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Re: [casi-analysis] Re: UK Ministry of Defense Issues DU Warning Cards to Soldiers Deployed to Iraq

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This story - of the MoD warning cards - has made the press - see
today's Sunday Herald investigation by Neil MacKay. One little note -
he quotes Doug Rokke and mentions he was a Colonel. He was a Major. Big
deal, right? I only mention that because we've had a long relationship
with Doug. and know that he would want accuracy about his military

Best wishes, Charlie

Charles Jenks, attorney at law
President of the Core Group
Traprock Peace Center
103A Keets Road
Deerfield, MA 01342
413-773-1633; fax 413-773-7507

MoD ‘lied’ over depleted uranium

Army advises troops in Iraq of health risk but insists Scottish firing
range is safe, despite growing international concern
By Neil Mackay and Amy Wilson 

CLAIMS by the Ministry of Defence that depleted uranium (DU) is not a
risk to life have been undermined by a Sunday Herald investigation that
found the British army is telling soldiers in Iraq that it can cause

The revelation has outraged the military, scientists and politicians.
Studies have shown DU leads to cancers, birth defects, memory loss,
damage to the immune system and neuro-psychotic disorders. But the MoD
has claimed since the first Gulf war that “DU does not pose a risk to
health or the environment”.

However, military sources have passed an MoD card to the Sunday Herald
which is being handed to troops on active service in Iraq. It reads:
“You have been deployed to a theatre where depleted uranium (DU)
munitions have been used. DU is a weakly radioactive heavy metal which
has the potential to cause ill-health. You may have been exposed to
dust containing DU during your deployment.

“You are eligible for a urine test to measure uranium. If you wish to
know more about having this test, you should consult your unit medical
officer on return to your home base. Your medical officer can provide
information about the health effects of DU.”

The MoD had fired more than 6350 DU rounds into the Solway Firth from
its testing range at Dundrennan by 1999. In the first Gulf war 320
tonnes of DU were used, in the second more than 1000 tonnes were used .

Locals in the Dundrennan area and their political leaders are angry
that British troops are being warned about the risk of DU, while they
are not.

A UN sub-commission has ruled that the use of DU breaches the Geneva
Convention and the Genocide Convention. DU has also been blamed for the
effects of Gulf war syndrome among some 200,000 US troops.

It has led to birth defects in the children of veterans and Iraqis and
is believed to be the cause of the “worrying number” of anophthalmos
cases – babies born without eyes – in Iraq. A study of veterans showed
67% had children with severe illnesses, missing eyes, blood infections,
respiratory problems and fused fingers.

Professor Doug Rokke, the ex-director of the Pentagon’s DU project and
a former US Army colonel who was tasked by the US defence department to
deal with DU after the first Gulf war, said: “The MoD card acknowledges
the risks. It contradicts the position it has taken publicly – that
there was no risk – in order to sustain the use of DU rounds and avoid

Rokke attacked the US and UK for “contaminating the world” with DU
munitions and said the issuing of the card meant that they had “a moral
obligation to provide care for all those affected” and to clean up the
environment in Iraq.

“DU is in residential areas in Iraq, troops are going by sites
contaminated with it with no protective clothing or respiratory
protection, and kids are playing in the same areas.”

He added: “What right does anyone have to throw radioactive poison
around and then not clean it up or offer people medical care?” Rokke
said that the use of DU in Iraq should be deemed a war crime.

“ This war was about weapons of mass destruction, but the US and UK
were the only people using WMD – in the form of DU shells.”

Ray Bristow, trustee of the UK’s National Gulf Veterans and Families
Association, said the MoD card “confirms what independent scientists
have said for years”. Bristow, 45, suffers from chromosomal
abnormalities and conditions similar to those who survived the nuclear
bomb in Hiroshima.

A former warrant officer in the medical corps in the first Gulf war, he
is now only able to walk short distances with a walking frame and often
has to use a wheelchair.

“While the card may have been issued to British troops we have to ask,
‘what about the Iraqi people?’ They are living among DU contamination.
And what about the people in Dundrennan?

“The MoD line has always been that DU is safe – it has been caught out
in a lie.”

Bristow says some 29,000 British troops could be contaminated. He was
found to have uranium in his system more than 100 times the safety
limit. “I put on a uniform because I believe in democracy and freedom,”
he said. “Now I can’t believe a word my government says.”

He also believes the discovery of the DU card will help affected troops
sue for compensation. “Globally, this discovery is of huge

Alasdair Morgan, the SNP MSP for the Dundrennan area, called for a ban
on DU. He added: “This find vindicates those who have said DU should
never have been used or tested. T esting should stop in this area

Chris Ballance, the Green list MSP for the area, added: “DU is a weapon
of mass destruction that must be banned.”

He said the MoD must remove the shells that had been fired into the
Solway Firth and tell the people of Dundrennan about the risks.

Malcolm Hooper, emeritus professor of medicinal chemistry at Sunderland
University and an expert on DU, said it was “administrative deception”
for the MoD to claim DU was not a risk to health while issuing warnings
to troops.

Hooper, who is a government adviser on DU, described the government’s
behaviour as “a dreadful experiment … an obscenity … and a war crime
against our own troops”.

He said that the issuing of the card was “a confession of failure” by
the government .

Peter Kilfoyle, a former Labour defence minister, said: “ I can
remember similar denials about Agent Orange, but invariably we discover
these substances do have long-term consequences.”

Despite claims on its own website saying DU does not lead to health
risks, an MoD spokesman said, when confronted with the card issued to
troops: “We never said it was a safe substance. It is radioactive, but
there is no evidence to link it to ill-health.”

He said the cards had been issued to “reassure” troops, adding that the
take-up of testing had been low as “most soldiers understand the risks
are minimal”.

The MoD insisted it had not changed its policy.

29 February 2004


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