us refuse to cleanup Iraq


Onderwerp:  RE: [du-list] us refuse to cleanup Iraq
     Datum:    Mon, 14 Apr 2003 16:53:01 +0100
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Depleted uranium will affect Iraq for generations to come – 
Al-Jazeera April 14, 2003

US rejects Iraq DU clean-up

By Alex Kirby 
BBC News Online environment correspondent 
The US says it has no plans to remove the debris left over from depleted uranium 
(DU) weapons it is using in Iraq. 

DU shells can go straight through the side of a tank 
It says no clean-up is needed, because research shows DU has no long-term effects. 

It says a 1990 study suggesting health risks to local people and veterans is out of date. 

A United Nations study found DU contaminating air and water seven years after it was used. 

DU, left over after natural uranium has been enriched, is 1.7 times denser than lead, and very
effective for punching through armoured vehicles. 

When a weapon with a DU tip or core strikes a solid object, like the side of a tank, it goes
straight through before erupting in a burning cloud of vapour. This settles as chemically 
poisonous and radioactive dust. 

Risk studies 

Both the US and the UK acknowledge the dust can be dangerous if inhaled, though they say the 
danger is short-lived, localised, and much more likely to lead to chemical poisoning than to 

One thing we've found in these various studies is that there are no long-term effects from DU 

Lieutenant-Colonel David Lapan, Pentagon spokesman 
But a study prepared for the US Army in July 1990, a month before Iraq invaded Kuwait, says:
"The health risks associated with internal and external DU exposure during combat conditions 
are certainly far less than other combat-related risks. 

"Following combat, however, the condition of the battlefield and the long-term health risks to
natives and combat veterans may become issues in the acceptability of the continued use of 

A Pentagon spokesman, Lieutenant-Colonel David Lapan, told BBC News Online: "Since then 
there've been a number of studies - by the UK's Royal Society and the World Health 
Organisation, for example - into the health risks of DU, or the lack of them. 

"It's fair to say the 1990 study has been overtaken by them. One thing we've found in these 
various studies is that there are no long-term effects from DU. 

"And given that, I don't believe we have any plans for a DU clean-up in Iraq." 

Part of the armoury 

The UN Environment Programme study, published in March 2003, found DU in air and 
groundwater in Bosnia-Herzegovina seven years after the weapons were fired. 

The UN says the existing data suggest it is "highly unlikely" DU could be linked to any of the
health problems reported. 

But it recommends collecting DU fragments, covering contaminated points with asphalt or clean 
soil, and keeping records of contaminated sites. 

Reports from Baghdad speak of repeated attacks by US aircraft carrying DU weapons on 
high-rise buildings in the city centre. 

The UK says: "British forces on deployment to the Gulf have DU munitions available as part of 
their armoury, and will use them if necessary." It will not confirm they have used them. 

Many veterans from the Gulf and Kosovo wars believe DU has made them seriously ill. 

One UK Gulf veteran is Ray Bristow, a former marathon runner. 

In 1999 he told the BBC: "I gradually noticed that every time I went out for a run my 
distance got shorter and shorter, my recovery time longer and longer. 

"Now, on my good days, I get around quite adequately with a walking stick, so long as it's short
distances. Any further, and I need to be pushed in a wheelchair." 

Ray Bristow was tested in Canada for DU. He is open-minded about its role in his condition. 

But he says: "I remained in Saudi Arabia throughout the war. I never once went into Iraq or 
Kuwait, where these munitions were used. 

"But the tests showed, in layman's terms, that I have been exposed to over 100 times an 
individual's safe annual exposure to depleted uranium." 

The VISIE Foundation
Depleted uranium will affect Iraq for generations
to come – Al-Jazeera April 14, 2003
When you deliberately and wilfully spread radioactive
waste, ignore the health effects and refuse to clean
it up, that is a crime against God and a crime against
humanity. The Presenter (Ahmed Mansour): Despite
research by a large number of scientists and experts
on the enormous damage inflicted by depleted uranium …
and the use by the US in the Gulf War in 1991, and
wars in the Balkans and Afghanistan in 1994, 1995,
1999 and 2000…The US use of depleted uranium is not
confined to the total destruction of targets but
extends to the destruction of the environment and
human life in general in the affected regions. Such
areas will be unfit for habitation for millions of
years. Our guest is professor Major Doug Rokke, former
chief of Depleted Uranium Project at the Pentagon.
Born in Illinois 1949, professor Doug Rokke joined the
US Air Force in 1967, took part in the Vietnam War
from 1969 to 1971 as a B52 pilot. He obtained his PhD
in nuclear physics. He worked until 1996 as a field
doctor and specialist in nuclear physics in the US
Army. He took part in the 1991 Gulf War, tasked with
depleted uranium clean up in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

