Uranium Weapons - Does anyone care about our planet?
Our planet is truly a wonderful place but under the umbrella, that we call our atmosphere, lies a cocktail of uranium aerosols waiting to claim its next victim. Many countries donate to this contamination such as the US, UK, Israel, NATO member states, China and Russia etc
Why would the UN, WHO, US, UK, NATO and IDF allow this to happen and why do they continue manufacturing and using weapons containing uranium? The answer came from the Belgium Foreign Minister when he was asked if it was possible to prohibit DU, he replied “We can’t do it, because NATO and the UN aren’t encouraging it”. The Belgian Parliament overturned the reluctance of the Foreign Minister and the Minister of Defence by voting unanimously to prohibit DU ammunition from the 20th of June 2009. One would never have imagined that Belgium, the heart of NATO, would have made such a bold move.
A conference took place in Sweden: INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS OF WAR - The examples of Agent Orange and Depleted Uranium - Stockholm • 23-24 April 2004 in which various experts gave speeches, two of those being Doug Rokke and Tedd Weyman.
Dr Douglas L. Rokke, Ph.D. Former Head of U.S. Army Radiological Laboratory and Former Director U.S. Army Depleted Uranium Project, U.S. Army major (retired), and former Assistant Professor of Environmental Science at Jacksonville State University, Florida, USA. During an interview with John Pilger, Doug gave a summary of his work experience: “Prior to the Gulf War, I was responsibility for the training and educating of all the medical professionals and combat soldiers on the effects of nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare. More importantly what type of medical care and treatment was required and what decontamination is needed for those that may be injured or wounded during the war”.
After the ground war he was tasked as a health physicist responsible for cleaning up the depleted uranium or uranium 238 contamination. Doug once stated that in regard to the uranium 238 contamination the only warning we had was a single letter that came from the Surgeon General's office in the United States army. And that said, "Think about DU, and this uranium contamination".
He went on to say “As we found out after the ground war - not only didn't we know anything about it, how to handle it, how to dispose of it, how to clean it up, what medical care to be given - nobody did - they just didn't tell anybody. Whether it be British Canadian German or US forces. They just didn't tell anybody”
John Pilger asked him the following question during that interview: What do you estimate the effect on people living in that part of the world, living in southern Iraq? Doug’s response: “The effect depends on whether a person inhaled it, got some of it eating it or drinking it, or if they got the uranium contamination into an open wound. If they did then - dependent upon the amount that they had - what we're seeing now are respiratory problems, breathing problems, kidney problems, and cancers. We have individuals of our team that were actually known exposed and they have died of cancer. We have other individuals right now that have cancer. We have rashes, neurological problems. A lot of people - and again this is out of the whole complex toxic battlefield where DU contributes - lost fine motor function, individuals have neural psychology problems, short term memory losses. The uranium is a heavy metal poison and also a radiological poison, so we have to look at a conglomeration of potential health effects that then mix with other causes to create serious problems”.
John then asked the inevitable question: “Tell me what you think the effect on the civilian population of Iraq will be. You see, when I was in Iraq there appeared to be an epidemic of cancer but they don't have any scientific studies to measure what their estimates are. Could you just comment generally on that?
Doug’s final response revealed a rather grim outlook when he said “Numerous times, at various meetings and conferences, the Iraqis have asked for the medical treatment protocols. They've asked for the environmental clean-up protocols which the US Department of Defence and the British Ministry of Defence have refused to do repeatedly. With the extent of the contamination in Basra and all over Iraq where the DU was fired by the tanks and by the aircraft - over 300 tons - there's no doubt in my mind that, because that lasts forever unless it's been physically removed, that any woman or child, any soldier, any non-combatant, anybody that comes in the area that it gets into their body is going to have medical problems. The overall effects are the fact that we used a weapon that's indiscriminate for eternity and therefore unless the environmental clean up is totally completed and the medical care is provided, the effects are permanent and lasting forever and ever and ever. That's wrong”
Tedd Weyman, Deputy Director - Research Scientist at Uranium Medical Research Centre in Toronto, Canada and Field Team Leader for Afghanistan and Iraq. Tedd led teams into Afghanistan and Iraq to collect biological and environmental samples for laboratory study, to survey radioactivity levels and measure the scope of uranium weapons’ contamination. He interviews civilians to document health and conflict histories and cross reference with the laboratory studies of samples taken from bombsites, battlefields and wider-area environments of affected communities. Tedd’s fieldwork has resulted in himself becoming contaminated by Depleted Uranium during his last field trip in Iraq.
