Saturday, October 09, 2004
Depleted Uranium Weapons are not Your Friend
Most American weapons (missiles, smart bombs, dumb bombs, bullets, tank shells, cruise missiles, etc.) contain high amounts of radioactive uranium. Depleted or non-depleted, these types of weapons, on detonation, release a radioactive dust which, when inhaled, goes into the body and stays there. It has a half-life of 4.5 billion years. Basically, it’s a permanently available contaminant, distributed in the environment, where dust storms or any water nearby can disperse it. Once ingested, it releases subatomic particles that slice through DNA.
Professor Katsuma Yagasaki, a scientist at the Ryukyus University, Okinawa calculated that the 800 tons of DU used in Afghanistan is the radioactive equivalent of 83,000 Nagasaki bombs. The amount of DU used in Iraq is equivalent to 250,000 Nagasaki bombs.
At a meeting of the International Criminal Tribunal for Afghanistan held December 2003 in Tokyo, the U.S. was indicted for multiple war crimes in Afghanistan, among them the use of DU. Leuren Moret, President of Scientists for Indigenous People and Environmental Commissioner for the City of Berkeley, testified that because radioactive contaminants from uranium weapons travel through air, water, and food sources, the effects of U.S. deployment in Afghanistan will be felt in Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Russia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China and India. Countries affected by the use of uranium weapons in Iraq include Saudi Arabia, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Israel, Turkey, and Iran.
Leuren Moret reports, "In my research on depleted uranium during the past 5 years, the most disturbing information concerns the impact on the unborn children and future generations for both soldiers serving in the depleted uranium wars, and for the civilians who must live in the permanently radioactive contaminated regions. Today, more than 240,000 Gulf War veterans are on permanent medical disability and more than 11,000 are dead. They have been denied testing, medical care, and compensation for depleted uranium exposure and related illnesses since 1991."
Moret continues "Even worse, they brought it home in their bodies. In some families, the children born before the Gulf War are the only healthy members. Wives and female partners of Gulf War veterans have reported a condition known as burning semen syndrome, and are now internally contaminated from depleted uranium carried in the semen of exposed veterans. Many are reporting reproductive illnesses such as endometriosis. In a U.S. government study, conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs on post-Gulf War babies, 67% were found to have serious birth defects or serious illnesses. They were born without eyes (anophthalmos), ears, had missing organs, missing legs and arms, fused fingers, thyroid or other organ malformations."
What I find astonishing is the high rate of contamination among US veterans from the first Gulf War. I mean, "240,000 Gulf War veterans...on permanent medical disability" is a staggering amount if true. I'm only personally aware of one person who was over in Gulf War I. She was only there for one day. She is currently disabled and is living with cancer. Is there a causal connection? I don't know. It has always been an article of belief in my little mind of the dangers of this kind of radiation. Another site that has a good overview of the issues and consequences of using DU is at the Malaysian Institute for Nuclear Technology Research (MINT). This has plenty of links to explore.
When you hear of the wonders of so-called "bunker-buster" bombs, know that it's depleted uranium that is the spearhead for them. These are the results we feared during the long Cold War. But there's no large bomb, no mushroom cloud, just the haze of blowing and settling radioactive dust becoming part of out bodies and the food chain. We're such clever apes. Too clever by half.
UPDATE: This page also has a very broad selection of links on nuclear stuff.