"Depleted" Uranium

the real dirty bombs

In the wake of 9/11, one of the scare campaigns launched by the Bush administration is that terrorists would seek to detonate "dirty bombs" in American cities -- conventional bombs surrounded by radioactive wastes intended to sow panic and dread. But this threat overlooks the fact that the original proposal for "dirty bombs" (as if there's such a thing as a "clean" bomb) was made during World War II by the US military. During the Manhattan Project, the effort to invent nuclear weapons, technicians of death were uncertain if they would be successful in creating weapons of mass destruction. One alternative considered was to drop nuclear waste on Japan but this idea was abandoned when it became clear that the atomic bomb designs they had crafted would work to obliterate cities.

Since the Reagan regime, the US has developed a new form of "dirty bomb" -- weapons containing uranium wastes. These so-called "depleted uranium" shells are used to augment the destructive power of this ordnance. While depleted uranium is not capable of undergoing atomic fission (ie. in a nuclear weapon), it has chemical properties that are useful for the military. Uranium tipped shells are extremely dense (uranium is the heaviest naturally occurring element), which makes it useful to destroy tanks and similar structures. Uranium also bursts into a hot flame upon impact, which has the side effect of generating lots of radioactive dust.

"Depleted" uranium is a term that falsely implies that the material is harmless or at least less toxic. In reality, "depleted" merely means that the isotope Uranium-235 has been reduced. Natural uranium on planet Earth normally is about 99.3% uranium-238, which is non-fissionable, meaning that it cannot be used for nuclear weapons or nuclear power reactors.

Uranium is an element, u-235 and u-238 are different isotopes. An element is determined by the number of positively charged protons in the nucleus (core) of an atom, and there are 92 elements in nature, ranging from hydrogen (1 proton) to uranium (92 protons). This is the "periodic table" that some people may remember from chemistry classes.

Uranium-235 is the main isotope used for bombs and reactors. The "uranium enrichment" procedures used for most types of nuclear power reactors increase the percentage of u-235 in an sample of uranium. The "light water" reactor designs used in the United States need uranium "enriched" to about 3% u-235 (up from a natural level of 0.7%). Different isotopes of the same element are identical chemically. Separation requires techniques that exploit the subtle difference in weights between isotopes. The technologies of enrichment are extremely sophisticated and subject to stringent international control, since the processes that can enrich uranium to the levels needed by nuclear reactors can be repeated over and over to separate uranium-235 to the 90% levels useful in nuclear weapons. In other words, anyone making nuclear reactor grade uranium can easily make a nuclear weapon, which means the myth of "peaceful nuclear power" is a grotesque lie.

One reason, apart from its destructive potential, why so-called depleted uranium is used by the US and other military powers is that it is an abundant waste product. When natural uranium is enriched for nuclear power or weapons purposes, a large amount of uranium-238 with reduced (depleted) uranium-235 content is left over. This material is not useful for power or weapons purposes, and there are tons and tons of it left over. It is also possible that using these weapons systems is a form of intentional low-level genocide against the peoples of the Middle East, since the birth defects being created by uranium weapons interfere with the long term survival of these populations.


Decay chain of Uranium–238 into Lead–206
particle emitted
URANIUM–238 U-238
4.468 billion years
thorium–234 Th234
24.1 days
protactinium–234 Pa234
1.17 minutes
uranium–234 U234
245,000 years
thorium–230 Th230
80,000 years
radium–226 Ra226
1,602 years
radon–222 Rn222
3.823 days
polonium–218 Po218
3.05 minutes
lead–214 Pb214
26.8 minutes
bismuth–214 Bi214
19.7 minutes
polonium–214 Po214
.000164 seconds
lead–210 Pb210
22.3 years
bismuth–210 Bi210
5.01 days
polonium–210 Po210
138.4 days
LEAD–206 Pb206
stable, non-radioactive


U.S. FORCES UNLEASHED at least 75 tons of toxic depleted uranium on Iraq during the war, reports the Christian Science Monitor. An unnamed U.S. Central Command spokesman disclosed to the Monitor last week that coalition forces fired 300,000 bullets coated with armored-piercing depleted uranium during the war. "The normal combat mix for these 30-mm rounds is five DU bullets to 1 -- a mix that would have left about 75 tons of DU in Iraq," wrote correspondent Scott Peterson. Peterson measured four sites around Baghdad struck with depleted uranium munitions and found high levels of radioactive contamination, but few warnings to this effect issued among the populace at large. While the Pentagon maintains that spent weapons coated with the low-level, radioactive nuclear-waste are relatively harmless, Peterson notes that U.S. soldiers have taken it among themselves to print leaflets or post signs warning of DU contamination. "After we shoot something with DU, we're not supposed to go around it, due to the fact that it could cause cancer," said one sergeant requesting anonymity.