On the 10th of August 2004, Tedd published a report Titled: The US and UK deploy new uranium weapons contaminating Iraq’s environment, civilians and the Coalition’s own troops. As we have already found out from Doug Rokke his findings were equally as disturbing:
The recent Iraqi field samples collected by UMRC were analysed by plasma mass spectrometer by Dr Axel Gerdes, Institute of Petrology and Geochemistry, JW Goethe University, Frankfurt. The human and environmental samples have been found to contain Depleted Uranium and abnormally high levels of the artificial transuranic isotope, 236U. The isotope composition of Depleted Uranium found in civilians as well as in surface soils and water courses shows the weapons used in Iraq were manufactured from two and perhaps three different metallurgical sources (stockpiles of uranium metals). The soil and water samples indicate DU was deployed in both mechanized battlefields and urban neighbourhoods where aerial bombing took place.
The purity and quantities (abundances) of the Depleted Uranium found in the samples of soils taken from US- and UK-led battlefields are some of the highest levels published since UMRC and others began independent investigations into the use of radioactive dispersion weapons in 1991 following Operation Desert Storm. The abundances of uranium in water samples taken from a fresh water supply tank and from a run-off catch basin in Al Basra are much higher than published results for DU levels in water samples attributed to the by-products of uranium weapons in either the Balkans or Iraq.
Biological samples taken from Iraqi civilians present during the Shock and Awe bombing campaign against downtown Baghdad and its government and telecommunications facilities are positive for Depleted Uranium. It is not possible to know the source of inner-city civilian contamination as virtually the entire city is contaminated. Unlike biological and environmental samples collected in Afghanistan, Operation Enduring Freedom, the team did not find deposits of Non Depleted Uranium. A biological sample taken from one Al Basra citizen, who was exposed to the urban bombing campaign in that city, has an unusual composition of isotopes showing an enriched, as opposed to a depleted or natural, ratio of 235U/238U. The enriched uranium was found in a person exposed to and living adjacent to the same battlefield led by the British Desert Rats, south of Al Basra.
According to the DUOB (Depleted Uranium Oversight Board) of the UK Ministry of Defence, urine samples taken from members of the UK 1st Armoured Division that fought the approach to Al Basra and occupied the city are excreting non-depleted uranium several hundreds of times the British biological norm. Smaller total uranium levels positive for DU have also been identified by the MOD in the UK forces that served in the Az Zubair – Basra – Shat Al Arabi area.
The next question is what has all this got to do with Lebanon and Gaza? The answer is simple…both locations have succumbed to the same fate.
We have significant proof from the battle fields of the Balkans, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan on the use of weapons containing uranium. In all cases test on victims and on recovered samples have confirmed either depleted uranium or traces of enriched uranium.
With this knowledge on hand samples have since been taken and received from Lebanon (2006) and Gaza 2008/9. The samples have both been tested at the famous British Harwell Laboratory revealing not only DU but also traces of enriched Uranium, indicating the possible use of fourth generation weaponry. It is interesting to note that similar findings have been made in both Iraq and Afghanistan. As we have seen the health impact on military forces and innocent civilians remains the same in all of the above theatres of war and in that context we can expect the same trend in Lebanon and Gaza. Based on the fact that DU aerosols do not respect international border one can also assume this problem has extended across the borders to Syria, Israel, West Bank, Jordan, Egypt, the entire Middle East and beyond.
In order to better understand the seriousness of using uranium based weapons we must first appreciate the fact that its usage has been alarmingly excessive. We have to learn to identify the appearance and structure of such explosions compared to conventional weapon, how these toxic aerosols move around the globe, how they have the ability to travel long distances (sometimes return to their point of origin before moving on) and finally the health hazards associated with these terrible weapons. Because of the complexity of all the above factors I intend to print these articles in parts (this being Part 1).
