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Following are three pieces by and about Robert Fisk of The Independent, concerning on the effects of Depleted Uranium in Iraq and Kosovo. Fisk mentions an aborted WHO study on DU in Iraq ... If anyone has more on this subject, could they please post? --- http://www.independent.co.uk/news/World/Middle_East/2000-01/iraq250100.shtml The evidence lies dying in Basra By Robert Fisk in Beirut The Independent 25 January 2000 In IRAQ, there are doctors aplenty who would like to meet the Royal Society's scientists. In the main Basra teaching hospital, the cancer sufferers who live near the fields where depleted uranium shells (DU) were fired by the hundred in 1991 queue at the door of the tiny cancer clinic each morning. But will the British scientists meet them? Will they go to Iraq and study the documentation of Basra's leading cancer specialist, Dr Jawad al-Ali, who has maps showing the rate of leukemia growth in the areas where Saddam's tanks were torn apart by DU in the last days of the war? I think not. When Iraq asked the World Health Organisation to investigate DU two years ago, a team of experts arrived to see if such a study was feasible; but no investigation took place. And what about Kosovo? The US used DU rounds in its attacks across the Serb province - and then arrogantly refused to tell UN investigators the location of its attacks. The Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, admitted as much in the Commons last autumn. Why? Why cannot we be told where these rounds were fired? Will the Royal Society's experts visit Kosovo? Will they ask Nato for the information it refused to give to the UN? And what if Nato treats them with the same disdain? They could do worse, for example, than visit the bombed-out paramilitary police barracks in Djakovica, where DU fired by American A-10 aircraft exploded in the very centre of the city. But will they go to other parts of Yugoslavia? Will they visit the areas around Belgrade where DU was also used? Will the British government, indeed, allow them to go there? And what kind of brief is it that tells the scientists they are to "review the available evidence"? If this is to be anything more than a palliative to shut up the Gulf War veterans who suspect they are dying of DU poisoning, these six experts have to find the available evidence lying in the fields of Kosovo and southern Iraq, not just trawl through published reports and military denials. At one of Nato's May press conferences, spokesman James Shea stated that there was no evidence suggesting DU was dangerous, citing a report which turned out to be inaccurate. Is this the sort of stuff the experts will be "reviewing"? For almost two years, Defence Ministry officials have been claiming in letters to MPs that "the Government has not seen any peer-reviewed epidemiological research data" on affected populations, mentioning my own reports in The Independent of deformities, cancers and birth defects in southern Iraq. Is this, then, what this team is meant to do - to provide the Government with some "peer-reviewed" data without any serious on-site inspection? I rather suspect it is. --- http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/ireland/1999/1130/hom37.htm Tuesday, November 30, 1999 The Irish Times Iraqi child cancers link to Gulf War weapons By Patsy McGarry The journalist and author Robert Fisk last night said "an explosion of child cancers" in southern Iraq appeared to be intimately linked to weapons used by US-led forces in the Gulf War. Similar weapons were used in the bombing of Kosovo and Serbia, he said, and he claimed that NATO bombed the Serbian television station on April 23rd this year when the Serbian Information Minister, Mr Aleksandar Vucic, was expected to be in the building for a CNN interview. Mr Vucic had cancelled the interview some hours earlier. Mr Fisk was delivering the third Christina Murphy Memorial Lecture, "Cancer and Guns: reporting `Our' Wars", at the Rotunda Hospital, Dublin. It followed the awarding of the Christina Murphy Memorial Prize for student journalists to Mr James Dunne of Templeogue, Dublin. The prize is sponsored by the National Council for Education Awards in honour of the late Ms Murphy, the Education Editor of The Irish Times who pioneered the paper's Education and Living supplement. It was presented by Mr Dermot Mullane, her widower. Mr Fisk spoke of recent visits to Iraq and uncovering evidence of an unusually high incidence of cancer there since the Gulf War, particularly since in the south. In Basra, where the last tank battles of the war had been fought, people were reporting "footballsized tomatoes, carrots of a strange purple colour, water that no longer tasted normal". In southern Iraq American forces had fired an estimated 14,000 depleted uranium shells (about 300 million tons), while their A-10 aircraft fired "tens of thousands of rounds tipped with depleted uranium, some say 940,000 rounds." Depleted uranium, he