessed environmental devastation and made ill from
radiogenic diseases. Second, a weapon once built requires a test ground. Bomb builders
are not stupid. Aware of the hazards of fallout, the contamination of local food chains and
water sources, the risk of radiation-induced cancers and birth defects, they select test sites
far from their own homes where families and friends will remain unharmed. That the lands
of marginal people will be hopelessly contaminated, that these people and their progeny
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will be the victims of radiation exposure, was never a deterrent to weapon testing. Third,
nuclear weaponeers require a repository to store waste generated by their enterprise. Since
radwaste will remain hazardous for hundreds of thousands of years and no one is able to
predict the long-term security of any storage method, the preferred solution of the nuclear
waste stockpilers is to bury their waste far from the centers of their own power.
Today, multinational mining and energy companies provide uranium to a world
market. At the beginning of nuclear age, however, the situation was different. Uranium
was in short supply and plentiful deposits had yet to be discovered. Those nations aspiring
to go nuclear were forced to seek out their own uranium reserves, and the places where they
prospected and mined were, more often than not, located in former colonies that had previously
been subjugated and exploited. Uranium for Soviet weapons was mined in East
Germany, Czechoslovakia, Estonia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Kirghizstan, Tadjikistan and
Uzbekistan. A windfall of major uranium reserves fell into the lap of the Chinese through
their conquest of Tibet. Morocco, Niger and Gabon were sources of uranium first
acquired by France. Great Britain’s supply came from Australia, Canada and Namibia (via
South Africa).
Uranium mining and milling are particularly dirty industries, devastating the local
environment. With uranium constituting only a small percentage of mined ore, mountains
of radioactive waste spring up on the landscape around uranium mills. Uranium and the
radionuclides from uranium decay are abundant in mill tailings and invariably end up contaminating
groundwater, rivers, lakes and aquifers. Mill wastes also emit radon gas. While
airborne, radionuclides from radon decay, principally lead-210 and polonium-210, settle
out of the air, contaminating local flora and fauna. A study in northern Saskatchewan of
radionuclides released into the environment from uranium mining confirmed the efficiency
of lichens in accumulating airborne radionuclides (Thomas and Gates). Contaminated
lichens then become a food source to grazing caribou which accumulate radionuclides in
their tissue. In turn, native peoples of the area hunt the caribou for their subsistence, thus
inadvertently overloading their bodies with internal emitters.
In addition to contaminating the countryside with radioactivity, uranium mining
releases other pollutants into the environment that gravely impact the local ecology. Heavy
metals increase water acidity. Chemicals from milling processes, notably ammonium and
nitrates, are also released in abundance into the surrounding environment. The uranium
mine at Elliot Lake in Ontario has been studied extensively and can be used as a model to
demonstrate the impact of uranium production on the environment. In 1971, the Ontario
Water Resources Commission reported that lakes in the vicinity of the mine were contaminated
with radium-226, emitting radioactivity at 50 times background levels. This repreA
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sented 15 times the maximum water quality level set by the government of three picocuries
per liter (Moody). Even after remedial efforts which included dilution, reduction in mining
and new treatment facilities were introduced in 1978, local drinking water levels of radium
remained two to four times greater than permitted by government limits (Moody). In The
Gulliver File: Mines, People and Land — A Global Battleground, Moody describes how government
stepped in to aid the mine in dealing with its radium pollution problem:
Alarmingly, barely two years later, a federal provincial committee recommended
that, instead of lowering radium levels to meet health criteria,
the standards themselves be lowered: this was in line with a recommendation
by the ICRP that maximum permissible radiation for
bone marrow could now be increased nine times. Sister Rosalie
Bertell, of the Jesuit Center in Toronto, and a world expert on radiation
(with special knowledge of Elliot Lake) called the decision ‘murder.’
In her opinion, ‘the blatant reason for the change is because the
radium is too expensive to clean up.’
A waste product of the milling process is sulphuric acid, which routinely contaminates
water sources. In this high acidity, radium, thorium and uranium dissolve more readily,
increasing the mobilization of these radionuclides from mill wastes into the environment.
In addition, the increased acidity of water in the vicinity of Elliot Lake was responsible
for the death of aquatic life. Mature freshwater fish are unable to survive when acidity/
alkalinity is outside the range of pH 5 to pH 9 (Moody). In 1980, the acidity of May
Lake was similar to that of vinegar, pH 3.1. According to Moody, the increasing acidity in
water has other repercussions:
Acidity levels are inversely linked to the dangers posed by heavy metals:
the higher the pH, the more gas given off by ammonium liquid.
At Quirke Lake, concentrations of ammonium have exceeded the
Ontario Drinking Water Quality Criteria, while high concentrations
of nitrogen compounds have been located some 40 km downstream
of the mine. Iron levels at May Lake, copper levels at Quirke and
Dunlop Lakes, have given cause for concern in recent years. Copper
is especially threatening to fish. (It kills young salmon at 0.1 ppm
[parts per million] — one tenth of the human drinking water limit —
and can prove poisonous to sheep at 0.5 ppm). Copper levels measured
downstream of the Quirke Lake facilities have reached 0.11
ppm, and at Dunlop Lake, 0.58 ppm.
Although the subject matter is vast, a few broad strokes can paint a picture of the
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impact that nuclear colonialism and environmental racism have had on communities of
indigenous peoples living atop uranium deposits. Prior to the uranium booms of the 1950s
and 1970s, two thirds of the uranium deposits in the United States were located in the Four
Corners region of the southwest, at the meeting of the borders of New Mexico, Arizona,
Utah and Colorado. This undeveloped desert landscape was the home to bands of Native
Americans and deposits of uranium were discovered mostly within the boundaries of their
reservations. Aided by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, mining companies leased millions of
acres of tribal land for uranium exploration, the digging of mines and the
construction/development of uranium mills. The native population profited little from this
activity, receiving on average 3.4 percent of the market value of the uranium extracted
from their lands (Kuletz). Peoples of the Navajo Nation, Laguna Pueblo and Acoma
Pueblo suffered the greatest impact from this invasion by the large energy companies.
Their familiar pastoral economy was rapidly transformed into a mining-industrial economy,
and they became a mining-dependent population (Kuletz). Recruited as a cheap source
of labor for the mines, Native Americans were exploited economically, receiving two-thirds
the salary of employees brought in from off the reservation (Churchill). During the uranium
boom of the 1970s, the median salary for the Laguna Pueblo was 50 dollars per week
(Kuletz). Maximum economic gain for the mining companies was the driving force for the
abuses showered on Native American communities in the Four Corners region:
Rather than cultivate invisibility for reasons of secrecy, the uranium
industry exploited the low visibility and lack of political power of the
semisovereign Indian nations (reservations) to bypass environmental
protection standards and job safety regulations, to bypass (for decades,
and with the cooperation of federal agencies) their responsibility to
inform uranium miners of the deadly hazards of their occupations, as
well as to ensure a high profit margin in the extraction, processing and
sale of uranium ore to the secret scientific-military complex (Kuletz).
During the initial uranium boom of the 1950s, working conditions in the 2,500
mines then in operation were abysmal. The Atomic Energy Commission ceded oversight
of mine safety to state agencies whose employees did not possess adequate knowledge of
radiation effects and who remained uninformed of the European experience that uranium
mining induced lung cancer. What resulted was a public health tragedy, largely borne by
the Native American miners, that could have been avoided if mining companies had been
required to invest in adequate ventilation equipment. After years of data collection and
epidemiological studies, it became obvious to state officials that an epidemic of lung cancers
was in progress, but by that time the damage to the health of miners had been done.
Numerous anecdotal reports gathered from Native American miners agree that mine operA
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ators never informed them of the possible hazards of uranium mining, that no one cautioned
them against drinking from the water trickling through the mines, that no one ever
discouraged them from eating their lunch with dust-covered hands.
Besides the miners, Native American communities located in proximity to uranium
mining operations also suffered increased incidence of disease. According to a 1981 study
by the Navajo Nation’s Division of Health Improvement Services, teenagers living near
mining operations in Shiprock, Farmington and Grants, New Mexico, suffered rates of
organ cancers 15 times higher than the national average (Taliman). Other studies are
described by Kuletz:
In seeking federal assistance to study the effect of low-level radiation
on the health of their children, Navajo health officials called attention
to at least two preliminary studies — one conducted by the March of
Dimes (principal investigator Dr. L. Shields) and the other by the
Navajo Health Authority (principal investigator Dr. D. Calloway).
Calloway’s study suggested that Navajo children may have a five times
greater rate of bone cancer and a 15 times greater rate of ovarian and
testicular cancer than the US average. However, despite these preliminary
findings, no funding was granted for extended epidemiological
studies of the impact on Navajos living near uranium tailings and
Many ‘preliminary studies’ suggested serious health risks to children
in communities near abandoned uranium districts. One ‘preliminary’
study showed ‘a twofold excess of miscarriages, infant deaths, congenital
or genetic abnormalities, and learning disabilities among uranium-
area families’ compared with Navajo families in non-uranium
areas. Even after being informed of these and other findings, no federal
or state agencies provided funding for further study. In fact, in
1983, one agency, the Indian Health Service (a division of the US
Department of Health and Social Services) had sent a report to
Congress (“Health Hazards Related to Nuclear Resources
Development on Indian Land,” 1983) stating that there was ‘no evidence
of adverse health effects in Indians in uranium development
areas and that there is no need for additional studies or funding for
such studies.’
In addition to adverse health effects, uranium mining brought environmental ruin to
tribal lands. Gaping scars blemish the landscape from the 1,000 or more abandoned and
unreclaimed open-pit and underground mines (Kuletz). Millions of gallons of water used
Nucl e a r C o l o n i a l i s m
for uranium extraction became hopelessly contaminated with radioactivity. As a byproduct
of the separation and concentration of uranium from ore, uranium mills created huge
mountains of radioactive mill tailings. Remaining uncovered, mill tailings remain a perpetual
source for pollution of the environment. Wind scatters the dust from these mountains
over the landscape, continually contaminating water, soil and crops and creating a perpetual
inhalation hazard to residents of the region.
The most severe radiation accident in US history occurred at Church Rock, New
Mexico, on July 16, 1979. A dam at a uranium mill owned by United Nuclear Corporation
broke and released into the Rio Puerco 1,100 tons of mill wastes and 100 million gallons of
radioactive water. This waste contaminated the river for at least 60 miles downstream. The
Navajo people living along this watercourse were never adequately informed that their single
source of water had been rendered a health hazard. Unaware of the danger, families
continued to draw drinking water from the river. They continued to give their livestock
unrestricted access. Children continued to swim in the waters. Kuletz provides additional
The Rio Puerco was not a clean river prior to this accident. As noted
by one groundwater protection researcher: “Between 1969 and
February of 1986, the Puerco flowed year-round, fed by millions of
gallons of contaminant-laden water that poured daily into one of its
tributaries (called the North Fork) from three underground uranium
mines. No one bothered to tell the Navajos that the water that poured
from the mines during the uranium boom years of 1952-1964 and
1969-1981 was not safe for man or beast.”
The Church Rock disaster was not an isolated incident. Between 1955 and 1977,
15 dams holding back mill tailing wastes broke. In a region of scarce water resources, these
accidents had a disastrous ecological impact.
For the purposes of creating weapons of mass destruction, nuclear colonialism
exploits marginal people living away from the centers of power. Invariably, this process has
led to a ruination of the environment in which these people dwelt. Hidden within the heart
of this ugly phenomenon is racism practiced by the white, elite members of society against
disadvantaged Native Americans. Again, Kuletz pulls back the veil:
Today — seemingly as invisible as the Rio Puerco accident — the uranium
mines and tailings are, for the most part, left unreclaimed.
