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[casi] War realities

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Weapons of Silent Mass Destruction

Whilst we in Britain are debating  the possible hazard
of Iraq acquiring biological, chemical and nuclear
weapons, the Iraqi people need be in no doubt at all
that the formidable array of munitions now being
ranged against them by the US and allies will contain
substantial amounts of radioactive material, which
like all other weapons of mass destruction, will
continue to kill for generations after the attack is
over. Although our Ministers of Defence, like Dr.
Moonie, would have us believe that the risks of
depleted uranium are minimal, previous experience in
Iraq, the Balkans and more recently Afghanistan, has
shown otherwise. According to Dr. Moonie, °ßthere are
two potential hazards arising from the use of DU: a
low level radiation hazard....; and a chemical
toxicity hazard, similar to that posed by other heavy
metals such as lead.°®  These are not, he assures us,
°ß°•of a nature to cause superfluous injury or
unnecessary suffering°¶ within the meaning of Article
35 of the first Protocol additional to the Geneva
Conventions of 1949.°®

How strange then that an epidemiological study made by
Professor Alim Yacoub*, shows that it is in precisely
those areas where depleted uranium munitions were used
and  where levels of contamination of soil, plants and
water  are highest, that a substantial increase in
childhood malignancies and leukaemias have been
recorded. There has been a steady percentage rise in
cases since 1993 due to the cumulative effects of
exposure. The figures for the year 2000 were a 300%
rise in leukaemias and 384.2% rise in malignancies.
His study  shows a shift of incidences in leukaemias
in recent years towards younger children consistent
with exposure to ionising radiation. There has also
been a marked rise in  congenital diseases and birth
malformations in Iraq. Down°¶s syndrome has increased
by 4.5 fold with many of the mothers  below the age of
35.  Many of the birth defects, especially those in
southern Iraq, are multi-malformational, reminiscent
of children born after Hiroshima and Nagasaki or after
the nuclear testing in the Pacific. Babies are born
without limbs, eyes, genitalia, internal organs or
with additional abnormal organs and many with
extraordinary tumours. There is an increase in
hydocephaly and anencephaly. These children are either
born to mothers who were living in the areas of
southern Iraq where depleted uranium was most heavily
used or their fathers were veterans from these same
areas. In most of these cases there is no previous
history of genetic disorder in the families. Many
women are now terrified of giving birth and the
sanctions prevent proper ante natal care and scanning.

Should Dr. Moonie ever visit the hospitals of Iraq, he
would see for himself ample evidence of °•superfluous
injury and unnecessary suffering°¶. Ward after ward of
children and adults dying, in all probability, from
the effects of internal radiation: tiny ceramic
aerosolised particles which have entered the body
through inhalation or ingestion to lodge in the deep
lung or migrate to the lymph or bone giving off a
steady pulse of alpha radiation. The one year old baby
with a huge stomach cancer, the two year old bleeding
hopelessly from the ear and throat, the eight year old
leukaemia victim who buries her head in the pillow to
hide her silent tears. These are not Saddam°¶s
propaganda pieces any more than the valiant doctors,
who for all their training and skills, must  simply
watch them die. Since sanctions were imposed on Iraq,
no child has survived leukaemia. All die in pain with
even morphine denied. Parents sell everything they
have ever possessed to buy cancer drugs and still the
children die.

Depleted uranium is also known to cause neurological
disorders, immune breakdown with AIDS like symptoms
and rare bowel and kidney problems. Many Iraqi
children have suffered from a fatal epidemic of
swollen abdomens due to kidney failure.  Lowered
potassium levels,  the result of kidney damage, can
lead to cardiac arrest  and potassium has also been
banned at times as a dual use item. Healthcare under
the °•oil for food°¶ deal is criminally inadequate.
British government officials tell us that the Iraqis
could have as much medicine as they wanted but the
figures published by the United Nations prove
otherwise. Money for healthcare amounts to less than
$1 a month per person - this  in a country which prior
to 1990 had the best modern health service in the