The VISIE Foundation
Depleted uranium will affect Iraq for generations to come no=2565&version=1&template_id=273&parent_id=258

The Presenter (Ahmed Mansour): Despite research by a large number of scientists and experts on the enormous damage inflicted by depleted uranium … and the use by the US in the Gulf War in 1991, and wars in the Balkans and Afghanistan in 1994, 1995, 1999 and 2000…The US use of depleted uranium is not confined to the total destruction of targets but extends to the destruction of the environment and human life in general in the affected regions. Such areas will be unfit for habitation for millions of years.

Our guest is professor Major Doug Rocke, former chief of Depleted Uranium Project at the Pentagon. 

Born in Illinois 1949, professor Doug Rocke joined the US Air Force in 1967, took part in the Vietnam War from 1969 to 1971 as a B52 pilot. He obtained his PhD in nuclear physics. He worked until 1996 as a field doctor and specialist in nuclear physics in the US Army. He took part in the 1991 Gulf War, tasked with depleted uranium clean up in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. 

From March to June 1991, Prof Rocke compiled contaminated  equipment from the battlefield and shipped part of it back to the US and supervised the burial of more equipment in Saudi Arabian deserts. He was appointed head of the Depleted Uranium Project in the Pentagon between 1 August 1994 and November 1995. He also worked as a professor of nuclear physics at Jackson University – Alabama until 2000.

Prof Rocke says he suffered the effects of depleted uranium from the first week of the Gulf War in 1991 but did not realise it until March 1995. Tests showed that he had 5000 times the normal level of radiation in his body, enough he says sarcastically, to light up a small village. He is also suffering from problems with breathing, immune system and one eye. He has had 15 surgical operations to his liver as a result of his infection by this uranium syndrome.

Q: At this very critical time, a lot of people are trying to understand and know more about the weapons containing depleted uranium which the United States plans to use... Despite all the studies and research that came up during the last period and confirmed the risks of using the depleted uranium, officials at the Pentagon announced that they are going to use depleted uranium bombs in Iraq again. What is your understanding of this announcement?

Professor Rocke: The announcement is very simple. Uranium munitions kill and destroy everything that they contact. Going back to the (1991) Gulf War and even before, the Pentagon had decided to use weapons that are absolutely efficient in combat. At the completion of the 1991 Gulf War when I was specifically assigned to clean up the uranium mess I received a memorandum, this is a Los Alamos memorandum written by a colonel at Los Alamos national laboratories in Mexico. In that memorandum, he said "Even though we know there are health and environmental effects, you should make sure that we can always use uranium munitions in combat because they are so effective. And therefore lie about the health and environmental effects of the use of uranium munitions in combat."

Smoke rises over the Iraqi capital Baghdad following further bombing raids by US-led forces, March 22 

The Presenter: Being the former chief of the depleted uranium project in the Pentagon, what are the risks of using depleted uranium on life and human beings in general?

Professor Rocke: The first thing that we have to understand is that each individual uranium round fired by an  Abrams tank is ten pounds of solid uranium contaminated with plutonium, neptunium and americium. On impact, you have a fine uranium outside dust that is generated. This represents about one half of the original mass. So if you have 4500 grams, you have about 2300 grams or 2200 grams that turn into a dust on the outside, they can be inhaled .. and then get into the body. When this happens, you have all kinds of serious problems both metal poisoning and radiological effects on the body.

The Presenter: Being one of the victims of depleted uranium, can you describe the symptoms you felt when you were infected?

Professor Rocke: The most significant effect that we noticed was respiratory problems. And the respiratory problems acted like you had a really bad case of bronchitis. Your respiratory system was affected, you couldn’t breathe as well and you started noticing all kinds of serious apparatus effects with your breathing system……The other health effect we saw immediately in ourselves and everybody else was the terrible rash. And the rash that we suspect and which we still have to this day is from the heavy metal poisoning that occurs just as if you would have eaten a litre of any other heavy toxic metal. 

The Presenter: Dr. Rocke, What are the most important symptoms of inhaling depleted uranium? 