Although a 1983 Environmental Protection Study confirmed that the
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Navajo Reservation alone had approximately 1,000 significant
nuclear waste sites, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
deemed them all ‘too remote’ to be of ‘significant national concern.’
A 1978 study by Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) concerning
rehabilitation of land and water contaminated by uranium mining
and milling offered one solution: to zone such areas as forbidden
to human habitation. A report in 1972 by the National Academy of
Science suggested that the Four Corners area be designated a ‘national
sacrifice area.’ Other scientific accounts were completely contrary
to these findings and denied that any significant pollution problems
existed or that adverse health effects could be associated with living in
the region. Though seemingly different in content, all these reports
belie the same prejudice: The land, and by implication the people living
on the land, were better left ignored. That is, neither was worth
The desecration of sacred lands by uranium mining interests is neverending. A particularly
appalling example became public knowledge in 2008 when newspapers reported
that VANE Minerals, a UK mining company, was petitioning the US government for mining
rights in the Grand Canyon. Granted exploration permits by the US Forest Service, the
company planned to drill at 39 spots located on seven sites within the Kaibab National
Forest between the north and south rims of the canyon (Ayres). Due to expectations that
high grade uranium ore is located in the area, other mining companies are scrambling for
a piece of the action with as many as a thousand claims pending. In an attempt to head off
an ecological catastrophe, environmentalists and Native American tribal leaders challenged
the permits granted to VANE Minerals in the US District Court. The federal judge issued
a temporary restraining order. A full hearing was expected sometime during the second
half of 2008. Opponents to uranium mining in the area cited numerous objections.
Besides irreparably marring one of the natural wonders of the world, the threat to local
widelife was a primary concern. In addition, the Colorado River is the source for agricultural
irrigation for much of the southwest and a major source of drinking water for the city
of Los Angeles and other metropolitan areas in southern California. Contamination of the
river would produce incalcuable harm.
Nuclear colonialism and environmental racism are not unique to the United States.
They are embedded in the mentality that assesses nuclear weapons as appropriate technology
and a reasonable instrument of national defense. All of the major nuclear powers
share a history of ruining the homeland of indigenous populations and exploiting the
inhabitants while questing for the means of nuclear mass destruction. What they have done
while in pursuit of the technology is what they plan to do to their enemies at a moment of
Nucl e a r C o l o n i a l i s m
national crisis.
The homelands of indigenous peoples in Australia, Africa, Asia and North and
South America sit atop 70 percent of the world’s uranium reserves. The hunger of large
mining and energy companies to capitalize on this resource repeatedly has taken precedence
over the interests of traditional landholders. In experiences mirroring those suffered
by Native Americans, mining companies bequeathed to aboriginal societies unreclaimed
mines, mountains of uranium mill tailings, contaminated waterways and an increased incidence
of disease. In the process, native cultures were systematically dismantled as people
were herded off their lands, dispossessed of their sacred sites and forced to abandon their
traditional lifestyles.
What occurred in Australia is a mirror image of the holocaust visited on Native
Americans. When the British claimed sovereignty over Australia, they commenced a 200-
year campaign of dispossession, oppression, subjugation and genocide of Aboriginal peoples.
Describing Australia’s treatment of indigenous people, two judges of the High Court
of Australia once summed the experience as “a national legacy of unutterable shame”
(Muurlink and Sweeney). The colonial mentality that justified the colossal abuse throughout
settlement of Australia was carried into the nuclear age when native rights came into
conflict with the British need for uranium and a remote region to conduct weapon testing.
Thirty-three percent of the world’s economically recoverable uranium reserves are located
in some 50 deposits throughout Australia. Mining companies in Australia, with tacit
approval of the federal government, have aggressively pushed aboriginal peoples off their
lands. In the wake of their operations, they ruined the environment at El Sharana, Moline
and Rum Jungle. Repeatedly, the rights and interests of such groups as the Kokatha,
Martu, Adnyamathanha and Mirarr peoples have been ignored. To quote the Western
Desert people:
The mining companies continue to move over our land destroying our
sacred sites and vegetation as well as disrupting animal life without
consultation with the very people that this affects the most. We have
lived in this land for thousands of years, yet legally we are not permitted
to build permanent structures for housing and by law can be
removed from the land we occupy (Muurlink and Sweeney.)
Mining companies and government officials have repeatedly coerced the
Adnyamathanha people to accept mining operations on their lands. Richard Salvador of
the Pacific Islands Association of Non-Governmental Organizations has painted a stunning
portrait of the types of abuse showered upon these native Australians by those seeking minA
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ing concessions:
Over recent years the process of these mines becoming operational
has seen repeated attacks on the Adnyamathanha people. Women
and men are being physically assaulted in Native Title meetings, in the
presence of lawyers employed under Commonwealth funding grants
to administer Native Title. Children as young as 9 years old are being
sprayed in the eyes with capsicum spray by police at a site of protest,
whilst adults are being confined in police vehicles for up to 7 hours in
40 degree Celsius heat, without water. Public meetings are being held
by mining companies accompanied by armed police and chaired by
the current local member of Parliament. At the request of members
of Parliament, Adnyamathanha people are ‘escorted’ from the meeting
by armed police for demanding an independent Chair. These
experiences are far from peaceful, and do not empower
Adnyamathanha in relation to managing their heritage in a culturally
appropriate manner. Bullying, bribery, emotional and physical abuse,
racism and prejudice are the terms of reference used by the Australian
government, the mining industry, and the legal system. Those
Adnyamathanha who openly challenge the legal system and the government
policies as an inadequate and inappropriate framework for
consultation are punished, marginalized and reputed as “radical” and
“unreasonable” (Salvador, 2002).
The Ranger mine is located in the Northern Territory of Australia within the world
heritage-listed Kakadu National Park. Since 1981, there have been 120 releases and leaks
of contaminated water into the local watershed. Not surprisingly, the health of Aboriginal
people living in proximity of the mine was never assessed. Then in 2006, a paper was published
by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies which
reported that the incidence of cancer was nearly double the expected rate among people
living in proximity to the mine. In this study, the number of Aboriginal people living in the
Kakadu region diagnosed with cancer were compared to the number of cancers of all
Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory from 1994 to 2003. Among those dwelling
near the Ranger mine, 27 cases of cancer were reported which represented a rate 90 percent
higher than expected (Minchin and Murdoch).
Twenty percent of the world’s uranium is mined in Canada. Some of the uranium
for the Manhattan Project was mined at the government-owned Eldorado Mining and
Refining Company at Port Radium in the Northwest Territories. For three dollars a day,
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men of the Dene community were employed to haul 45 kilogram sacks of uranium ore out
of the wilderness to Fort McMurray. Typically, they carried their burdens 12 hours a day,
six days a week, four months a year (Nikiforuk). “Highway of the Atom” is the name now
given to the 2,100 km trek across the tundra, barge trips down rivers and portages around
rapids. The Dene dwelling near the mine ate fish caught in contaminated dredging ponds.
Their children played in the dust and ore at river docks and portage landings. Women
sewed tents from the sacks used to haul the ore (Nikiforuk). While sailing downstream,
boatmen slept atop the ore. A 1994 federal study on radioactive waste identified an area of
“elevated gamma radiation, due to spillage of uranium ore” which had been routinely used
by a dozen families for hunting, fishing and camping (Nikiforuk). The Dene paid a heavy
price for their service. An aboriginal health survey conducted in 1991 by the government
of Canada found that the community reported twice as much illness as any other Canadian
aboriginal community. Elevated rates of cancer are reported among the male uranium workers.
As outlined by Andrew Nikiforuk, an apparent crime lay at the heart of this tragedy.
Declassified documents from the atomic weapons and energy program in the United States
confirm that official secret talks on the health hazards of uranium mining were discussed
both in Washington and Ottawa. In 1932, even before the Manhattan Project, the
Department of Mines in Canada published studies of the mine at Port Radium, warning
of the hazard of radon inhalation and “the dangers from inhalation of radioactive dust.”
Blood studies of miners confirmed that breathing air with even small amounts of radon was
detrimental to health. Most disturbingly, the ill health which was to befall aboriginal miners
in the US and Canada was predicted in 1942 by Wilhelm C. Hueper, the founding
director of the environmental cancer section of the US National Cancer Institute. After
reviewing 300 years of data collected from uranium and cobalt mining operations in
Europe, he concluded that “radon gas in cobalt mines routinely produced lung cancers that
systematically killed more than half of all miners 10 to 20 years after their employment”
(Nikiforuk). Referring to radium miners at Great Bear Lake in the Northwest Territories
and in the Belgian Congo, Hueper made this dire prediction:
In case the Belgian and Canadian operations should be conducted
without the essential and comprehensive protective measures for the
workers, the prospects for an epidemic-like appearance of lung carcinomas
among their employees can be anticipated in the not-too-distant
According to documents declassified in the US, the Atomic Energy Commission
intervened in Hueper’s work, informing him that talk of the occupational hazards of uranium
mining was “not in the public interest” and “represented mere conjecture.” Nikiforuk
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continues, relating an incident that occurred in the mid-1950s after cancers began being
diagnosed at Port Radium. A government study was conducted which found elevated levels
of radon in the mine and in a second mine at Lake Athabasca. When printed and ready
for release, the authors were ordered by Canadian government officials not to circulate their
document. The follow-up? In 1959, the Canadian Minister of Energy, Gordon Churchill,
made the sickening public statement “that there are no special hazards attached to the mining
of uranium that differ from other mining activities.” In a written history of the
Canadian government’s Eldorado mining company by Robert Bothwell of the University
of Toronto, this revealing statement can be found: “The profound and deliberate falsification
of nuclear hazards began at the top.”
In northern Saskatchewan near Lake Athabasca, rich deposits of uranium have
been mined since the 1940s on land inhabited by the Dene and Cree peoples. The native
populations rely on the land for subsistence hunting. At the Indigenous World Uranium
Summit in 2006, Jamie Kneen of Minewatch Canada reported how uranium companies
during the 40s and 50s routinely dumped uranium mill tailings directly into lakes and rivers.
When dams were later installed to hold back the tailings, contaminated runoff continued
to pollute the environment (Norrell). Investigations have confirmed radionuclide contamination
of the food chain in the area of uranium mining operations and a transfer of this
contamination to native populations as a result of the consumption of wild caribou
(Thomas and Gates).
In the area of Elliot Lake in northern Ontario, the Anishinaabe people have been
adversely affected. The Serpent River watershed, including 80 kilometers of the river and
10 lakes, is highly contaminated as the result of mine operations. In addition to uranium
mining operations, this environmental degradation was created by the rupturing of 30
dams holding back uranium mill tailings and contaminated water. Further environmental
catastrophes at Elliot Lake are related by Moody:
This environmental “bill of account” would not be complete without
some discussion of “accidents” resulting from mine operations at
Elliot Lake. These include unexpected seepages, unintended movement
of solid wastes, dam and dike failures, re-solution, or erosion, of
barium-radium precipitates, waste pipeline breaks, pump failures, a
decant tower collapse, the accidental release of a large volume of sulphuric
acid and release of fine sands in the decant effluents. In 1964,
some 82,000 tonnes of waste drained into Quirke Lake, due to “overtopping”
of the dam. And, in 1979, within a month of the Panel
mine and mill being modernized, a tailings line broke, leading to liqNucl
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uid and solid contamination of Quirke.
