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Depleted Uranium Supplement, 19/12/00­14/1/01


*  Allies 'told in 1991 of uranium cancer risks' [Felicity Arbuthnot et al]
*  Tests reveal weapons dust danger to British soldiers
*  British safety claims wilt as uranium panic grips Nato
*  Iraqi paper likens US to Dracula
*  Iraq Demands U.S., British Compensations for Depleted Uranium
*  These children had cancer. Now they are dead. I believe they were killed
by depleted uranium [by Robert Fisk]
*  DU fears are baseless [so that¹s all right]
*  Protests against depleted uranium weapons planned [quite interesting on
the troubled state of the factories that made the stuff]
*  U.N. and NATO differ on depleted uranium risk
*  10 years on, Iraq feels vindicated by Balkans Syndrome
*  NATO's Use of Depleted Uranium Munitions a 'Crime Against Humanity', Says
China [Yes, well. So is turning Tibet into a nuclear dumping ground]
*  MoD backtracks on cancer report: Advice on shells came from senior
officers, ministry admits

*  Gulf War Pesticide Link Probed
Las Vegas Sun, 12th January <>

Leaked documents back cover-up claim. Exclusive, by Felicity Arbuthnott and
Neil Mackay.
Sunday Herald, Jan 7 2001

THE Pentagon scientist who briefed Britain and America on the lethal health
risks to Western troops of using depleted-uranium (DU) shells claims he
warned the allied powers as far back as 1991 that the explosives could cause
cancer, mental illness and birth defects.

Professor Doug Rokke, ex- director of the Pentagon's Depleted-Uranium
Project, says the USA and UK have covered up the hazards , despite the
rising death toll among allied troops who fought in the Gulf from illnesses
linked to DU exposure, including Gulf War syndrome. The UN Environment
Programme has also found traces of radiation at eight sites in Kosovo hit by
Nato DU shells.

The Sunday Herald has been passed a restricted MoD document dated February
25, 1991 - four days before the Gulf War ceasefire. It states that full
protective clothing and respirators should be worn when close to DU shells
and that human remains exposed to DU should be hosed down before disposal.

The document - coded 25/22/40/2 - says inhalation or ingestion of particles
from shells is a health risk and exposure should be treated as "exposure to
lead oxide". DU dust on food would result in contamination.

Rokke , a former professor of environmental science at Jacksonville
University, was tasked by the US department of defence with organising the
DU clean-up of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait after the Gulf War.

Rokke, a former US army colonel , also briefed the Commons Defence Select
Committee on the risks of DU in 1999.

"Since 1991, numerous US department of defence reports have stated that the
consequences of DU were unknown," he said. "That is a lie. They were told.
They were warned."

Rokke gave military personnel briefings on the hazards of DU shells . "I can
confirm that medical and tactical commanders knew all the hazards," he said.

In Saudi Arabia, Rokke and his men buried vehicles and contaminated body
parts and shipped other equipment back to a nuclear decontamination facility
in the US. At least 10 men died. The only man in the 50-strong team not to
fall ill wore full radioactive protective clothing.

Rokke suffers reactive airway disease, neurological damage and kidney
problems. "DU is the stuff of nightmares," he said. "It is toxic,
radioactive and pollutes for 4500 million years. It causes lymphoma ,
neuro-psychotic disorders and short-term memory damage. In semen, it causes
birth defects and trashes the immune system.

"The United States and British military personnel, as part of Nato, wilfully
disregarded health and safety and the environment by their use of DU,
resulting in severe health effects, including death. I and my colleagues
warned the US and British officials that this would occur. They disregarded
our warnings because to admit any correlation between exposure and health
effects would make them liable for their actions wherever these weapons have
been used ."

The Sunday Herald has seen a memo from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in
New Mexico , dated March 1, 1991. It is from a Lieutenant-Colonel M V
Ziehman to a Major Larson. Headed "The Effectiveness of Depleted Uranium
Penetrators", it reads: "There has been, and continues to be, a concern
regarding the impact of DU on the environment. If no one makes the case for
the effectiveness of DU on the battlefields, DU rounds may become
politically unacceptable and be deleted from the arsenal."

A document from the US defence nuclear agency from 1992 described DU
particles as a "serious health threat".

Rokke says field measurements of DU in Iraq were around 200 millirads an
hour. The US has designated a year's safety limit of just 100 millirads.

Shaun Rusling of the Gulf War Veterans' and Families' Association said 521
British servicemen have died of Gulf War syndrome to date. Bruce George,
Labour chairman of the Commons defence committee, said yesterday that an MoD
investigation was a matter of urgency. The committee meets on January 10,
and is expected to call on defence secretary Geoff Hoon to give evidence .
However, an MoD spokesman said last night: "We are unaware of anything that
shows depleted uranium has caused any ill health or death.",6903,418932,00.html

by Peter Beaumont, foreign affairs editor and Emma Daly in Madrid
Observer, Sunday January 7, 2001

Radioactive dust from depleted uranium weapons remains in the atmosphere at
potentially dangerous levels for up to a decade after their use.

Research by British expert Dr Chris Busby emerged as Italy's military
watchdog officially linked the leukemia deaths of five Italian peacekeepers
who served in Kosovo to exposure to the heavy metal.

The results of tests by Dr Busby on Gulf War battlefields contradicts advice
produced by British, American and Nato defence chiefs who insist that the
radioactive dust quickly disperses to safe levels, posing 'negligible risk'.

Busby's research will fuel the rapidly escalating international controversy
over links between depleted uranium ammunition - used by US forces in both
Bosnia and Kosovo - and claims that it has caused fatal cancers in
peacekeepers who served there.

According to Dr Busby, air samples taken from Iraqi Gulf War battlefields
last year, where more than 300,000 rounds of depleted uranium ammunition
were used, show levels of irradiated particles in the atmosphere ten times
higher than the neighbouring city of Basra and 20 times higher than Baghdad.