First we must look at some photographic evidence of past and current weapons that contain uranium. These photographs have been analysed by an expert to confirm their authenticity. I have given three examples one in Lebanon and two in Gaza, the latter in actual fact was a multiple weapons attack.
This attack was carried out in Beirut which is densely populated. If one can imagine that with a sea breeze it spreads over a large area of the city and beyond. Once it gets into the upper atmosphere it diverts off in all directions, sometimes as very high speed. Extensive bombing also took place at Khiam very close to the Israeli border and the contamination from these explosions extended over the entire Northern Israel region within one hour. This was followed by rain which caused the DU aerosol to return to earth and contaminate the land,crops and water supply
A photograph revealed a cluster of 4 bombs that had two bombs exploding on initial impact and two more in transit. In the distance one could see the distant devastation. On analysing the sea conditions the sea breeze was strong and the fact that the photographer was standing on the Israeli border would mean that the contamination from these series of bombs would cross the border into Israel within minutes. This would then contaminate Central & Southern Israel.
I also observed a night time photograph of a DU explosion in Gaza which shows the typical sparkling effect. DU is pyrophoric and ignites spontaneously. To conclude this first part I thought it would be relevant to publish some information from European experts.
The use of Depleted Uranium (DU) was condemned in 2000 by experts from Germany namely Prof. Dr. Albrecht Schott and Prof. Dr Siegwart Horst Gunther. In their submission to phohibit DU they stated - Given the known chemical and radioiogical toxicity of depleted uranium and its compounds causes damage to humans, animals and the ecological cycle, of which there is conclusive evidence we demand that the military and civilian use of depleted uranium (DU) be banned. “The preservation of creation and the dignity of humankind forbid the use of DU. The Invasion of DU, and the compounds produced by its self-ignition due to heat, into the soil and water cycle of Iiving communities, and the environment we live in, make them uninhabitable for thousands of years (the half-life of uranium is 4.5 billion years; uranium forms long-term radiologically dangerous decay products)"
Legal references were made in this submission as follows: The military use of DU violates current international humanitarian law, including the principle that there is no unlimited right to choose the means and methods of warfare (Art. 22 Hague Convention VI (HCIV); Art. 35 of the Additional Protocol to the Geneva Convention (GP1); the ban on causing unnecessary suffering and superfluous injury (Art. 23 §le HCIV; Art. 35 §2 GP1), indiscriminate warfare (Art. 51 §4c and 5b GPI) as well as the use of poison or poisoned weapons). The deployment and use of DU violate the principles of international environmental and human rights protection. They contradict the right to life established by the Resolution 1996/16 of the UN Subcommittee on Human Rights. Wo demand the following individual points:
1. A ban an the use, development, production, transport, storage and possession of DU weapons and DU armour-plating, as well as all other military uses of DU.
2. Medical treatment of all victims of DU, in particular children.
3. Destruction of all DU weapons and means of its deployment and secure storage of the uranium in a stable chemical compound.
4. A ban an the civilian use of DU because of accidental future, past or present exposure fo uranium or its compounds.
5. Decontamination of all military and civilian equipment contaminated by DU.
6. Decontamination of all territory contaminated by DU. This not only means theatres of war but also military practice ranges and other areas where DU has been deployed.
7. Conversion of the global stocks of DU in the form of Uranium Hexafluoride, approx. 2-3 million tons, from its presently insufficiently stable form into a stable Uranium Oxide and safe deposition.
8. Punishment of the military use of DU as a war crime (in accordance with Art. 85 §3b GP1; Art. 6b IMT Statute; Art. 2c, 3a and b ICTY Statute; Art. 8 §2b Statute of Rome).
9. Eradication of consequential damage caused by DU use according to customary liability principles in international (humanitarian) law.
10. Creation of a centre for the worldwide documentation of all DU contaminated regions, in particular theatres of war, military practice ranges, scenes of accidents, etc., and to study the DU problem.
US Expert Leuren Moret in her article: DEPLETED URANIUM
THE TROJAN HORSE OF NUCLEAR WAR (8 July 2004) gives a full account of all the issues relating to DU. Lauren’s contribution in the fight against DU is exemplary and I urge you all to read the above article in full as well as many other articles she has produced. In the above article she makes reference to the follow:
ILLEGAL UNDER INTERNATIONAL LAW
Four reasons why using depleted uranium weapons violates the UN Convention on Human Rights:
LEGALITY TEST FOR WEAPONS UNDER INTERNATIONAL LAW
TEMPORAL TEST - Weapons must not continue to act after the battle is over.
ENVIRONMENTAL TEST - Weapons must not be unduly harmful to the environment.
TERRITORIAL TEST - Weapons must not act off of the battlefield.
HUMANENESS TEST - Weapons must not kill or wound inhumanly.
In 2002 British expert Dr Chris Busy PhD produced a report: Review of the Home Office statement on the health consequences of exposure to depleted uranium in Kosovo. Dr Busby was critical of the Home Office in regard to their comments:
• The studies undertaken on DU in Kosovo have not detected any significant levels of DU.
• Studies have not shown any significant risk to the health of the population of the province from the presence of DU.
In his response he stated - I will demonstrate that both of these statements are incorrect and that the DoD document and its conclusions are unsafe. I will argue that this is because of bias, over interpretation of research and omission of relevant evidence. I will direct attention to evidence which shows that there is a significant health risk associated with living in areas contaminated by DU including recent evidence not available to the authors of the DoD report or the HO memorandum.
Many experts throughout the world agree with Dr Busy and believe that the current model used by the nuclear industry and the military is outdated and is not suitable for testing victims that have been exposed to low level radiation (LLR) such as DU.
The ICRP90 model draws comparison on the effects of high level doses of radiation on victims from the A bomb attacks in Japan during WW2. Many experts have challenged this method by saying that this model averaged out radiation of the whole body or organ. These survivors had been irradiated with an acute, large, external dose in which the effects were uniform over the whole body. It is evident that LLR (such as DU) that has been absorbed, ingested and more importantly inhaled has become a major threat to human health and therefore the above model is unacceptable Dr Busby reported - The view that this approach was wrong was developed independently by scientists from different countries, and is now located, among other places, in the model of the European Committee on Radiation Risk (ECRR). Dr Busby was also the founder member of this Committee on Radiation Risk from Internal Emitters (CERRIE) which is an independent expert deliberative committee jointly funded by the UK’s Department of Health and DEFRA.
Dr Busby reflected on his own experience in his report - I have personally visited two countries where DU has been used, Iraq and Kosovo with scientific measuring equipment and I collected samples for analysis. I found elevated levels of radioactivity in both countries without great difficulty and also took samples which were subsequently analysed in the UK by two independent laboratories. Both found DU in the samples from Kosovo so I find it hard to believe that all these groups found no evidence of DU, or at minimum, only DU near the target.
His report also revealed some interesting observations - The most significant problem is that DU is an alpha and beta emitter, the latter because of its radioactive decay product isotopes, Thorium-234 and Protoactinium-234, which are not mentioned in the DoD report. The range in air of alpha particles is a few centimetres, and they are easily stopped by a film of water. Beta particles have a range of up to a metre but will not penetrate a Geiger counter window. This means that a normal Geiger Counter will not register the radioactivity from DU.
It was further on in his report that he made the following conclusion - There is evidence of widespread contamination by DU in the form of particles. I have some of these particles in dust samples from Gjakove, Kosovo collected more than a year after the shells were fired. They are in my laboratory, so for me, there is no argument on this matter. I can show you them. The dust had collected on a road beneath where a snowdrift had collected and melted, and the isotopic ratio of daughter Thorium-234 to parent Uranium-238 showed that the Uranium was being re-suspended in the air. Children were playing nearby: there were no wrecked tanks or bullet holes in the road. Beta radiation levels were about 11 times background, and the concentration of Uranium in the dust about 4000Bq/kg 200 times the background level of about 20Bq/kg.
Was this material ending up inside the people who live nearby? To make this question more immediate, I could bring my radioactive DU particle to where you sit reading this report and blow it at you. Would you take the position of the DoD and the other learned bodies that there was no danger, or would you dive for cover, holding your breath? When I visited Iraq and Kosovo, I wore full respiratory protection and so did the TV camera crews who accompanied me.