In underground mines in Canada, no regulatory upper limit to radiation exposure
was initiated until 1968 (Brooks and Seth). A study of 50,201 Canadian miners working
between 1955 and 1986 disclosed an excess of 120 lung cancer deaths over the 171.8
expected in the nonexposed population (Brooks and Seth).
China’s annexation of Tibet has given it access to major uranium deposits. Rich
deposits are mined in Damshung, north of Lhasa, Qaidam, north of Golmud, Yamdrok
Tso, and Tewe (Dekhang). At Tewe, inhabitants report increased incidence of illness and
deaths caused by polluted streams below the mine (WISE 1993). Tibetan refugees escaping
to India have confirmed these reports, adding stories of mysterious die-offs of domestic
animals and the unexplained withering of trees and grasses (Dekhang). Sun Xiaodi, a
whistleblower from northern China, was under house arrest at the time of the Indigenous
World Uranium Summit in 2006. But his message was smuggled out of China and delivered
to the attendees by Feng Congde of Human Rights China (Norrell). Xiaodi reported
massive uranium contamination from Chinese mines operated in Tibet. At one time,
Xiaodi worked in Uranium Mine number 792. Originally run by the Chinese military from
1967 to 2002, it was transferred into the hands of Longjiang Nuclear Ltd., whose shareholders
were politicians and members of the nuclear ministry. Xiaodi’s written statement
described how the mines routinely released under cover of night untreated, irradiated water
into the Bailong River, a tributary of the Yangtze. Said Xiaodi:
Today, large sweeps of Ansu Province — dotted with sacred sites —
appear to have succumbed to an overdose of chemotherapy. The
Chinese have taken no preventive measures to protect local human
and animal life from uranium contamination.
At present, in our region there are an unusually high number of miscarriages
and birth defects, with many children born blind or malformed.
According to Xiaodi, Tibetan workers have reported that nearly half the deaths in
the region are produced by cancer and immune system disorders. Patients’ medical histories
are routinely falsified by authorities to protect state secrecy.
The uranium first used in French nuclear weapons was acquired from the
Shinkolobwe deposit in the Belgian Congo. As of 1980, 70 percent of France’s uranium
came from Niger and Gabon in West Africa (Kuletz). Other European countries and Japan
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also acquire uranium from these nations for their commercial nuclear power industry. The
mines are run by the French company Cogéma (parent company Areva), but they are not
operated under the same health and environmental regulations enforced within France
(Brooks and Seth). In 2005, Somair and Cominak, the subsidiaries of Cogéma that run the
Niger mines received a rather poor corporate responsibility rating of Level 2 in the environmental
area (on a 4-level scale with 4 being the best rating) from the rating agency
Vigeo. Level 2 stands for Prudent: “The company is dealing with the risks at a minimal
level.” The issues of waste management and rehabilitation of the environment were
important contributors to the earning of this rating. In 2003, representatives of the independent
French monitoring laboratory CHIIRAD made a field trip to Niger to observe the
conditions of the uranium mines at Arlit and Akouta. Members noted the nearly total
absence of any form of waste management. Deposits of waste rock and uranium mill tailings
remained exposed, representing a source of radioactive dust that might migrate
through the environment. Further, they noted the lack of effective restrictions on local residents
scavenging contaminated metal scrap. This became an issue in 2006. The BBC
(BBC News, May 30) reported people living near Arlit were ill as a result of exposure to
radioactive scrap metal. In 2007, in the town of Akokan near the Akouta uranium mine,
radioactive waste rock was being reused for local road construction.
Great Britain’s nuclear weapons program was partly fueled by uranium mined in
Namibia. In the 1970s, Namibia was illegally occupied by South African armed forces. In
1976, the British-Australian mining company Rio Tinto Zinc (RTZ) began illegally mining
uranium at Rössing in violation of a 1974 UN decree that no Namibian natural resources
could be extracted without the consent of the UN Council for Namibia. The decree specifically
included these words:
No person or entity, whether a body corporate or unincorporated,
may search for, prospect for, explore for, take, extract, mine, process,
refine, use, sell, export of distribute any natural resource, whether animal
or mineral, situated or found to be situated within the territorial
limits of Namibia (Edwards 1983).
This decree was totally ineffectual in stopping RTZ’s mining operations. The veil,
behind which the company attempted to hide its operations, was pulled aside in The Plunder
of Namibian Uranium, a United Nations booklet published in 1982:
Mined by virtual slave labor under brutal and unsafe working conditions,
transported in secrecy to foreign countries, processed in unpublicized
locations, marked with false labels and shipping orders, owned
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by a tangle of multinational corporations whose activities are only
partially disclosed, and used in part to build the nuclear power of an
outlaw nation (Edwards 1983).
RTZ’s Rössing mine was notorious for human rights abuses:
Rössing has become synonymous with neocolonialism, the perpetuation
of apartheid, flagrant disregard of international law, and the
symbiotic relationship between civil and military nuclear fuel supplies.
To the United Nations Council on Namibia (UNCN), the mine has
epitomized the illegal seizure of vital resources from a territory until
recently cheated of its independence. To Namibia’s government, led
by SWAPO (South West Africa Peoples’ Organization), Rössing was
the single greatest bulwark of apartheid in the country for over a
decade. To its workforce it is a danger for years to come (Moody).
In the article “Rio Tinto: Founded on Blood,” Sue Boland had this to say:
In every continent where Rio Tinto operates, the story is the same:
land taken from indigenous people without compensation; workers
prevented from freely organizing in trade unions; destruction of the
environment; and cozy relations with politicians, government officials
and dictators.
At its Rössing mine, Rio Tinto maintains racial segregation in company
housing. Black employees are paid rock-bottom wages while their
white counterparts are paid above the maximum of the common
scale, in what is called an inducement band.
In dealing with indigenous peoples’ opposition, Rio Tinto usually
begins negotiations with several indigenous groups. Once it establishes
which group can be bought off, it ceases negotiations with all the
others and claims that it has indigenous support for its project.
As a player in the uranium supply chain, Canada ignored both the UN decree and
the flagrant human rights violations and refined the uranium mined in Namibian at Port
Hope. This little-known fact came to light in the article “Canada’s Nuclear Industry and
the Myth of the Peaceful Atom:”
The practice of refining Namibian uranium at Eldorado’s federally
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owned facility in Port Hope, Ontario, was already well established by
1974, and continued uninterrupted into the 1980s. RTZ’s Canadian
subsidiary, Rio Algom, actually owned 10 per cent of the Rössing
mine, and Falconbridge Nickel — a Canadian subsidiary of Superior
Oil of Texas — had been exploring for uranium in Namibia since the
mid-1970s. The Canadian government did not consider itself legally
or morally bound to obey the UN Council’s decree, or the UN
General Assembly’s 1981 resolution, which specifically requested that
Canada and the other countries involved in the [uranium] cartel “take
measures to prohibit their state-owned corporations, together with
their subsidiaries, from all dealings in Namibian uranium” (Edwards 1983).
The assault on the environment and the lives of indigenous people by uranium mining
pales in comparison to the crimes which accompanied aboveground weapon testing. To
test their weapons, the United States, the Soviet Union, France, Great Britain and China
secured isolated areas, oblivious to the ruin they would produce in aboriginal cultures and
the ecological fabric of the region. The archetypal, most perfect embodiment of environmental
racism, which set the pattern for all subsequent weapon testing was carried out by
the United States in the Marshall Islands. The Marshalls consist of 29 low-lying coral atolls
and five islands in an area of 357,000 square miles of the Pacific Ocean. In 1944, the US
wrested the islands from the Japanese and occupied them for the remainder of World War
II. In 1947, the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands was established by the United Nations
which designated the United States as the administrator. The islands included in the
trusteeship consisted of the Marshall Islands, the Caroline Islands (which include the
islands of Kosrae, Pohnpei, Truck/Chuuk, Yap and Belau), and the Marianas Islands
(which include Guam, Saipan and Tinian) (Salvador 1999). Article six of the Trust
Agreement reads as follows:
The administering authority shall:
1. foster the development of such political institutions as are suited
to the trust territory and shall promote the development of the inhabitants
of the trust territory toward self-government or independence
as may be appropriate to the particular circumstances of the trust territory
and its peoples and the freely expressed wishes of the peoples
concerned; and to this end shall give to the inhabitants of the trust territory
a progressively increasing share in the administrative services in
the territory; shall develop their participation in government; and give
due recognition to the customs of the inhabitants in providing a system
of law for the territory; and shall take other appropriate measures
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toward these ends;
2. promote the economic advancement and self-sufficiency of the
inhabitants, and to this end shall regulate the use of natural resources;
encourage the development of fisheries, agriculture, and industries;
protect the inhabitants against the loss of their lands and resources;
and improve the means of transportation and communication;
3. promote the social advancement of the inhabitants and to this
end shall protect the rights and fundamental freedoms of all elements
of the population without discrimination; protect the health of the
inhabitants; control the traffic in arms and ammunition, opium and
other dangerous drugs, and alcoholic and other spirituous beverages;
and institute such other regulations as may be necessary to protect the
inhabitants against social abuses; and
4. promote the educational advancement of the inhabitants, and to
this end shall take steps toward the establishment of a general system
of elementary education; facilitate the vocational and cultural
advancement of the population; and shall encourage qualified students
to pursue higher education, including training on the professional
level (Trusteeship).
Before the ink had dried, the US was forsaking all pretense of trusteeship. The
tragedy commenced in February 1946. Commodore Ben Wyatt, US Military Governor of
the Marshall Islands, approached King Juda and the 167 residents of the Bikini Atoll and
asked if they would be willing to vacate their island temporarily for the “good of mankind
and to end all world wars” (Guyer). Upon agreeing, the entire population was relocated to
Rongerik Atoll, 125 miles away. Soon after, the US conducted Operation Crossroads in
the Atoll. To test the effectiveness of atomic bombs against naval armadas, two bombs were
detonated in proximity to a fleet of decommissioned vessels. Shot Able was detonated in
the atmosphere above the vessels. Shot Baker was the first atomic bomb set off underwater.
It produced an environmental catastrophe. The explosion jettisoned into the atmosphere
the atomized coral reef and millions of gallons of water vapor, both now made
radioactive by neutron activation, which contaminated the entire lagoon, the islands of
Bikini Atoll and beyond. (In subsequent years, field teams from the University of
Washington studied the web of life at Bikini, documenting the uptake of radionuclides by
plants and animals and the increased concentration of radionuclides in feeders at the top
of the various food chains.)
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While their home was being decimated, the people of Bikini suffered. The US navy
relocated them to Rongerik Atoll. Rongerik was one-sixth the size of Bikini and was uninhabited
due to a lack of water. The food supply was poor. And to top it all off, a native
tradition held that evil spirits roamed the island (Fretwell). Within months of arriving at
their “temporary” home, the Bikinians were starving and begging to go home. Unaware at
that time of the depth of their victimization, they had no idea that their idyllic home had
been irretrievably despoiled. After Crossroads, between 1946 and 1958, the US used Bikini
to test an additional 21 atomic and hydrogen bombs. The infamous Shot Bravo, a 15 megaton
thermonuclear weapon, was detonated at Bikini on March 1, 1954.
In 1948, recognizing the inadequacy of Rongerik for sustaining life, the US temporarily
relocated the Bikinians to Kwajalein Atoll. Six months later, in November, the
entire community was resettled on their permanent home, Kili, in the southern Marshalls.