Iraq has long alleged that depleted uranium is responsible for abnormally
high levels of childhood leukemia and birth defects following the Gulf War.

Concern over the safety of depleted uranium was reignited last month when
Italy announced an investigation into 30 cases of illness involving soldiers
who served in the region. Five have died from leukemia. Belgium, Spain and
Portugal have also reported suspicious deaths.

The European Union has announced that it will debate the safety of depleted
uranium weapons on Tuesday, further increasing pressure on Britain's
Ministry of Defence which is now almost entirely isolated within Europe in
resisting calls to test its Balkan veterans.

Ex-Royal Engineer Kevin Rudland has emerged as the first British case of
Balkans Syndrome, claiming that he suffered a series of debilitating health
problems after serving in Bosnia.

Dr Busby's claims follow the disclosure on Friday of the first results of a
UN survey of uranium contamination in Kosovo. The study identified
contamination at eight out of 11 sites it visited a year and a half after
the end of the bombing campaign.

Despite repeated claims by the Pentagon and the MoD that debris from
depleted uranium poses little risk except to those close to the immediate
aftermath of their use, The Observer has established that UN civilian
workers in Kosovo have been explicitly warned about the potential health
risks from contamination.,6903,418809,00.html

by Foreign affairs editor Peter Beaumont
Observer, Sunday January 7, 2001

Commandant Frank Cop is an angry man and a formidable opponent. A soldier in
the Belgian army for 30 years, his career was cut short by illness two
months after returning from duty as a peace monitor with the UN and the EU
during the Bosnian war.

In five years, says Cop, aged 50, he has been beset by a series of
devastating ailments. He suffers headaches and muscle aches, debilitating
lethargy and skin complaints so serious he finds it uncomfortable to bathe.
Blood tests recorded abnormally high levels of white cells. Invalided out of
the armed forces on a reduced pension, Cop embarked on a one-man campaign on
behalf of Belgian veterans of the Balkans: victims, he claims, of a
mysterious 'Balkans Syndrome', similar in its symptoms to the Gulf war
Syndrome claimed by veterans of the war against Iraq.

Cop is convinced he knows what has made him ill. He believes he was
contaminated by the highly toxic residue from the three tonnes of depleted
uranium (DU) ammunition fired by US aircraft against the Serbs during the
Bosnian war.

Last week Cop - one of the first peacekeepers to claim he was suffering from
Balkans Syndrome - found himself at the centre of one of Nato's biggest
peacetime crises, a scandal gripping the armed forces of a dozen European
countries, as military chiefs across a continent ordered urgent checks on
the health of soldiers allegedly exposed to depleted uranium in the Balkans.

A week after the announcement by the Italian Defence Ministry that it was
investigating the deaths from leukaemia of six of its Kosovo peacekeepers
for links to depleted uranium, scores of former Balkans peacekeepers - from
Hull to Lisbon - are now claiming they are suffering from unexplained
ailments, as the media from Rome to Berlin has daily turned up new cases of
peacekeepers who died from cancers after returning from the Balkans.

In Britain two former peacekeepers have come forward, including former Royal
Engineer Kevin Rudland, who believes he was contaminated servicing tank guns
while based in the Bosnian Serb town of Banja Luka. His symptoms are ones
that Cop would recognise immediately, most prominent among them chronic

'After I became ill in August 1996 I was referred to the military medical
services,' Cop said last week. 'My white blood cell count was three times
what it should be. The military doctors said I was ill, but they did not
know what from.

'That is when I began investigating for myself. I got in contact with a
German doctor who had been studying the effects of depleted uranium in the
Gulf and he told me American forces had used depleted uranium ammunition
during the Bosnian war. The Americans denied it. Now they admit it's true.'

In seven days the safety of the depleted uranium ammunition has become an
international controversy, attracting competing charges of a US cover-up
over the danger the ammunition poses and dangerous claims of
'scaremongering'. After a decade of inconclusive research had mostly ruled
out any link between depleted uranium ammunition and cancers - and counter
claims alleging that it had caused thousands of cancers among Iraqi children
- investigations into the health implications are suddenly under way in
Belgium, Italy, France and Turkey; in Finland, Sweden, Portugal and Spain.

Among those who have demanded an investigation are Italy's Prime Minister
Giuliano Amato who has called for a US moratorium on the use of depleted
uranium shells - rejected by the Pentagon - and EU Commission President
Romano Prodi who called for the banning of the ammunition if even the
slightest risk was identified.

In response, Nato's Secretary-General Lord Robertson has promised the
Italians to provide information on its use of the ammunition in the Balkans.
Nato too will also discuss its safety at this week's meeting of Ministers.

It is a scandal that threatens to take high profile victims.

In Portugal the strength of feeling is so strong that it threatens to
overshadow the presidential elections after the media reported claims that a
Portuguese peacekeeper in Kosovo had died from ammunition poisoning.

As more alleged victims emerged in Portugal, a heated emergency
parliamentary debate saw MPs angrily calling for the withdrawal of
Portuguese troops from the region, accusing the government of withholding
information from them after the military claimed the soldier had died from
septicaemia. In Kosovo, the claims have sparked a panic over fears among
moderate Kosovar leaders that the scandal may lead to the withdrawal of
peacekeeping contingents.

In Britain, almost alone, the Ministry of Defence remains unmoved by the
sense of panic gripping its European allies.

The MoD's radiation and health experts, in step with the Pentagon, insist
debris of depleted uranium poses little risk to the health of servicemen.
They will read new research, they say, with interest and an open mind, but
reject any calls for their own health screening of Balkan peacekeepers.

