Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
Opinion Editorials, August 2009
Israeli Use of Depleted Uranium on Gaza Residents
By Peter Eyre
ccun.org, August 15, 2009*
Will Gaza Residents Succumb to the Same Fate as the Residents of Basra? *
We have seen and heard many sad stories from victims of uranium based weaponry covering so many theatres of war Balkans - Kuwait - Iraq - Afghanistan - Lebanon - Gaza and now possibly Pakistan.
But do we really understand the consequences of these evil weapons that are manufactured in the US and used by all NATO and Israeli forces.
To find the answer we have to look further afield to Iraq where extensive use of such weapons has decimated the civilian populations at many locations.
The uranium story is so horrific it is extremely difficult for anyone to come to terms with it. The intense pain and suffering from it victims and the final death toll amounts to many thousands if not millions. We will now look into the experience of medical practitioners in Basra and Southern Iraq and the data that they provided that was so crucial in painting the uranium story.
Before looking into the evidence provided by the specialists I would like to pay tribute to those who dedicated their lives into investigating Depleted Uranium and other Uranium weapons and paid the ultimate price under mysterious circumstances.
We must fully understand that in all of the above theatres of war the uranium contamination has not only affected their own NATO/IDF military forces but also the innocent civilians in the respective target areas and adjacent countries (including Israel itself). It is the indiscriminate nature of these weapons and the fact that their associated contamination has the ability to travel vast distances that surely labels them as the most horrific evil act against mankind.
The terrible consequences of Depleted Uranium were made available to the media by a Dr. Leonard Dietz who had worked for the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory for 28 years. He was an experimental research physicist in mass spectrometry and was responsible for developing advanced mass spectrometer instrumentation and new analytical techniques for isotope ratio analysis of uranium and plutonium. After the 1991 Persian Gulf War Dr Dietz provided physics support on airborne uranium particles from depleted uranium munitions to Congress, and to environmentalists and researchers who were investigating the spread and health risks of these radioactive particles. He produced an extremely interesting report titled "Contamination of Persian Gulf War Veterans and Others by Depleted Uranium"
In his Abstract he stated: "We develop background information about depleted uranium (DU) and use it to describe a physical model of how on the battlefields in Kuwait and Iraq a large number of unprotected Gulf War veterans could easily have acquired dangerous quantities of DU in their bodies" He made the following analysis "Alpha, beta and gamma radiations produce the same biological effects on cells and organs, and much of their radiation damage to body tissue can accumulate over the time of exposure.
Therefore, it seems reasonable that not only the continuous radiation of body tissue by alpha particles from U-238, but the energetic beta particles and gamma rays from its decay progeny Th-234 and Pa-234 must also be considered when assessing possible cancer risk and genetic damage"
Your browser may not support display of this image. He was very critical of US Army reports when he went on to say: "The fallout range of airborne DU aerosol dust is virtually unlimited. These micro-particles can be inhaled and ingested easily and that makes them dangerous to human health. Environmental assessments for sites which process DU or test fire DU munitions typically downplay the potential for widespread fallout of DU particles" For example, one such environmental impact study in 1992 by the U.S. Army Ballistics Research Laboratory stated "Because of the mass and density of the DU particle, it only travels short distances when airborne. These two factors alone preclude the off-site release of DU." Dr Dietz disagreed with this statement and went on to say "This is not true for micrometer-size particles of uranium metal or its oxides. In fact, the transport of airborne DU aerosol particles was well known long before the Army Ballistics Research Laboratory environmental impact study was written, since in 1976 it had been measured up to a distance of 8 km). What may not have been fully appreciated in 1976 was that DU aerosol particles could be transported by wind action over much greater distances"
We must at this stage draw attention to the information provided by British Expert Dr Chris Busby who under the British Freedom of Information Act managed to bring to the British publics attention the high rate of airborne uranium contamination registered at the UK's AWE at Aldermaston as a result of heavy DU activity in both Iraq and Afghanistan. This contamination reached the UK within 7-9 days and resulted in an urgent alarm being passed on to the British Environmental Agency. (See diagram as above)
Dr Dietz He concluded his report by stating that "The U.S. Army and the Veterans Administration have shown an unwillingness to investigate health issues associated with the toxicity and radioactivity of inhaled and ingested DU aerosol particles that have become absorbed in the body. Both have refused to test large numbers of veterans for the presence of DU in their bodies"
An astonishingly high rate of birth defects in the families of Gulf War veterans is especially troubling. For example, Laura Flanders reports that the Veterans Administration conducted a state-wide survey of 251 Gulf War veterans' families in Mississippi. Of their children conceived and born since the war, 67% have illnesses rated severe or have missing eyes, missing ears, blood infections, respiratory problems and fused fingers. Flanders goes on to say that the birth defects are consistent with the effects of radiation from DU. Dr Dietz's Conclusion:
We have shown how easily micrometer particles of DU can spread over a large region and poison many people both radiologically and chemically. The promotion and sale of DU munitions by U.S. arms manufacturers (with U.S. government approval) and by other arms manufacturers to the armies and air forces of many nations will guarantee that in future conflicts thousands of soldiers on both sides will inhale and ingest acute doses of DU aerosols, and many in armoured vehicles struck by DU penetrators will receive dangerous doses of non-removable uranium shrapnel in their bodies. The human cost of using DU munitions in conflicts is not worth the perceived short-term advantages, especially if it results in U.S. veterans and others becoming ill and in genetic defects in their offspring. A comprehensive epidemiological study should be made of all Gulf War veterans and their families, searching for evidence of residual DU in their bodies and for causes of genetic defects in their children. The health issues associated with DU munitions should be investigated and evaluated by independent medical and scientific experts separated completely from the Department of Defense, Veterans Administration, National Laboratories, U.S. military services and their contractors.
I will continue this report with factual evidence from Iraq who have much experience in the analysis of the aftermath of the Gulf Wars and their shocking findings.
What Future Lies Ahead for the People of Gaza?**
Despite NATO and IDF forces telling us Depleted Uranium (DU) has not been used, we keep finding evidence in all theaters of war to prove otherwise.
The Balkans was an excellent example as to how NATO deceived the world in denying its usage. Evidence was eventually produced and they were then forced to admit to its extensive usage. The UNEP were called in twice to evaluate the locations and levels of contamination.
Their first report revealed gross neglect in not testing known DU-contaminated military vehicles, and also the fact that they only carried out selective sampling at respective roadside locations. The UNEP's second visit was much more indepth, but its final report concluded that Low Level Radiation (such as DU) did not present itself as a health hazard to humans. This early assessment would not only prove incorrect, but would also reveal that the methods used were totally outdated.
To give some comparison as to how harmful DU can be, we can revisit the report that was published late last year, as per below. The reader will clearly see the medical status pre-Balkans War, and the post evidence. This comparison has been repeated in so many areas of conflict with the best example being the pre and post medical reports from Southern Iraq, centred on the Basra area. We see time and time again the UN fail in its ability to represent its members and their respective populations. Simple logic has now revealed that Low Level Radiation (LLR), such as DU, is certainly a major health hazard and that an independent enquiry is urgently required. It must be carried out without any involvement by the respective governments, departments of defence, military or representatives from the nuclear industry. It should be monitored under the watchful eye of a select committee with total media transparency.
This article was published in Croatian "Javno" 2008: NATO - Still killing People in Kosovo
Back in 1999 NATO carried out a 78-day shelling of Serbia and Kosovo. They allegedly used depleted uranium which continues to kill people.
