And the fallout is coming this way, says independent scientist Leuren Moretby Stephanie Hiller
In May, 2003, the United States dumped 2,200 tons of depleted uranium on Iraq, according to reliable sources, and it's logical to assume that more depleted uranium is being employed in the current attacks on Faluja that began April 8 to put down Iraqi resistance to the American presence there.
According to independent geoscientist Leuren Moret, the war on Iraq - like the war on Afghanistan - is a nuclear war. "Depleted uranium is a nuclear weapon and it is a weapon of mass destruction under the U. S. government's definition of weapons of mass destruction," Moret says.
The Pentagon has repeatedly denied that DU is harmful, despite the symptoms of half the returning veterans from the first Persian Gulf Wars who are now disabled. But researchers have shown that the Pentagon has been fully aware of the consequences of what is called "low level radiation" since 1942, when depleted uranium was first suggested for development as a military weapon under the Manhattan Project.
On Sunday, April 6, the New York Daily News reported that nine soldiers who returned from Iraq last summer had symptoms typical of DU poisoning. The News arranged for them to be tested by Asaf Duracovic, a former colonel in the Army Reserves who served in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, and one of the world's foremost experts on the medical effects of radioactive weaponry. Depleted uranium was found in the urine of four of the men - Sgt. Hector Vega, Sgt. Ray Ramos, Sgt. Agustin Matos and Cpl. Anthony Yonnone - the first confirmed cases of inhaled depleted uranium exposure from the current Iraq conflict
Recently completed laboratory analyses show two members of Uranium Medical Research Centre's (UMRC) field investigation team are contaminated with Depleted Uranium (DU). The two field staff, one from Canada and the other, Beirut, toured Iraq for thirteen days in October 2003; five months after the cessation of Operation Iraqi Freedom's aerial bombing and ground force campaign. Using mass spectrometry, UMRC's partner laboratory in Germany measured DU in both team members' urine samples. (Please see http://www.umrc.net/UMRC_bulletin_07_Feb_2004.asp)
If short-term visitors and soldiers have been so affected, what of the people, living near bomb sites, breathing the air every day, drinking the water? What of the children who play in these sites and collect pieces of exploded materiel to sell so their families can eat?
Using figures developed by Japanese physicist, Professor Yagasaki from the University of the Ryukyus, Okinawa, and explained in his presentation at the World Conference on Depleted Uranium Weapons held in Hamburg last October, the radioactivity of 2,200 tons (or 440,000 pounds) of depleted uranium together with some 1,000 tons used in Afghanistan, is the atomicity equivalent to 400,00 Nagasaki bombs.
Depleted uranium is cheap and plentiful. When uranium is processed for fission bombs or fuel rods for use in power plants, only U-235, about half a percent of the total, is used. Most of what's left over is U-238, so-called "depleted" uranium. The US has over a million tons of the stuff, and storage is becoming a serious problem.
Though less radioactive than U-235, DU is still highly radioactive &endash; and chemically toxic as well. "There is no allowable level of risk," says Moret. Nearly twice as dense as lead, DU is used in tanks and airplanes, as well as bullets, handguns, cannons, all the way up to large bombs weighing more than 5,000 pounds.
It's not dangerous until it blows up.
Depleted uranium is pyrophoric. Relatively innocuous as a metal alloy used in planes, tanks, missiles, bullets and rounds, when depleted uranium burns, it releases a radioactive gas. Larger particles may settle to the ground, but winds blowing across the desert may carry the fine particles to locations in a 1000-mile radius from the explosion. As a result, areas as far west as Egypt and as far east as India are likely to be contaminated. "The U.S. has staged a nuclear war in the Middle East, from Iraq and Central Asia, to the northern half of India. Half of Egypt, Israel, the Saudi Arabian peninsula, Turkey, Iran, the Russian oil-rich states, the Caspian oil region, and northern are now, or will be, all contaminated."
Depleted uranium - U-238 - has a half-life of 4.5 billion years. It's effects will be with us forever. It is in the soil, in the groundwater, in food, but the worst of all &endash; it is in the air. When inhaled, it enters directly into the bloodstream. One uranium particle behaves in the body like a tiny nuclear bomb, sending out alpha and beta particles and gamma rays to adjacent cells. These are permanently damaging to the cells and chromosomes and lead to a host of deadly diseases, including cancer and leukemia. They also cause mutations of the genetic material that will show up in subsequent generations as terrible birth deformities, weakened health, and infertility.
Moret says the fallout from these foreign wars is headed our way. Spread by powerful desert winds, the fallout will be carried certainly as far as Britain (where dust storms from the Middle East commonly leave residual dust) and then across the Atlantic Ocean. It will also travel across Asia and the Pacific Ocean and be slowly and silently deposited across the North American continent.
American citizens have already been exposed to radiation from a variety of sources including malfunctioning nuclear power plants, the disasters at Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, aboveground bomb tests conducted from 1957 to 1963, and the enormous existing pile of depleted uranium, about 1 million tons, poorly stored in the United States. Radiation has caused the geometric rise of cancers in the US - 1 in 3 Americans compared to 1 in 20 before the second World War. It is also responsible for the rise in autism, learning disabilities, chronic immune deficiency disorders (chronic fatigue syndrome, Epstein-Barr and so forth), higher rates of infant mortality and the general weakening of the public's health.
Leuren Moret was formerly employed at the Lawrence Berkeley Radiation Laboratory in Berkeley, and the Lawrence Livermore nuclear weapons lab. Since walking out on her job to become a whistleblower at Livermore, she has devoted her time to the study of the effects of nuclear radiation. She has worked with scientists like Dr. Ernest Sternglass, Marian Fulk, Dr. Asaf Durakovic of the Uranium Medical Research Center, Dr. Doug Rokke of Traprock Peace Center and many others. Her testimony at the International Criminal Tribunal for Afghanistan held December 13-14, 2003, in Tokyo was largely responsible for the unanimous verdict on depleted uranium, and that the President Bush and the United States is guilty of war crimes against that country.
Leuren Moret will be interviewed by Janie Rezner on her show, Women's Voices, this Monday, April 12, at 7 pm Pacific Daylight Savings time. You can listen to the interview via the internet. Visit www.kzyx.org
The European Committee on Radiation Risk, within the European Parliament, has just published an excellent report on low-level radiation at <http://www.euradcom.org>