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Depleted uranium: a strange way to protect Libyan civilians

By David Wilson | Stop the War Coalition | 24 March 2011

“[Depleted uranium tipped missiles] fit the description of a dirty bomb in every way… I would say that it is the perfect weapon for killing lots of people.” – Marion Falk, chemical physicist (retd), Lawrence Livermore Lab, California, USA

In the first 24 hours of the Libyan attack, US B-2s dropped forty-five 2,000-pound bombs. We do not know if these massive bombs, along with the Cruise missiles launched from British and French planes and ships, contained depleted uranium (DU) warheads. But if past evidence of their deployment by the US and British military is any guide, they may well be part of the bombardment Libya is now experiencing.

DU is the waste product from the process of enriching uranium ore. It is used in nuclear weapons and reactors. Because it is a very heavy substance, 1.7 times denser than lead, it is highly valued by the military for its ability to punch through armored vehicles and buildings. When a weapon made with a DU tip strikes a solid object like the side of a tank, it goes straight through it, then erupts in a burning cloud of vapor. The vapor settles as dust, which is not only poisonous, but also radioactive.

An impacting DU missile burns at 10,000 degrees C. When it strikes a target, 30% fragments into shrapnel. The remaining 70% vaporises into three highly-toxic oxides, including uranium oxide. This black dust remains suspended in the air and, according to wind and weather, can travel over great distances. If you think Iraq and Libya are far away, remember that radiation from Chernobyl reached Wales.

Particles less than 5 microns in diameter are easily inhaled and may remain in the lungs or other organs for years. Internalized DU can cause kidney damage, cancers of the lung and bone, skin disorders, neurocognitive disorders, chromosome damage, immune deficiency syndromes and rare kidney and bowel diseases. Pregnant women exposed to DU may give birth to infants with genetic defects. Once the dust has vaporised, don’t expect the problem to go away soon. As an alpha particle emitter, DU has a half life of 4.5 billion years.

In the ‘shock and awe’ attack on Iraq, more than 1,500 bombs and missiles were dropped on Baghdad alone. Seymour Hersh has claimed that the US Third Marine Aircraft Wing alone dropped more than “five hundred thousand tons of ordnance”. All of it DU-tipped.

Al Jazeera reported that invading US forces fired two hundred tons of radioactive material into buildings, homes, streets and gardens of Baghdad. A reporter from the Christian Science Monitor took a Geiger counter to parts of the city that had been subjected to heavy shelling by US troops. He found radiation levels 1,000 to 1,900 times higher than normal in residential areas. With its population of 26 million, the US dropped a one-ton bomb for every 52 Iraqi citizens or 40 pounds of explosives per person.

William Hague has said that we are in Libya ” to protect civilians and civilian-populated areas”.You don’t have to look far for who and what are being ‘protected’.

In that first 24 hours the ‘Allies’ ‘expended’ £100 million on DU-tipped ordnance. The European Union’s arms control report said member states issued licences in 2009 for the sale of £293.2 million worth of weapons and weapons systems to Libya. Britain issued arms firms licences for the sale of £21.7 million worth of weaponry to Libya and were also paid by Colonel Gadaffi to send the SAS to train his 32nd Brigade.

For the next 4.5 billion years, I’ll bet that William Hague will not be holidaying in North Africa.

See also:

Depleted Uranium – The Ultimate Dirty Bomb

March 25, 2011 - Posted by | Militarism, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes


  1. The criminals are running out of places to store their nuclear waste so they dump it on Arab Nations trying to kill two birds with one stone. 1.Getting rid off hazerdous waste successfully.
    2.Killing the alleged enemy at the same time and collect a Peace Award for it?


    Comment by B.Benhamid | March 25, 2011

    • Yep. And they say govt wastes. Used every bit of the nuclear material. First to run nuke plants, then to drop on Israel’s enemies. So we lay waste the the ME for the next few thousand years. Cost of doing biz.


