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Serbs Bombed by NATO in 1999 Show Levels of Uranium in Bloodstreams Hundreds of Times Above Norm

Samizdat – 23.07.2022

The US and its allies spent 78 days bombing the now-dissolved nation of Yugoslavia in 1999, contaminating the Balkans with at least 15 tons of depleted uranium munitions. In the United States, troops who have been exposed to DU are eligible for generous disability benefits. Nothing of the kind has been offered to the people of Yugoslavia.

Medical testing of a Serbian soldier and civilian who came under fire during the 1999 NATO bombings has found that the level of radioactive uranium in their bloodstreams is “hundreds of times” above the norm, Serbian attorney Srdan Aleksic has told Sputnik.

Aleksic, who has spent several years filing lawsuits to try to ensure compensation for the victims of the DU bombings, said the testing was carried out in Turin, Italy, and that his legal team is now awaiting an official translation of the results into Serbian.

“So I will not delve into the medical details. But the results are frightening, not only for southern Serbia, Kosovo and Metohija and the ground-based security zone between them, where our first plaintiff served for 200 days,” Aleksic said.

“The second analysis was taken from a woman in Belgrade… Her results are a little better. We will file a lawsuit on the basis of the results,” he added. Serbian media indicated that the woman was exposed to DU after finding herself near the bombed out Ministry of Defense building in the Yugoslav capital in 1999.

Turin-based forensic scientist Dr. Rita Celli, a DU analysis expert who assisted multiple Italian legal cases seeking compensation for Italian troops who fell ill or died following their exposure to the deadly substance, characterized the pair of Serbians’ test results as “dramatic.”

She indicated that the levels of uranium-238 found in their tissue was as much as 500 times above normal, and that such high levels of DU contamination have not been established in any other civilians or military personnel that she knows of.

Celli’s approach involves blood testing and biopsies, and a search for aluminum, barium, antimony, lead, molybdenum, and other metals.

“All of the detected metals contain traces of U-238, which comes from the shells used by NATO during the bombing of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia, and especially Kosovo and Metohija. Its effects have almost certainly also affected surrounding countries, such as Albania and Macedonia,” Celli told Serbian outlet Vecherne Novosti in an article published Saturday.

Under normal conditions, Celli said, the maximum amount of aluminum in a liter of blood is 3.3 micrograms. But in Italian and Serbian troops suffering from DU contamination, it runs from 500, 2,000, or even 3,000 micrograms. Among civilians, the safe level of uranium is 0.0053 units per liter of blood, while among those who have been contaminated, it can reach up to 10 micrograms.

Aleksic is working with Italian lawyer Andel Fiore Tartaglia, who has spent decades fighting for compensation for DU exposure suffered by Italian troops and their families, including among those who served in Kosovo during NATO’s ground-based occupation of the breakaway Serbian territory. In 2021, the lawyers filed a lawsuit in the High Court of Belgrade to demand that NATO provide financial [compendsation] for Serbian victims of the DU bombings.

Hearings in the case are expected to begin in October, but NATO has already preemptively declared that the bloc has “full immunity” from prosecution under Serbian jurisdiction on the basis of agreements signed in 2005 and 2006.

Aleksic told Sputnik Serbia earlier this year that the immunity claims are rubbish, since such immunity can’t be applied retroactively – i.e. to the 78-days which NATO spent bombing the country between March and June of 1999.

Tartaglia similarly told Vecherne Novosti in its Saturday article that “there is no immunity for war crimes and the principle of retroactivity does not apply.”

In 2000, a Belgrade court found former US General Wesley Clark and NATO chief Javier Solana guilty of war crimes for the 1999 bombings. However, the ruling was overturned in 2001 following the color revolutionary overthrow of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and his detention at The Hague, where he died in custody in 2006.

Serbia suffers from one of the highest cancer rates in Europe, with close to 60,000 oncology diagnoses made each year, and cancers among children as much as two-and-a-half times above the European average. In the decades since the 1999 bombings, local doctors and scientists have also recorded an alarming rise in infertility, autoimmune diseases, and mental disorders.

The NATO war machine has used DU munitions in many of its campaigns since the end of the Cold War, sowing up to 2,300 tons of DU across Iraq during the 1991 Gulf War and the 2003 invasion, and using the weapons in Afghanistan and Syria on a smaller scale. Military drills and accidents involving US aircraft are also said to have contaminated parts of Okinawa, Japan, Sardinia, Italy, and Remscheid, Germany.

As many as 20 nations, including Russia, France, Japan, China, South Korea, and South Africa are confirmed or suspected of having depleted uranium tank shells, armor piercing bullets, and air-dropped projectiles in their arsenals, but the United States and Britain are the only two countries confirmed to have used the substance in combat. DU’s potential for use as a weapon was first discovered in the 1970s, and it has been integrated into projectiles – particularly anti-tank rounds, due to its incredible density, comparatively low aerodynamic drag, and ability to penetrate deeper into targets than conventional shells.

July 23, 2022 Posted by | Environmentalism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Iraq to sue US over sovereignty violation, use of depleted uranium weapons: Official

Press TV – December 14, 2020

An advisor to the Iraqi parliament’s foreign affairs committee says the Baghdad government is planning to lodge an international lawsuit against the United States for violating the country’s sovereignty and using internationally-banned munitions in civilian areas.