Their hopes that the row might defuse, however, were shattered on Friday
with the announcement by a UN Environment Programme task force that it had
found evidence of 'radioactive contamination' at eight of 11 sites tested in
Kosovo that were struck by depleted uranium ammunition during the war in

It is a disclosure, however, that still does not answer a question that has
become the centre of heated scientific debate - whether the reassurances of
the British and American defence chiefs over the safety of depleted uranium
can be sustained. Or whether they have seriously underestimated its danger.

One organisation, at least is unconvinced, by their reassurances. On Friday
the UN High Commissioner for Refugees confirmed its policy was to warn all
staff travelling to Kosovo - and pregnant women in particular - of the
potential risks of exposure to debris from depleted uranium still in the

The answer to the question of whether depleted uranium ammunition is really
safe may not lie in the bomb craters of Kosovo and Serbia. Instead, some
experts believe, it is likely to be found in an area of barren Iraqi desert
near the border with Kuwait, a place littered with remains of the last great
land battle of the twentieth century - Operation Desert Storm.

It was here that depleted uranium ammunition was used for the first time -
more than 30 metric tonnes - 300,000 rounds in all.

It is a landscape still dotted with the ruins of Iraqi tanks blasted with
the ammunition, the rents in their armour still emitting tell-tale signs of
low-level radiation.

Significantly this battlefield represents an unintentional experiment - a
decade in the making - over what happens to depleted uranium debris in the
environment and how it affects the health of local populations. The most
serious of those effects, the Iraqi authorities have long claimed, has been
a sharp rise in childhood leukaemias and birth defects.

And it was to here that British low-level radiation specialist Dr Chris
Busby travelled three months ago to perform a radiological survey for an
Arab television station. What Busby discovered surprised him. Soil samples -
confiscated by the Iraqi authorities - showed lower levels of contamination
than he expected.

But his air samples revealed levels of ionising radiation in the atmosphere
around the battlefield 10 times higher than in the neighbouring city of
Basra and 20 times higher than in Baghdad.

If his samples are correct, then US and British military claims that
microscopic breathable particles of depleted uranium quickly disperse might
not be true. It is this that is at the centre of the present controversy.

What is accepted by all sides is that when depleted uranium ammunition -
used in bullets for its hardness and penetrating power - hits its target, it
also explodes and burns at temperatures of up to 10,000 C forming a smoke or
'aerosol' of suspended particles composed of three toxic and radioactive
compounds of uranium.

But, according to US and British defence experts, the only risk is to those
in the vicinity of the battlefield in the immediate aftermath of the attack
who breathe in concentrations of the aerosol of compounds.

The risk, they claim decreases, as the aerosol disperses to levels of risk
below that acceptable within the civil nuclear industry. According to these
calculations there should be no contamination of Iraq's air and little risk.

Busby, however, believes that the MoD's experts have got it wrong on two
counts: on the way that charged, contaminated particles remain in the
environment and - more seriously - over their risk models which he claims
are outdated and underestimate the health impact by up to 1,000-fold, a
claim he made in a paper to the Royal Society's Depleted Uranium working
group last year.

Busby is not alone in believing the MoD may have got it wrong. Professor
Malcolm Hooper, a member of the British Legion's Gulf War Illnesses
Inter-Parliamentary group, also believes the advice given by health experts
of the British and US military is dangerously out of date.

'New research suggests the risk threshold from inhaled particles is much,
much lower than previously assumed,' he said.

Hooper points to research suggesting that genetic mutation to irradiated
cell tissue takes place in a more pernicious way than previously assumed,
with 35 per cent of cells neighbouring a single irradiated one showing
evidence of damage.

The most controversial piece of research, however, has been undertaken in
Newfoundland, Canada, where scientists at the International Uranium Centre
tested the urine of British, US and Canadian Gulf war veterans, as well as
that of Iraqi veterans and civilians, using for the first time Thermal
Ionising Mass Spectrometry. They detected traces of depleted uranium in
their urine.

The Ministry of Defence is sceptical about the work of both Busby and the
International Uranium Centre, led by Professor Asaf Durakovic and Dr
Patricia Horan, pointing instead to a US study by the Baltimore Veteran
Affairs department of 33 American veterans who survived so-called 'friendly
fire' incidents involving depleted uranium ammunition. 'These people have
considerable amounts of depleted uranium in their bodies in the form of
shrapnel, and excrete high levels of uranium in their urine,' said an MoD
source. 'Significantly none of them of has shown significant problems, nor
have their children.'

Frank Cop and the other victims are not going to be convinced.

€ Additional reporting by Emma Daly in Madrid and Eduardo Goncalves in

Times of India, 10th January

BAGHDAD (AFP): An Iraqi newspaper on Tuesday compared the United States to
Dracula, accusing it of resorting to use of weapons of mass destruction and
"crimes against humanity" in a drive for world domination.

"America is a country without roots which relies on terrorism -- as did
Dracula who sucked blood from humans and pillaged their riches -- to impose
itself as a great power," the official Al-Iraq said.

"The leaders of this terrorist country commit the most atrocious crimes
against humanity by using banned weapons of mass destruction, not only with
the goal of extending its colonial hegemony but also exterminating humanity
to impose its domination, as was the case with the Red Indians," the paper

It was referring to reports that depleted uranium (DU) ammunition used by US
NATO forces in the Balkans may be to blame for a rash of cancer cases among
troops posted in the region.

In Brussels, NATO and EU officials on Tuesday examined calls for more
probing into a possible link.

According to Al-Iraq, "America considers the world a dumping ground for its
toxic rubbish and a laboratory for its fatal experiments".

Europe is now paying the price for having ignored the decade-old "Gulf War
Syndrome" dating from when US and British forces blasted Iraq with DU
weapons, Iraq's ruling Baath party said Monday.

"It's the turn of the Europeans to pay the price for their follow-the-leader
attitude towards the American bull," said the party's mouthpiece,
Ath-Thawra, referring to the "Balkan Syndrome."