The Military Toxics Project does excellent work on DU issues.

The best films on uranium poisoning in Iraq are Hidden Wars of Desert Storm and The Oil Factor, both from Free Will Productions (filmed on location in Iraq).

Published on Sunday, November 18, 2007 by The Observer (UK)
‘Safe’ Uranium That Left a Town Contaminated

by David Rose in Colonie, New York
They were told depleted uranium was not hazardous. Now, 23 years after a US arms plant closed, workers and residents have cancer - and experts say their suffering shows the use of such weapons may be a war crime.

It is 50 years since Tony Ciarfello and his friends used the yard of a depleted uranium weapons factory as their playground in Colonie, a suburb of Albany in upstate New York state. ‘There wasn’t no fence at the back of the plant,’ remembers Ciarfello. ‘Inside was a big open ground and nobody would chase us away. We used to play baseball and hang by the stream running through it. We even used to fish in it - though we noticed the fish had big pink lumps on them.’

Today there are lumps on Ciarfello’s chest - strange, round tumors that protrude about an inch. ‘No one seems to know what they are,’ he says. ‘I’ve also had a brain aneurysm caused by a suspected tumor. I’m constantly fatigued and for years I’ve had terrible pains, deep inside my leg bones. I fall over without warning and I’ve got a heart condition.’ Ciarfello’s illnesses have rendered him unable to work for years. Aged 57 and a father of five, he looks much older.

The US federal government and the firm that ran the factory, National Lead (NL) Industries, have been assuring former workers and residents around the 18-acre site for decades that, although it is true that the plant used to produce unacceptable levels of radioactive pollution, it was not a serious health hazard.

Now, in a development with potentially devastating implications not only for Colonie but also for the future use of some of the West’s most powerful weapon systems, that claim is being challenged. In a paper to be published in the next issue of the scientific journal Science of the Total Environment, a team led by Professor Randall Parrish of Leicester University reports the results of a three-year study of Colonie, funded by Britain’s Ministry of Defense.

Parrish’s team has found that DU contamination, which remains radioactive for millions of years, is in effect impossible to eradicate, not only from the environment but also from the bodies of humans. Twenty-three years after production ceased they tested the urine of five former workers. All are still contaminated with DU. So were 20 per cent of people tested who had spent at least 10 years living near the factory when it was still working, including Ciarfello.

The small sample size precludes the drawing of statistical conclusions, the journal paper says. But to find DU at all after so long a period is ’significant, since no previous study has documented evidence of DU exposure more than 20 years prior… [this] indicates that the body burden of uranium must still be significant, whether retained in lungs, lymphatic system, kidneys or bone’. The team is now testing more individuals.

In 1984, having bought the factory from NL for $10 in a deal that meant the firm was exempted from having to pay for its clean-up, the federal government began a massive decommissioning project, supervised by the Army Corps of Engineers. The clean-up did not finish until summer 2007, having cost some $190m. Contractors demolished the buildings and removed more than 150,000 tons of soil and other contaminated detritus, digging down to depths of up to 40ft and trucking it 2,000 miles by rail to underground radioactive waste sites in the Rockies. All that is now left of the NL plant is a huge, undulating field, ringed by razor wire.

Despite this colossal effort, Parrish and his colleagues found high concentrations of DU particles in soil, stream sediments and household dust in the vicinity of the site, deposited long ago when the factory burnt the shavings and chips produced by the weapons manufacturing process: the study estimates that, over the years, about 10 tons of uranium oxide dust wafted from the chimney into the surrounding environment.