      Comment by robertsgt40 | March 27, 2011

  2. It’s pretty much common knowledge they ‘ain’t’ too bright.. just evil and cunning… do they REALLY think all that poison is going to ‘stay’ put? We have seen the agony of the newborns in Iraq.. nothing can compare to this full blown horror.. well…. Jim Berkland…. tomorrow is the 26th… your predictions are pretty much on target and the U.S. Geological site is crazy with the rumblings of new quakes world wide… perhaps it is finally time for the REAL rider and White Horse to come and set the Freedom Fighters free at last.. then the rider & red horse can destroy amerika/bablyon, once and for all… {Rev 17 & 18}… some of us can’t bear the stench of evil and vileness of this poor earth a.k.a…..’hell’. I cannot imagine how long the inhabitants of this place have fought satan and their minions… seems as though I have done little, in comparison… please forgive me God. I would have done more, if you had told me what it was that I could have done. I hang my head in shame, and give the freedom fighters MUCH admiration and HONOR!


    Comment by Joyce | March 25, 2011

  3. The Rulers of this world want to turn the Planet into a wasteland, only they can breathe and thrive in it. They are NOT Human.

    Read between Obamas Speech COP-15 SPeech:

    You’ll see the Double Speech there, and that’ Black Jesus is really directing it to his demon cohort, NOT to Human Beings.


    Comment by Bonnie | March 25, 2011

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  5. Since when do 2000lb bombs use depleted uranium? The writer sounds particularly poorly informed on this subject.


    Comment by Darren | March 26, 2011

    • Darren,

      It appears that you provide no evidence to counter the author’s contention.


      Comment by aletho | March 26, 2011

      • The original author David Wilson provided no evidence for his claim.


        Comment by Jesse | March 26, 2011

        • Jesse,

          I recall that bunker buster type bombs have left a detectable uranium trace on various occasions. Therefore it is Darren’s claim which requires evidence.


          Comment by aletho | March 27, 2011

        • BBC reports DU bombs, it seems that they do indeed exist:


          Comment by aletho | March 27, 2011

  6. I worked for several years in a facility that produced 30MM and 155MM depleted uranium penetrators for the military. The effectiveness of the weapon is undenialble, but the use of the weapon requires an absolute lack of morals or human decency. The fact that it is produced and used shows the decisionmakers in the US to be absolute sociopaths.

    The extreme spike in Iraqi birth defects and Gulf War Syndrome are exhibits A and B


    Comment by Tom | March 26, 2011

  7. […] Depleted uranium: a strange way to protect Libyan civilians – […]


    Pingback by Bombs away!!! « Blog dos WeAreChange Portugal | March 26, 2011

  8. Dear can you imagine what this owefull weapon did actully . how much destroyed in every earea exist , my people suffering by thousonds dailly from cancer , my beloved chilldern they borned with many kind of known & anknown figers & thepolution of our mother land , aweek befor we have asurvy for an earea proved thers anew 300 child with thalaseemea for apoplation of 500,000 more than usull at the last 6 months , every day there,s more than 150 anew pataint adminstration of cancer outpataint clinc , whats your excuse for your hummenty or at least for your conssious ???? Did you brougth afreedom for all these people to grave them sillentlly why ?, who desereves all that?, who,s your enemy the peacfull people who they didnt know anything about your devilly benfits ??? dam to OIL , you get it but how much you lost from your reality with yourself ??? Tell you GOD about your anew sillent hoollooocoust??? Tell your chidern about my IRAQI beloved people that i lost at these 10 years or who i,m lossing every moment, yes i,m alone , at last i lossed my hussbend not in awar or by clashes but by cancer , after lossing abrother in bombing , & most of my failly. i have 53 years,female , strggulling for keeping alive peasfully, i were aphision , your blind Democracy & blind freedom gaved us adeath everywere even if we ,re alive, we dont know why your hearts full of revenge ???? ask JESSES how he can forgive you & all this pain in our hearts , in our bodies ??? GOD bluss you all, GOD bless you Mr OBAMA, ask him for forgivnees you,re carrying all these on your shoulders, you left all this crimes & left IRAQ in the hands of THEAFS & GANGS & to the IRANIAN Devils for your permmenet benifits, you did,nt gave afreedom to anybody just for your slaves & dirty gangs to keep on going of oil & to keep Isreal safe , but its somthing will n,t be hidden in futuer , the history cann,t gave amercy to the sinners , so GOD, praying for healing & curring us by his love & his mercy ,& gaves you awisdom . han