Nine years after NATO's bombing of Serbia, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is still taking lives in Kosovo, Serbia's Press online reported. The NATO allegedly used shells with depleted uranium which are still today causing an increase in the number of cancer patients. Prior to 1999, the number of Serbs who suffered from malignant tumours was three times lesser, according to the statistics of Serb hospitals. In Kosovo's Kosovska Mitrovica in 2005 there were 38 percent more cancer patients than in 2004.In those two years, a total of 3,500 cancer cases in Kosovo Albanians were diagnosed. Globally, six people out of a thousand suffer from malignant tumours on average. In the Kosovska Mitrovica hospital, there are 200 cancer patients to 1,000 people.
NATO used weapons banned by international conventions?
After 2000, groups of experts in atomic energy tested water, food, air, plants and animals to establish the damage caused by radiation from NATO shells. Beta and Gamma radiation was higher than the permissible level and radiation was discovered in the soil, water, plants and animals. After it gets into the soil, it takes some 250 years for depleted uranium to degrade.
The conclusions of the studies were that the environment on 100 locations in Kosovo was not safe for animals or people, but no bans or moving of the population was carried out.
European peace troops stationed in Kosovo knew there was great danger of radiation in these areas. Italian military experts concluded in 2005 that 34 soldiers had died from leukaemia and various malignant tumours. Since then 150 soldiers from Kosovo were sent home.
In mid-2000 NATO published a map with 112 marked locations that had been shelled with depleted uranium. Over the 78 days of NATO bombing, a total of 31,000 shells with depleted uranium, weapons banned by international treaties, were dropped in Kosovo. Objavljeno: 17.11.2008. u 12:04h.
It is interesting to note that only one country so far as attempted to address this major world DU contamination problem. Belgium voted unanimously on the 22nd of March 2007 to ban DU ammunition from the 20th of June 2009. It was stated that the Belgium Ministry of Defence had said that they haven't bought any and won't buy them in the future. The Foreign Minister was asked whether a ban would be possible, he replied "We can't do it, because NATO and the UN aren't encouraging it. So long as there is no international ban, it isn't possible for a small country like ours to ban them".
The fact that Belgium has embarked on this path is truly a remarkable achievement. The Port of Antwerp has in the past played a major role in both receiving and despatching weaponry. It is even more remarkable that this small country houses the NATO Headquarters, in Brussels and is the political headquarters of the Alliance and the permanent home of the North Atlantic Council NATO' as well as US Nuclear Weapons. Belgium has managed to reach this wonderful decision despite the Belgium Prime Minister receiving a call from the US Government asking him not to let the ban go through.
A lot of money has been spent on poor quality research and the propaganda machine to reassure the public that Low Level Radiation (LLR) is no threat to health despite the fact that other independent experts have said the opposite.
The following is an extract from http://www.counterpunch.org/du.html dated 5th February 2001: Months of bombing of Iraq by US and British planes and cruise missiles has left behind an even more deadly and insidious legacy: tons of shell casings, bullets and bomb fragments laced with depleted uranium. In all, the US hit Iraqi targets with more than 970 radioactive bombs and missiles.
More than 10 years later, the health consequences from this radioactive bombing campaign are beginning to come into focus. And they are dire, indeed. Iraqi physicians call it "the white death"-leukaemia. Since 1990, the incident rate of leukaemia in Iraq has grown by more than 600 percent.
"The desert dust carries death," said Dr. Jawad Al-Ali, an oncologist and member England's Royal Society of Physicians. "Our studies indicate that more than forty percent of the population around Basra will get cancer. We are living through another Hiroshima."
This is part of a larger horror inflicted on Iraq that sees as many as 180 children dying every day, according to mortality figures compiled by UNICEF.
So what is the future for Gaza and all the people in the region? Only time will tell. The coming months and years will reveal the truth through medical statistics and by taking further samples from victims, bomb sites and fragments. Will the IDF be forced to admit it has used such weapons on both Lebanon and Gaza.......I don't think so!
Peter Eyre is a Middle East Consultant.
* Originally published by Palestine Telegraph on July 14, 2009.
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