Hatif al-Rikabi told Arabic-language al-Maalomah news agency in an interview that Iraq is going to file the case at Swedish and German courts over appalling crimes that Washington has perpetrated in the Arab country, including the use of depleted uranium weapons.

Rikabi went on to say that such a measure will ensure international accountability for the US, and will not give it the chance to procrastinate the case.

“Hundreds of cancer cases are recorded every month [in Iraq], and the figure is clear evidence for the extent of the damage that US forces have committed,” he stated, calling on the Iraqi Health Ministry to “release facts and figures about casualties caused by US bombing campaigns.”

US-led wars in Iraq have left behind hundreds of tons of depleted uranium munitions and other toxic wastes.

Official Iraqi government statistics show that, prior to the outbreak of the First Persian Gulf War in 1991, the rate of cancer cases in Iraq was 40 out of 100,000 people. By 1995, it had increased to 800 out of 100,000 people, and, by 2005, it had doubled to at least 1,600 out of 100,000 people. Current estimates show the increasing trend continuing.

Contamination from depleted uranium munitions and other military-related pollution is suspected of causing a sharp rise in congenital birth defects, cancer cases, and other illnesses throughout much of Iraq.

Many doctors and scientists maintain that recent emergence of diseases that were not previously seen in Iraq, such as new illnesses in the kidney, lungs, and liver, as well as total immune system collapse are connected to public exposure to war contaminants.

Depleted uranium (DU) contamination may also be related to the substantial rise in leukemia, renal, and anemia cases, especially among children.

Moreover, there has also been a dramatic jump in miscarriages and premature births among Iraqi women, particularly in areas where heavy US military operations occurred, such as Fallujah.

During 2004, the US military carried out two massive military sieges of the city of Fallujah, using large quantities of DU ammunition, as well as white phosphorous.

December 15, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | 1 Comment

US Confirms It Used Depleted Uranium in Syria

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By Peter KORZUN | Strategic Culture Foundation | 21.02.2017

The US and its allies have many times attacked Russia for alleged «indiscriminate bombing» in support of the Syrian government, including cluster bombs. The accusations have been denied and never proven. Now the US military has confirmed it misinformed the public about its use of munitions in Syria which cause harm to civilians.

The US military has admitted using depleted uranium (DU) anti-tank rounds on two occasions in 2015 during devastating air strikes against convoys of Islamic State (IS) tanker trucks. Investigative reporter Samuel Oakford first brought up the use of DU ammunition by the coalition in October 2016. There have been questions raised ever since.

According to US Central Command spokesman Major Josh Jacques, a total of 5,265 depleted uranium rounds were fired in combination with other incendiary rounds in 2015. The US may use the munitions again. As the official put it, «We will continue to look at all options during operational planning to defeat ISIS, this includes DU rounds».

Earlier statements maintained that the coalition would not do so. In 2015, the US military Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman John Moore said that US and coalition aircraft have not been and will not be using depleted uranium munitions in Iraq or Syria during Operation Inherent Resolve. Now one can see the statements were not true.

Depleted uranium is the byproduct of the enriched uranium needed to power nuclear reactors. It is roughly 0.7 times as radioactive as natural uranium, and its high density makes it ideal for armor-piercing rounds such as the PGU-14 and certain tank shells.

The depleted uranium munitions are known for their enhanced armor-piercing capabilities. They have been criticized for posing health risks to soldiers who fire them and to civilian populations. Some scientists and Iraqi physicians blame depleted uranium weapons used by US forces for a major increase in cancer cases and birth defects in Iraq. The munitions have been suspected to be a possible cause of «Gulf War syndrome», the name given to a collection of debilitating maladies suffered by veterans of the 1990-91 Gulf War and the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Numerous studies affirm the use of the munitions in Iraq negatively affected the health of civilian population causing cancer and birth defects. When it was used during the 1999 NATO bombing campaign in Kosovo, the United Nations advised that children stay away from the impact zones. Recently published data from the 2003 Iraq War showed that A-10 attack aircraft used more DU against targets that were not tanks or armoured vehicles, questioning the current US justification that DU was needed in Syria. Historic data from the Gulf War also demonstrated that most armoured targets destroyed by A-10s were targeted by Maverick missiles, not DU munitions.

The UN Environment Program has conducted studies and clean-ups of areas affected by use of the munitions in conflicts in the former Yugoslavia and Iraq. It has described them as «chemically and radiologically toxic heavy metal». In 2014, a United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency report on depleted-uranium munitions said that direct contact with larger amounts of depleted uranium through the handling of scrap metal, for instance, could «result in exposures of radiological significance».

A University of Southern Maine study discovered that depleted uranium causes widespread damage to DNA, which could lead to lung cancer, according to a study of the metal’s effects on human lung cells. «Given the international opprobrium associated with the use of depleted uranium, we had been pretty astonished to hear that it had been used in operations in Syria», Doug Weir, the International Coordinator for the Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons, told the Washington Post on February 16.

