Big Dirty Secret: Depleted Uranium Weapons
weapons kill U.S. troops, cause birth defects, and kill civilians
who live in the contaminated environment.
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.
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
More than 1,750 tons of DU munitions were used by U.S. and British forces in the 2003 war on 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
Depleted Uranium in Bunker Bombs, America's Big Dirty Secret, Robert James Parsons, Le Monde Diplomatique, March 2002.
Depleted Uranium: The Invisible Threat Mother Jones.com - 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.