The adversities they were forced to endure on Kili were many, including typhoons, forest
fires, hunger, isolation and loss of their traditional diet and culture (Fretwell).
At the beginning of the 1970s, the US conducted “cleanup” operations on Bikini.
In what can only be considered a human radiation experiment, the US permitted three
extended families, consisting of just over 100 individuals, to resettle on Bikini in 1973. By
1975, regular radiological surveys revealed that newly planted crops were absorbing and
concentrating radionuclides and that this contamination was being transferred to the
inhabitants. When this information became public knowledge, the Bikinians filed a legal
suit against the US to force a complete radiological survey of Bikini. The US consented to
this investigation, but it procrastinated for three years before starting. All the while, the people
of Bikini were accumulating internal exposure. When alarming levels of cesium-137
were detected in their bodies in 1978, the people of Bikini were evacuated from their homeland.
The people of Bikini were not the only people in the Marshall Islands victimized by
nuclear testing. In addition to the 23 tests at Bikini, 44 tests were conducted at Eniwetok
Atoll. Eniwetok was initially selected as a test site in 1947. In September of following year,
authorization was given by the US government to pay the Eniwetokees $515,360 for their
islands. However, the Atomic Energy Agency refused to make payments without the native
population providing legal proof of ownership (Fretwell). (How do traditional landholders
provide legal proof of ownership?) Although nuclear testing began at Eniwetok in 1948
and the native population was relocated to Ujelang, no payment had been made through
August 1951. Finally, in November 1956, US officials gave the Eniwetok people $25,000
cash and a $150,00 trust fund (Fretwell). Unlike the people of Bikini and Eniwetok, the
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native populations of Rongelap, Ailingnae and Utirik were not permanently resettled.
They were temporarily relocated as fallout from Shot Bravo was passing over their islands
but were then allowed to return.
Many disturbing events surround the Bravo test shot on Bikini. Prior to the test, the
weather was miserable and the possibility existed that the test would have to be cancelled.
At the last minute, the weather improved, but the winds were blowing in the direction of
inhabited islands. Nevertheless, the test took place as scheduled. The fallout from this
hydrogen bomb was horrific, and test personnel were rapidly evacuated from nearby
islands. As the radioactive cloud drifted away from Bikini, it passed over Rongelap, 100
miles away. A radioactive snow of contaminated sand and coral fell to a depth of one and
a half inches on the island. Utirik, 300 miles away, also was heavily contaminated. The
people of these islands were not evacuated for three days. This incident was aptly characterized
with these words: “These (and other) Pacific people were used as human guinea pigs
in an obscene racist experiment — a particularly sharp snapshot of colonialism and the
horrors wrought by the arrogant mindset which goes with it” (Peace Movement Aotearoa).
This is not hyperbole. A report by the Brookhaven National Laboratory had this to say
about Rongelap:
Even though the radioactive contamination of Rongelap Island is
considered perfectly safe for human habitation, the levels of activity
are higher than those found in other inhabited locations in the world.
The habitation of these people on the island will afford most valuable
ecological radiation data on human beings (Fretwell).
Merril Eisenbud, then an official with the Atomic Energy Commission, offered this
racist quip regarding Shot Bravo and the unique opportunity it created for studying radiation
effects in the Rongelap people: “While it is true that these people do not live the way
civilized people do, it is nevertheless true that they are more like us than the mice”
While recalling memorable proclamations of environmental racism, the following
famous quotation needs to be enshrined. During the 1970s, when Micronesians began
demanding independence, Walter J. Hickel, US Secretary of the Interior, asked Henry
Kissinger his opinion on the subject. Kissinger replied: “There are only 90,000 people out
there. Who gives a damn?” (Katosang).
Rosalie Bertell conducted research on the Rongelap people and provided this telling
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The medical examination of the Rongelap people included many
reports of “monster” and molar births. According to the people, they
actually began to photograph these abnormalities, which at first they
had hidden thinking it was their own fault to have such abnormal
pregnancies. When the photographs were shown to American
researchers, the pictures were seized. They burned them in front of
the people saying: “This is what we think of your evidence.” We
heard this story from many different people on the Atoll (Bertell,
February 1998).
Although buried in the scientific journals, evidence remains of the terrible toll of
death and disease bequeathed to Marshall Islanders from nuclear testing. In exchange for
their innocence, trust and powerlessness, these people received payment in the form of
chronic illnesses, congenital diseases and malformations, miscarriages and stillbirths,
thyroid problems, tumors and cysts, heart problems, reproductive problems, mental and
neurological abnormalities, and adult onset diabetes (Bertell. February 1998).
In the last two decades of the twentieth century, the people of the island nation of
Belau in the Caroline Islands worked to create a nuclear-free zone in Micronesia. Their
sovereignty movement represented decolonization, demilitarization and denuclearization
and was an affront to US interests in the Pacific. Richard Salvador of the Nuclear Age
Peace Foundation wrote these insightful words of how nuclear colonialism is an enemy of
The crucial issues to consider here, or in similar nation-building
efforts, are those of democratic principles and military imperatives.
Between 1983 and 1993, Belau peoples exercised their democratic
right to freely express their common wishes in founding a nuclear-free
island nation. In all of these democratic exercises, we said No each
time. US military imperatives overrode all of those No’s and undermined
democratic practice; but this is not something new. Cultures of
militarism and nuclearism are, by nature, cultures of secrecy. They
erode openness and democracy and make indispensable a culture of
death and terror which legitimizes militarism and production and use
of weapons of mass destruction. The theory and practice of nuclear
deterrence have been extremely hostile to democratic practice.
National military strategies have often required the absence of free
democratic thought while, on the other hand, a commitment to
nuclear disarmament and demilitarization will allow communities to
participate more fully in both the political sphere and civil society, in
Nucl e a r C o l o n i a l i s m
working to ensure a world free of the nuclear dangers that confront us
(Salvador 1999).
A contributing factor to the erosion of democracy in America during the second half
of the 20th century was government deception regarding atmospheric weapon testing in
Nevada. Many of the lies referenced in this book took root and blossomed during the 1950s
as a hedge against Americans discovering the extent of radioactive contamination spreading
across their nation. While environmental studies in the Pacific were documenting the
contamination of food chains at Bikini, nonstop detonations were illuminating the sky over
Nevada. Even after strontium-90 was detected in dairy products and in the teeth of children,
the government dodged accountability. Weapon testing took priority over the welfare
of citizens of the homeland, and nuclear colonialism and environmental racism shredded
democratic principles and ideals.
In the early 1950s, the government of the United States seized land belonging to the
Western Shoshone and Southern Paiute peoples to create the Nevada Test Site. The story
of this land grab is succinctly told by Kuletz:
The Western Shoshone land base included the Nevada Test Site,
Yucca Mountain, and beyond (actually 24 million acres). The ‘legal’
claim to the Nevada Test Site area stems from the 1863 Treaty of
Ruby Valley, which is a peace and friendship treaty allowing settlers to
travel through Shoshone territory; not to withdraw it from the Indian
use. The treaty identifies the territory but does not cede the territory
to any US political entity. In the 1970s the US government initially
offered the Western Shoshone a sum of $26,145,189 to buy the land,
but the money still sits in the bank. The Shoshone refuse to accept
money for something they refuse to sell. Not taking ‘no’ for an answer,
the US government, under the auspices of the Indian Claims
Commission, proceeded to accept the money on behalf of the
Western Shoshone so that it (the US government) could proceed with
establishing title to the land. The Western Shoshone see this ruse as
US usurpation of their land, an infringement on their sovereignty that
threatens a fragile cultural identity and survival.
At the Nevada Test Site between 1951 and 1992, a total of 928 nuclear tests were
conducted. Of these, approximately 100 were atmospheric detonations. According to
Chief Raymond Yowell of the Western Shoshone: “We are now the most bombed nation
in the world. The radiation has caused Shoshone, Ute, Navajo, Hopi Paiute, Havasupai,
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Hualapai and other downwind communities to suffer from cancer, thyroid disease and birth
defects” (Taliman). In retrospect, it is apparent that precautions at the Nevada Test Site
were inadequate for protecting these populations. Native Americans living off the land
were not adequately informed that traditional sources of fresh water were contaminated
and that grazing livestock were vulnerable to uptake of hazardous levels of radionuclides.
In the late 1980s, the Department of Energy attempted to calculate radiation exposures
from the Nevada Test Site. Doses were calculated for nine different lifestyle models (George
and Russ). Invisible to this study were the unique lifestyles of the indigenous inhabitants
and the additional routes of exposure to which they were vulnerable (Frohmberg et al.). For
instance, Native Americans of the region routinely hunted and consumed small game such
as wild rabbits. This vector concentrated iodine-131 in the thyroid glands of people in
native communities and was passed on to nursing infants through breast milk (Russ et al.).
It is difficult to find the right word to characterize the raining down of radioactivity
on Americans living downwind of the Nevada Test Site. For that matter, radioactivity was
detected in the Midwest after the Trinity Test in 1944 and students at Rensselaer
Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, measured fallout radiation after Shot Simon in
1953. Unbeknownst to the entire population of the United States, everyone was transformed
into a downwinder, vulnerable to greater risks of radiogenic diseases. Clearly, to
use the term “racism” to describe this type of victimization is inappropriate. Perhaps
expressions such as “nuclear despotism” or “nuclear tyranny,” or better yet “nuclear fascism”,
would be more apt for describing the contamination of a people by their own government
or by government subsidized industries. The BIG question is who is profiting
from all this oppression, disease and ruination of the environment. Certainly not the common
man and woman. Then who and for what? Could the answer be so crass as for the
ruthless power of those sworn to an ideology of domination and the greed of a handful of
industrialists, armament makers and energy company czars?
In lockstep with the environmental racism practiced by the United States, Britain
conducted its nuclear testing in its former colony of Australia on the homeland of the
Pitjantjatjara, the Tjarutja and the Kokatha peoples. Between 1952 and 1963, 12 atomic
blasts were detonated and hundreds of minor tests involving radioactive material were conducted.
Seven atomic bombs were set off at Maralinga and two others at Emu Field, both
sites located in the Great Victoria Desert in South Australia. Three additional tests were
conducted on the Monte Bello Islands off the coast of Western Australia. While developing
the means of decimating cities, the British, with full support of the Australian government,
helped decimate Aboriginal culture. Jim Green in his article “Radioactive Racism
in Australia” documents the plight of the indigenous people at the time of British testing.
According to Green:
Nucl e a r C o l o n i a l i s m
The general attitude of white settlers towards Aborigines was profoundly
racist; Aboriginal society was considered one of the lowest
forms of civilization and doomed to extinction. Their land was considered
empty and available for exploitation — ‘terra nullius.’
In his book Fallout – Hedley Marston and the British Bomb Tests in Australia, author Roger
Cross succinctly describes the racism that underlied the British nuclear tests:
Little mention was made of course about the effects the bomb tests
might have on the Indigenous Australian inhabitants of the
Maralinga area, a community that had experienced little contact with
white Australia. In 1985 the McClelland Royal Commission would
report how Alan Butement, Chief Scientist for the Department of
Supply wrote to the native patrol officer for the area, rebuking him for
the concerns he had expressed about the situation and chastising him
for “apparently placing the affairs of a handful of natives above those
of the British Commonwealth of Nations.” When a member of staff
at Hedley Marston’s division queried the British scientist Scott Russell
on the fate of the Aborigines at Maralinga, the response was that they
were a dying race and therefore dispensable.