There is no international treaty or rule that explicitly bans the munitions’ use. Internationally, DU exists in a legal gray area. In 2012, 155 states have supported a resolution calling for a precautionary approach to depleted uranium weapons during voting at the UN General Assembly. Just four countries – the US, UK, France and Israel – voted against and 27 abstained. The resolution was informed by the UN Environment’s Program’s (UNEP) repeated calls for a precautionary approach to the use and post-conflict management of the controversial weapons. The passage of this fourth General Assembly resolution is a further challenge to the use of radioactive and chemically toxic conventional weapons that can lead to environmental contamination and humanitarian harm.

It is worth mentioning that the US has a long history of using the weapons of mass destruction (WMD) banned by international law. In 2013, Amnesty International said US drone strikes could be classified as war crimes. It is broadly believed the global use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in such countries as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq, Somalia and Libya, constitutes a violation of international law.

Obviously, the US UAV warfare violates Article 51 of the UN Charter that defines the rules of self-defense because America is not attacked. International law limits self-defense against prospective threats to ones which are «imminent». The employed signature tactics are inherently in violation of the principle of distinction because it fails to identify civilian or militant. Drone attacks run against the principle of proportionality concerning unintentional civilian casualties in war. They violate Article 2 of the Geneva Convention (IV) Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War by disregarding the human rights of the innocent civilians killed in the strikes. Furthermore, the US UAV tactics conflict with International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which prohibits «arbitrary» killing even during an armed conflict. The US is not a signatory to the International Criminal Court (ICC) or many other international legal forums where legal action might be started. It is, however, part of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) where cases can be initiated by one state against another. Conducting drone strikes in a country against its will, like in Syria, for instance, could be seen as an act of war.

So, it’s double standards again while the acts of war continue. Their justice, legality and necessity are questioned but somehow their issues don’t hit headlines of US media, while Russia does. The US blaming Russia for «indiscriminate bombing», the use of cluster bombs and other misdeeds in Syria is like the pot calling the kettle black.

February 21, 2017 Posted by | Environmentalism, Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | 2 Comments

US admits using toxic depleted uranium against ISIS in Syria

RT | February 14, 2017

More than 5,000 rounds of depleted uranium (DU) ammunition were used in two attacks on Islamic State oil tankers in eastern Syria, the US military has confirmed. The US-led coalition previously pledged it would not use the controversial ordnance.

A spokesman for the US Central Command (CENTCOM) told Foreign Policy that 5,265 armor-piercing DU rounds were used in November 2015, during two air raids against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) oil tanker convoys in the Deir ez-Zor and Hasakah provinces in eastern Syria.

A-10 ground attack aircraft fired the projectiles from their 30mm rotating cannons, destroying about 500 tanker trucks, according to CENTCOM spokesman Major Josh Jacques.

In March 2015, spokesman for the US-led coalition John Moore had explicitly ruled out the use of the controversial ammunition, saying that “US and coalition aircraft have not been and will not be using depleted uranium munitions in Iraq or Syria during Operation Inherent Resolve.” The Pentagon explained that armor-piercing DU rounds were not necessary because IS did not have the tanks it was designed to penetrate.

Investigative reporter Samuel Oakford first brought up the use of DU ammunition by the coalition in October 2016, when a US Air Force congressional liaison told Representative Martha McSally (R-Arizona) that A-10s flying missions over Syria had fired 6,479 rounds of “combat mix” on two occasions. The officer explained that a fifth of the “combat mix” consisted of high-explosive incendiary (HEI) rounds, while the rest were DU armor-piercers.

The first attack took place on November 16, near Al-Bukamal in the Deir ez-Zor province, with US planes destroying 116 tanker trucks. The strike took place entirely in Syrian territory. According to CENTCOM, 1,790 rounds of “combat mix” were used during the strike, including 1,490 rounds of DU.November 16

The second attack, on November 22, destroyed 283 oil tankers in the desert between Deir ez-Zor and Hasakah. On this occasion, the A-10s fired 4,530 rounds – of which 3,775 were DU armor-piercers.

Depleted uranium is prized by the US military for exceptional toughness, which enables it to pierce heavy tank armor. However, airborne DU particles can contaminate nearby ground and water and pose a significant risk of toxicity, birth defects and cancer when inhaled or ingested by humans or animals.

The coalition’s promise not to use DU munitions in Iraq was made after an estimated one million rounds were used during the 1991 Gulf War and the 2003 invasion. Between Iraq and the Balkans, where they were also used in the 1990s, DU rounds have been blamed on a massive increase in cancer and birth defects.

DU is also the prime suspect in the medical condition dubbed the “Gulf War Syndrome” afflicting US veterans of the 1991 conflict and some peacekeepers deployed in the Balkans.

February 14, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Environmentalism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | 4 Comments

US Uranium Weapons Have Been Used in Syria

By John Laforge | CounterPunch | October 28, 2016

This month, the Pentagon admitted it has used uranium weapons in attacks inside Syria — violating its public promise last year that it would not use DU there, and contradicting the claim that US bombing is done in defense of the Syrian people, according to the Int’l Campaign to Ban Uranium Weapons.