said, "is now routinely used in the manufacture of an armour-piercing projectiles". These are used mainly in the destruction of tanks. According to Britain's Ministry of Defence its forces used fewer than 100 depleted uranium shells, Mr Fisk said. However, he thought "some of the thousands of western soldiers now suffering from what is know as Gulf War Syndrome think differently about the British estimate". Mr Fisk illustrated visits he had made to a Baghdad children's hospital last year with photographs of young patients who had come from regions where there had been massive American bombing, all of whom had since died. He said that "a requested research survey by the World Health Organisation never took place", while Britain's then armed forces minister, Mr Doug Henderson, said that as no "peer reviewed epidemiological research data" on the claims had taken place, "it would therefore be premature to comment on this matter". Mr Fisk said US forces also used uranium-depleted weaponry in Kosovo and central Serbia. "Their A-10 aircraft were using it across Kosovo," he said. One such aircraft took part in the NATO attack on a 12-mile long convoy of Albanian refugees on April 14th, killing 80 civilians. He had spoken to one survivor recently who said one of her female relatives now had a kidney problem. "I didn't dare think, let alone suggest, what this might be," he said. And the promised NATO investigation into the massacre had not taken place. --- http://www.independent.co.uk/news/World/Europe/fisk041099.shtml I'd like to believe Nato that depleted uranium is harmless. But I don't. And this is why... Robert Fisk The Independent 04 October 1999 TWO MILITARY voices on the use of depleted uranium bullets in Kosovo. First from a K-For cove - a spokesman, no less, in Pristina - who insisted that "there's more risk from striking a match than from depleted uranium." Quote of the week, Quote of the year, perhaps. Then there was the former Nato officer to whom I talked that same night, a weapons expert, former RAF, whose job is to wander Kosovo in search of unexploded (and exploded) weapons. "I'm definitely suspicious any time I hear the word uranium," he told me. "A weapon isn't there to do you any good. The boffins have come up with this weapon. People who use it - or are on the receiving end - know only part of the facts. I'm very suspicious whenever I hear the word uranium." So am I. On Wednesday, 14 April, Nato bombed a convoy of Kosovo Albanian refugees on the road between Djakovica and Prizren, saying - initially - that they may have been bombed by Serb aircraft. A day later, along with Julian Manyon of Channel 4, I found - beside the chopped-up corpses of the innocent dead - a series of craters in the soft earth beside the highway. "That's what the A-10 aircraft craters looked like in the Gulf," Manyon said. And - I prefer to forget the next bit - I dug with my bare hands into the craters to see if I could find any piece of ordnance that carried some trace of the weapon's manufacturer. I did. I found metal fragments with codes stamped on them. They were American. And Nato then admitted that it had bombed the Albanians "in error", because it thought they were a convoy of Serb armour. But I put the pieces of shrapnel into a plastic bag, laid it on my hotel table in Belgrade. Small and burned they were, bright silver under my table lamp. Then I decided - too late, perhaps - that they might be depleted uranium rounds, and dumped them in my hotel rubbish bin. Did I carry U-238 in my schoolboy's shoulder-bag back to Belgrade that night, the detritus of nuclear fuel, the cause of all those cancerous tumours I saw breaking through the stomachs of Iraqi children less than a year before? That question explains why I like to hear those K-For/Nato spokesmen telling me about the harmlessness - the absolute lack of hazard - of depleted uranium. I don't believe them. But I'd like them to be right. I don't think they are. Here's why. After Britain began the test-firing of DU shells in Cumbria and south- west Scotland, radiation reports showed serious contamination near Eskmeals, Cumbria, and Kirkcudbright, Dumfries and Galloway. "Well above acceptable limits," the Ministry of Defence was to acknowledge later. At Eskmeals, they fire shells into a tunnel which is then washed out, the dust sealed in concrete containers. When a fire broke out at the Royal Ordnance Speciality Metals plant near Wolverhampton, where DU munitions are made, the National Radiological Protection Board said it had monitored "odd bits of DU". In April, 1991, the UK Atomic Energy Authority expressed concern about DU contamination in Kuwait. "It would be unwise for people to stay close to large quantities of DU for long periods," it said. "There will be specific areas in which many rounds will have been fired where localised contamination of vehicles and the soil may exceed permissible limits and these could be hazardous to both clean up teams and the local population." In Iraq in 1997, I