The Army Corps clean-up team tested the soil from some of the gardens of houses backing on to the plant, and in cases where it was found to be emitting more than 35 pico curies of radiation per gram they removed it. The researchers discovered dust in and around buildings emitting up to 10 times as much. DU, inhaled in the form of tiny motes of oxide that lodge inside the lungs, emits alpha radiation, nuclei of helium. Unlike the gamma radiation produced by enriched, weapons-grade uranium, alpha particles will not penetrate the skin.

But inside the body DU travels around the bloodstream, accumulating not only in the lungs but also in other soft tissues such as the brain and bone marrow. There, each mote becomes an alpha particle hotspot, bombarding its locality and damaging cell DNA. Research has shown that DU has the potential to cause a wide range of cancers, kidney and thyroid problems, birth defects and disorders of the immune system.

When DU ‘penetrators’ - armour-piercing shells that form the standard armament of some of Britain’s and America’s most commonly deployed military aircraft and vehicles - strike their targets, 10 per cent or more of the heavy DU metal burns at high temperatures, producing oxide particles very similar to those at Colonie.

TV footage shot in Baghdad in 2003 shows children playing in the remains of tanks coated with thick, black DU oxide, while there have long been claims that the DU shells that destroyed Saddam Hussein’s tanks in the 1991 Gulf war were responsible for high rates of cancer in places such as Basra.

Parrish’s team includes David Carpenter, an environmental health expert from Albany University. ‘DU burns, it releases particulates that can be breathed in, and it doesn’t go away,’ he says. ‘The issue does not concern military personnel as much as civilian populations in theatres where they are used. Now we know that we can still find measurable levels of DU among the people of Colonie, we need a much bigger study to establish whether they have suffered disproportionate ill-effects such as cancers as a consequence. If they have, it would raise a serious ethical challenge to the use of these weapons. Arguably it could constitute a war crime.’

The NL plant on Central Avenue, Colonie’s main artery, opened in 1958 and became one of the Pentagon’s main suppliers. DU - the material left in huge quantities by the process of refining enriched uranium for bombs and nuclear reactors - is extremely dense. A pointed rod fired at high velocity will penetrate not only armour but several feet of concrete. In 1979 a whistleblower from inside the plant told the local health department that it was releasing large amounts of DU from its 50ft chimney, which was not properly filtered. The state government carried out atmospheric tests and in 1981 ordered that main production cease. The factory shut three years later.

One of those who has now tested positive is Mike Aidala, 71, who worked at the plant for 22 years and became its health and safety director. ‘When it started, the place was spotless,’ he says. ‘But over the years it got dirtier and dirtier. We burnt the chips produced by the lathes in a steel furnace.’ He added: ‘A lot of my co-workers died young. Whether the plant was the reason, I guess we’ll never know.’

As concern in Colonie rose, a residents’ group began to call for a publicly funded health study. For Anne Rabe, a founder member of a campaign that has now lasted for 25 years, the Parrish study represents overdue vindication. ‘I do find it very ironic that the US government at state and federal level refused for so long to do anything, and now the UK comes along and has funded these tests,’ Rabe says.

Repeatedly, US agencies have claimed that the Colonie plant was reasonably safe, despite the massive clean-up. Most recently, in 2003, the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry issued a report saying that, although the pollution produced when the plant was operating might have slightly increased the risks of kidney disease and lung cancer, there was now ‘no apparent public health hazard’.

Rabe’s campaign has conducted a health study of its own, assembling a dossier from personal contacts and by knocking on neighbors’ doors. It found that among almost 400 people surveyed there were numerous cases of rare cancers, thyroid and kidney complaints and birth defects.

The main difficulty the campaigners faced in the past is that DU eventually dissolves and is passed in the urine. The US government claimed that the plant had been shut so long that it would be impossible to determine who had been contaminated - so rendering a full health survey pointless.

However, Parrish has developed new, more sensitive methods. At the same time, his impartiality is impeccable. Before his work in Colonie, Parrish tested more than 400 Gulf war veterans, failing to detect DU in any of them - so dealing a serious blow to those who claimed that DU is one of the causes of Gulf war syndrome. ‘I did not expect to find it in Colonie,’ he says.

Some of those who have tested positive display classic, common symptoms found in DU victims elsewhere. For example, Ciarfello says he was still in his twenties when his teeth ‘just started to crumble: they ground down to nothing until they were just these little stumps and I pushed them out with my tongue’. Other members of his family are sick. His son developed a severe kidney condition, while his brother, Frank, can barely walk and also suffers chronic fatigue. A nephew was born with a disfiguring facial skin tumor that has required repeated surgery.