Like the Pentagon’s past denials of the dangers of the chemical weapon Agent Orange, US military officials still claim publicly that its uranium weapons are not known to cause health problems. Made from waste uranium-238 — left from H-bomb and reactor fuel production — it is called “depleted” uranium (DU) but is only “depleted” of U-235. Ironically, the best evidence that it is dangerously toxic and radioactive — contrary to press pronouncements — comes from the Pentagon itself. A June 1995 report to Congress by the Army’s Environmental Policy Institute (AEPI) concluded: “Depleted uranium is a radioactive waste and, as such, should be deposited in a licensed repository.”

Military studies done in 1979, ‘90, ‘93, ‘95 and ‘97, make clear that uranium weapons are chemically toxic, alpha-radiation-emitting poisons that are a danger to target populations and to invading/occupying US forces alike. In spite of this cautionary written record, the military has been shooting its radioactive waste all over the world: into population centers in Iraq in 1991 (380 tons), in Afghanistan in 2001 (amounts unknown); in Bosnia in 1994-‘95 (five tons); in Kosovo in 1999 (10 tons), in Iraq again in 2003 (170 tons); and now in Syria.

The AEPI report above also says that DU has the potential to generate “significant medical consequences” if it enters the body. The Army’s Office of the Surgeon General, in its Aug. 16, 1993 “Depleted Uranium Safety Training Manual,” says that the expected effects of DU exposure include a possible increase of cancer, and kidney damage. The manual also warns, “When soldiers inhale or ingest DU dust, they incur a potential increase in cancer risk … (lung or bone) and kidney damage.”

The Army’s Mobility Equipment, Research & Development Command reported way back in 1979 that, “Not only the people in the immediate vicinity but also people at distances downwind from the fire are faced with potential over exposure to air-borne uranium dust.” This uranium “dust” is generated when DU shells hit and burn through hard targets like tanks or armored vehicles. The uranium is spread for miles by the wind, contaminating everything is its path including food, water, soil, schools, hospitals, etc., and DU is radioactive forever, or ten times 4.5 billion years, whichever comes first.

In 1990, the Army’s Armaments, Munitions and Chemical Command radiological task group said that DU is a “low level alpha radiation emitter … linked to cancer when exposures are internal, [and] chemical toxicity causing kidney damage.” It added that “there is no dose so low that the probability of effect is zero.”

With evidence of its radio-toxicity so clear and redundant, any use of uranium weapons today appears to flaunt the military’s own Field Manual prohibition — absolute and universal — against the use of poison or poisoned weapons.

Historical Disregard Revisited

The military has a long history of deliberately exposing US citizens and others to deadly risks without their knowledge or consent, beginning with the open-air nuclear bomb tests it knew would contaminate vast areas. The Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) chose not to evacuate or even warn downwind populations it knew would be hard-hit by radioactive fallout. (“Fallout risk near atom tests was known, documents show,” New York Times, March 15, 1995) These bomb tests exposed Nevada Test Site workers to levels of radiation that the AEC knew could cause harm, but the agency chose not to reduce workers’ exposures or to even inform them of the risks because doing so would have scandalized and halted the bombing tests. (“Records say workers faced high radiation: Suit contends US used no safeguards,” St. Paul Pioneer Press, Dec. 14, 1989)

Likewise, the government refused to inform some 600,000 H-bomb factory workers that workplace radiation exposures posed serious health risks, although enough was known about radiation to warn them in 1948. (“N-plant workers not told of risks: Report says US arms program exposed many to radiation,” Associated Press, Dec. 19, 1989) Between 1944 and 1974, “medicalized” human radiation experiments were even conducted on unwitting US citizens, 16,000 of them (The Plutonium Files, by Eileen Welsome).

Today, the Pentagon extends this ghastly history into Syria where it is deliberately exposing human beings to weaponized radiation that it knows can cause cancer and other diseases. As if the undeclared, unconstitutional war in Syria weren’t unlawful enough, now add the crime of using poison in violation of military law and the Hague Regulations of War on Land.

It is so easy to prove that DU is poison, that a group of four non-lawyers, myself included, convinced a Minneapolis jury in 2004 that AlliantTechsystems’ manufacture of the shells is unlawful enough to excuse an otherwise illegal trespass; our minor offense was justified in order to prevent the greater harm of DU weapons production. Like torture, the use of such poison in war is always criminal, akin to gas war. This latest US government war crime must be condemned in the harshest terms.

For more information on DU weapons and the global effort to have them banned, see ICBUW.org.

October 29, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Environmentalism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Chilcot: UK refusing to help clean up Iraq after raining down radioactive shells

RT | July 12, 2016

Britain has no intention of cleaning up its deadly radioactive legacy in Iraq or even monitoring the terrifying impact depleted uranium (DU) shells will have on the population in the future, it has been claimed.

Writing in the Ecologist on Tuesday, Doug Weir, who is coordinator of the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons (ICBUW), says that hidden within the Chilcot report is a previously classified military document setting out the UK’s rejection of any duty to cleanse Iraq of DU of unexploded ordnance (UXO).

“In it, the clearance of unexploded ordnance and DU is considered and the Ministry of Defence [MoD] argues that it has: “… no long-term legal responsibility to clean up DU from Iraq” Weir writes.

“Instead it proposes that surface lying fragments of DU only be removed on ‘an opportunity basis’ – i.e. if they come across them in the course of other operations.”

This indicates, according to Weir, that the UK has effectively swerved any obligation to clear up after itself in Iraq.