Professor Rocke: The biggest problem that we had, in addition to the respiratory problems, is cancer which developed in members of our team within eight to nine months. Within two years, additional cancers developed and people started to die. Individuals that we had confirmed had embedded uranium shrapnel deliberately locked in their bodies by the United States Department of Defence did develop tumours in and around that embedded shrapnel. Published research verifies that uranium shrapnel or uranium embedded in the tissue will cause cancer. That we see in any place that uranium has been used, manufactured and  processed …. in various areas of the United States. 

The Presenter: But Michael Kilpatrick, who was responsible for providing medical care to the veterans at the Pentagon, said in a press conference that a study covering 90 infected veterans from the 1991 Gulf War proved that they were not suffering from any disease, whether it be cancer or otherwise. What do you say about this? 

Professor Rocke: Dr. Kilpatrick lied to the world. It is very simple. First he stated that 90 individuals were affected ….. I had well over 100 individuals who were affected. I had another 250 individuals who were absolutely exposed while we were cleaning it  up. ………

The Presenter: Why did your colleagues in the Pentagon lie and for the benefit of whom? 

Professor Rocke: The reason that they lie is to avoid any liability for the deliberate use of uranium munitions not only in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, throughout the Balkans and throughout all the sites in the United States. Again the purpose of the war is to kill and to destroy. Uranium munitions are absolutely destructive. 

The Presenter: On 3 February 2003 an official from the Veteran’s Association in Britain said that 560 British soldiers have died since 1991 from Gulf War Syndrome and that 5000 are under treatment. Do you have any statistics on the number of wounded American soldiers?

Professor Rocke: Yes, I do. The US Department of  Veterans’ Affairs released a report in September 2002. In that report they formally acknowledged that there are over 160,000 Gulf War veterans permanently disabled and over 8000 dead from the effects of Gulf War syndrome…It (Iraq) is a toxic wasteland that is absolutely proven to exist today by additional statistics.

House destroyed from a missile during an air strike in Baghdad 

The Presenter: What are the main diseases that can be caused by uranium?

Professor Rocke: The problems that we have are very significant. We have the respiratory problems, all the eye problems, neurological problems, and cancers. What we know today is that the American veterans who participated in the 1991 Gulf War are dying at a rate of over 140 a month here in the United States alone. 

The Presenter: You said that 36% of the veterans who took part in the 1991 Gulf War will die because of cancer and that 160,000 are handicapped and 8000 have already died but still the US insists on using uranium. Do you expect more cases of infection from uranium?

Professor Rocke: Absolutely. We have already seen additional casualties coming back. Although the war ended in the fall of 1991, the US continued to send troops to that region. Today we know, actually verified by the United States Department of Veteran Affairs that there are now over a quarter of a million American soldiers who served during the Gulf War and stayed in the region until May 2002 are now permanently disabled due to complex exposures. And we also now know that over 10,000 are dead and that the current death rate is over a 140 a month.

The Presenter: What happened to the inhabitants of Kuwait, Iraq and north of Saudi Arabia as a result of the spread of 400 tonnes of uranium dust?

Professor Rocke: There is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that the health effects that we have seen in the women, the children and other residents of that region is absolutely due in part to the uranium contamination that has been left there. Congressional representatives and scientists, and independent individuals from all over the world have gone over there and verified the level of contamination and that contamination has not been removed as required by US Department of Defence directives.

The Presenter: Professor Harry Shalimer has said that at least 100,000 of the inhabitants of Basra have been infected with cancer since 1991. Do you have any statistics on the number of infections in these regions?

Professor Rocke: I have not been back to Iraq since the 1991 Gulf War, but I have talked to Dr. Shalimer and other scientists and physicians involved in this. I have no doubt in my mind that Dr. Shalimer is probably correct. I know for a fact that he has verified uranium in those individuals residing in that region and therefore you can make a direct correlation between those exposures and the health effects that have been documented. Dr. Shalimer again is one of the world's experts on this, so we must listen to him. 

The Presenter: Do you have any information about the uranium ammunition that the US is going to use in its war against Iraq?

Professor Rocke: Absolutely…The uranium munitions that will be used are again and once more the rounds that will be fired by the Abrams tank. Each round is over 4500 grams of solid uranium contaminated with plutonium, neptunium and americium. The A-10 Warthog aircraft will additionally fire the 30 ml round, that is, each individual round is 300 grams of solid uranium. We also know that the Bradley fighting vehicle will fire the 25 ml round, and each individual round is over 200 grams of solid uranium. In addition, cruise missiles contain uranium components, and the giant bunker busters contain uranium components.