Tom Donnelly, 56, spent 34 years as a foreman at a garage door workshop next to the NL factory, where tests have found high concentrations of DU in dust samples from places such as shelves and light fittings. He has three auto-immune disorders: Crohn’s disease, a chronic inflammation of the bowel, total alopecia, and cerebral vasculitis, an immune system-related narrowing of blood vessels in the brain.

‘The new tests suggest I inhaled about 4,000 particles of DU,’ Donnelly says. ‘I used to come to work in the morning and see the chimney blowing its smoke in a thick black plume. Most of us had no idea that the plant was using uranium at all. After all, the sign outside said National Lead. The Army Corps removed all that soil, but they never looked at the dust at all. The effect on my life has been devastating, but how many others are already dead?’ One is his late boss and friend Tom Murphy - who, like Donnelly, developed Crohn’s and died of it at 61.

Ann Carusone lived in a house behind the plant from the time of her birth in 1966 until 1993. ‘When I tested positive, my reaction was sheer disbelief,’ she says. She has endured years of a chronic lung disease, sarcoidosis, an inflammation of the lymph nodes usually found in much older people, as well as a blood disorder that produced petecchiae - dots of blood beneath her skin, similar to those seen in some of those exposed to radiation at Hiroshima. In her twenties she had a pre-cancerous ovarian cyst that when removed was the size of a grapefruit.

‘I knew many people from round here who died young, in their twenties and thirties,’ she says. ‘We used to play out in the creek that flowed out of the plant site. The water was sluggish, a weird yellow-green color. We’d splash about in it. Now we know it was laden with depleted uranium.’

‘It’s very striking how many people in this small group have immune disorders like Tom Donnelly’s,’ says Carpenter. ‘I can say with great confidence that people who inhaled DU are at greater risk of lung cancer, as well as leukemia, other cancers and genetic damage of the type that causes birth defects. Previous responses by official bodies could be said to amount to a cover-up. People have been told that there’s no problem, and that’s very clearly not true.’

Yesterday NL failed to return calls requesting comment.

Deadly residue

Depleted uranium (DU) is the residue left in massive quantities when bomb-grade uranium is refined to make reactor fuel and nuclear weapons.

The densest naturally occurring metal, it is used to make armor-penetrating shells, standard armament for some of the West’s most widely deployed military aircraft and vehicles, such as Bradley armored cars, Abrams tanks, and Jaguar A10 fighter planes.

Less intensely radioactive than bomb-grade uranium, DU emits alpha particles, known to cause cancers.

DU weapons that strike their targets produce clouds of tiny uranium oxide particles, which lodge in the lungs and other soft tissues such as the brain and bone marrow.

DU shells were widely used in the 1991 Gulf war; in Bosnia and Kosovo; and are being used now in Iraq and Afghanistan.

© Guardian News and Media Limited 2007


Depleted Disinformation

The film "Beyond Treason" (about depleted uranium) was made by The Power Hour, the group that made the hoax film "911 In Plane Site" that did great damage to the 9/11 truth movement.

Jack Cohen-Joppa of the Nuclear Resister has a good rebuttal to their sloppy work on DU issues, which discredits serious evidence of uranium toxicity. The Power Hour's main "researcher" on uranium issues (Leuren Moret) promotes American Free Press in her articles about DU.


Nuclear Resister has been one of the very few publiations to cover the "Plowshares" movement (which consists of pacifists taking direct action to wreck equipment used for war), so they do not shy away from controversial political stands.

Note: this article is no longer available on the "Traprock" website.