“In other words, the UK’s stance is that chemically toxic and radioactive DU ‘ash’ from spent munitions is strictly the problem of the country in which the munitions were used – in this case Iraq – and that the UK, which fired the DU shells, has no formal responsibility of cleaning up the mess.”

DU ammunition is used in only two UK weapons systems – the Royal Navy’s PHALANX Close-In Weapon System and in the Charm 3 ammunition fired by the Challenger 2 main battle tank.

However, the route to shirking responsibility may not be as easy as the UK government seems to hope. In October, the UN will meet to debate a sixth resolution on DU weapons. It’s a move which will give succor to the government of Iraq, which in 2014 called for the international community to help clean up DU.

Weir remains hopeful that the UN meeting may be able to encourage governments to take responsibility for the use and fallout of the weapons.

“When the United Nations last discussed DU two years ago, 150 governments recognised the need for states to provide assistance to countries like Iraq,” he wrote.

“This October, our Coalition will add our voice to those of the states affected by DU weapons in calling for an end to the use of DU weapons and for the users to finally accept responsibility for their legacy,” he added.

July 12, 2016 Posted by | Environmentalism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

Pentagon Silent on Current Use of DU in Iraq

By David Swanson | War is a Crime | January 30, 2015

Back in October, I reported that, “A type of airplane, the A-10, deployed this month to the Middle East by the U.S. Air National Guard’s 122nd Fighter Wing, is responsible for more Depleted Uranium (DU) contamination than any other platform, according to the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons (ICBUW). . . . Pentagon spokesman Mark Wright told me, ‘There is no prohibition against the use of Depleted Uranium rounds, and the [U.S. military] does make use of them. The use of DU in armor-piercing munitions allows enemy tanks to be more easily destroyed.'”

This week I have left an email message and a phone message for Mark Wright at the Pentagon. Here’s what I emailed, after consulting with Wim Zwijnenburg of PaxForPeace.nl:

Recent reports by CENTCOM have noted that 11% of the U.S. sorties have been flown by A-10s , and that a wide range of attacks on tanks and armored vehicles have taken place.  Can you confirm that  PGU-14 30mm munitions with depleted uranium in the A-10s (and any other DU weapons) have not been used during these attacks. And if not, why not? Thanks!

I sent that email on January 28 and left a voice message January 30.

You’d think there’d be lots of reporters calling with the same question and reporting the answer. But then it’s only Iraqis, I guess.

January 31, 2015 Posted by | Environmentalism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

Inside the UN Resolution on Depleted Uranium

By JOHN LAFORGE | CounterPunch | November 6, 2014

On October 31, a new United Nations General Assembly First Committee resolution on depleted uranium (DU) weapons passed overwhelmingly. There were 143 states in favor, four against, and 26 abstentions. The measure calls for UN member states to provide assistance to countries contaminated by the weapons. The resolution also notes the need for health and environmental research on depleted uranium weapons in conflict situations.

This fifth UN resolution on the subject was fiercely opposed by four depleted uranium-shooting countries — Britain, the United States, France and Israel — who cast the only votes in opposition. The 26 states that abstained reportedly sought to avoid souring lucrative trade relationships with the four major shooters.

Uranium-238 — so-called “depleted” uranium — is waste material left in huge quantities by the nuclear weapons complex. It’s used in large caliber armor-piercing munitions and in armor plate on tanks. Toxic, radioactive dust and debris is dispersed when DU shells burn through targets, and its metallic fumes and dust poison water, soil and the food chain. DU has been linked to deadly health effects like Gulf War Syndrome among U.S. and allied troops, and birth abnormalities among populations in bombed areas. DU waste has caused radioactive contamination of large parts of Iraq, Bosnia, Kosovo and perhaps Afghanistan.

The measure explains that DU weapons are made of a “chemically and radiologically toxic heavy metal” [uranium-238], that after use “penetrator fragments, and jackets or casings can be found lying on the surface or buried at varying depth, leading to the potential contamination of air, soil, water and vegetation from depleted uranium residue.”

The main thrust of the latest UN resolution, “Encourages Member States in a position to do so to provide assistance to States affected by the use of arms and ammunition containing depleted uranium, in particular in identifying and managing contaminated sites and material.” The request is a veiled reference to the fact that investigators have been stymied in their study of uranium contamination in Iraq, because the Pentagon refuses to disclose maps of all the places it attacked with DU.

In the diplomatic confines of UN resolutions, individual countries are not named. Yet the world knows that up to 700 tons of DU munitions were blasted into Iraq and Kuwait by U.S. forces in 1991, and that U.S. warplanes fired another three tons into Bosnia in 1994 and 1995; ten tons into Kosovo in 1999, and approximately 170 tons into Iraq again in 2003.

The International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons (ICBUW.org), based in Manchester, England and representing over 160 civil society organizations worldwide, played a major part in seeing all five resolutions through the UN process and is working for a convention that would see the munitions outlawed. In October, ICBUW reported that the US military will again use DU weapons in Iraq in its assaults against ISIS “if it needs to”. The admission came in spite of Iraq’s summer 2014 recent call for a global ban on the weapons and assistance in clearing up the contamination left from bombardments in 1991 and 2003.