In harmony with the maltreatment of native populations that started during the
early colonization of Australia, the British subjected native peoples to human rights abuse
and racism, drove them from their tribal lands, incarcerated them in settlements and
demonstrated indifference to their safety and welfare (Varney). In planning and executing
the tests, lands were seized from people who traditionally occupied them. At no time were
these people, who had the most to lose from nuclear testing, consulted. The test sites themselves
and vast tracts around them were permanently damaged, contaminated for millennia,
and no compensation was ever provided. Rehabilitation efforts of the lands were a
sham. What was once homeland was rendered radioactive wasteland.
These acts of environmental racism devastated Aboriginal culture and religion
because of the wrenching disruption they produced between the people and their land.
One can sense the depth of the impact from this observation by Robert Varney:
To Aborigines the land is a spirit entity — a parchment on which their
history is indelibly engraved and where special living places — sacred
sites, have acquired significance as reminders of their past, a past also
relived in the rituals of the Corroboree, the Dreamtime ceremonies,
story telling and initiation. The deep Aboriginal belief that is cenA
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tered on love and honor for the land that has nurtured them, is surely
as profound and as worthy of respect as any other religion.
Varney adds to our understanding of the traditional lifestyle of the Aborigines:
For thousands of years many Aboriginal tribes had lived and evolved
in parts of Australia which, like the Great Victoria Desert that encompassed
Emu Field and Maralinga, were areas that were amongst the
harshest and most unforgiving territories on Earth. But they had
learned to survive by adaptation, having developed a formidable
knowledge of hunting, tracking, food gathering and ability to find
water, and many whites that became lost and without resources owed
their lives to Aborigines who befriended them. Aboriginal tribes lived
a nomadic existence lest one place became over-exploited and its fragile
environment irreparably damaged, their travels following wellworn
routes chosen for their water holes, availability of game and
“bush tucker.”
Profound indifference to the distinctive lifestyles of the Aboriginal people was a root
cause for the crimes that accompanied nuclear weapon testing. Those authorities overseeing
the tests didn’t bother to do their homework and were ignorant of Aboriginal culture,
customs, numbers and distribution (Varney). Although the Monte Bello Islands were uninhabited,
the tests there produced fallout that was blown east over Western Australia. Far
more native people than assumed occupied the great swaths of this land. The fallout contaminated
food and water sources and was responsible for producing radiation sickness and
On October 15, 1953, the Totem I test was detonated at Emu Field. It sent a
radioactive cloud 250 miles northwest over Wallatinna and Melbourne Hill. A report
penned in Britain in 1985 by the Royal Commission reviewing the British Atomic Tests in
Australia concluded that wind conditions at the time of the test were unfavorable and a previous
study had shown that such conditions would produce unacceptable levels of fallout.
Further, the criteria established for carrying out tests failed to take into account possible
contamination to aboriginal people living downwind (Green). The aftermath of this test
was sudden outbreaks of sickness and death in downwind communities. Subsequent to the
Totem I shot, 45 members of the Yankunyathjara were found to be dwelling a mere 170
kilometers from the blast. They reported being enveloped in a black mist soon after the
explosion that rocked their land. As reported in a 1982 issue of Cultural Survival Quarterly,
two days after the test the Yankunyathjara began to experience weakness and skin rashes,
vomiting and diarrhea. By the third day, healthy children became blind. One person of
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the tribe died five days after the blast and more died within the next year. Within 15 years
of the tests, aboriginals and white settlers who were exposed to fallout began suffering and
dying from cancer (Rÿser).
In addition to being ill-informed of Aboriginal numbers, the test authorities failed
miserably to control access by aboriginal groups to the test sites prior to the blasts or preventing
them from entering contaminated areas after the tests. Barristers representing the
Aborigines at the Royal Commission in 1985 characterized security prior to the tests as “an
absolute farce, a total shambles” (Varney). Those who planned the tests at Maralinga were
oblivious to the fact that the detonations were performed on tracts of land crisscrossed by
ancestral migration routes. People routinely traveled over contaminated countryside after
the tests. The slightest appreciation of the distinctive, traditional lifestyles of the Aborigines
would have warned authorities that testing would put these people at risk. The people of
the desert wore minimal clothing and no shoes. They lived off the land, dwelling in the
open or in makeshift shelters. They hunted and gathered wild foods. Blanketing the area
with radionuclides was guaranteed to be an act of genocide.
Measures to insure the safety of indigenous peoples were woefully inadequate. An
insufficient number of native patrol officers were assigned the hopeless task of overseeing
thousands of square kilometers. Signs warning of impending danger were erected at strategic
locations, but these were written in English, a language that few Aboriginal people could
read. Groups found living or migrating through areas likely to be contaminated were
forcibly relocated. Prior to the tests at Maralinga in 1956-57, native groups were relocated
at Yalata, several hundred miles from their tribal lands, where they remained until 1984.
The trauma of dislocation and the loss of their traditional lifestyle resulted in the highest
rate of alcohol-related illnesses and deaths of any Australian community (Barton). The
experience at Yalata for the Aborigines can easily be pictured in this anecdote:
Speaking at a South Australian select parliamentary hearing in 1983,
Hans Gaden who worked at the Yalata Mission in 1952 when he was
responsible for moving the Maralinga Aborigines there, described the
deterioration of living conditions during their stay. He claimed they
should never have been moved South into territory which was so
unlike their tribal lands, and lamented that 31 years later (they were
still there in 1982) it was too late. He told how lack of an employment
incentive (most wanted to work when moved there) made them lazy
and how after 1967 when they could consume alcohol legally, they
were ruined by drink, saying “Full-blooded Aborigines go to pieces
after drinking alcohol.” He talked of their taxi driver supplier saying
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“If I could have found that white man I would probably have shot
him.” Gaden summed up his feelings of Yalata when he said “That
is what had become of the Aborigines from Maralinga. It almost
makes me cry when I see them today. They are not the same people”
Despite forced relocation, evacuation for the tests was later discovered to have been
incomplete. On numerous occasions, native people were found roaming in contaminated
areas, foraging for survival. In one well known incident, a family trekking through the
desert was found camped inside a crater dug out by a nuclear blast. These “unplanned”
exposures destroyed the health and lives of countless Aborigines.
Toward the end of the 1990s, a halfhearted display of cleaning up Maralinga was
carried out, which according to a government document, was “aimed at reducing
Commonwealth liability arising from residual contamination” (Green). Alan Parkinson, a
nuclear engineer and whistleblower, had this to say about the Maralinga cleanup on ABC
radio on August 5, 2002: “What was done at Maralinga was a cheap and nasty solution
that wouldn’t be adopted on white-fellas land” (Green).
In 2007, Green Audit published a health study of descendants of members of the
British Nuclear Test Veterans’ Association (Busby and de Messieres). The study looked at
the veterans’ children and grandchildren and investigated the rates for miscarriages, stillbirths,
infant mortality, congenital illnesses and cancer. These rates were then compared
with national statistics and with the descendants of unexposed controls. Richard Bramhall
of the Low Level Radiation Campaign summarized the results of this study as follows:
The findings are a challenge to conventional estimates of the health
impact of radiation, because high levels of miscarriages, stillbirths
and congenital conditions were found, though cancer was not greatly
• Miscarriages were 2.75 times higher than expected,
• Stillbirths were 2.7 times higher than expected,
• The rates for congenital conditions are shocking. In the veterans’
children they are 10 times higher than expected. The grandchildren
have almost as much — an 8.35-fold excess, indicating that
genetic damage is being passed down the generations at an unexpected
rate. Conventional genetic theory would suggest that damage
would be diluted in later generations. The study’s results for congenital
damage are in line with post-Chernobyl animal research that
shows such effects persisting for up to 22 generations. The outlook for
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the future of the veterans’ families is grim.
None of the results correlates with “doses” recorded by the radiation
film badge monitors that some of the servicemen were given to wear
during the tests. Neither do the findings correlate with attendance at
actual explosions, as the genetic damage is present in the descendants
of men who served on test sites only between tests. These men were
nevertheless exposed to fallout inhalation hazards. These two considerations
strongly suggest that the cause of the health problems is
chronic internal radiation, rather than acute external irradiation from
the explosions themselves (Bramhall 2007).
Obviously, the findings of this study have implications for participants of weapon
testing throughout the world and for all people who dwell on lands in proximity to the
world’s test sites. As this study suggests, the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons or limited
nuclear war will produce horrific genetic effects in future generations. The noting of
this consequence is absent from the Hiroshima Life Span Study.
Following the entrenched pattern established by other nuclear powers, France elected
to detonate nuclear weapons in its colonies. As the Algerian War of Independence
raged, France began testing atomic weapons in the Sahara desert at Reganne Oasis, 430
miles south of Colomb-Béchar. During 1960-1961, four atmospheric tests were conducted.
Protests by surrounding African nations, and the fact that radioactivity from the tests
had drifted north into France, forced continued testing underground. Radioactivity is still
a hazard on land around the test site. The Algerian daily paper, Liberté, reported in June
2001 that early mortality of livestock is an ongoing problem (Schmid). At the cessation of
testing, the French buried contaminated equipment and vehicles in the sand. Oblivious to
the hazard, local inhabitants later uncovered the cache and sold it (Schmid). It has been
reported that the health of Berbers, the indigenous people of North Africa, was adversely
affected by the testing (Rÿser). The French have persistently denied any adverse effects to
people or the environment as a result of their testing program. Journalists allowed to study
army archives in 1998, however, retrieved evidence that the tests created a major hazard to
people downwind. According to an article that appeared in Le Nouvel Observateur, fallout
from the 65 kiloton shot Blue Jerboise, the first Algerian test in February 1960, spread to
the atmosphere above the former Fort-Lamy, what is now N’Djamena, the capital of Chad.
A secret report written on July 15, 1960 stated that the air above the city immediately after
the test was 100,000 times more radioactive than normal (WISE 1998). During the last test,
French soldiers participated in maneuvers “under the cloud,” marching to within 100
meters to ground zero 35 minutes after the blast. The purpose was to test protective mateA
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rials and study the psychological response of the troops. The fear that gripped the soldiers
was summarized in a report: “The psychological behavior of the soldier seems to be dominated
by a psychose of fear, susceptible to become an obsession” (WISE 1998). Health
studies of the thousands of participants in the operation were never undertaken. After the
four atmospheric tests, French testing in Algeria moved underground. Between 1961 and
1966, 13 tests were conducted at In Ecker in the Hoggar mountains. Plutonium air dispersion
tests were also conducted in the area.
When France began developing thermonuclear weapons, testing was relocated to
economically dependent, French-occupied Polynesia. French Polynesia is comprised of 118
islands in the South Pacific, covering an area the size of Europe. Between 1966 to 1974, at
the atolls of Moruroa and Fangataufa, 41 atmospheric tests were conducted. This was followed
by 152 underground tests, the last of which was detonated in 1996. As in Algeria, a
ruthless silence has been maintained by the French government regarding the effects of testing
on downwind populations. Official pronouncements persistently portrayed French
nuclear testing as “clean” and radioactive fallout had no effects on the health of the population
of Polynesia (Braddock). This stance was part of a campaign of lies which became
unraveled in a 478-page report presented to the French Polynesia Assembly on February 9,
2006. According to that report, the French suppressed for 40 years “damning proof ” that
each of the 41 atmospheric tests conducted between 1966 and 1974 dumped radioactive
fallout on the populated island of Tahiti, 1,200 miles downwind of the test sites (Braddock).