Fri Sep 24, 2004 12:24 am
Post subject: DU Disinformation Dupes Project Censored
by Jack Cohen-Joppa

Project Censored picked “High Uranium Levels Found in Troops and Civilians” as the #4 most-censored story this year, citing the following:
• “Uranium Medical Research Centers Preliminary Findings from Afghanistan and Operation Enduring Freedom" and "Afghan Field Trip #2 Report: Precision Destruction - Indiscriminate Effects" by Tedd Weyman
• Scientists Uncover Radioactive Trail in Afghanistan, by Stephanie Hiller
• New York Daily News, April 5, 2004, "Poisoned?" by Juan Gonzalez
• Dissident Voice, March 2004, "There Are No Words… Radiation in Iraq equals 250,000 Nagasaki Bombs" by Bob Nichols
• "International Criminal Tribunal for Afghanistan At Tokyo, The People Vs. George Bush", Summary by Professor Ms. Niloufer Bhagwat

It’s like confusing a dime for a dollar. That’s the difference between the amount of depleted uranium in weapons the U.S. is known to have used in Iraq since the invasion of March, 2003 - bad enough at almost 200 tons - and 2,000 tons - a grossly exaggerated estimate accepted as fact by Project Censored.
So what’s the harm, you may ask, if the numbers are off by ten times? Isn’t the message - that troops and civilians are being harmed by this new generation of radioactive warfare - important enough?
The answer depends upon whether you’d like to see a policy change that stops the use of depleted uranium weapons.
Industry exaggerations (and some greenbacks) can change public policy, but a grassroots opposition needs facts, at least. As a long-time anti-nuclear activist, I know we must have credible science and evidence on our side.
Beyond the issue of credibility, the case for hazard is better made by presenting the verified numbers, while also presenting the same evidence of adverse effect.
If we claim it takes a dollar to do a dime’s worth of damage, we're conceding a big point on dosage.
So let’s begin taking apart the outrageous claims made by the authors Project Censored cites when they write:

“Civilian populations in Afghanistan and Iraq and occupying troops have been contaminated with astounding levels of radioactive uranium as a result of post-9/11 United States' use of tons of uranium munitions. Four million pounds of radioactive uranium were dropped on Iraq in 2003 alone.”