Seven Italian soldiers, five Belgians, two Dutch, two Spaniards, a
Portuguese and a Czech have died from cancer since returning from tours of
duty in Bosnia or Kosovo.

Ath-Thawra said the symptoms in Europe were "no more serious than the damage
inflicted by the Americans and the British on the Iraqi people" during the
1991 Gulf War over Kuwait.

Baghdad, protesting that cancer rates have quadrupled in areas of southern
Iraq bombed by the allied forces, has said the United States and Britain
fired more than 940,000 DU weapons during the conflict.

DU emits low levels of radiation, and is so far only considered to be
dangerous if it is inhaled or ingested. The material is used to penetrate
armour and concrete bunkers because it is denser than other metals.


BAGHDAD, January 10 (Xinhuanet) -- Iraq on Wednesday demanded 
compensations from the United States and Britain for the damages 
caused by their use of depleted uranium shells in their air attacks
against Iraq.

In a statement carried by the official Iraqi News Agency, an 
Iraqi Foreign Ministry spokesman said Iraq has the right to demand 
compensations because the depleted uranium has caused harm to the 
health of Iraqi people and contaminated the environment.

The spokesman called on the United Nations and other world 
organizations to study the impact of the depleted uranium shells in
Iraq, so that the world can get acquainted with "the crimes and 
genocide committed by the U.S. and Britain against humanity."

The Iraqi authorities have repeatedly condemned the U.S.-led 
Western allies for dropping hundreds of tons of depleted uranium 
shells in the south and other parts of Iraq and causing an 
environmental disaster.

Iraq has blamed the depleted uranium for the sharp increase of 
cancer patients since the 1991 Gulf War, in which the U.S.-led 
multinational alliance drove Iraqi occupation troops out of Kuwait.

Addressing a cancer conference last March, Abul-Hadi al-Khalili,
deputy head of the Iraqi Cancer Board, said Iraq's cancer cases 
rose from 4,341 in 1991 to 6,158 in 1997.

According to Khalili, there are more cancer patients, especially
leukemia or blood cancer patients, in southern Iraq because most of
the depleted uranium shells were dropped there during the Gulf War.

Iraq filed a formal complaint to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi 
Annan in 1998, reserving the right to demand compensations from the
U.S. and Britain for the use of depleted uranium shells during the 
Gulf War.  Enditem

by Robert Fisk
Independent, 10 January 2001

They smiled as they were dying. One little girl in a Basra hospital even put
on her party dress for The Independent's portrait of her. She did not
survive three months.

All of them either played with explosive fragments left behind from US and
British raids on southern Iraq in 1991 or were the children ­ unborn at the
time ­ of men and women caught in those raids. Even then, the words
"depleted uranium" were on everyone's lips. The Independent's readers cared
so much that they contributed more than £170,000 for medicines for these
dying children. Our politicians cared so little that they made no enquiries
about this tragedy ­ and missed a vital clue to the suffering of their own
soldiers in the Balkans eight years later.

In March 1998, Dr Jawad Khadim al-Ali ­ trained in Britain and a member of
the Royal College of Physicians ­ showed me his maps of cancer and leukaemia
clusters around the southern city of Basra and its farming hinterland, the
killing fields of the last days of the 1991 Gulf War that were drenched in
depleted uranium dust from exploding US shells.

The maps showed a four-fold increase in cancers in those areas where the
fighting took place. And the people from those fields and suburbs where the
ordnance were fired were clustered around Dr Ali's cancer clinic in Basra.
Old men, young women with terrible tumours, whole families with no history
of cancer suffering from unexplained leukaemias.

They stood there, smiling at me, wanting to tell their stories. Their
accounts, tragically, were the same. They had been close to the battle or to
aerial bombing. Or their children had been playing with pieces of shrapnel
after air raids or their children ­ born two years after the war ­ had
suddenly began to suffer internal bleeding. Of course, it could have been
one of Saddam's bombed chemical plants ­ or the oil fires ­ that were to
blame. But a comparison of the location of cancer victims to air raids,
right across Iraq from Basra and Kerbala to Baghdad, are too exact to leave
much doubt. And tragic did not begin to describe the children's "wards of
death" in Baghdad and Basra.

Ali Hillal was eight when I met him ­ he was to live less than two months
more ­ lived next to a television broadcasting transmitter and several
factories at Diala, repeatedly bombed by Allied aircraft in February 1991.
He was the fifth child of a family that had no history of cancers ­ he now
had a tumour in his brain. His mother, Fatima, recalled the bombings. "There
was a strange smell, a burning, choking smell, something like insecticide,"
she told me.

Little Youssef Abdul Raouf Mohammed came from Kerbala, close to Iraqi
military bases bombed in the war. He had gastro-intestinal bleeding. There
were blood spots in his cheeks, a sure sign of internal bleeding. Ahmed
Fleah had already died in the children's ward, bleeding from his mouth,
ears, nose and rectum. He took two weeks to bleed to death.

About the same time, the first British "Gulf War syndrome" victims were
telling of their suffering. It was often identical to the stories ­ told in
Arabic ­ that I listened to in Iraqi hospitals. Something terrible happened
in southern Iraq at the end of the Gulf War, I reported. But the British
Government ­ now so anxious to allay fears for the health of British
soldiers who have been in contact with depleted uranium shells in the Gulf
and in the Balkans ­ put their collective nose in the air.

Doug Henderson, then a defence minister ­ and later to be such a public
supporter of Nato's bombing of Kosovo ­ wrote in an extraordinary letter
that "the Government is aware of suggestions in the press, particularly by
Robert Fisk of The Independent, that there has been an increase in
ill-health ­ including alleged [sic] deformities, cancers and birth defects
­ in southern Iraq, which some have attributed to the use of depleted
uranium-based ammunition by UK and US forces during the 1990-91 Gulf

"However, the Government has not seen any peer-reviewed epidemiological
research date on this population to support these claims and it would
therefore be premature to comment on this matter."