As reported by World Information Service on Energy (WISE) in “French Nuclear
Tests: 30 Years of Lies,” contamination of unsuspecting innocents commenced with the
first test:
The first French Pacific nuclear test-explosion took place on Moruroa
on July 2, 1966. Sixteen hours later, alarmist messages reached Vice-
Admiral Lorain on the cruiser De Grasse: The cloud was more
radioactive than had been thought, and stayed lower. The wind blew
it towards Mangareva. A day later, a safety official from Mangareva
sent a telegram: “Radioactivity not neglectable. Soil contaminated.
Instructions asked for decontamination and food.” Lorain only sent
the scientific vessel la Coquille, and forbade the dissemination of
information to the population, or to start safety directives. The doctor
on board la Coquille, Millon, wrote a secret report, of which only
two copies exist. The vessel arrived at Mangareva three days after the
test. The first positive results (of measurement of radioactivity) are in
fish and plankton. The fourth day the vessel reaches Rikitea, the
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largest village. Local products were already severely contaminated.
Unwashed salads: 18,000 picocuries per gram, same level as at
Chernobyl on the first day. After heavy rain, soil samples showed levels
of 1,400 picocuries per gram, a still heavy contamination.
Nothing was forbidden (except to disseminate information), nobody
was warned. Millon wrote: “The population [was] completely
unaware, carefree and show[ed] no curiosity” (WISE 1998).
Other damning revelations surfaced about French conduct in the aftermath of the
the first test in the Pacific. A French government minister was observing the detonation
from a nearby island in the Gambier group. An unexpected shift in the wind forced his
immediate evacuation by plane. The inhabitants of the island were left behind and not
informed of the hazard (Kleiner). As the fallout cloud approached the island of
Mangareva, soldiers watched children playing in the sand at the beach. Fully aware that
radioactivity was approaching the island, the soldiers gave no warning to the people. As
characterized in “French Nuclear Tests: 30 Years of Lies:” “To warn the parents would
mean warning the world France was going to poison an inhabited island. So they kept their
mouth shut” (WISE 1998). A report presented to the French Polynesia Assembly in
February 2006 contained invaluable insights into how France attempted to hide the incident.
Research by the non-government Commission of Independent Research and
Information on Radioactivity proved that external exposure to radioactive fallout in the
Gambier Islands was twice the official levels later published (Braddock).
The same pattern of contaminating indigenous inhabitants and keeping silent continued
during further tests in September 1966. Heavy rains contaminated the islands of
Tureia and Mangareva. Measurements of the radioactivity in rainwater sampled from
Mangareva reached 100,000 Becquerels per liter (WISE 1998). The military took no action
to protect the exposed population. According to one officer, the fall of radioactive rain
“necessitates a strengthening of the secrecy” (WISE 1998). The special vulnerability of the
native Polynesians, and their potential for serving as a damning study group further down
the road, were known to test authorities:
Four islands with 1,200 inhabitants were threatened with radioactive
fallout: Reao, Tureia, Pukarua and especially Mangareva with 600
persons. What to do? It became an obsession for the atomic patrons.
To evacuate them would be the best, they were advised by the
Radiological Safety Service (SMSR). But then the media would
know: for political and psychological motives this was out of the question.
The SMSR experts knew the Polynesians were extremely vulA
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nerable to radiation effects. As they wrote: “This population has special
characteristics: isolated, an important fraction is less than 15 years
old, pregnant women, elderly people.” “Higher genetic risks than an
average European population” (WISE 1998).
Between 1962 and 1997, the French employed 15,000 Polynesians to work for the
atomic testing program. Most jobs were menial such as working in kitchens or doing construction.
But other jobs were hazardous, necessitating work that resulted in substantial
radiation exposure. Native Polynesians had no framework for understanding such concepts
as “radiation” and “contamination” (Kleiner). Consequently, they had no way of assessing
the danger in which they were placed. As related in the documentary Moruroa and Us, two
Dutch social scientists, Pieter de Vries and Hans Seur, interviewed 737 former test workers
(Kleiner). When hired, 73 percent were unaware where they would be working. Ten percent
of the work force was 17 years old or younger when they were first hired. Forty-one
percent reported that at some point in their employment they had worked in contaminated
zones. Of these, 14 percent reported that handling contaminated equipment was part of
their job. At times no protective clothing was available. At other times, they were forced
to remove the clothing due to the sweltering heat. Often they conducted their work wearing
nothing more than t-shirts and shorts. Fifty percent of workers reported either being
unfamiliar with personal radiation detection dosimeters or were never issued them
(Kleiner). As a consequence, there is no record of exposures to this population of workers
and no basis for financial compensation for work-related radiation-induced illnesses or for
help in paying for medical treatment. The survey did reveal that 7.4 percent of people
employed at the test site had physically disabled children and 2.4 percent had mentally disabled
children. Being unfamiliar with risks possessed by environmental contamination, the
native work force unknowingly injured itself. For instance, Kleiner describes the following:
The practice of frequently altering the boundaries of contaminated
zones contributed over the course of time to the prohibited area not
being taken seriously. In line with their cultural traditions, Tahitians
often did not observe the restrictive rules. For example, fishing in the
Moruroa lagoons was prohibited, but 55 percent of those interviewed
stated they ate fish caught there. Fishing and the consumption of fish
are an important part of Polynesian culture, and no fresh fish was
available from the canteens.
Until 1998, native workers who became ill while working at the nuclear sites were
treated at military hospitals. As a consequence, patients were prevented from later acquiring
their medical records. Evidence exists that the rate of cancer in Polynesia increased
Nucl e a r C o l o n i a l i s m
subsequent to French weapon testing (Kleiner). By one account, the normal incidence of
cancer in Polynesia is 17 percent. Among former Moruroa workers at the test site, 34 percent
have cancer (Kleiner). In Moruroa and Us, the statistic was presented that 25.7 out of
100,000 Polynesian women contract thyroid cancer while the ratio is only 4.8 per 100,000
in France. Unusually high incidence of leukemia is beginning to appear in the population
as well (Kleiner). Racial discrimination is reported as being a factor in the recognition of
test site-related illnesses. Dr. Gilles Soubiran, an intern at Territorial Central Hospital in
Tahiti relates the following:
I know of one case dealing with a civilian inspector who contracted
cancer and was acknowledged as a cancer victim. His driver, with a
lesser social status, received over many years perhaps the same dose of
radiation and likewise contracted cancer. He was, however, refused
recognition as a cancer victim (Kleiner).
There is no end to the environmental catastrophe created at nuclear test sites. A perfect
example occurred in March 1982. The cyclone William ripped up a layer of asphalt,
under which was buried plutonium. The storm scattered 10 kilograms of the radionuclide
over Moruroa. At the time 2,000 workers at the test site were stationed there. A decontamination
project took five years to complete (Kleiner). What decontamination means
under the circumstances is a debatable question.
The pillaging of the lands and lives of indigenous peoples by nuclear colonialism
and environmental racism is perfectly caught in this observation by Kleiner:
Prior to the commencement of atomic testing, Tahiti was a sleepy paradise
whose people on the whole lived in harmony with nature and in
accord with the laws of its thousand-year-old culture. Within 40
years, Tahiti was catapulted into the modern era through changes
brought on by the atomic tests. Cultural identity was lost; young people
do not even speak the language of their fathers and grandfathers
and no longer understand the old culture. But neither do they have
any prospects in the modern era. With the end of the tests, the largest
employer has left, and France will end its massive financial support in
2006. Future social conflicts can already be foreseen in the slums of
Tahiti’s capital, Papeete, and its neighboring city of Faaa.
The Soviet Union, like the United States, tested nuclear weapons within its own borders
and rained down radioactive fallout on its own people. Of 715 nuclear tests, 467 were
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conducted at the Semipalatinsk Test Site in northeast Kazakhstan. Of these, approximately
116 were atmospheric tests of atomic and hydrogen bombs. Another 224 tests were conducted
on the islands of Novaya Zemlya, an archipelago in the Arctic Ocean north of
Russia. The remaining 24 tests were located at other sites in Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine,
Uzbekistan and Turkmenia. Semipalatinsk Polygon, or Semipalatinsk-21, was constructed
in the late 1940s by slave laborers transported from the Gulag. According to James
Lernager in his article “Second Sunset - Victims of Soviet Nuclear Testing,” the test site
was ringed by farms and ranches and hundreds of thousands of people lived within a 50
mile radius. Says Lernager: “The residents of eastern Kazakhstan may have received
more radiation, over a longer period of time, than any other people on Earth.” He then
Occasionally, some of the largest towns directly bordering the Polygon
would be hurriedly evacuated by military personnel before a test.
Even then, however, 30 to 40 young adults would be ordered to
remain behind and take cover in houses and barns. Those who were
evacuated returned weeks later to an apocalyptic landscape strewn
with damaged homes and dead animals; those who had been forced
to stay were dazed, weak, and feverish, and soon exhibited signs of
acute radiation sickness. Most have since died.
A health crisis plagues the area. As many as 400,000 adults and children were made
sick by radiation (Thompson). Birth defect rates are 10 times those of Europe, America and
Japan (Thompson). Babies are routinely born with severe neurological and physical defects.
Rates of death and disease are staggering, with inordinate occurrences of immune system
disorders, leukemia, anemia and cancer. With water and food sources contaminated, the
death rate from disease is triple that in other parts of the former Soviet Union (Thompson).
Many people are afflicted simultaneously with a number of rare diseases (Lernager). From
the time of testing, third-generation newborns have been found to have higher rates of
chromosome abnormalities than those found in the first two generations (Lernager). As
after Chernobyl, civilian doctors were forbidden to enter into the medical records of their
patients any illnesses caused by radiation exposure. Officially, the Semipalatinsk region has
the lowest rate of cancer in Kazakhstan (Lernager). But the director of the Oncology
Hospital in the area estimates that at least 60,000 people died from radiation-induced cancer
(Lernager). In the village of Seriqkaisha, 20 miles from Semipalatinsk, almost every
family is afflicted with some type of radiation-induced illness (Chance). Various types of
deformities are common. The suicide rate in the region is one of the highest in the world
(Chance). In the village of Dolon, radiation produced a high incidence of cancer, birth
defects, nervous system disorders and immunological deficiencies (Makhijani 1999).
Nucl e a r C o l o n i a l i s m
Between 1955 and 1990, the USSR tested nuclear weapons in the Arctic at Novaya
Zemlya. In addition to typical atmospheric and underground tests, they conducted three
underwater tests. Other so-called “peaceful nuclear explosions” were detonated in the
1980s for seismic studies, mining, experiments in diverting rivers and attempts to extinguish
oil-field fires. This testing contaminated vast tracts with radioactive fallout. The impact to
health of indigenous people from nuclear testing is not known. However, an association is
expected between testing and diseases typical of radiation exposure at Chukotka, northern
Yakutiya, Kolguyev Island and the Kola Peninsula (Dallmann). The indigenous people
affected include the Nenets, Avars, Sami, Vepsians, Karelians and Komi.
Both inside and outside Russia, the Arctic is home to some four million inhabitants.
Indigenous peoples form approximately one-third of this population. Fallout from nuclear
testing contaminated the lichen-caribou-man food chain, making subsistence hunting a
hazard to health. The risk borne by circumpolar peoples of increased incidence of radiogenic
diseases was compounded by contamination from Chernobyl and radioactive pollution
from nuclear reprocessing facilities in Europe. This was revealed in a 1998 study by
the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program located in Oslo, Norway (WISE 1999).