Contributing writer Bob Nichols' claim that it “turns out they used about 4,000,000 pounds of the stuff, give or take, according to the Pentagon and the United Nations” is simply not true.
I have repeatedly asked those making this claim, including the Uranium Medic Research Center (UMRC), to cite their Pentagon or UN sources. [1] None have.
A November, 2003 UMRC paper, “Abu Khasib to Al Ah’qaf: Iraq Gulf War II Field Investigations Report©”, makes note of five “published estimates of quantities of uranium munitions.” The last, and by far largest estimate, is attributed to “Associated Press article, UNEP [United Nations Environmental Program] Environmental Press Release Reports... April 2003.” These reports are compilations of UNEP news releases and articles selected from the world press.
A review of these press release reports from UNEP reveals that the 1,000-2,200 ton estimate is credited to “independent” analysts in some of the stories, and in others, to “UN and independent” analysts, and eventually, in Nichols, “to the Pentagon and United Nations”. But never is a UN document or named source quoted to give credence to such an estimate. Follow-up with several of the journalists revealed the not-uncommon practice of simply citing the work of other journalists without further fact-checking for themselves.
And of course, no Pentagon source has ever offered such an estimate.
The most comprehensive estimate to date of DU use in Iraq, based on known DU weapons systems and Pentagon and other government statements, is less than 200 tons (400,000 lbs.),[2] or 1/10th the inflated claim endorsed by Project Censored.
To understand why this ten-fold greater number is such a popular misconception, you have to believe, as Project Censored does, that
“Most American weapons (missiles, smart bombs, bullets, tank shells, cruise missiles, etc.) contain high amounts of uranium...”
The fact is, there is simply no forensic nor documentary evidence that DU is used in “small”, let alone “high” amounts in “most American weapon systems.” Apart from its less problematic use in armor plating and as ballast in some fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft, the only known uses of uranium in conventional warfare are in various caliber armor-piercing bullets and tank shells.
The amount known to be fired from tanks and aircraft cannon just can’t approach such a quantity. To believe the hyperbole, you have to believe Bob Nichols, who writes that you’ll find, “...In the case of a cruise missile, as much as 800 pounds of the stuff...”
This belief that cruise missiles have depleted uranium warheads has its genesis in the misunderstanding of a 1984 Navy memo about Tomahawk Cruise missile flight tests.[3]
This misunderstanding is compounded by the work of Dai Williams, a British industrial psychologist and independent researcher. Among the stories cited by Project Censored, Stephanie Hiller’s article, UMRC’s reports and the Tokyo tribunal all put stock in William’s published hypothesis that many warheads on bombs and Tomahawk cruise missiles include a very dense metal penetrator. While Williams concludes only that DU may be the “mystery metal”, others - including now Project Censored - have construed Williams’ misleading conflation of facts and speculation [4] as evidence these weapons all contain massive amounts of DU.
The oft-repeated Tomahawk/DU myth is refuted by several government documents that specifically deny the use of DU in conventionally-armed (i.e., non-nuclear) Tomahawk cruise missiles.
To quote just one, G.A. Higgins, U.S. Navy Medical Service Corps Commander and Executive Secretary, Naval Radiation Safety Committee responded on March 29, 1999, to an FOIA request made by the Military Toxics Project (MTP). It reads, in part...
"Responding to your second request for information under the Freedom of Information Act pertaining to the amount of depleted uranium in Navy munitions, counterweights, and specifically the Tomahawk cruise missile, as noted above, the only Navy weapons system using depleted uranium ammunition is the Phalanx CIWS. Each 20 mm round contains 70 grams of depleted uranium.
"Regarding the Tomahawk missile system, there is no depleted uranium used in or on the deployed version of this weapons system. An unspecified quantity of depleted uranium is used as mass for test and evaluation purposes within the United States and is owned by the Department of Energy (DOE)...."
That last sentence refers to the same circumstance that is the subject of the misunderstood 1984 Navy memo- a flight test model of the nuclear-capable Tomahawk. Other U.S. military documents also confirm that DU is not used in operational Tomahawk cruise missiles, Air Launched Cruise Missiles, Advanced Cruise Missiles, or Conventional Air Launched Cruise Missiles. [5]
I am not saying, nor do I believe, that one must accept all government documents as truth. But when establishing facts in dispute, more compelling evidence must be presented.
Williams has also located a number of U.S. warhead patents that mention depleted uranium. This circumstantial piece of evidence has, for some readers, constituted further proof.
But I have read the patents in question and in all cases Williams cites, DU is mentioned not as the primary material for the patented warhead shroud or penetrator, but only as another suitably dense material, after tungsten or similarly dense alloys. Following up on this, I have telephoned two holders of patents in question. Both had no knowledge of any production of such warheads with DU instead of non-radioactive metals; both expressed doubt that such production would have proceeded without their knowledge and both agreed with this writer’s assessment of the patent language in question: that DU is noted as an alternate material simply to protect the innovations of the patented designs, regardless of which available dense metal is used.
Even the United Nations Environmental Program, who allegedly endorsed the 1,100-2,200 ton estimate, has this to say in direct rebuttal to one of Williams’ and UMRC’s central claims about Iraq:
“There is currently no evidence that missiles or bombs used during the war - particularly the AGM-86D CALCM hard target penetrators (153 were used) or bunker-busting bombs - contain DU.”[6]
There are other outrageous and unsubstantiated claims made by the authors of Project Censored’s selections, too many to debunk as thoroughly as the DU in cruise missiles claim. So here is a sample.
A respected uranium info site maintained by the international anti-nuclear watchdog World Information Service on Energy (WISE) has reviewed the uranium contamination data collected from U.S. soldiers by the UMRC, and reported in the New York Daily News article. They conclude that the relative levels found are anything but “high.” See http://www.antenna.nl/wise/uranium/dissgw.html#GERDES.
From the very title of Bob Nichols article, the hyperbole endorsed by Project Censored is apparent to thoughtful students of things nuclear:
“...Radiation in Iraq equals 250,000 Nagasaki Bombs.”
Further study about the source of this extreme comparison reveals that the unit measured is “atomicity”, an intellectual construct coined by a Japanese scientist. It is simply the calculated number of radioactive atoms involved, with no regard for the type of radiation present and its relative biological impact, method of dispersal, etc. The comparison is meaningless at least, misleading at worst.
The "International Criminal Tribunal for Afghanistan At Tokyo, The People Vs. George Bush" lays its foundation by accepting Dai Williams’ hypothesis as a conclusion, and on the testimony of Leuren Moret. Moret’s testimony incorporated many of the factual inaccuracies and poorly supported conclusions already discussed here.
In curious contrast to the view of UMRC’s Dr. Durakovic and Tedd Weyman, as expressed in interviews and press releases, that thousands of tons of uranium warhead bunker busters were dropped and depleted uranium missiles fired in Afghanistan and Iraq, their published work cited by Project Censored is anything but conclusive that any uranium at all is used in these weapons.
Weyman states in Afghan Field Trip #2 Report: Precision Destruction - Indiscriminate Effects the tentative nature of their own conclusions: “These results are also indicative that, if uranium is in use, the new generation of OEF [Operation Enduring Freedom] weapons produce significantly higher levels of contaminant than DU penetrators.” In UMRC's Preliminary Findings from Afghanistan and Operation Enduring Freedom, Weyman states “the possibility of Natural Uranium [as the source of the uranium in the samples] remains under investigation.”
This significant hedge remains in the more recent May, 2004 UMRC poster summary of data titled “The Urinary Concentration of Uranium Isotopes in Civilians of the Bibi Mahro Region after Recent Military Operations in Eastern Afghanistan” [http://www.umrc.net/downloads/mp4.pdf] that concludes in part that “the explanation of our findings could be either of two possible mechanisms. 1) exposure to contaminated dust in the areas of the bombing raids by natural uranium containing weapons or 2) unusual geological and environmental excessively high uranium levels contained in the soil or drinking water.”
This and the poster-reproduction of their Iraq research [http://www.umrc.net/downloads/UMRC_HPS_2004_Poster2.pdf] also do not make the clear case that the bomb craters contain the postulated “significantly higher levels of [uranium] contaminant”. In Iraq, the most radioactive battle sites reported by UMRC were targets of A-10 and tank rounds made of DU, not cruise missile strikes or aerial bombing as their other claims would suggest. Furthermore, two of the scientists cited on the posters as responsible for the work - Gerdes and Parrish - have since distanced themselves from the conclusions UMRC’s attributed to them without their consent.
I conclude with a few questions of my own.
If it were true, as UMRC claims without citation in Afghan Field Trip #2 Report, that “the United States and its weapons’ contractors acknowledge the development, expansion and deployment of weapons and delivery systems that use low, medium and high altitude, air-to-surface and ship-launched uranium alloyed munitions”, what other evidence should exist?
I can think of:
*Handling protocol for ordnance specialists (such protocol exists for the A-10’s DU ammo and the tank rounds);
*DU licenses for production, and production records from the factories making the warheads;
But significantly, no documents other than the patents already discussed have been put forward as evidence that uranium of any sort is used in such a wide spectrum of missiles and bombs.
And finally, if the Pentagon publicly considers DU benign; uses it indiscriminately in other applications; and even brags of its advantages for our troops; then why would it keep such warhead uses a deep, dark secret?
While Project Censored has brought attention to an important story, they did so by endorsing the unsubstantiated and alarmist views of an activist fringe.
That’s my 10¢ worth .