The Presenter: A weapons expert, Dai Williams, in one of our programs said that the ammunition used by the US in the 1991 Gulf War weighed around 5 kilograms, and against Afghanistan they used bombs and ammunition of up 10,000 pounds, and it is expected that they are going to use the same ammunition in Iraq. They even announced that the mother of bombs weighs 10,000 tonnes. If the previous Gulf War left around 400 tonnes of uranium dust, what do you expect will happen to the region this time?

Professor Rocke: What I expect is that we will again see serious health effects in the American soldiers who go there and use it. We will see health effects in all the residents of that region. We will see health effects in the Iraqi soldiers who will be the targets of direct uranium used by US forces. I must repeat and make this very clear, as the head of the project to clean up uranium munitions during the 1991 Gulf War, and as the director of the Depleted Uranium Project for the Department of Defence who did the research, and as a DU casualty, the use of uranium munitions during warfare is a crime against God, is a crime against humanity, and should be considered a war crime. You cannot take solid uranium radioactive waste, throw it in anybody's backyard and refuse to provide medical care and complete the environmental clean-up that is required to sustain the health and safety of the citizens of the earth.

The Presenter: Do you think depleted uranium is considered a weapon of mass destruction or a nuclear weapon?

Professor Rocke: The United Nations on 10 September 2001 did rule that uranium munitions were considered a weapon of mass destruction. The European Parliament has issued a proclamation that uranium munitions should be banned from use in the world. 

The Presenter: Do you think that using depleted uranium against human beings in general falls under the category of crimes of war?

Professor Rocke: Absolutely, because in the United States you cannot even take 500 grams of solid uranium and throw it in anybody's backyard without going to jail. Therefore, what right has the United States, England or any other nation has to take hundreds and hundreds of tons of uranium and throw them in somebody else's backyard, refuse them medical care as they have done now for decades and also refuse to clean up the environment.

The Presenter: Professor Dracovic said that the cleaning of the region needs $200 billion. Is it possible to clean up the region (if this fund is raised)?

Professor Rocke: The problem that we have, when I actually did the research, was to determine how to clean up. For each and every vehicle that is struck by a single uranium munition you have to take that entire vehicle, and physically remove it. Then you have to clean up all the uranium penetration that is left around that vehicle. Then you have to take a bulldozer, and go out to at least 100 metres and scrape down at least 10 centimetres and remove all of that dirt in order to make that area safe again, that is for each and every vehicle. 

The Presenter: If Baghdad is being struck by such ammunition, how far will the effects of such uranium impact the surrounding areas of Baghdad?

Professor Rocke: Studies in the United States by one of the former scientists in this area measuring the uranium contamination from a production plant in the United States showed that the uranium contamination has caused adverse health effects within 50 kilometres. 

The Presenter: This is around the plant itself, what about the dust and the wind?

Professor Rocke: The wind carried the uranium dust 50 kilometres away from the plant and there were sufficient quantities to cause adverse health effects. We know today that in and around all the production facilities where they are making uranium munitions there are cancers, kidney problems, respiratory problems, rations, neurological problems in the residents of that area. 

The Presenter: Some studies say that in the areas affected in the Balkans, uranium dust travelled more than 1000 kilometres and reached a lot of European capitals. Do you think that Kuwaitis, Saudis, Iraqis and Jordanians are safe from the uranium dust that Iraq might be hit with?

Professor Rocke: You have the whole combination of by-products of the war. When we destroy the infrastructure of Iraq…when we deliberately use uranium munitions and contaminate the air, water and soil, the entire region becomes a toxic wasteland. And again the reason that we know that it is a toxic wasteland today is that since 1991, the United States has continued to send American soldiers into the region. Since 1991, an additional 60,000 American veterans have been labelled as permanently disabled from this exposure and another 3000 have been confirmed dead. 

The Presenter: How long can these areas remain contaminated?

Professor Rocke: The contamination will remain in the area unless it is physically and totally removed, for 4.5 billion years and beyond. 

The Presenter: Will these areas remain contaminated for 4.5 billion years? 

Professor Rocke: Unless it is physically removed according to the procedures and  processes that I have developed for the US Department of Defence. 

The Presenter: Those contaminated areas, are they fit for human life now?

Professor Rocke: They are not. The US Department of Defence, in the common test training for use of uranium munitions, specifically states that all American soldiers must wear full respirator and skin protection within 25 to 50 metres of each and every vehicle that is struck by uranium munitions. 

The Presenter: Having supervised the burial of some of the waste in 1991, how true is that some of the areas north of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are no longer fit for human habitation, and that people should be prevented from going into these areas?

Professor Rocke: Absolutely. The entire…area near Basra, the contamination there is absolutely verified. US Congressmen, James McDermott and his staff went over to Iraq in the fall of last year. They measured the contamination and verified that it was so great that people should be prevented from entering that area permanently until all of it is cleaned up. 

The Presenter: Also, the region that could be hit by uranium ammunition, whether Baghdad or other Iraqi cities, would they be contaminated also, and the contamination there will be for 4.5 billion years again?

Professor Rokke: Absolutely…

The Presenter: Is it possible that Baghdad, Basra and other cities will be unfit for human life after this war?

Professor Rocke: If you destroy the entire infrastructure ….. and if Iraq does possess any chemical, biological or radioactive materials and you destroy them, that would be just like hitting an ice cube with a hammer. All you do is split it. If you use uranium munitions and you do not clean it up, the entire area will be a toxic wasteland, that unless all environmental clean-up is completed will be uninhabitable. 

An explosion rocks one of Saddam Hussein'spalaces in Baghdad during air strikes 

The Presenter: This means that there are more than 20 million human beings in Iraq who are subject to being hit by uranium, and if Iraq will be hit by uranium munitions it will be unfit for human habitation. Does this mean that the United states will eliminate a total country from the surface of the earth?

Professor Rocke: That is an absolute possibility. When you destroy the infrastructure, you use all the types of munitions and you contaminate air, water and soil. That is an absolute possibility…

The Presenter: Can simple human beings who are living in Iraq, and who have nothing to do and are helpless, can they do anything against the United States, which will not hesitate to use uranium against them?

Professor Rocke: For years, as the individual that cleaned up uranium munitions in the 1991 Gulf War, and as the director of the Depleted Uranium Project, I have requested and I have insisted that the United States and other countries refrain from using uranium munitions in combat. Uranium munitions must be banned from use on earth and in the universe for eternity. At the same time, I have requested numerous times that medical care be provided not only for the fired casualties on my staff, but for thousands and thousands of individuals who have been exposed. And I have also requested numerous times that all uranium contamination be cleaned up. However, those requests have been denied, denied, and denied…..

The Presenter: Since you stayed in the region until 1996 and supervised a lot of activities and you know the contaminated areas, is it possible to give us a list of contaminated areas in Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait…?

Professor Rocke: One of the problems we have is that the United States Department of Defence has not identified all the areas where uranium munitions have been used. So therefore, individuals who reside in that area must look for the … signature of uranium munitions use. 

On a destroyed vehicle you will see a clean round hole around the area. You will also see black dust surrounding the area. Any vehicle or structure that you see that has this signature you should not approach within 100 metres unless you are wearing full skin and respiratory protection. 

The Presenter: What are the symptoms so that if they appear on the inhabitants of those areas they can tell they have been exposed? 

Professor Rocke: The first symptom that will show up ….. will be the respiratory problems. It acts like a chronic bronchitis. The second thing that you will probably see is the rashes. 

The Presenter: The infections that showed up in the south of Iraq and the deformities in the newborn, do you expect these to last for 4.5 billion years? Is there a possibility that in the future generations more complications will come up?

Professor Rocke: Absolutely… Again as along as individuals are being exposed to uranium, we know that the changes in the RNA in DNA, the changes that occur genetically are causing all of these birth effects. We have seen those birth effects in American soldiers who were exposed. We are seeing those birth effects all over the world where uranium exposures have occurred. 

The Presenter: Can the insistence of the United States to use this ammunition again against human beings and against Iraq be considered a new war crime?

Professor Rocke: Anybody who uses uranium munitions in war must understand that it is a crime against God and it is a crime against humanity… Yes, it is. When you deliberately and wilfully spread radioactive waste, ignore the health effects and refuse to clean it up, that is a crime against God and a crime against humanity. 

The Presenter: What do you think the size of the disaster that will result from using hundreds of tonnes of uranium in the war against Iraq? If this is the picture given for the past 10 years, what will be from the result on the region of using uranium again?

Professor Rocke: If we have the same exposures and we have extensive use we can estimate that the number of casualties and the percentage of people in the area…that is going to be 30% again. That is the numbers, we cannot change the statistics. We cannot change the epidemiological  effects of all of the contaminations that results from war.