The new resolution relies heavily on the UN Environment Program (UNEP) which conducted radiation surveys of NATO bombing targets in the Balkans and Kosovo. It was a UNEP study in 2001 that forced the Pentagon to admit that its DU is spiked with plutonium. (Associated Press, Capital Times, Feb. 3, 2001: “But now the Pentagon says shells used in the 1999 Kosovo conflict were tainted with traces of plutonium, neptunium and americium — byproducts of nuclear reactors that are much more radioactive than depleted uranium.”)

The resolution’s significant fourth paragraph notes in part: “… major scientific uncertainties persisted regarding the long-term environmental impacts of depleted uranium, particularly with respect to long-term groundwater contamination. Because of these scientific uncertainties, UNEP called for a precautionary approach to the use of depleted uranium, and recommended that action be taken to clean up and decontaminate the polluted sites. It also called for awareness-raising among local populations and future monitoring.”

The “precautionary principle” holds that risky activities or substances should be shunned and discouraged unless they can be proved safe. Of course, instead of adopting precaution, the Pentagon denies that DU can be linked to health problems.

John LaForge works for Nukewatch and lives on the Plowshares Land Trust near Luck, Wisc.

November 6, 2014 Posted by | Environmentalism, Militarism | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

U.S. Sends Planes Armed with Depleted Uranium to Middle East

By David Swanson | War is a Crime | October 28, 2014

The U.S. Air Force says it is not halting its use of Depleted Uranium weapons, has recently sent them to the Middle East, and is prepared to use them.

A type of airplane, the A-10, deployed this month to the Middle East by the U.S. Air National Guard’s 122nd Fighter Wing, is responsible for more Depleted Uranium (DU) contamination than any other platform, according to the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons (ICBUW). “Weight for weight and by number of rounds more 30mm PGU-14B ammo has been used than any other round,” said ICBUW coordinator Doug Weir, referring to ammunition used by A-10s, as compared to DU ammunition used by tanks.

Public affairs superintendent Master Sgt. Darin L. Hubble of the 122nd Fighter Wing told me that the A-10s now in the Middle East along with “300 of our finest airmen” have been sent there on a deployment planned for the past two years and have not been assigned to take part in the current fighting in Iraq or Syria, but “that could change at any moment.”

The crews will load PGU-14 depleted uranium rounds into their 30mm Gatling cannons and use them as needed, said Hubble. “If the need is to explode something — for example a tank — they will be used.”

Pentagon spokesman Mark Wright told me, “There is no prohibition against the use of Depleted Uranium rounds, and the [U.S. military] does make use of them. The use of DU in armor-piercing munitions allows enemy tanks to be more easily destroyed.”

On Thursday, several nations, including Iraq, spoke to the United Nations First Committee, against the use of Depleted Uranium and in support of studying and mitigating the damage in already contaminated areas. A non-binding resolution is expected to be voted on by the Committee this week, urging nations that have used DU to provide information on locations targeted. A number of organizations are delivering a petition to U.S. officials this week urging them not to oppose the resolution.

In 2012 a resolution on DU was supported by 155 nations and opposed by just the UK, U.S., France, and Israel. Several nations have banned DU, and in June Iraq proposed a global treaty banning it — a step also supported by the European and Latin American Parliaments.

Wright said that the U.S. military is “addressing concerns on the use of DU by investigating other types of materials for possible use in munitions, but with some mixed results. Tungsten has some limitations in its functionality in armor-piercing munitions, as well as some health concerns based on the results of animal research on some tungsten-containing alloys. Research is continuing in this area to find an alternative to DU that is more readily accepted by the public, and also performs satisfactorily in munitions.”

“I fear DU is this generation’s Agent Orange,” U.S. Congressman Jim McDermott told me. “There has been a sizable increase in childhood leukemia and birth defects in Iraq since the Gulf War and our subsequent invasion in 2003. DU munitions were used in both those conflicts. There are also grave suggestions that DU weapons have caused serious health issues for our Iraq War veterans. I seriously question the use of these weapons until the U.S. military conducts a full investigation into the effect of DU weapon residue on human beings.”

Doug Weir of ICBUW said renewed use of DU in Iraq would be “a propaganda coup for ISIS.” His and other organizations opposed to DU are guardedly watching a possible U.S. shift away from DU, which the U.S. military said it did not use in Libya in 2011. Master Sgt. Hubble of the 122nd Fighter Wing believes that was simply a tactical decision. But public pressure had been brought to bear by activists and allied nations’ parliaments, and by a UK commitment not to use DU.

DU is classed as a Group 1 Carcinogen by the World Health Organization, and evidence of health damage produced by its use is extensive. The damage is compounded, Jeena Shah at the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) told me, when the nation that uses DU refuses to identify locations targeted. Contamination enters soil and water. Contaminated scrap metal is used in factories or made into cooking pots or played with by children.

CCR and Iraq Veterans Against the War have filed a Freedom of Information Act Request in an attempt to learn the locations targeted in Iraq during and after the 1991 and 2003 assaults. The UK and the Netherlands have revealed targeted locations, Shah pointed out, as did NATO following DU use in the Balkans. And the United States has revealed locations it targeted with cluster munitions. So why not now?