1) i.e.,
From: Felice & Jack Cohen-Joppa <nukeresister@igc.org>
Sent: Monday, August 04, 2003
To: larryjohnson@seattlepi.com
Subject: Thanks for DU article / ?source for ##s?
Thanks for today's DU article, Larry.
...Can you tell me your source for these numbers:
"The Pentagon and United Nations estimate that U.S. and British forces used 1,100 to 2,200 tons of armor-piercing shells made of depleted uranium during attacks in Iraq in March and April..."
From: "Johnson, Larry" <LarryJohnson@seattlepi.com>
To: 'Felice & Jack Cohen-Joppa' <nukeresister@igc.org>
Subject: RE: Thanks for DU article / ?source for ##s?
Date: Mon, 4 Aug 2003
Forgive my lack of precision, but I've been working on this DU thing since I came back from Iraq in late June and it has taken on a life of its own.
anyway, as near as I can recall, those numbers come from articles in the news media in Britain, where the Ministry of Defense has been considerably more forthcoming than has the Pentagon... those numbers or something similar (often saying up to 2,000 metric tonnes) are used widely in Britain... BBC, Times, etc...
2) [see ‘The emergence and decline of the debate over depleted uranium munitions’ at http://www.antenna.nl/wise/uranium/pdf/duemdec.pdf ]
3) See “Uranium Battlefields at Home and Abroad” by McGehee, Lopez and Bukowski (1993)
4) (see charts conflating ‘known and suspected’ DU weapons at http://www.eoslifework.co.uk/Uhaz7feb03/sld011.htm)
5) Links to US military documents that unequivocally state that DU is not used in operational Tomahawk cruise missiles, Air Launched Cruise Missiles, Advanced Cruise Missiles, or Conventional Air Launched Cruise Missiles:
6) Environment in Iraq: UNEP Progress Report (20 October, 2003)