And there Mr Henderson lost interest. Had he been able to see Hebba Mortaba,
the tiny girl in Basra whom I met with a tumour the size of a football
pushing up from her stomach, perhaps his reply would have been more serious.
Many of the other children in this purgatorial hospital were bald and
suffering from non-Hodgkins lymphoma. All came from heavily-bombed areas of
Iraq. A few knew they were dying; some told me they would recover. None of
them did. When in 1998 I visited the killing fields outside Basra, the
burned-out Iraqi tanks still lay where they had been attacked by Major
General Tom Rhame's US First Infantry Division, bombed amid the farms and

Many of the local farmers had relatives dying of unexplained cancers. One of
them, Hassan Salman, walked up to me through the long grass, a man with a
distinguished face, brown from the sun. "My daughter-in-law died of cancer
just 50 days ago," he said. "She was ill in the stomach. Her name was Amal
Hassan Saleh. She was very young ­ she was just 21 years old. A woman walked
out of a tomato field and offered me an over-large pale green tomato, a
poisoned fruit according to the Basra doctors, from a poisonous war, grown
on a dangerous stem, bathed in fetid water.

Yes, of course, it made good propaganda for Saddam. Yes, of course, he
gassed the Kurds who had gone over to Iran's side in the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq
war. Yes, of course, the Iraqis later laid on a propaganda showcase of
statistics for their dying ­ and mock funerals for the infant dead. But the
children I met were dying ­ and have died. Their leukaemia was real and
growing. One Baghdad doctor had just watched a child patient die when I went
to visit him. He sat in his chair in his clinic with his head in his hands,
the tears flowing down his face. This was not propaganda.

In Basra, in the poorest part of the city ­ still, ironically, regularly
attacked by the USAF and RAF ­ I asked a random group of women about the
health of their families. "My husband has cancer," one said. Sundus
Abdel-Kader, 33, said her aunt had just died suddenly of leukaemia. Two
other women interrupted to say that they had younger sisters suffering from
cancer. And so it went on, in a society where merely to admit to cancer is
regarded as a social stigma. Why had so many Iraqis ­ especially children ­
suddenly fallen victims, I asked myself, to an explosion of leukaemia in the
aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War?

Of course, the victims were Iraqis. They were Muslims. They lived ­ and died
­ in a far away country. They were not Caucasians or Nato soldiers. But I do
wonder if I'm going to have to tour the children's wards of Bosnia and
Serbia in the years to come, and see again the scenes I witnessed in Iraq.
Or perhaps the military wards of European countries. That's why I asked Nato
just after the Kosovo bombing in 1999 for the locations of depleted uranium
munition explosions. The details, I was told, were "not releasable".

The Globe and Mail [Canada, I think], Wednesday, January 10, 2001
[This interesting piece was communicated to the List by Marc Azar. I looked
up the URL and look what I got! ­ PB]

We live in strange times. People in wealthy nations such as Canada have
never been healthier, yet we fret about our health as never before.

Almost every day brings a new health scare. Lead in the window blinds can
poison your kids, foam insulation in the walls can make you dizzy, mould in
school portables can get in your lungs -- and on and on.

Even soldiers are falling prone to our society's growing hypochondria. Since
the 1991 Gulf War, thousands of veterans have complained of various
unexplained ailments, blaming their illness on exposure to military
chemicals and other byproducts of war. For all that, researchers have failed
to find any basis for the so-called Gulf War Syndrome.

Now we have another scare: the Balkans Syndrome. This one centres on
depleted uranium used in shells fired by U.S. warplanes during NATO's air
war against Yugoslavia in 1999. At least 18 soldiers who served with the
alliance in the Balkans have died of cancer: seven Italians, five Belgians,
two Dutch, two Spaniards, a Portuguese and a Czech. Environmental and
veterans groups blame the deaths on the use of depleted uranium, or DU. The
Italian government wants NATO to place a moratorium on the use of DU in
tank-busting weapons until more is known.

But much is already known. The concern about DU goes back to the Gulf War
and before. Numerous studies have been done, and none has shown any link
between DU and cancer. One reason: depleted uranium is simply not very

Uranium is synonymous with radioactivity because its enriched form is used
for nuclear fuel and to make nuclear bombs. But depleted uranium is the
opposite of enriched. It is what's left over after the enrichment process
extracts the more useful radioactive isotopes from the metal.

Depleted uranium is thus many, many times less radioactive than the uranium
employed for nuclear uses. In fact it is 40 per cent less radioactive than
natural uranium, a substance that is present in small amounts all around us
-- in soil, in rocks, even in the air and the water.

Ordinary exposure to natural uranium has no known health effects. In fact,
studies of uranium-industry workers, who are far closer to the stuff than
most of us, show no increase in overall death rates, either from cancer or
any other cause. Why, then, would soldiers be worried about less-radioactive

Veterans groups say the worry springs from how the DU is used. Armies like
DU because of its density, which is almost twice that of lead. Shells that
use DU can penetrate armour more effectively.

But when the shell hits the armour, the DU turns into a fine dust. The
critics say that dust could be inhaled by people nearby. Yes, possibly. But
most soldiers in the Kosovo war were not in midst of combat, much less at
the receiving end of DU shell fire. They were a mile up in the air, firing
at down at Yugoslavia. When thousands of NATO troops moved into Kosovo, the
fighting was over. Their only contact with DU could be from shell debris,
which they are not likely to inhale or ingest.

In fact, even those who somehow managed to get DU fragments embedded in
their flesh do not appear to be in danger. The U.S. Defence Department
studied 15 Gulf War veterans with embedded DU fragments and found that they
were fine.

