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Sunday, Jun. 01, 2003 at 11:43 PM
The Nuclear Policy Research Institute (NPRI) today (May 29, 2003) called on the United States and Great Britain, as the occupying powers in Iraq, to fulfill their obligations to the public health and safety of the Iraqi people.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Christine Haenn 202/822-9800
UNITED STATES AND GREAT BRITAIN CALLED ON TO CLEAN UP DEPLETED URANIUM IN IRAQ
Nuclear Policy Research Institute (NPRI) Points to Public Health and Safety
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Nuclear Policy Research Institute (NPRI) today (May 29, 2003) called on the United States and Great Britain, as the occupying powers in Iraq, to fulfill their obligations to the public health and safety of the Iraqi people. At a press briefing for United Nations correspondents, the organization called on the coalition to set a timeline for the clean up of depleted uranium including the removal of effected tanks and munitions. In addition, it called for adherence to the UK Royal Society and World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations on the monitoring of ground water and milk.
“We owe it to the children of Iraq to ensure that they do not suffer further medical consequences of military conflicts,” said Charles Sheehan-Miles, NPRI’s executive director. “In the army, I was trained to protect civilians. The U.S. and Great Britain must take the necessary steps now to protect the Iraqi people from the detrimental effects of depleted uranium.”
In a BBC report this week, the US government reportedly took responsibility for the health and safety of the Iraqi people including on nuclear issues. NPRI has raised concerns regarding the inherent dangers of depleted uranium to Iraqi civilians particularly children with access to burned tanks and pieces of exploded munitions. As an immediate step to ensure their safety and health, coalition forces should cordon off effected areas and post appropriate warnings.
“In order to truly ensure the health and safety of Iraqi civilians – especially those most vulnerable to even weak radiation – the U.S. and Great Britain must make a public commitment to clean up areas targeted with depleted uranium and establish a monitoring system to ensure that the dust particles have not entered the water or milk supply,” said Sheehan-Miles.
Multiple studies have called for further investigation into the health effects of depleted uranium including those by the U.N. Environment Programme, the UK Royal Society, and the World Health Organization. Independent examination is also urgently needed for several Iraqi studies that found a marked increase in cancers and birth defects of children living in areas of heavy depleted uranium use during the 1991 Gulf War.
Amidst a great deal of conflicting information from the Pentagon and some activists on the issue, NPRI has emerged as an evenhanded source on fundamental issues including the potential danger of depleted uranium, the people most vulnerable to its effects and recommendations for addressing concerns following its use. The Institute was founded in 2001 by Nobel nominee and author Dr. Helen Caldicott. It was established to facilitate a far-reaching, effective, ongoing public education campaign in the mainstream media about the often-underestimated dangers of nuclear weapons and power programs and policies.
The “Health Effects of Depleted Uranium Munitions” will be more fully debated at an NPRI forum on June 14, 2003 at the New York Academy of Medicine. For more information on the conference or on NPRI, please call or check the website, www.nuclearpolicy.org.
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