“For years,” Shah said, “the U.S. has denied a relationship between DU and health problems in civilians and veterans. Studies of UK veterans are highly suggestive of a connection. The U.S. doesn’t want studies done.” In addition, the United States has used DU in civilian areas and identifying those locations could suggest violations of Geneva Conventions.

Iraqi doctors will be testifying on the damage done by DU before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in Washington, D.C., in December.

Meanwhile, the Obama Administration said on Thursday that it will be spending $1.6 million to try to identify atrocities committed in Iraq . . . by ISIS.

October 28, 2014 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | 2 Comments

Uranium Weapons Still Making Money, Wreaking Havoc

By John LaForge | CounterPunch | May 15, 2014

The US Army has awarded General Dynamics a $12 million contract to deconstruct and dispose of 78,000 depleted uranium anti-tank shells. The Pentagon’s May 6 announcement calls for “demilitarization” of the aging shells, as newer depleted uranium rounds are added to the US arsenal.

In the perpetually profitable business of war production, General Dynamics originally produced and sold some of the 120-millimeter anti-tank rounds to the Army. One of the richest weapons builders on earth, General Dynamics has 95,000 employees and sells its wares in 40 countries on six continents.

The International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons in Manchester, England, reports the armor-piercing shells to be disassembled are thought to be the large 105-millimeter and 120-millimeter anti-tank rounds.

Depleted uranium, or DU, weapons are made of extremely dense uranium-238. More than 700,000 tons of DU has been left as waste in the US alone from the production of nuclear weapons and nuclear reactor fuel rods. The urankum-238 is left when fissionable uranium-235 is separated for H-bombs and reactor fuel. DU is only ‘depleted’ of this U-235. It is still a radioactive and toxic heavy metal. A tax and ecological liability, DU is given away free to weapons builders.

The Pentagon is replacing older DU shells in spite of international appeals for a moratorium on their use. The military is set to buy 2,500 large anti-tank rounds just this year at a cost of $30 million or over $10,000 each from Alliant Tech Systems, formerly of Minneapolis.

In 1991, during its 40-day, 1,000-sorties-per-day bombardment, between 300 and 800 tons of DU was blasted into Iraq by US forces. Another estimated 170 tons were used in the 2003 bombing and annexation. Toxic, radioactive contamination left from the use of these weapons (the DU burns and turns to dusty aerosol on impact) has been linked to the skyrocketing incidence of birth abnormalities in southern Iraq and to the Gulf War Syndrome among tens of thousands of US combat veterans.

After the US/NATO bombardment of Kosovo in 1999, our DU weapons were discovered to be spiked with plutonium and other isotopes. This news created a political uproar in Europe and led to the admission by the US Energy Department that “the entire US stock of depleted uranium was contaminated” with plutonium, americium, neptunium and technetium. United Nations investigators in Kosovo found sites hit with DU to be poisoned with all four isotopes. The Nation magazine reported that about 150,000 tons uranium-238 was dirtied with plutonium-239 and neptunium-237 and that “some apparently found its way to the Persian Gulf and Balkans battlefields.” (Robert Alvarez, “DU at Home,” The Nation, April 9, 2001, p. 24)

European papers shouting “Plutonium!” in headlines saw US and NATO officials rushing to microphones to claim with straight faces that their shells contained “mere traces of plutonium, not enough to cause harm,” and that the highly radioactive materials “were not relevant to soldiers’ health because of their minute quantities.” But plutonium is 200,000 times more radioactive than U-238 and ingesting less than 27 micrograms of plutonium-239 a millionth of an ounce — will cause lung cancer.

(One indication of just how poisonous these weapons are is that in 30 years of resisting nuclear weapons and the war system, the only ‘not guilty of trespass’ verdict I ever won from a jury followed a protest at Alliant Tech over its DU program. The jury agreed with four of us that since poison weapons are banned by the Geneva and Hague Conventions our action was an attempt at crime prevention.)

Long-term disposal plans for the uranium from 78,000 shells were not outlined by the Army. Uranium in the shells is often alloyed with titanium or molybdenum, and if these metals are not recycled, they could become part of our vast stockpile of DU, requiring indefinite storage as intermediate-level radioactive waste. Other parts of the munitions are currently disposed of as low-level rad’ waste in spite of the plutonium content.

May 15, 2014 Posted by | Environmentalism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Pentagon’s Dirty Bombers: Depleted Uranium in the USA

By David Lindorff – 10/26/2009

The Nuclear Regulator Commission is considering an application by the US Army for a permit to have depleted uranium at its Pohakuloa Training Area, a vast stretch of flat land in what’s called the “saddle” between the sacred mountains of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea on Hawaii’s Big Island, and at the Schofield Barracks on the island of Oahu. In fact, what the Army is asking for is a permit to leave in place the DU left over from years of test firing of M101 mortar “spotting rounds,” that each contained close to half a pound of depleted uranium (DU). The Army, which originally denied that any DU weapons had been used at either location, now says that as many as 2000 rounds of M101 DU mortars might have been fired at Pohakuloa alone.

But that’s only a small part of the story.