In its study of DU in the Gulf War, the Rand Corp. found that "there are no
peer-reviewed published reports of detectable increases of cancer or other
negative effects from radiation exposure to inhaled or ingested natural
uranium at levels far exceeding those likely in the Gulf."

The World Health Organization, which is conducting a study of DU in Kosovo,
says: "Based on our studies, and the evidence we have, it is unlikely that
soldiers in Kosovo ran a high risk of contracting leukemia from exposure to
radiation from depleted uranium."

Addressing reporters on the issue yesterday, U.S. Secretary of State
Madeleine Albright warned against a growing "hysteria" over the DU issue.
The Europeans won't like that. European Commission President Romano Prodi
says NATO must find out the truth about DU weapons or ban them at once.

But the truth is already known. Study after study has been done. Not one has
shown a link between DU and cancer. Soldiers in war may have many things to
fear. Dying from cancer caused by depleted uranium isn't one of them.

UPI, Wed 10 Jan 2001

The first in a series of demonstrations around the nation calling for a ban
on the use of tank busting, depleted uranium munitions is planned for Monday
in the community where the "Shot Heard Round the World" signaled the start
of the American Revolution. This time the protest is against "The Toxic Shot
Heard Round the World," organizer Judy Scotnicki said Wednesday Scotnicki
told United Press International that the group Grassroots Actions for Peace
"will be calling for a ban" on the munitions some blame for a myriad of
illnesses, including leukemia, and deaths suffered by numerous soldiers who
served in the Gulf War and the Balkans.

"We want to try to get our government and citizens to press for a ban on the
use of depleted uranium ammunition," Scotnicki said. West Concord is the
site of one of the two primary producers of the ammunition, favored by the
military because of its ability to penetrate tank armor. Starmet Corp.,
formerly known as Nuclear Metals Inc., quit making DU munitions 16 months
ago. The other plant that produced most of the ammunition used by U.S.
troops in Kuwait, Iraq, Bosnia and Kosovo is the Aerojet plant in Jonesboro,
Tenn. Scotnicki said her group was appalled to learn of the potential health
risks to military personnel and civilians from the DU munitions, and wants
to help the community understand those risks.

The protest, the first of several planned around the nation, is timed to
coincide with the 10th anniversary of the Persian Gulf War, the first time
DU weapons were used in warfare. Starmet had been one of the largest
suppliers, but stopped producing the munitions in 1999 after orders from the
Pentagon fell. The company is now in deep financial trouble and is facing
questions over the cost of cleaning up a local waste site. The company
buried 400,000 pounds of depleted uranium in a waste-disposal pit in West
Concord from 1958 to 1985. It is estimated it will cost $50 million to
remove the waste, and the U.S. Army has declined to pay for the removal.
Scotnicki said the demonstrators also want the Pentagon and NATO to admit
their culpability for the illnesses.

"It is imperative that the United States and the international
communityŠtake steps to halt its proliferation, stop its production and ban
its use," her group said in a release announcing Monday's demonstration.
Depleted uranium is a waste product from enriched natural uranium for use in
nuclear fuel or nuclear weapons. It is 40 percent less radioactive than
natural uranium and twice as heavy as lead. DU is used in bullets and shells
to make them armor piercing and as a metallic alloy to armor-plate tanks and
other vehicles. Only U.S. forces used the shells in Kosovo and fired about
31,000 such rounds during the 78-day conflict. There are more than 100 sites
in Kosovo where NATO reportedly fired depleted uranium shells. Some 10,000
rounds were fired in Bosnia and more than 100,000 during the Gulf War. The
Department of Defense estimates some 315 tons of DU were fired during the
Gulf War in 1991.

The Pentagon and NATO so far have denied any health risks are linked to the
armor piercing shells. Some medical authorities say that developing cancers
from routine exposure to the shells or dust left behind after explosion is
virtually impossible. Opponents, however, say results of studies that found
no links between depleted uranium and health problems were flawed because
they were too limited. They say the Pentagon has declined to conduct studies
of veterans who had climbed on destroyed Iraqi tanks, where soldiers could
have inhaled contaminated dust. Many scientists believe there is a major
health risk in inhaling or ingesting particles from the slightly radioactive
heavy metal. The Pentagon has said that depleted uranium was not the cause
of illnesses reported by Gulf War veterans. Such weapons were first fired in
combat during the 1991 war against Iraq.

Earlier this week Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen said U.S. officials
have provided NATO with warning instructions on the handling of depleted
uranium, but added there have been no links between depleted uranium and
leukemia. Pressure is mounting across Europe for the Pentagon and NATO to
investigate the possible health hazards. Britain this week joined a number
of countries in the NATO alliance saying they will investigate claims by
veterans of the Gulf and Balkan wars that they had developed cancer and
other illnesses. Italy previously said it is investigating the cases of 30
of its soldiers who served in the Balkans. Similar claims have come from
soldiers from France, Belgium and Portugal.

So far it has not been determined whether exposure to DU played a role in
any deaths or illnesses. Germany has also demanded an investigation. Iraq
called on the United Nations and other international organizations Wednesday
to study the impact of depleted uranium ammunitions and said it would also
seek compensation for the losses and damages inflicted by the weapons. In
the face of the growing controversy, the supreme commander of NATO's
European forces defended DU munitions and their use. U.S. Air Force Gen.
Joseph W. Ralston said Wednesday he would use them again to protect his
forces, but promised to cooperate with investigations into possible links
between DU-tipped shells and more than a dozen cancer-related deaths among
NATO forces.

