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by Timothy Burns Watson
Monday, Jun. 19, 2006 at 7:06 AM
firstname.lastname@example.org (416) 272-0260 278 Runnymede Rd., Toronto, Canada, M6S 2Y6
Many will recall the haunting lyrics of "Dust in the Wind" by Kansas. In the wake of the U.S. military's deployment of DU munitions in the desert regions of the Middle East, a horrifying new impication is given to the lyrics. "All we are is dust in the wind".
Increasing political fallout from the use of depleted uranium munitions in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts has had something of a blowback effect on the U.S. government and armed services. While the Pentagon’s response has consisted of repeated denials, there are signs that the radioactive fallout is contaminating Washington’s once clean image as the international police force serving and protecting the rule of law.
The use of depleted uranium in bombs and missiles is criminal at best and genocidal at worst. Biological samples taken from Iraqi civilians subjected to the inappropriately named Shock and Awe bombing campaign on Baghdad’s government and telecommunications facilities have tested positive for DU. According to the Uranium Medical Research Center responsible for the study, it is not possible to ascertain the source of inner city contamination, since virtually the entire city is radioactive.
What this essentially means is that the American-led coalition forces have carried out a covert nuclear attack on a civilian population. The irony of course is that the coalition force launched under the pretext of protecting America and the world from Iraq’s WMD deployed its own WMD on an innocent, unarmed and essentially defenseless civilian population. The crime is no less serious than that perpetrated on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, though far greater in terms of scheming duplicity and sheer underhandedness.
The waste by-product of natural uranium enrichment in nuclear weapons and civilian nuclear programs, DU is 1.7 times denser than lead. For every 8 tons of uranium, 1 ton of enriched uranium and 7 tons of DU is produced. It is both a toxic heavy metal like lead and a radiological poison. The isotope ratios remain fairly constant at U235 to U238, making its presence easily detectable. The U.S. Defense Department already has 700,000 tons of DU in its stockpile.
“This has caused a health crisis that has affected almost a third of a million people,” says Dr. Ahmad Hardan, science advisor to WHO. “Depleted uranium has a half life of 4.7 billion years, which means thousands of Iraqi children will suffer for tens of thousands of years to come.” The American military has already admitted to using 300 tons of DU weapons in 1991, though Hardan estimates the figure to be closer to 800. The United States and United Kingdom fired more than 940,000 armor-piercing DU missiles during the 1991 conflict, according to WHO estimates.
Despite mounting scientific evidence of its devastating effects on human populations, the U.S. military unleashed 200 million tons more on the civilian population of Iraq in 2003, exacerbating a health crisis that had already claimed the lives of a third of a million people.
The results of DU bombardment are horrifying. Cases of leukemia have skyrocketed, particularly among the young. Women as young as 35 are developing breast cancer, while sterility among men has increased tenfold. Deformities among infant children and stillborn fetuses, some scarcely human in appearance, are directly attributable to DU, while statistics for nearly every kind of cancer have jumped by 10%.
What angers Hardan most is the fact that all these casualties are unnecessary. U.S. conventional weapons are perfectly capable of destroying what should be the real targets, tanks and installations. Whether intentional or not, the actual target has been the civilian population. Rendering an entire city radioactive is not collateral damage by any stretch of the imagination. It is a war crime as great in magnitude as any campaign of genocide in history and should be prosecutable.
The medical data pins the blame for increased incidents of cancers and congenital anomalies on DU. “All children with congenital anomalies are subjected to karyotyping and chromosomal studies with complete genetic backgrounding and clinical assessment. Family and obstetrical histories are taken too. These international studies have produced ample evidence to show that DU has disastrous consequences.”
The thirteen-year UN sanctions on Iraq have only made the humanitarian emergency worse. Under economic sanctions following Gulf War I, hospitals were prohibited from obtaining essential drugs and essential equipment for radio therapy because the international community feared they might be used as weapons of war. This is indeed ironic considering that most of the country has already been radiated by the coalition force’s WMD.
Even more horrifying is the evidence non-depleted uranium may have been used. A biological sample taken from one Al Basra citizen contained isotopes showing an enriched isotope ratio well above the U235-238 ratio for DU. The enriched uranium isotope was found in a man living adjacent to the same battlefield on which the British Desert Rats waged war just south of Al Basra. According to the Depleted Uranium Oversight board of the UK Ministry of Defense, urine samples taken from the UK First Armored Division, which fought at the approach to Al Basra and later occupied the city, showed non-depleted uranium levels hundreds of times higher than normal.
Already an ecological, environmental and human catastrophe, DU fallout from the Iraq wars is likely to spread throughout the Arab world, carried on the fine desert sand kicked up by high winds and sandstorms occurring throughout Iraq and the Arab peninsula. The sand is an ideal carrier of WMD toxins, whose atomic, biological and chemical agents, like DU, tend to attach themselves to fine particles of dust and sand. As one journalist put it, “DU dust does more than wreak havoc on the immune systems of those who breathe it or touch it; the substance also alters one’s genetic code.”
There has been a lot of talk about Gulf War Syndrome and the devastating effect it has had on both coalition and Iraqi forces, but not enough has been said about the genocidal effects the coalition force’s WMD have had on the civilian population of Iraq. The biological, chemical and DU agents of death deployed by coalition forces in Iraq have released a cocktail of toxins into the environment, many of which have a long shelf life, DU alone having a half life of 4.7 billion years. Could these and other toxins released into the environment of Iraq and other locales reach a point of critical mass from which there is no return? Could these poisons so tax and overload human immune response that people literally start dropping dead or dying in their sleep without apparent cause attributable to any known disease?
Health care professionals have already been complaining that the Gulf War Syndrome is nearly impossible to treat due the variations and combinations of symptoms and diseases confronted. The syndrome is even found to be contagious, with many veterans passing it on to their spouses and children. If left unattended, could these agents of death spread worldwide, infecting the entire population of the earth, reaching a point of critical mass beyond the human organism’s capacity to adapt and simply kill us all? It is a doomsday scenario seldom envisioned, but given the rising statistics for neurological, pathogenic and carcinogenic disease, one well worth considering.
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