The Army is actually seeking a master permit from the NRC to cover all the sites where it has fired DU weapons, including penetrator shells that, unlike the M101, are designed to hit targets and burn on impact, turning the DU in the warhead into a fine dust of uranium oxide. Hearings on this proposal were held in Hawaii on Aug. 26 and 27.

Uranium particles, whether pure uranium or in an oxidized form, are alpha emitters, and can be highly carcinogenic and mutagenic if ingested or inhaled, since they can lodge in one part of the body—the kidney or lung or gonad, for example—and then irradiate surrounding cells with large, destructive alpha particles (actually helium atoms), until some gene is compromised and a cell become malignant.

Among the sites identified by the NRC as being contaminated with DU are:

Ft. Hood, TX
Ft. Benning, GA
Ft. Campbell, KY
Ft. Knox, KY
Ft. Lewis, WA
Ft. Riley, KS
Aberdeen Proving Grounds, MD
Ft. Dix, NJ
Makua Military Reservation, HI

Other locations identified as having DU weapons contamination are:

China Lake Air Warfare Center, CA
Eglin AFB, Florida,
Nellis AFB, NV
Davis-Monthan AFB
Kirtland AFB, NM
White Sands Missile Range, NM
Ethan Allen Firing Range, VT
New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology

An application for a 99-year permit to test DU weapons at the NM Inst. Of Mining and Technology claimed that that site’s test area was “so contaminated with DU… as to preclude any other use”!

DU weapons have also been used by the Navy at Vieques Island off Puerto Rico (the Navy claimed it was a “mistake.”)

The Pentagon continues a long history of claiming that DU–which is the uranium that is left after the fissionable isotope U-235 is removed to make nuclear fuel and bombs–is not dangerous, although this official stance is belied by the warnings it has given to its troops (though not to civilians in battle zones), to stay well clear of tanks and other equipment destroyed by US tanks, which used DU weapons as the ordnance of choice in both the Gulf War and the current Iraq War. During both wars, DU ammunition was used by Army and Marine tanks, by the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, the A-10 ground support jet, the Marine Harrier jet, and specially equipped F16 fighter jets. The Navy also switched from DU ammunition to tungsten ammunition in its Phalanx anti-missile ship defense system because of health and environmental concerns with the DU ammo.

In both wars, a high percentage of troops have returned with many physical ailments–auto-immune problems, cancers, and later, birth defects in offspring–which have been referred to as Gulf War and now Iraq War Syndrome. As many as a quarter of returning vets from the Gulf War have reported strange illnesses and cancers and the numbers are rising for Iraq War vets. As well, statistics from the National Institutes of Health show that counties hosting bases and test facilities where DU has been uses also show high cancer rates. This is certainly true for Hawaii’s Big Island, which has the highest cancer rates for the Hawaiian archipelago. Meanwhile, the lung cancer rate for the Ft. Knox area is 105-127 per 100,000 for the 2001-2005 period, high by state and national standards. The rate is among the highest in the state of Washington for Pierce County, where Ft. Lewis is located.

The Pentagon denies that it uses depleted uranium in bombs, missiles and cruise missile warheads, but military personnel have reported their use in all three delivery systems, and reports exist of DU bunker-buster bombs, DU-tipped penetrator warheads on Tomahawk cruise missiles and on some air-to-ground missiles.

It’s a good bet that all US munitions containing DU have been widely tested at various US military bases and testing grounds.

The bottom line is that at the same time that US government is continuing to warn about the danger of terrorists acquiring the materials to make a “dirty” bomb that could spread radioactive material in the US, the US military has for years been doing exactly that, and continues to do so, with no intention to clean up its messes, many of which are allowing depleted uranium to percolate into ground water or flow down streams to more populated areas.

Of course, it could have been worse. The M101 mortar that litters Pohakuloa was actually designed as a range-finder for the Davy Crocket mortar, which back in the late 1950s and the 1960s, and up until 1971 was designed to allow infantry troops to fire a small “tactical” nuclear mortar shell at targets just one to two miles distant. Some 700 of these “little nukes”, that had a power of “just” several kilotons or less, were made and actually made their way into the arsenals of troops in Europe and elsewhere during the Cold War. Fortunately there are no reports of any of them having been fired off at any of the military’s firing ranges–especially given that their radiation effect radius was larger than their firing range, meaning that launching one was an automatic suicide mission.

(Actually firing it would have been suicide.)

Then again, the Pentagon doesn’t exactly have a sterling record about telling the truth where nuclear weapons and DU weapons are concerned. (You start to notice as you look into this stuff that with uranium weapons, the military’s attitude towards troop safety is not a whole lot better than its attitude towards the people at the downrange end of the line.)

Nor is the NRC to be relied on to protect the American public. As an administrative judge wrote in a ruling on a case involving DU contamination at Jefferson Proving Ground in Indiana, the NRC exhibited a “more than casual attitude with regard to decommissioning of sites on which radioactive materials remain as a potential threat to public health and safety and to the environment.”

In another case, involving cleanup of the ShieldAlloy Metallurgical Corp.’s site in Newfield, NJ, where DU weapons were made, a judge said, “at the very least, the (NRC) staff has countenanced…a situation that will leave the citizens in the area surrounding the activity site in doubt for close to two decades regarding what measures will ultimately be taken for their protection.”

May 9, 2014 Posted by | Environmentalism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment