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Depleted Uranium - A Way Out?

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    Depleted Uranium - A Way Out? Felicity Arbuthnot http://www.unobserver.com/ The term Gulf War Syndrome is now known world-wide – but - after the 1991 Iraq
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 2, 2007
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      Depleted Uranium - A Way Out?
      Felicity Arbuthnot
      http://www.unobserver.com/


      The term "Gulf War Syndrome" is now known world-wide – but - after the
      1991 Iraq war, as formerly A1 fit soldiers fell ill with debilitating
      symptoms, in their thousands, the cause was, for two years, a
      "mystery". It was in 1993, when a group of twenty-four affected
      soldiers approached Professor Asav Durakovic, one of the world's
      leading experts in the effects of radiation, that a cause came to
      light. They had many times the "safe" level of chemically toxic and
      radioactive depleted uranium (DU) in their bodies. Duracovic, although
      a senior officer in the US army during the first Gulf war, had been
      unaware that the weapons used had contained depleted uranium. "I was
      horrified", he said: "I was a soldier, but above all I am a doctor."
      By 1997, it was estimated that ninety thousand US veterans were
      suffering from Gulf War Syndrome.

      Durakovic, who is also medical consultant for the Children of
      Chernobyl project at Hadassah University, Jerusalem, lost his job as
      Chief of Nuclear Medicine at the Veteran's Administration Medical
      Facility at Wilmington, Delaware, as a direct result of his work with
      Gulf war veterans contaminated with radiation, he states. Two other
      physicians, Dr Burroughs and Dr Slingerland of Boston VA also lost
      their jobs when they asked for more sensitive equipment to better
      diagnose the soldiers referred to them by Professor Durakovic. Oddly,
      all the records pertaining to the sick soldiers at the Delaware VA
      went missing, a syndrome of another kind which has become familiar,
      both sides of the Atlantic.

      Two years before Durakovic's discovery, the United Kingdom Atomic
      Energy Authority (UKAEA) "self initiated" a Report warning the
      government that if fifty tonnes of the residual dust, from the
      explosions of the weapons on impact, was left "in the region", they
      estimated it would generate "half a million" extra cancer deaths by
      the end of the century (2000.) Iraq's cancers and birth deformities
      have become an anomaly, compared to those in the Pacific Islands and
      amongst British troops after the nuclear testing in the 1950's.

      Further, "depleted" is a misnomer. These weapons are made from waste
      from the nuclear fuel cycle and thus contain the whole lethal nuclear
      cocktail. DU weapons (sold to seventeen countries that are known and
      possibly others - why let poisoning the planet and its population get
      in the way of numerous millions of quick bucks) are equivalent to
      spreading the contents of a nuclear reactor around the globe. And far
      from fifty tonnes and that chilling warning, in Iraq several thousand
      tonnes now cover this ancient, Biblical land and with the bombs
      raining daily, the audit rises nearly hour by hour. The US is
      currently by far the largest user of DU weapons. Over the past decade,
      they have brought more than sixteen million DU shells and bullets from
      Alliant Tech Systems alone. (Source: Janes.)

      Strangely, this time, there have been few reports of soldiers with the
      terrible effects of 1991, where they were only in the region for a few
      weeks. Although troops now remain for months or a year, Gulf War
      Syndrome mark 2 seems not an issue. Perhaps it is because, reportedly,
      doctors treating returning troops have been threatened with jail and
      or hefty fines if they say anything regarding DU-related symptoms.

      The implication regarding compensation to countries affected by this
      poisoned legacy (DU's lethality lasts for four and a half billion
      years) and troops is financially stratospheric. Since the 2003
      invasion, US troops are denied entry to the International Atomic
      Energy Authority or any radiation experts to test ground and air levels.

      In Bosnia and the former Yugoslavia where DU weapons were used (with
      missiles also dropped accidentally in neighbouring countries, by the
      US, to whom all the world's lives are seemingly cheap) the "Iraq
      Syndrome" became quickly apparent. Even European peacekeepers on
      relatively short tours of duty became ill, developed leukaemia's and
      other cancers and a number died. A five man film crew from BBC
      Scotland all tested DU positive after filming for less than a week there.

      Afghanistan too was "liberated" in 2001, by uranium weapons, which
      continue to be routinely used, condemning generations yet to be born
      to deformities and the living - the new born and under fives the most
      susceptible - to cancers and other horrific DU-related conditions.
      Durakovic also found high levels of uranium in hospital patients
      there, as there will undoubtedly be in the occupying forces. He also
      found identical conditions to Iraq amongst the young: "Children born
      with no limbs, no eyes, or with tumours protruding from their mouths
      and eyes."

      The latest country to fall victim to uranium weapons is Lebanon - but
      with a Difference; it transpires. Dr Chris Busby*, founder of the Low
      Level Radiation Campaign and Green Audit, is Scientific Secretary of
      the European Committee on Radiation Risk and also sits on the (UK)
      Ministry of Defence Uranium Oversight Board. Israel is one of the
      countries with uranium weapons and: "The first evidence that the IDF
      (Israeli Defence Force) were using them" (in the July-August 2006
      Israeli bombardment) "was a Getty Picture Library image of an Israeli
      soldier carrying a DU anti-tank shell", says Busby. He then noted a
      report in Lebanon's Daily Star, that Dr Khobeisi, a scientist, had
      measured gamma radiation in a bomb crater at Khiam in the south of the
      country, at ten to twenty times higher (samples taken from different
      locations in crater) than naturally occurring background radiation.

      The following month, Dai Williams,** an independent researcher went to
      Lebanon on behalf of Green Audit, to investigate and bring back
      samples to the UK for testing. He also brought back an air filter from
      an ambulance. Tested at the Harwell UKAEA laboratory: "The results
      were astonishing." Both soil and filter contained enriched uranium
      with the soil sample containing uranium about nine times higher than
      the natural background. (Remember how threatening the West has become
      towards Iran's efforts to enrich uranium?) The soil sample was also
      sent to the School of Ocean Sciences, in North Wales for a second test
      by a different method for certainty. The results were the same.

      Busby asks: "Why use enriched uranium? It is a bit like shooting your
      enemy with diamonds." He contends it is possible that it is a
      "smokestream" for the wider use of depleted uranium, as the final
      contamination "when all gets mixed up after the war has a natural
      isotopic signature". (ie: can be read as uranium which occurs
      naturally in nature.) There are two other chilling possibilities says
      Busby: a fusion bomb or a thermobaric bomb, both of which would need
      enriched uranium. Certainly, doctors were reporting bodies in
      conditions they could find in no medical manuals, as in the attack on
      Falluja, Iraq.

      Lebanese authorities denied the presence of enriched uranium; Israel
      denied using it. The bombardment had ended on the agreement that UN
      peacekeepers went in. Given their debilitation and mortality rate in
      the Balkans, this lethal presence might well have deterred them. To be
      certain the incident was not in isolation. Williams returned to
      Lebanon and brought back soil and water samples from Khiam and other
      sites. Enriched uranium was found in water samples from two separate
      craters in Khiam and in one of the soil samples. Then the money ran
      out. The samples tested had already cost £2,000. Donations from an
      Arab friend and Swiss supporters totalled £850 - and Dai Williams had
      paid the rest out of his own money. More work is needed, but it is now
      known that the IDF used enriched uranium in Lebanon. And: "Since it is
      in the ambulance air filter, it is also in the lungs of the
      inhabitants ... the Lebanese people have been sacrificed to cancers,
      leukaemias, birth defects, like the people of the Balkans, Afghanistan
      and Iraq", says Busby, adding "and it may be worse: since we still do
      not know what the weapon was."

      And have these weapons been used on the people of Gaza and the West
      Bank? Further, Israel is not alone decimating those she perceives as
      her enemies, but her own people, neighbouring countries and even those
      further afield. In context, Green Audit studied airborne uranium at
      sites in the UK, between 1998 and 2004. There was only one period in
      which uranium in the air "significantly" exceeded the naturally
      occurring background presence: during the bombing of Iraq, in March
      and April, 2003. As with the radionuclides from Chernobyl which
      affected Europe and the globe, and still contaminates agricultural
      land, the potentially deadly wave of invisible particles travelled on
      the wind from Iraq. "We are all Gulf war victims now", commented
      Busby's colleague, Richard Bramhill.

      Can anything be done to halt the use of these genocidal weapons?
      Francis Boyle, Professor of International Law at the University of
      Illinois and author of The Criminality of Nuclear Deterrence, thinks
      so. He has launched a campaign for a global pact against uranium
      weapons. Boyle points out that the 1925 Geneva Protocol prohibits:
      "the use in war of asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases and of all
      analogous liquids, materials or devices". Clearly he says, DU is
      "analogous" to poison gas.

      The Government of France is the official depository for the 1925
      Geneva Protocol. Boyle contends that rather than aiming for an
      international treaty prohibiting the use of DU, which would probably
      take years, pressure should be put on every state to submit a letter
      to the French government to enforce a ban. "All that needs to be done
      is for anti-DU citizens, activists and NGO's in every country to
      pressure their Foreign Minister to write to their French counterpart,
      drawing attention to the "Protocol for the Prohibition of the use in
      War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or Other Gases and of Bacteriological
      Methods of Warfare", of 17th June 1925, prohibiting uses as above. The
      letter should add that this Protocol is believed to: "already prohibit
      the use in war of depleted uranium ammunition, uranium armour plate
      and all other uranium weapons". A request should be made that the
      letter is circulated to all other High Contracting Parties to the 1925
      Protocol and addressed to:

      His Excellency,
      The Foreign Minister,
      Republic of France,
      37, Quai d'Orsay,
      75351 Paris, France.

      Or Fax: 33-1-43-17-4275

      Professor Boyle points out that: "As the Land Mines Treaty
      demonstrates, it is possible for a coalition of determined activists
      and NGO's, acting in concert with at least one sympathetic state, to
      bring into being an international treaty to address humanitarian
      concerns." Such a sympathetic state exists:

      Belgium, last month, outlawed uranium weapons. If the rest of the
      world does not follow, what will happen is what Richard Bramhill calls
      "a DU-locaust" - of the children of the countries where these weapons
      have been used, of soldiers, of the uranium miners and of the
      munitions workers, as the living, dead and deformed prove.


      * Author of Wings of Death and of Wolves of Water (2007) essential
      reading on radiation's horrors, published by Green Audit, available
      direct from admin@... Busby is also involved in Radioactive
      Times, the journal of the Low Level Radiation Campaign, a detailed
      quarterly update on nuclear industry shenanigans
      ( http://www.llrc.org )

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