Four hundred scientists and administrators assessed the health and environmental impact
of nuclear pollution in the eight countries that rim the Arctic: Canada, Denmark, Finland,
Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States. The study established that,
between contamination of reindeer and “unique features of Arctic terrestrial and freshwater
ecosystems,” indigenous peoples were particularly at risk for radiation-induced illnesses.
Among this population, some groups are among the most exposed people in the world. For
instance, in Norway, reindeer meat was found to contain 500 - 2,500 becquerels of cesium-
137 per kilogram. This was the primary reason why indigenous people of the area had levels
of internal contamination 50 times above the norm (WISE 1999). To serve as a basis of
comparison, the Japanese government has established as a standard that the maximum concentration
of cesium in food cannot exceed 370 Bq per kg (WISE 1999).
Since 1964, the People’s Republic of China has conducted 45 nuclear tests at Lop
Nur, located in western China in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. This densely
populated area is the ancient cultural center of eastern Turkestan and is the homeland of
the Uighur people. To these local inhabitants, nuclear testing created a nightmare from
which they have yet to emerge. The successive radioactive fallouts from the tests contaminated
drinking water and food supplies and are thought by local observers responsible for
the deaths of millions of animals and more than 200,000 people (SOTA). Official government
figures are not available to substantiate this claim, but the Chinese government has
conceded that deaths did occur (SOTA). Local people claim that since 1975, the incidence
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of leukemia has increased sevenfold and the incidence of cancer of the esophagus between
seven- and eight-fold. Pregnancy and birthing problems have increased by similar rates
(SOTA). In 1988, allegations were made that 20,000 deformed children lived in areas near
Lop Nur (SOTA). Fallout from Chinese nuclear tests drifted over Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan
and Tajikistan, but the human and ecological impact has not been systematically assessed.
In addition to uranium mining, China has constructed in Tibet facilities for producing
nuclear weapons. The environmental impact from these activities has been horrendous.
Gonpo Thondup addressed this issue at the World Uranium Hearing in Salzburg,
Germany, on September 14, 1992. Thondup, who escaped from Tibet to India in 1987,
visited two nuclear weapons production departments code numbered 405 in Kyangtsa and
792 in Thewo, Amdo region (Central). In his statement, he offered the following observations:
The effects of experiments and waste from 792 and 405 have been
devastating. Before 1960, in this region of Amdo, harvests were plentiful
and domestic animals healthy. Now the crop yield has shrunk
and people and animals are dying mysteriously, and in increasing
numbers. Since 1987 there has been a sharp rise in the number of
deaths of domestic animals and fish have all but vanished. In the
years of 1989 and 1990, 50 people died in the region, all from mysterious
causes. Twelve women gave birth in the summer of 1990, and
every child was dead before or died during birth. One Tibetan
woman, Tsering Dolma (aged 30), has given birth seven times and not
a single child has survived.
The people living near departments 405 and 792 have experienced
strange diseases they have never seen before. Many local people’s skin
turned yellowish and their eyesight has been affected seriously. The
local populace reported strange memory losses and many babies are
born deformed. The people of the area are desperate and can only
turn to religion and local doctors who have no knowledge of the uranium
mines or of the nuclear plants nearby (Dekhang).
Little is known of the human and environmental costs produced by the weapon testing
of other countries. India was detonated five or six underground tests at Pokhran.
Pakistan detonated between three and six weapons at Chagai Hills. North Korea detonated
one weapon, deemed a failure by the CIA, at Hwadae-ri in October 2006. Either Israel
or South Africa, or perhaps the two countries working jointly, are likely responsible for detonating
a nuclear weapon in the Indian Ocean on September 22, 1979 in what is now
Nucl e a r C o l o n i a l i s m
referred to as the Vela Incident.
The destruction of indigenous cultures forever silences ancient wisdom. This might
serve to explain the senseless radioactive contamination of the Earth that we are witnessing
today. Perhaps the New World Order can only take root on desecrated lands. In this vein,
deep insight may be garnered from this aboriginal voice:
The Great Spirit has instructed us that we have a sacred bond with
our Mother Earth and an obligation to the creatures who live upon it.
This is why it is disturbing that the federal government and the
nuclear power industry seem determined to ruin forever some of the
few lands we have left (Thorpe).
The intractable problem of the disposal of radioactive waste completes the tragedy
of humankind’s nuclear odyssey. For the selfish, short-term gain of a few, the Earth and all
life has been yoked with a burden that will take millennia to dispel. When the nuclear age
was in its infancy, the problem of caching radioactive waste was recognized. Rather than
solving the problem before creating millions of tons of the stuff, the nuclear powers raced
to exploit the atom in the belief that technology would catch up and solve the problem. A
half-century later, radioisotopes never before present on the Earth are aloft upon the winds
and floating in the waters. The terrible mentality that grips the earth finds this state of
affairs acceptable and makes every effort to perpetuate it.
To date, this terrible mentality has only conceived of one storage solution: to permanently
annex lands once belonging to aboriginal peoples and cordon off forever these
regions as zones of permanent sacrifice. Witness here the logical end of every act of
nuclear colonialism: the transformation of homelands into wastelands. The argument is
often made that humankind must accept the tradeoff, that to reap the benefits of nuclear
power or political security we all need accept the burden posed by radioactive waste. This
argument is fallacious. Who is really profiting from this state of affairs? In the long run,
who benefits from a contaminated Earth littered with poisoned water, poisoned air and poisoned
creatures? Some amongst us either must be plagued by a primitive mentality that
cannot realistically assess the damage already done or they somehow stand to benefit from
the state of affairs they created. Such pondering, as this whole book intends, points to
hearts of darkness, hearts working, both intentionally and unintentionally, to consume us all.
In the United States, transuranic waste from the nuclear weapons program began
arriving in 1999 at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad, New Mexico.
Radioactive waste from commercial nuclear power plants is tentatively scheduled to start
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arriving at Yucca Mountain, inside the Nevada Test Site, in 2017. This despite heated controversy
that the facility is ill-conceived and located in an geologically unsuitable area. [The
Bow Ridge fault runs directly beneath the site, and since 1976 there have been 621 seismic
events within a 50-mile radius of magnitude 2.5 or greater on the Richter scale (Attewill)].
As an interim measure, “temporary” storage sites have been sought on lands belonging to
Native Americans. In 1987, the Office of Nuclear Waste Negotiator was created by
Congress for the purpose of opening a federally monitored retrievable storage site for highlevel
nuclear waste. As related by Kevin Kamps in “Environmental Racism, Tribal
Sovereignty and Nuclear Waste,” the nuclear negotiator proceeded to contact every federally
recognized tribe in the country, offering huge sums of money to first consider and then
ultimately host a dump. Of the hundreds of tribes contacted, only about two dozen were
eventually “courted” by the negotiator (Kamps). During the process the nuclear negotiator,
David Leroy, suggested that Native Americans would be excellent stewards of the
nation’s radioactive waste due to their reverence for the environment and long tradition of
valuing the land:
The heritage which reveres the environment often can perceive, in
very subtle and very significant ways, how necessary and how appropriate,
and how environmental the call for the safe storage of spent
fuel is for many generations of Americans yet unborn — native and
non-natives. That environmental sensitivity is a great asset because
we are asking to create an environmentally sensitive facility for an
environmentally sensitive mission (Erlich).
The ploy to use Native American impoverishment as a lever to acquire a dump site
did not fool anyone. Grace Thorpe in “Radioactive Racism? Native Americans and the
Nuclear Waste Legacy” had this to say:
The US government targeted American Indians (for nuclear waste
disposal) for several reasons: their lands are some of the most isolated
in North America, they are some of the most impoverished and, consequently,
most politically vulnerable and, perhaps most important,
tribal sovereignty can be used to bypass state environmental laws.
How ironic that, after centuries of attempting to destroy it, the US
government is suddenly interested in promoting American Indian sovereignty
— just so it can dump its lethal garbage! All Indian treaties
and agreements with the US government have been broken. Today’s
Indians remember yesterday’s broken promises. The Indians cannot
trust the federal government and certainly cannot trust the nuclear
industry whose driving force is monetary profit.
Nucl e a r C o l o n i a l i s m
Due to fierce community resistance within the targeted tribes, the nuclear negotiator
failed in his mandate to acquire land for a dump. As a consequence, the Office of
Nuclear Waste Negotiator lost its funding and was dissolved by Congress in 1994. The
hope of exploiting Native Americans’ economic vulnerability, however, did not end there.
A consortium of 33 nuclear power utilities began exerting pressure on the Mescalero
Apache Tribe in New Mexico. When this came to naught, a coalition of eight utilities
under the name of Private Fuel Storage began working on the Skull Valley Goshutes in
Utah. Over the years, the nuclear power establishment had targeted 60 Native American
communities as possible sites for a waste repository. Fifty-nine of these had successfully
rebuffed their overture (Kamps 2006). But the Skull Valley Goshutes became the one
exception. The small tribe of approximately 125 individuals was economically depressed
and already encircled by toxic polluters. Kevin Kamps paints a clear picture of the tribe’s
The reservation is already surrounded by toxic industries.
Magnesium Corporation is the nation’s worst air polluter, belching
voluminous chlorine gas and hydrochloric acid clouds; hazardous
waste landfills and incinerators dot the map; with a name straight out
of Orwell’s 1984, Envirocare dumps “low level” nuclear waste in the
next valley and is applying to accept atomic trash hundreds of times
more radioactive than its present license allows. Dugway Proving
Ground has tested VX nerve gas, leading in 1968 to the “accidental”
killing of 6,400 sheep grazing in Skull Valley, whose toxic carcasses
were then buried on the reservation without the tribe’s knowledge, let
alone approval. The US Army stores half its chemical weapon stockpile
nearby, and is burning it in an incinerator prone to leaks; jets from
Hill Air Force Base drop bombs on Wendover Bombing Range, and
fighter crashes and misfired missiles have struck nearby. Tribal members’
health is undoubtedly adversely impacted by this alphabet soup
of toxins. Now PFS wants to add high-level nuclear waste to the mix
(Kamps 2001).
Tribal Chairman, Leon Bear, had this to say of the tribe’s plight:
We can’t do anything here that’s green or environmental. Would you
buy a tomato from us if you knew what’s out here? Of course not. In
order to attract any kind of development, we have to be consistent
with what surrounds us (Kamps 2001).
In 1996, without approval by the tribal council, Bear signed a lease agreement with
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Private Fuel Storage. The agreement opened the door for the “temporary” storage of
40,000 tons of commercial high-level radioactive waste. This amount represented approximately
80% of the commercial irradiated fuel in the US up to the end of 2004 (Kamps
2005). Aside from the three-member executive committee of the tribe, no one else was
informed as to the amount of money involved in the transaction. Says Kamps: “Estimates
of the secretive payoff to the tribal council range from 60 to 200 million dollars.” The
Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which licensed the dump, ruled that the dump did not
violate principles of environmental justice because the tribe was being well rewarded financially
and the dump represented “no disproportionately high and adverse impacts on low
income or minority populations” (Kamps, 2001). Eventually, the scheme of Private Fuel
Storage came to naught. On September 7, 2006, the US Bureau of Land Management
rejected the proposed plans to ship commercial radioactive waste across the country to Skull
Valley. The US Bureau of Indian Affairs also interceded, rejecting the lease agreement
signed privately by Leon Bear. With Skull Valley kaput, the last remaining hope for a permanent
repository for the nation’s commercial radioactive waste is Yucca Mountain, sacred
land of the Western Shoshones and legitimate owners of the land as outlined in the Treaty
of Ruby Ridge.