In a related development Wednesday, NATO ambassadors meeting in Brussels
said they would focus primarily on reassurances over potential health risks
associated with the use of DU weapons in the Balkans. NATO Secretary General
George Robertson said after a meeting of the North Atlantic Council at NATO
headquarters that concerns have been exaggerated. "There is no evidence
currently available to suggest that exposure to expanded depleted uranium
munitions represents a significant health risk for NATO-led forces or the
civilian population in the Balkans," he said. Tara Thornton, national DU
organizer for the Maine-based Military Toxics Project (
>), disagreed. "DU is not just a problem overseas and for U.S. and allied
troops," she said. "DU is a huge problem here at home." Other protests are
planned from Jan. 16 to 18 at Colorado Springs, Colo., Jan. 16 in Elizabeth,
N.J., Jan. 18 in Washington, D.C., and Tucson, Ariz., and Jan. 26 through 28
at the Nevada Test Site, Nev. --

UPI, Thu 11 Jan 2001

The chief of the U.N. agency in charge of the Balkan task force assessing
risk from depleted uranium weapons in the region Thursday questioned NATO's
claim that the United Nations had confirmed that troops would not likely
become ill, or develop leukemia from exposure to radiation from these
weapons. The DU ammunition crisis has triggered political crises across
Europe after NATO member countries expressed fears the ammunition might be
linked to the so-called "Balkan Syndrome" illness that killed more than a
dozen soldiers after they returned home from areas where the ammunition had
been used.

"We can come to no final assessment at all (yet)," Klaus Töpfer, the U.N.
Environment Program's executive director, told reporters. Töpfer and the
head of the task force Pekka Haavisto, a former Finnish environment
minister, briefed reporters on 11 sample sites inspected in Kosovo. After a
meeting of NATO's ruling Council Wednesday, the head of the 19-nation
military alliance, Lord Robertson, said "recent statements by
representatives of the World Health Organization and the U.N. Environment
ProgramŠconfirm that there is little likelihood of troopsŠcontracting
leukemia from exposure to radiation from depleted uranium."

U.S. Army Medical Command experts have also denied natural or depleted
uranium caused cancers or leukemia. Töpfer and Haavisto said findings of 340
samples of water, soil, vegetation and dust from vehicles and armament
fragments -- and milk -- are being analyzed for radioactivity and toxicity.
Results are expected in March. Last week, UNEP said that of the 11 sites
visited, the team found three sites with no sign of higher radioactivity,
nor any remnants of DU ammunition and in eight found "either slightly higher
amounts of Beta radiation immediately at or around the holes left by DU

" Töpfer and Haavisto pointed out, however, that despite repeated
precautionary calls by UNEP for the sites to be identified for the local
population, no site had been marked by the U.N. interim administration
mission to Kosovo, or NATO's Kosovo Force. The UNEP chief said all 112 sites
should be marked and analyzed. Haavisto said that although soldiers had
received advice to avoid sites, the local population had not received
information. Some sites, said Haavisto, were near or in villages. Töpfer
also said that the same risk assessment being conducted in Kosovo should be
done in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and that the Balkan experience would enable UNEP
to decide whether to go to Iraq and the Gulf region.

Meanwhile, the DU crisis also took a new twist Thursday with fresh
allegations by the Guardian and the Russian defense ministry. The Guardian
cited a leaked four-year-old British Ministry of Defense document that
warned exposure to depleted uranium ammunition "increased the risk of
developing lung, lymph, and brain cancer." And the Russian news agency
Itar-Tass reported Thursday a Russian Ministry of Defense official said
parts of Kosovo, where Yugoslav troops were deployed during the conflict,
had been subjected to "experimental" bombing with shells stuffed with
nuclear waste products that originated from secret bases in Buechel and
Ramstein, Germany, where U.S. tactical nuclear weapons are stored.

Times of India, 12th January

BAGHDAD (AFP): On the eve of the 10th anniversary of the Gulf War, Iraq
feels its long ignored protests over America's use of depleted uranium (DU)
weapons may finally be given a hearing thanks to the Yugoslav conflict.

In the dock itself over weapons of mass destruction and with its credibility
in tatters ever since the war over Kuwait, Baghdad has turned the tables by
demanding Washington and London both face a war crimes tribunal.

Amid the clamour in Europe over a rash of cancer deaths among soldiers who
served in the Balkans, NATO on Wednesday bowed to demands for an
investigation into the health effects of DU munitions.

NATO chief George Robertson said the calls for a probe into the US use of DU
in Bosnia in 1995 and Kosovo in 1999 were "legitimate demands", but added he
was "confident that there is little risk in NATO ammunitions."

DU munitions are able to penetrate heavy armour, and experts say, the danger
comes not from the low-level radiation they emit, but from pulverised dust
created on impact.

Iraq has long argued that US and British use of DU weapons a decade ago
caused "irreparable damage" to its people and environment, pointing to
previously unknown congenital deformities among Iraqi infants.

Dr. Sami al-Araji, a scientist on a government panel studying the war's
aftermath, has said radioactivity levels in bombed areas of southern Iraq
were 10 times higher than the rest of the country.

Contamination from at least 300 tonnes of DU weapons fired at or dropped on
Iraq, mostly by the US military, has entered the food and water chains,
causing "indiscriminate harm to non-combatants," according to Iraqi doctors.

Ahead of a international conference on DU munitions which was hosted by
Baghdad in December 1998, Britain rejected as "baseless" Iraqi charges that
contamination from DU shells had polluted Iraq.

UN cancer statistics for 1989-1994 in southern areas like Missan and Thi-Qar
show up to seven-fold increases in cancer over the five-year period. In
Thi-Qar, cases rose from 72 in 1989 to 489 in 1994.

"Iraq requests the creation of an international tribunal to put US and
British officials on trial for crimes against humanity and the genocide
carried out by the Americans and British in Iraq and Yugoslavia," the
foreign ministry said Wednesday.

Baghdad, which itself has been condemned for using chemical weapons during a
1980-1988 war against Iran, has called for compensation.

With the Balkans Syndrome, Europe is now paying the price for having ignored
the Gulf War Syndrome, Iraq's ruling Baath party's newspaper, Ath-Thawra,
said earlier this week.