    Comment by han | March 26, 2011

  9. Dearest Han… your comment demands an answer. Those of us who have mercy in our hearts are in bondage of these vile, despicable, evil governments also, not torn apart physically, as you are, and continue to be in your torment and sorrow.. we despise and cry in horror at what your Nation has endured at the hands of the rulers of this world. I can only say that God is the ultimate Judge of this hell where we live, and very soon He will wipe these vicious creatures away, as though they never existed.. Please, please know that our prayers and thoughts of love, kindness, and healing, are sent to you, and we must wait, wait and wait some more until Mighty and Merciful God takes his vengence on these insane, heartless, cruel sociopaths, and then you will be made whole, and have your dear loved ones restored to you, and mine to me… We pray to GOD with ONE voice.. Please keep your great hope alive in your dear soul… we are NOT alone!


    Comment by Joyce | March 26, 2011

  10. What is your source for these claims? You have just stated all this info as fact. How do you know this to be true? If you found the information on another website where did they get the information from?


    Comment by Tim | March 27, 2011

  11. Hey Tim… why are you so angry about this.. ‘they’ have ‘shared’deadly uranium all over the world.. surely they didn’t omit it with any particular bomb… they are satans heartless whores who have overstepped human boundaries for all of time on earth.. if you really want to argue, there are many other subjects that can be contradicted… you seem to be defending something, that I, for one, can’t understand.. which is the main reason for comments. More understanding.. maybe I am mistaken.


    Comment by Joyce | March 27, 2011

  12. While the bombs are dropping on Libya, David Cameron ‘swears on his life’ that UK does not use depleted uranium in Libya…is that only because US uses it, so no need for UK for do it?
    (In column 705 in the answer to Jeremy Corbyn MP and then again in the answer to John McDonnell MP)


    Comment by Katia | March 27, 2011

  13. Thanks for all who are in my or our side or in the other side i,m thanking them becouse they re giving us achance for our hearts for our thoughts & our faiths to be together even if we did,n,t know each other & they re giving us aprovement that adevil whatever destroyed in there hearts & there minds ther,s AGOD who will put them an ashamlly sitution what ever they owened , YES I,M or WE ARE NOT ALONE , WE ARE TOGETHER BY HEARTS , BY SOULS. Thank you all . han Iraq


    Comment by han | March 27, 2011

  14. Han – I am so moved by what you share and so sorry that I am part of a society that condoned this terrible action even though thousands of us marched against this war. As a society we are growing less ignorant as information like yours is shared around the planet and we discover the deviousness of our own governments, leaders and corporations. There is always hope and love. The hearts of the world of more and more people are united in this. We pray for change. We pray for the light to enter the darkness and transform it to love. The world is waking up. Peace to you sister – with love from one of many mothers in Wales.


    Comment by bu2ful1 | March 28, 2011

  15. The original story [] has been updated – it now reads: “We do not know if these massive bombs, along with the Cruise missiles launched from British and French planes and ships, contained depleted uranium (DU) warheads. But if past evidence of their deployment by the US and British military is any guide, they may well be part of the bombardment Libya is now experiencing.”