The nuclear behemoth’s radioactive waste is subjugating the entire globe under
nuclear colonialism and marginalizing all of humankind. With the Earth our shared home,
all acts which contaminate the Earth are acts of environmental racism, perpetrated by the
nuclear policymakers against everyone else. In the 16 countries where uranium is mined,
millions of tons of radioactive mill tailings remain uncovered, allowing radionuclides to be
swept into the air or washed into waterways. British Nuclear Fuel’s Sellafield reprocessing
facility dumps radioactive waste directly into the Irish Sea. Cogéma’s reprocessing facility
at La Hague in France dumps one million liters of liquid radioactive waste, the equivalent
of 50 waste barrels, into the ocean every day (Greenpeace 2000). Russia has scuttled
decommissioned naval vessels, sending loaded nuclear reactors to the ocean floor. Between
1949 and 1956, the nuclear weapons complex at Chelyabinsk in the former Soviet Union
dumped 96 million cubic meters of radioactive liquid into the Techa River (WISE 1990).
The facility also pumped 120 million curies of radioactivity into Lake Karachay. Standing
on the shoreline, a person would receive a lethal dose of 600 roentgens in one hour (WISE
1990). Water levels at the lake have been steadily dropping for years and parts have dried
out completely. Winds have lofted radioactivity into the air, spreading contamination
around the planet. At the Hanford Reservation in Washington state, one third of the 177
tanks holding 54 million gallons of high-level waste are leaking. Nearby underground
aquifers contain an estimated 270 billion gallons of contaminated water (Wolman). Also at
Hanford, 40 billions gallons of contaminated water was dumped directly into the soil and
Nucl e a r C o l o n i a l i s m
storage ponds are leaking. As a result, radioactive waste is migrating into the Columbia
River. At the former West Valley reprocessing facility 50 miles south of Buffalo, New York,
radioactive and chemical wastes continually leach into Cattaraugus Creek. For 18 miles,
the creek flows along the Cattaraugus Reservation of the Seneca Nations of Indians before
emptying into Lake Erie (Concerned Citizens). Cesium-137 and strontium-90 contaminate
soil and groundwater in and around the 3,345 acre site. The Department of Energy is
attempting to change its regulations to declassify high-level radioactive waste into “waste
incidental to reprocessing.” Under this new classification, environmental contamination
would be allowed to remain in the ground (NIRS 2004). DOE favors covering up contaminated
areas with concrete and walking away (Coalition). This despite the fact that a 1996
study by DOE calculated that within 500 years radionuclides from West Valley would begin
migrating into the Great Lakes Watershed (Coalition).
An entire book on the subject could be written, but the point need not be belabored.
A profound disconnect exists between those people knowledgeable about the hazards of
radiation and those responsible for making day-to-day decisions on nuclear waste management.
As a result, radioactivity is being flushed into ecosystems around the world with total
abandon as to the consequences. This is a doomsday scenario produced by profit-seekers
and government bureaucrats unwilling or unable to appreciate the environmental consequences
of their actions and their ignorance.
If and when the Yucca Mountain repository opens, large sectors of the United
States will come under the dominion of nuclear colonialism. By 2010, 63,000 metric tons
of commercial irradiated fuel will be in temporary storage at nuclear power plants around
the country. To reach Nevada, this material will require transport across 44 states. This
scenario sets the stage for “mobile Chernobyls.” A single transport accident could be catastrophic.
An alternative scenario, admittedly of low probability, is even more disturbing.
In the event of major social upheaval due to war or natural catastrophe, services may be
severely interrupted. Such unforeseen circumstances might force the abandonment of the
spent nuclear fuel currently stored at the nation’s nuclear power plants. One hundred and
three zones of sacrifice would be created, remaining lethal to all life for hundreds of thousands
of years. With the passage of time, this neglected waste would leach from storage
and migrate into the environment. With nuclear reactors located near large volumes of
water, radioactivity will be widely dispersed around the globe. This is a not an unreasonable
epitaph for the nuclear age.
When hearing of the plight of indigenous people overwhelmed by nuclear coloA
P r i m e r i n t h e A r t o f D e c e p t i o n
nialism and environmental racism, uninformed or indifferent Americans may blithely carry
on their lives, failing to recognize their kinship to these marginalized people. Take as an
example the nuclear weapon hydrodynamic testing, conducted at Lawrence Livermore
Nuclear Laboratory (LLNL) 50 miles east of San Francisco. Since 1961, weapon engineers
have performed these open-air tests to gauge the reliability of the metal pit primaries within
nuclear weapons. These cores consist of a sphere of fissionable material surrounded by
a jacket of high explosives. When detonated, the shaped charge compresses the highly
enriched uranium or plutonium sphere in such a geometry as to initiate a chain reaction.
At, the design of the devices being tested are described in this way:
Hydroshot tests are conducted to test the hydrodynamic performance
of the shaped explosives used in the ordnance. The explosive device
used in the hydroshot testing comprised an explosive charge shaped as
a hemisphere, about half the size of a basketball and weighing from
1-3 kg (2.2 to 6.6 lb). The explosive charge was surrounded by a DU
ring about 1-2 inches in height and weighing about 22 kg (48.5 lb).
The purpose of the DU ring was to simulate the hydrodynamic conditions
in a fully spherical weapon (,
As to the purpose of hydrodynamic testing, this is summarized as follows:
In these types of experiments, test assemblies that mock the conditions
of an actual nuclear weapon are detonated using high explosives. In
hydrodynamic testing, non-fissile isotopes, such as uranium-238 and
plutonium-242, are subjected to enough pressure and shock that they
start to behave like liquids (hence the ‘hydro’ in hydrodynamic).
Radiographs (x-ray photographs) can be used to obtain information
on the resulting implosion; computer calculations based on these test
results are used to predict how a nuclear weapon would perform.
Multiple view hydrodynamic testing (experiments to look at the flow
of adjacent materials as they are driven by high explosives) and
dynamic testing (experiments to study other effects of high explosives),
combined with computer modeling, provide the only means of
obtaining design data in the absence of nuclear testing.
Hydrodynamic tests and dynamic experiments have been an historical
requirement to assist in the understanding and evaluation of
nuclear weapons performance. Dynamic experiments are used to
gain information on the physical properties and dynamic behavior of
Nucl e a r C o l o n i a l i s m
materials used in nuclear weapons, including changes due to aging.
Hydrodynamic tests are used to obtain diagnostic information on the
behavior of a nuclear weapons primary (using simulant materials for
the fissile materials in an actual weapon) and to evaluate the effects of
aging on the nuclear weapons remaining in the greatly reduced stockpile.
The information that comes from these types of tests and experiments
cannot be obtained in any other way (
These tests, conducted at Site 300, 15 miles southeast of LLNL, have produced one
of the most contaminated areas in the United States. In 1990, the Environmental
Protection Agency designated Site 300 as a federal “Superfund” site requiring remediation.
The soil and groundwater are polluted with a mixture of chemical and radioactive wastes
comprised of solvents, tritium, depleted uranium, heavy metals and high explosive residue
(Tri-Valley). In the past, LLNL has been limited to exploding 1,000 pounds of uranium
annually. In April 2007, an application to increase this amount to 8,000 pounds was submitted
to the San Joaquin County Pollution Control Board and subsequently approved.
Relevant to the thesis of this book is the fact that during hydrodynamic testing, the
depleted uranium metal in the test assemblies is aerosolized in the explosions into ultrafine
spheres of insoluble ceramic uranium oxide. This material is identical to that released on
the battlefield by uranium munitions. Thrust airborne, this material is ferried by the winds
into the Bay Area and Central Valley. Seven million people live within a 50-mile radius of
Site 300, and 5,500 new homes are to be built within a mile of the testing range (Tri-Valley).
Given the demographics, there is a “coincidence” that needs pondering. Marin County,
just north of San Francisco, has one of the highest incidences of breast cancer in the world!
A study published in Breast Cancer Research had this to say:
From the inception of the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End
Results (SEER) national cancer registry network in 1973, Marin
County, California, a small county near San Francisco, has consistently
reported higher than average annual incidence rates of breast cancer.
Averaged from 1973 to 1999, Marin County reported the highest
overall breast cancer incidence rate of the 199 counties included
in the SEER database (based on the SEER 9 November 2001 submission
released April 2004). In recent years, reports of rapidly increasing
breast cancer rates in Marin County attracted public and media
attention. These reports suggested that overall age-adjusted incidence
rates of invasive breast cancer in non-Hispanic white (nHW) women
living in Marin County had increased approximately 60% between
1990 and 1999, as compared to 5% in surrounding regions. These
A P r i m e r i n t h e A r t o f D e c e p t i o n
trends have resulted in Marin County having one of the highest incidence
rates reported in the world and have prompted public and scientific
concern (Phipps et al.).
In conclusion, our ears need to open to the story of the Nuclear Age as recounted
by displaced and exploited aboriginal people around the globe. Their narrative gives new
perspective to current events, for it unabashedly reveals that the testing and deployment of
uranium weapons in the Middle East is just another incarnation of nuclear colonialism. In
the quest to appropriate oil reserves rightfully belonging to others and to remake the region
into one friendly to the New World Order, the United States is experimenting with the subjugation
of populations by blanketing their homeland with radioactivity and depopulating
the region through radiogenic sickness and genetic deformities. That this method of warfare
is directed primarily against Afghani and Arab Muslims makes this campaign a blatant
expression of environmental racism. Conventional weapons could easily have accomplished
all the goals so far achieved by DU weaponry. But uranium weapons produce
heightened effects. They significantly enhance the kill ratio per weapon both in space and
in time. They produce terror in the population. And they render the environment inhospitable
to its native inhabitants.
If we are not heedful, nuclear colonialism may ultimately culminate in the subjugation
of all of mankind. Nuclear weapons may be the instrument of choice for herding terrified
humanity, terrified by limited nuclear wars or terrorist threat, into embracing the new
order of a world government. The creators and sustainers of the infernal weapons will posture
as the deliverers of eternal peace. In exchange for enduring safety and security, the
small price demanded will be the surrender of our liberty.
No different from the devotees of Baal in antiquity, the devotees of nuclear and radiological
weapons will be memorialized as nothing other than worshippers of false gods,
dutifully and joyfully throwing human unfortunates into blazing fires to serve as sacrificial
offerings. The religion of the Cult of Nuclearists will be reconstructed as one in which
aggrandizement over God was repeatedly asserted through the dark and sacred rite of
unleashing over the surface of the Earth the Creator’s secret energy bound within matter.
By their deeds, the members of this brotherhood will be known: how they walked upon the
Earth in arrogance, intoxicated with their own power; how living things seemed paltry in
their eyes so as not to sway them from sickening whole populations with their radioactive
poisons and degrading the life-sustaining capacity of nature; how they did not flinch from
cataclysmic warfare that decimated civilizations, corrupted the gene pool of their species
and made the surface of the Earth a habitat of pestilence and decay.
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About Censored News

Censored News is published by censored journalist Brenda Norrell. A journalist for 27 years, Brenda lived on the Navajo Nation for 18 years, writing for Navajo Times, AP, USA Today, Lakota Times and other American Indian publications. After being censored and then terminated by Indian Country Today in 2006, she began the Censored Blog to document the most censored issues. She currently serves as human rights editor for the U.N. OBSERVER & International Report at the Hague and contributor to Sri Lanka Guardian, Narco News and CounterPunch. She was cohost of the 5-month Longest Walk Talk Radio across America, with Earthcycles Producer Govinda Dalton in 2008:
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