On the issues of respiratory protection it was interesting to read a letter sent from Leuren Moret to Congressman Mc Dermott on the 21st of February 2003 which touched on the subject of current respiratory masks. It revealed that aerosol particles in the 0 .1 micron range would pass through the filter. Leuren letter also contained some other interesting information
It must be clearly understand that back in 1943 nuclear experts were discussing the advantages of using fine dust as a weapon. One such document was issued on the 30th of October 1943 which quoted “." It is recommended that a decision be obtained from competent authority authorizing additional work pertaining to the use of radioactive materials in order that this country may be ready to use such materials or be ready to defend itself against the use of such materials”. This same document contained information as follows:
2 As a gas warfare instrument the material would be ground into particles of microscopic size to form dust and smoke and distributed by a ground-fired projectile, land vehicles, or aerial bombs. In this form it would be inhaled by personnel. The amount necessary to cause death to a person inhaling the material is extremely small. It has been estimated that one millionth of a gram accumulating in a person's body would be fatal. There are no known methods of treatment for such a casualty.
Two factors appear to increase the effectiveness of radioactive dust or smoke as a weapon. These are: (1) It cannot be detected by the senses; (2) It can be distributed in a dust or smoke form so finely powdered that it will permeate a standard gas mask filter in quantities large enough to be extremely damaging. This document gave the background to today’s weapons that are not only highly effective in there ability to penetration deep into the target but also the pyrophoric qualities of this product allows it to ignite spontaneously and create a huge cloud of fine DU dust that becomes a lethal airborne aerosol.
Part of an attachment in Leuren Moret’s letter to Congressman Mc Dermott
For almost 40 years we have all been let down a path of total deception by the US Government, US Department of Defense, US Military and the Nuclear Industry. This deception later extended to the US Institute of Medicine, UN (especially the UNEP), WHO, NATO and their respective Governments and many other institutions that all failed in their duty of care for our planet and its inhabitants.
An example of the type of control/pressure that was applied to such people as Dr Doug Rokke is revealed in the contents of a letter, referred to as the famous Los Alamos memorandum, its wording are very clear “Thou shalt write you're after-action report such that they do not reveal the health and environmental consequence of uranium munitions because they will become politically unacceptable." [That's] a direct order.
It was also interesting at this time that Doug received another order from the Defense Nuclear Agency*, written by Col. Gregory Lyle. And Greg Lyle said, "is not only DU a health risk," he said, "it's a serious health concern." Col. Lyle, at that time, worked for Col. Yasaf Durokovic. Now, you people who hear about Yasaf Durokovich, a doctor, uranium medical research program. But they failed to tell you that he was the U.S. Army's top doctor in this stuff until he blew the whistle. You have to understand, he was the army's expert—a physician, a Ph.D. M.D. physician—until he blew the whistle.
We must all understand that although the issue of DU only surfaced as a result of the accident in Camp Doha, Kuwait on the 11th July 1991, its usage was tested in the Gulf during the War in Kuwait which started on the 2nd August 1990 and finished on the 28th February 1991. The preparation and stockpiling of these weapons were already underway in readiness for a planned attack on Iraq. As we know by now this was delayed as the US could not justify or find an excuse to attack Iraq at the time. The final answer came with 9/11 and the concoction of the WMD stories etc.
The War in the Balkans involved US, UK and other NATO forces and resulted in the extensive use of DU weaponry during the period 22nd March 1999 and 10th June 1999. The contamination of the Middle East started back in 1973. It was during the conflict between Israel and Egypt that DU was first put to the test. Israel was provided with DU weaponry by the US, who assisted them throughout the campaign (as this technology was unknown to them). This “gift” by the US to the Middle East has been in continuous use by the IDF since that time and was used in both Lebanon and Gaza.
My next report will cover and analyse the likely area of direct contamination as a result of using DU in Lebanon and Gaza. It will map out the extent and range of the contamination by using the US NOAA HYSPLIT Model. I will also create my own purpose built map of Europe and the Middle East showing how the DU aerosols from Lebanon and Gaza enter the atmosphere at various levels and follow them on their journey around the globe.
Peter Eyre Middle East Consultant 29th July 2009