America's Big Dirty Secret: Depleted Uranium Weapons


DU weapons kill U.S. troops, cause birth defects, and kill civilians who live in the contaminated environment.

Brief Synopsis

What are DU weapons?

The U.S. military has been using missiles and tanks containing radioactive materials for well over a decade. So-called "tank-piercing bullets" can penetrate a tank because they are exceptionally hard -- made so by the inclusion of depleted uranium (DU). "Bunker-buster missiles" can travel deep into the earth to kill the enemy below ground. DU is a by-product of the production of enriched, nuclear weapons grade uranium and it is radioactive, having a half-life of 4.5 million years.

US use of DU weapons in the 1991 Gulf War, Kosovo, & Afghanistan

During the Gulf War, US and British troops fired from tanks and planes a combined total of about 950 thousand rounds (about 320 tons of DU) over a wide geographical area. As a result, it is estimated that 436,000 US ground troops entered areas contaminated with radioactivity, inhaled particles of depleted uranium, and were thus exposed to radiation.

According to most U.S. Government sources there are no known health problems associated with exposure to DU. The "debate" about health effects of DU rages on, nonetheless. As of July 1999, of the 579,000 American veterans who participated in the Gulf War, 251,000 (43%) were seeking medical treatment from the Department of Veterans Affairs. About 182,000 (31%) were seeking compensation for medical disabilities or damage related to illness or injury. The illnesses for which claims are being filed include leukemia, lung cancer, chronic kidney and liver disorders, respiratory ailments, chronic fatigue, skin spotting, and joint pain.

To date, more than 9,600 U.S. Gulf War veterans have died, and quite a number of their children, born after the war ended, suffer from congenital defects. Similar health problems have appeared among the British soldiers who took part in the war.

What about the health effects for civilians who live in the country that has been attacked? In 1991, 28 babies born in Basra, Iraq has birth defects. In 1998, 78 had birth defects. Nationwide, there has been a 262% rise in leukemia and other cancers. Are the steep increases in cancer and birth defects among Iraqis a result of DU contamination?

The U.S. military has not restricted use of DU weapons to Iraq -- they have also used them in Kosovo and Afghanistan, and have tested DU munitions on the Japanese Island of Torishima.

More than 1,750 tons of DU munitions were used by U.S. and British forces in the 2003 war on Iraq !

"The Doctor, the Depleted Uranium and the Dying Children"

On Wednesday, August 10, Bloomington Peace Action Coalition presented an evening of education and action with a speaker and the Bloomington premiere film showing of "The Doctor, the Depleted Uranium and the Dying Children" .
(© 2004 Telepool)
The award-winning film by Frieder Wagner and Valentin Thurn, shown on German Public Television, distributed in the U.S. by Traprock Peace Center, exposes the use and impact of radioactive weapons during the current war against Iraq.

Learn more about Depleted Uranium weaponry and the campaign to abolish it at Traprock Peace Center's site.

Brief Articles about DU:

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

"Abolish Depleted Uranium Weaponry Now!" , August 10, 2005


U.S. Veterans to March Against DU , UN Observer, February 7, 2006

Horror of USA's Depleted Uranium , James Denver, Vive LeCanada, April 29, 2005
or Truthout

Depleted Uranium: The Trojan Horse of Nuclear War
Leuren Moret, World Affairs The Journal of Int'l. Issues, July 1, 2004


Depleted Uranium in Bunker Bombs, America's Big Dirty Secret, Robert James Parsons, Le Monde Diplomatique, March 2002.

Depleted Uranium: The Invisible Threat Mother - April 23, 1999.

Discounted Casualties: The Human Cost of Depleted Uranium
, An excellent series of articles combining personal stories, facts and statistics from Chigoku Shimbun, a Japanese newspaper.

Depleted Uranium: The Real Story
, Lynn Weltner, Peacework

The "NATO Syndrome" -- Arms, Profits and Lies / Who has been concealing the dangers of depleted uranium for the last ten years, and why?
Michel Collon.

The Radioactive Bullet, Bill Mesler, The Nation, Oct 21, 1996

The Fire This Time: Depleted Uranium, What is DU? Is DU safe? What about plutonium contamination in DU shells?

Trail of a Bullet
, Series of article from the Christian Science Monitor about DU use in Kosovo, environmental damage and health-related effects.

In-depth reading about DU:

The Eos life~work resource centre

Depleted Uranium in the Balkans* Case study by the Inventory of Conflict & Environment.

The Politics of Depleted Uranium* Case study by the Inventory of Conflict & Environment.







The son of a U.S. Gulf War Veteran shows the thalidomide-like birth defect many believe to be due to his father having been exposed to DU. The National Gulf War Resource Center has excellent information on the effects of DU on Gulf War Vets



An Iraqi girl dying of leukemia in hospital. She is covered with material typically used for death shrouds.