[emphases added]



pro-nuclear group criticizes misleading information but ignores real health problem of uranium tipped weapons

Traprock Peace Center, Leuren Moret and Doug Rokke Mislead Public on Depleted Uranium
by Robert Holloway


Rise in birth deformities blamed on Allies' deadly weaponry
By Nigel Morris
13 May 2004

The number of babies born deformed and children suffering leukaemia have soared because of the "deadly legacy" of depleted uranium shells used by British and American forces in Iraq, human rights campaigners claimed yesterday.
Releasing details of health problems and human rights violations suffered by Iraqi children in the past year, they claim the country's youngsters faced a worse existence today than they did under Saddam Hussein's dictatorship.
Depleted uranium was widely used by Allied forces to penetrate Iraqi tank armour in the Gulf Wars of 1991 and again last year.
Opponents claim the dust it releases upon impact is rapidly absorbed into the body, causing an upsurge of serious health problems inherited by Iraqi children during the past 13 years from their parents.
Caroline Lucas, a Green Party Euro-MP who recently visited Basra, said doctors there had told her that the number of children born with severe deformities, such as shortened limbs or eye defects, had increased sevenfold since 1991. In addition they were treating several new cases of leukaemia every week - before 1991 the condition was very rare.
"Women in Basra are afraid to become pregnant because there are so many deformed babies," she said. "We are leaving a deadly legacy for generations to come."
She made the claims at the launch in London of a new charity, Child Victims of War (CVW), to help Iraqi youngsters "innocently suffering malnutrition, disease, disability and psychological trauma".
The amount of depleted uranium used by coalition forces in the two Gulf Wars is not known, but some estimates suggest it was 300 tons in 1991 and five times as much last year.
CVW says the number of Iraqi babies born with serious deformities has risen from 3.04 per thousand in 1991 to 22.19 per thousand in 2001. Babies born with Downs Syndrome have increased nearly fivefold and there had been a rash of cases of previously little-known eye problems.
The Ministry of Defence insists depleted uranium poses a "minimal" risk to civilians. But, in a finding strongly disputed by the MoD, researchers recently discovered radiation levels from destroyed Iraqi tanks to be 2,500 times higher than normal and 20 times higher than normal in the surrounding area.
Joanne Baker, the director of CVW, who has just returned from Iraq, said children had also been maimed by cluster bombs, blamed by Human Rights Watch for "hundreds of preventable civilian deaths".
She said youngsters were also vulnerable both to coalition forces and local militia resisting western forces.
She said malnutrition had worsened since the Anglo-US invasion and unpolluted water was in short supply while standards of hospital care had fallen because of shortages of medical supplies.
Those children who went to school - and a Christian Aid survey showed two-thirds of poor youngsters did not - were "so malnourished they can't concentrate".
Ms Baker claimed: "Every child in Iraq had a degree of psychological trauma.
"I have been to Iraq under Saddam and sanctions - most people know how bad things were - but what has happened this year has plunged Iraq into a plight which is actually far, far worse," she said.
Ms Baker added: "I am not an apologist for Saddam but I have spoken to people saying they suffered terribly and they are in tears saying 'I wish he was back'.
"If it is worse than sanctions and Saddam then we are really talking about a humanitarian catastrophe."
CVW has applied to the Charities Commission for charitable status, and plans to open an office in Iraq to monitor abuses, counsel those who have been detained, train human rights groups and provide medical help to young victims of war.
At the age of seven, Fadel, from Basra in southern Iraq, developed a devastating, and extremely rare, liver and kidney complaint which caused her abdomen to swell dramatically. The condition - which has only been seen in Iraq since 1991 - is thought to be caused by abnomally high levels of toxic materials in her body.
She underwent agonising hospital treatment, which involved injections to draw out the huge amounts of water that accumulated. Her cries of pain were so loud they could be heard down the hospital corridor. Fadel's father was serving in the Iraqi army during the first Gulf War when she was conceived. Fadel is believed to have died shortly after this photograph was taken.