"It's the turn of the Europeans to pay the price for their follow-the-leader
attitude towards the American bull," it said.

Ath-Thawra said the symptoms in Europe were "no more serious than the damage
inflicted by the Americans and the British on the Iraqi people" during the
war of January-February 1991.


BEIJING, Jan 12, 2001 (Agence France Presse) China said Friday that NATO's
use of depleted uranium (DU) munitions in the Balkans was a crime against

An editorial in the official China Daily said U.S. and British denials that
DU munitions were responsible for illnesses including cancer had been shown
to be hollow.

And the commentary scoffed at NATO's military intervention in Kosovo in 1999
on humanitarian grounds, a move China strongly opposed, and questioned
NATO's concern for the new "humanitarian crisis" emerging over DU shells.

It said U-238, the main component of depleted uranium, was "intrinsically
nuclear" and therefore DU munitions used by the United States in the 1991
Gulf War and the Kosovo conflict should not be considered conventional

"Because of the indiscriminate harm it has caused to all lives in the hit
areas long after combat, random use of such weapons amounts to a crime
against humanity," said the editorial.

Fears over the side-effects of DU munitions has emerged following the deaths
of some 16 NATO peacekeepers from illnesses such as leukemia after they
served in either Bosnia or Kosovo.

The United States has said its aircraft fired 31,000 DU rounds during the
1999 Kosovo campaign and that another 10,800 rounds were fired during 1994/5
in Bosnia, where many of those afflicted were stationed.

NATO succumbed to mounting pressure on Wednesday by agreeing to set up a
special committee to study the possible health risk of DU shells, but the
United States continues to stress there is no evidence to link any illnesses
with the use of DU munitions.

The China Daily editorial said NATO owed its peacekeepers a "thorough and
honest" investigation, but it questioned whether the alliance cared about
the impact of DU shells on civilians in the Balkans and Iraq.

"It is both hypocritical and bizarre that the whole fuss over DU-related
health risks in NATO countries has occurred without regards for the larger
number of victims in other communities," said the paper.

"Where is the 'humanitarian concerns NATO so fervently cited to justify its
aggression in Yugoslavia. Where is the altruist NATO committed to the
prevention of a 'humanitarian disaster' now that a real such disaster is
before its eyes," it said.

China opposed NATO's intervention in Kosovo on the grounds the humanitarian
crisis in the region was the internal affair of Yugoslavia.

Official Chinese media did not report atrocities by Yugoslav forces against
Kosovar civilians during their coverage of the conflict.,3604,421280,00.html

by Richard Norton-Taylor and Peter Capella in Geneva
Guardian, Friday January 12, 2001

Attempts by the Ministry of Defence to dismiss a leaked report highlighting
increased risks from exposure to depleted uranium in shells backfired
spectacularly yesterday when it emerged that not only was it written by an
experienced military officer but it was endorsed by senior officers.

With defence ministers coming under renewed pressure to say what they knew
of the health risks of depleted uranium (DU), officials first tried to
discredit the report as the work of a "trainee".

But the MoD admitted last night that the report had been written by an
"experienced officer". It added: "He was new to the post, with no experience
of that particular area".

The report was then given more credence by a second internal MoD document.
It emerged yesterday that the report - stressing long-term health risks from
DU contamination - was attached to a covering letter from the office of the
army's quartermaster general recommending its distribution to military and
civilian personnel likely to come into contact with the armour-piercing

The letter was signed by a senior retired officer on behalf of the
quartermaster general's chief of staff. Dated April 1997, it warns that on
impact "toxic and radioactive dust can be spread inside and outside of the
[target] vehicle".

A further army document, dated August 1999, warns soldiers not to "enter or
climb a damaged hard target or loiter within 50 metres", adding: "do not
eat, drink, or smoke near the damaged vehicle.

"When an AFV [armoured vehicle] is penetrated by a DU round, the core
becomes molten and may spread radioactive particles in the air."

In a letter to Geoffrey Hoon, the defence secretary, his shadow minister,
Iain Duncan Smith, demanded to know if ministers were advised of the
concerns about DU-tipped shells or told that the warnings were wrong.

Menzies Campbell, the Liberal Democrat defence spokesman, said: "The
government's efforts to explain away documents relating to depleted uranium
lacks credibility."

Faced with a growing problem of credibility, the MoD yesterday promised to
publish the leaked documents with what it called a "suitable commentary" as
soon as possible.

"Whilst accurate in the main, they contain some significant errors of
scientific fact," it said. It referred to the warning in the 1997 document
that uranium dust had been shown to increase the risks of developing lung,
lymph and brain cancers. "It has not," the MoD said.

Its chief scientific adviser, Sir Keith O'Nions, said the report contained
"many, many scientific errors" and did not form any part of the advice given
to ministers.

Mr Hoon told Channel 4 News last night that he had not seen the document
before it was leaked. "That document is not a document that was passed down
the chain of command." He added: "What we are saying is that the risks are
very small and have not led in any case that we have been able to establish
by the best scientific evidence to any illness for any soldier."

John Spellar, the junior defence minister, infuriated Gulf war veterans
earlier this week by announcing voluntary screening for Balkans veterans,
without referring to them. Yet some 900,000 DU-tipped shells were fired in
the Gulf, most by US aircraft, compared with 40,000 in the Balkans.

The Guardian has found that defence ministers claimed in 1993 that the
shells did not produce "soluble depleted uranium". The MoD now says the risk
is more from soluble DU than insoluble radiated dust.

The UN yesterday stepped up pressure for a survey of the areas hit by
DU-tipped shells in Bosnia - and raised the prospect of a similar mission to
Iraq - after traces of radioactivity and pieces of DU were found during a
preliminary assessment of sites in Kosovo.

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