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[casi] BBC Today - Depeted Uranium & Iraq war threats

[ Presenting plain-text part of multi-format email ]

I phoned the Today studio and warned them to expect some messages.  I think they know now!
Also important was the first serious mention of Depleted Uranium on BBC Radio in 4 months
- despite frequent warnings about the high risk that the US have used large quantities of DU.
Relevance to CASI is that the same weapons are part of the Iraq plan.

The significance of the new DU weapons issue is not just the prospect of another war on Iraq
but what kind of war the US is planning.  If my analysis is correct and DU has been used in new
guided bombs and cruise missiles, on targets in populated areas, we may be talking of
deliberate slow genocide.  If they didn't realise the full hazard potential of DU in 1991 they
must do now, despite waves of compromised, re-assuring research.  This report is a shade
more serious than the others last year, though it is still based on old (known) DU weapons.
Its conclusions have greater significance for DU in larger warheads.

The Royal Society Report is online at
The Today interview is on the BBC website together with the Iraq report at:

Dai Williams

----- Original Message -----
From: Dai Williams
To: BBC Today
Sent: Tuesday, March 12, 2002 10:06 AM
Subject: Depeted Uranium health hazards, testing & new weapons

Dear Today team

Excellent coverage of the Royal Society Depleted Uranium (DU) report this morning - thank you.

DU testing
Fascinating that it should take the MoD 11 years to start to think about developing tests methods 
to identify DU in veterans.

In fact the UK DOES have facilities to differentiate DU from whole Uranium in body fluids or 
tissue, or in soil and has had for several years. Ask Harwell or Leicester University Geology 
Department.   It is a complex and expensive procedure (600 per time).

UK contacts include Professor Malcolm Hooper, Sunderland University, technical adviser to UK 
veterans and Dr Chris Busby, Green Audit (epidemiologist) .  Both are on the 
recently appointed DU oversight Board mentioned in your report.

In Canada the DU testing expert is Professor Asaf Durokovic, ex-Pentagon medical Colonel who 
started testing on US veterans in 1992-3 but whose work was terminated when it began to identify 
alarming levels of DU in veterans with Gulf War illnesses.  He is currently testing a number of US, 
Canadian and UK veterans and has conducted an autopsy on one Canadian veteran, identifying DU in 
lungs, kidneys and bones.

DU accumulates in the lungs and especially bones as well as kidneys.  Sadly bone testing can only 
be done after death.  You might ask Dr Moonie how many autopsies the UK Government medical advisers 
have carried out on UK veterans who died with Gulf War illnesses.

Sadly the mostly heavily contaminated individuals were likely to die within a year or two or 
initial exposure.  The longer that testing is delayed the harder it is to detect Uranium 
contamination, and to differentiate serious illnesses e.g. cancer from other sources.

Royal Society conclusions

I welcome the Royal Society's conclusions that (to judge from the Today interviews - I hope to see 
a copy later):

  1) Acute DU contamination can cause illnesses (persistently denied by the MoD for years and 
repeated by Dr Moonie today. (NB Dr Moonie was a Community Health Physician for some years.  How he 
can have been persuaded to accept the MoD and US DoD health data on DU and veterans illnesses 
baffles me.)

  2) That there has been a serious failure by the UK government to test UK veterans soon after 
exposure to DU battle zones.  (I understand that the UK Government have not conducted ANY DU 
testing on UK troops assigned to the Balkans War, though most other European countries have - 
albeit unreliably- ask Chris Busby about the leukaemia and lymphoma death rates for Italian KFOR 

  3) That there is a need for systematic epidemiological and health monitoring studies of civilians 
exposed to DU combat zones [e.g. in Iraq].

Civilian DU testing is most urgently needed in Afghanistan see below.  It is partly the 
responsibility of the World Health Organisation.  The logical place to start is Iraq.  But on 29 
November 2001 the UN vetoed a planned DU health study in Iraq. Naturally the USA do not want such 
studies done since they may confirm DU munitions as weapons of indiscriminate effect. Did the UK 
government also vote against this in the UN? Sorry, I don't have data to identify the 30-40 
countries that supported the US in that vote but they are likely to be the countries that have 
purchased DU munitions from the USA).

Dr Moonie said that he had no evidence that UK veterans had been exposed to high enough levels of 
DU exposure to be at risk of adverse DU health effects. Last year's Royal Society report reached 
the same conclusion for adverse radiation effects. These comments assume that the only DU weapons 
used were 30 mm and 120 anti-tank shells.

Much larger DU weapons and health hazards now suspected

My investigations over the last year have identified a completely different range of weapons 
suspected of containing DU warheads - 21 systems in total.  The earliest of these were certain 
versions of the TOW and Maverick missiles in the Gulf War.  5300 Mavericks were used in 1991.  The 
version G had a 300 lb "heavyweight penetrator warhead".

You may find that some UK veterans were exposed to Maverick "friendly fire" incidents and hence 
potential DU contamination (ask Prof Hooper).  But to test these veterans and find a DU connection 
would have broken the tight security around the suspected use of DU in guided weapons.

DU in the Afghan war

The Royal Society study may sound like a blast from the past (sorry) for old veterans.  Sadly it is 
a far more immediate issue in Afghanistan where Donald Rumsfeld confirmed that "an elevated level 
of radioactivity from depleted uranium on some warheads" (Reuters 16 January).

Were UK special forces given full NBC protection when sent to inspect Taliban and Al Qaeda 
locations hit by hard target guided weapons?  What injuries did the 4 repatriated SAS troops really 
suffer - gunshots or acute radioactive DU contamination?  What is their state of health now?

The total DU declared by the US in the Balkans war was 10 tons of 30 mm A10 anti-tank shells 
(weight 275 grams each). By contrast each GBU-28 or 37 Bunker Buster guided bomb may contain up to 
1.5 tons of DU.  The GBU-31 (involved in the friendly fire bombing accident on 5 December) may 
contain over half a ton of DU on my calculations.

Hundreds of these and other hard target guided weapons have been used in Afghanistan.  My analysis 
suggests that DU warheads may be used in many if not all the new generation of hard target guided 
weapons (smart bombs and cruise missiles) prototype tested in the Afghan bombing.

To double their penetration effect on hard or deeply buried targets (e.g. 100 feet of soil or 20 
feet of re-inforced concrete) they use some very "dense metal".  This needs to be twice the density 
of steel and pyrophoric (incendiary).  Only depleted uranium offers both these properties.

The nature of this "dense metal" is classified.  It can only be Tungsten or DU.  If Tungsten there 
are no special health hazards so no reason for secrecy.  If DU such weapons would breach the Geneva 
conventions as "weapons of indiscriminate effect".  DU is toxic and radioactive nuclear waste with 
contamination from recycled nuclear fuel rods (see above).

For further background on these issues you are welcome to see my report
Depleted Uranium weapons 2001-2002: Mystery metal nightmare in Afghanistan
It is available from Politicos bookshop and on my website in PDF format at:

The report was sent to UN agencies on 1st January - UNEP, WHO, UNHCR, UNIDIR and OCHA - and to MSF 
and ICRC. It contains the warnings I sent to the UK Government on 16 October and 1st November.

This report was reviewed in Le Monde Diplomatique on 1st March by Robert James Parsons.  An English 
version is due to be published in the Guardian Weekly Le Monde supplement, either tomorrow or next 
week I believe.

Thank you for giving the DU issue so much time this morning.  It is a complex subject, hard to 
explain in a few minutes. But your DU interviews during the Gulf War helped to raise awareness of 
DU hazards for civilians and KFOR troops in April-May 1999.

I have been trying to raise public awareness of far greater potential DU hazards in Afghanistan 
since October.  Now 5 months later these warnings may be now too late to save thousands of people 
from moderate to severe DU contamination including UK troops, aid workers and media personnel as 
well as the civilian population and refugees who were exposed to heavy bombing.  (Refer my message 
Kites over Kabul).

These hazards are explained in the DU Scenarios on page 95 and the conclusions in Part 5 of my 
report (Part 5)., page 125 onwards.  In the worst case the US may have used 500-1000+ tons of DU on 
Afghanistan - compared to 320 tons declared in the Gulf War and 10 in the Balkans.

DU weapons in the proposed war on Iraq

The same hard target guided weapon systems are central to US plans for the widely proposed new 
attack on Iraq.
It is vital that the UK and US Governments are forced to disclose the "mystery metal" used in their 
warheads before any further attacks are made.  Please can Today help next time you interview Geoff 
Hoon, Dr Moonie, Jack Straw or the Prime Minister?  They were sent copies of my report 2 weeks ago.

Or ask David Laws, Tam Dalyell, Pete Wishart, Elfyn Llywd or Jeremy Corbyn who have questioned the 
use of DU
in Parliament over the last 4 months (see Part 2 of the report for Hansard references to DU).

It is ironic that the US propose to destroy supposed weapons of mass destruction with their own 
suspected weapons of indiscriminate effect.  Two wrongs won't make a right.

Thank you again for this morning's report - the first reference to DU I have heard on Radio 4 since 
being given the chance to raise these issues on Any Answers on 3rd November.

yours in concern for all the victims of DU.

Dai Williams
Woking, Surrey
01483-222017   07808-502785

(PS I am told that Iraq did not expel the UN weapons inspectors.  Apparently they were withdrawn by 
the US Government.
I think you may get other emails on this subject from human rights / anti-sanctions campaigners.  
This has been part of anti-Iraq propaganda used to justify the sanctions for years).

[ Le Monde DU 1 Mar 02.doc of type application/msword removed by -
   attachments are not permitted on the CASI lists ]

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