discovered thousands of civilians dying of cancers, families never touched by cancer before, mothers giving birth to children with leukemia, monstrous births of deformed babies, old men who lived in the farmlands south of Basra amid the very armoured wreckage which we, the Allies, had blasted with our uranium shells, who talked to me of sudden cancer deaths, of daughters with breast and liver cancer. My favourite is a letter from the Ministry of Defence, sent almost word- for-word the same to several readers of The Independent. The author was Doug Henderson, then a Defence minister, famous for his patriotic speeches during the Kosovo bombardment. "The Government is aware of suggestions in the press, particularly by Robert Fisk of the Independent," he writes, "that there has been an increase in ill-health - including alleged deformities, cancers and birth defects - in southern Iraq, which some have attributed to the use of depleted uranium (DU) based ammunition by UK and US forces.... However, the Government has not seen any peer-reviewed epidemiological research data on this population to support these claims." I really like that bit about the "peer-reviewed epidemiological research data". Indeed, Mr Henderson has seen none. Because the British have no intention of carrying out any such survey. The World Health Organisation (now in Pristina) was originally asked by the Iraqis to conduct just such a survey. It never materialised. So much for the "epidemiological research data". But let's just remember the massive fire at the US ammunition storage base at Doha in Kuwait in July, 1991, when 3,200 kilograms of DU in tank rounds exploded. "Uranium particles when breathed can be hazardous," the US Central Command stated later. "11ACR (the US command at Doha) has been informed to treat the area as though it were a chemical area, ie stay upwind and wear a protective mask in the vicinity." And let's recall, too, the cleanup of DU contamination at the DU manufacturers in Concord, Massachusetts, and at Sandia National Laboratory and Kirkland Air Force Base in New Mexico (a test-firing range); the topsoil had to be removed, the US army stated. And the cost of cleaning just 500 acres of an Indiana DU proving ground has been estimated at around £3bn. In the Gulf, the US Defense Department estimates 315 tons of DU was fired. And how much in Kosovo? We are not being told. No details. No comment. No clean-up. Did the A-10s fire DU munitions around Pristina? Pec? Djakovica? Prizren? Mitrovica? And where did they fire these munitions in what we now like to call "Serbia proper"? "What we say about DU," K-For's spokesman told me, "is that it is harmful if you digest it, like any other heavy metal. The most dangerous period is 15 minutes after the explosion. Then it goes to the ground and sinks." Which is not true. The dust floats around, contaminates the air, almost certainly kills. I read to the spokesman an aid agency's warning about DU - the threat of contamination was very low, the warning said, but the residual dust "could pose an inhalation hazard. Children should not play on or near these vehicles. The minimum prescribed safe distance is no less than 50 metres." Yes, said the spokesman, "these are the official lines - I've seen this information in other briefings. There's nothing new in that, so to speak." So to speak. Oddly enough, the K-For man had, without knowing it, captured the very essence of depleted uranium shells and bullets when he talked about the supposedly greater danger of lighting a match. For when they explode, DU rounds apply enormous kinetic energy over a small surface area of armour, igniting with a fire which veterans called "Dante's Inferno"; it burns and pulverises into a dust that soars into the sky in a heat column from a burning tank and drifts over the desert or fields. Over 90,000 US troops who served in the Gulf have reported medical problems. There is no legislation specifically outlawing DU. But Article 35 of Additional Protocol 1 of the 1977 Geneva Convention states that "it is prohibited to employ methods or means of warfare which are intended, or may be expected, to cause widespread, long-term and severe damage to the natural environment." So is DU legal? Doug Rokke was a US army doctor who went to the Gulf to help clean up the DU contamination after the 1991 Gulf War. But now his lungs are scarred, he has kidney damage and breathing difficulties, like some of the cancer sufferers in Iraq. The aim of the Kosovo war, he said after the conflict had ended, "is to enable the Kosovars to return home. But unless the uranium is cleaned up, those that survive the Serb atrocities and the Nato aerial attacks will have to return to a contaminated environment where they may become ill." Nothing new in that, I suppose. So to speak. Strike a light. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email firstname.lastname@example.org Full archive and list instructions are available from the CASI website: http://welcome.to/casi