    Comment by nyc | March 28, 2011

  16. Here’s a list of Ammunition that uses depleted uranium (Some weapons ordinance are not open for public scrutiny, so this is not a complete list)
    Most military use of depleted uranium has been as 30 mm caliber ordnance, primarily the 30 mm PGU-14/B armour-piercing incendiary round from the GAU-8 Avenger cannon of the A-10 Thunderbolt II used by the United States Air Force. 25 mm DU rounds have been used in the M242 gun mounted on the U.S. Army’s Bradley Fighting Vehicle and LAV-25.
    The United States Marine Corps uses DU in the 25 mm PGU-20 round fired by the GAU-12 Equalizer cannon of the AV-8B Harrier, and also in the 20 mm M197 gun mounted on AH-1 Cobra helicopter gunships. The United States Navy’s Phalanx CIWS’s M61 Vulcan Gatling gun used 20 mm armor-piercing penetrator rounds with discarding plastic sabots which were made using depleted uranium, later changed to tungsten.
    Another use of depleted uranium is in kinetic energy penetrators anti-armor rounds, such as the 120 mm sabot rounds fired from the M1A1 and M1A2 Abrams.[27] Kinetic energy penetrator rounds consist of a long, relatively thin penetrator surrounded by discarding sabot. Staballoys are metal alloys of depleted uranium with a very small proportion of other metals, usually titanium or molybdenum. One formulation has a composition of 99.25% by mass of depleted uranium and 0.75% by mass of titanium. Staballoys are approximately 1.67 times as dense as lead and are designed for use in kinetic energy penetrator armor-piercing ammunition. The US Army uses DU in an alloy with around 3.5% titanium.

    1987 photo of Mark 149 Mod 2 20mm depleted uranium ammunition for the Phalanx CIWS aboard USS Missouri.
    According to recent research,[28] at least some of the most promising tungsten alloys that have been considered as replacement for depleted uranium in penetrator ammunitions, such as tungsten-cobalt or tungsten-nickel-cobalt alloys, also possess extreme carcinogenic properties, which by far exceed those (confirmed or suspected) of depleted uranium itself: 100% of rats implanted with a pellet of such alloys developed lethal rhabdomyosarcoma within a few weeks. On more properly military grounds, depleted uranium is favored for the penetrator because it is self-sharpening and pyrophoric.[26]
    On impact with a hard target, such as an armored vehicle, the nose of the rod fractures in such a way that it remains sharp. The impact and subsequent release of heat energy causes it to disintegrate to dust and burn when it reaches air because of its pyrophoric properties.[26] When a DU penetrator reaches the interior of an armored vehicle, it catches fire, often igniting ammunition and fuel, killing the crew, and possibly causing the vehicle to explode. DU is used by the U.S. Army in 120 mm or 105 mm cannons employed on the M1 Abrams and M60A3 tanks. The Russian military has used DU ammunition in tank main gun ammunition since the late 1970s, mostly for the 115 mm guns in the T-62 tank and the 125 mm guns in the T-64, T-72, T-80, and T-90 tanks.
    The DU content in various ammunition is 180 g in 20 mm projectiles, 200 g in 25 mm ones, 280 g in 30 mm, 3.5 kg in 105 mm, and 4.5 kg in 120 mm penetrators. DU was used during the mid-1990s in the U.S. to make grenades, cluster bombs, and mines, but those applications have been discontinued, according to Alliant Techsystems. The US Navy used DU in its 20 mm Phalanx CIWS guns, but switched in the late 1990s to armor-piercing tungsten.
    Depleted uranium is also suspected to be used in a variety of U.S. manufactured bombs and missiles, in particular bunker buster or high penetrating ordinance such as versions of the GBU-28 fitted with the BLU-113 advanced unitary penetrator, and the BLU-116 where increased warhead density allows for increased penetration.[29][30][31][32] If this is the case, very large quantities of depleted uranium may be contained within each bomb or missile, which would be largely vaporized on impact- the widespread use of these weapons would thus constitute a major source of depleted uranium contamination.[33] Depleted uranium has also been utilized in High explosive anti-tank warheads, one example is the Russian 3BK-21B 125mm HEAT tank round.[34][35]
    It is thought that between 17 and 20 countries have weapons incorporating depleted uranium in their arsenals. They include the U.S., the UK, France, Russia, China, India, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Pakistan, Thailand, Iraq and Taiwan.[citation needed] DU ammunition is manufactured in 18 countries. Only the US and the UK have acknowledged using DU weapons.[36]
    In a three week period of conflict in Iraq during 2003 it was estimated over 1000 tons of depleted uranium munitions were used.[9


    Comment by Anon | March 29, 2011

  17. […] Depleted uranium: a strange way to protect Libyan civilians […]


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