A quantitative analysis of depleted uranium isotopes
in British, Canadian, and U.S. Gulf War Veterans by
Col. Asaf Durakovic, published recently in the journal
°•Military Medicine°¶, shows that more than 50% of those
tested were expelling depleted uranium in their urine
more than nine years after the end of the Gulf War. An
autopsy of a Canadian veteran who died, showed
depleted uranium in the lung and bone. These same
people are suffering from a range of health problems
which include chronic fatigue, rare bowel and kidney
disorders, respiratory problems, neurological
problems, depression and mood swings, skin disorders,
loss of hair and teeth, painful joints and cancer. The
body not only attempts to rid itself of the
radioactivity through the urine, but  through the
semen. This can lead to painful internal burning for
the partner after intercourse, known as °•burning semen
syndrome°¶ and causes  genetic damage to the foetus.
Many veterans have produced children with rare genetic
disorders and birth defects.  British troops now being
cheered on to war by Blair and Bush would do  well to
mind the words of Carol Picau, a US Gulf War veteran:

°ßTake us in our basic training, firing our weapons,
climbing mountains, rapelling,  doing all these
wonderful things the army teaches you to do, and then
show us now, with our crippled bones, our
incontinence.  Take all of us in our wheelchairs,
missing arms and legs, and dying of cancers and brain
tumours. Take our graves and put that on a

Depleted uranium is a by-product of the nuclear
enrichment process which removes most of the isotopes
U-235 and U-234 used in fission. The resulting
radioactive °•waste°¶ is known as depleted uranium
hexaflouride, around 99.7% of which is composed of the
alpha emitting isotope U-238.  It is 40% less
radioactive that natural uranium and can be
transformed into an oxide or a metal. As a metal, it
has qualities which are very advantageous to the
military. It has a hardness and density similar to
tungsten, a melting point similar to copper, is very
malleable, highly pyrophoric and the nuclear industry
is happy to give it away to save itself the high costs
of radioactive waste disposal. Depleted uranium is
most dangerous when it burns, creating a fine dust
which is easily airborne. Left in the soil, the metal
will quickly oxidise and enter the  water and food
chain. The clean up of testing grounds in the United
States has been costed at $1000 per cubic metre. In
munitions, depleted uranium is  usually alloyed with
metals such as  titanium, niobium, molybdenum or
beryllium. Beryllium dust is itself known to cause
severe respiratory problems. Some batches of depleted
uranium are contaminated with spent nuclear fuel. This
means they contain small amounts of plutonium,
americanium, neptunium, telechnecium and U-236. Anti-
tank penetrators analysed in Kosovo by the United
Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) found definite
traces of U-236 and plutonium 239/240. Damacio Lopez,
director of the International Depleted Uranium Study
Team, took readings of penetrators and holes in tank
armour in Iraq in January 2001 and found readings as
high as 2 100 - 2 450 counts/minute. He himself
received radiation burns.

An urgent question to put to the US and UK governments
while they threaten to launch another attack on Iraq,
is how much depleted uranium is being used in current
weaponry? Both governments have long since admitted to
its use in anti tank penetrators and tank armour and
it is now known to be  used in shape charged warhead
technology. According to Jane°¶s web site , depleted
uranium is also used to increase the penetration
effect of  some guided weapons. There is a high
probability that it is the main component of the
advanced unitary penetrator war heads used in guided
bomb systems. These were used extensively in
Afghanistan and will be used again in Iraq. With
weights between 100 - 1500 kg and a deep penetrating
effect, the result could mean the flooding of ground
water systems with large amounts of radioactivity.  In
November last year Dr. Moonie stated that °ßwhether DU
is used in munitions for the United States forces is a
matter for the US Government°®. Surely it is also a
matter for the civilians of target countries and the
countries which border them, as well as for  allied
and regional troops. The  more extensively depleted
uranium is used, the more extensive the cover up has
to be. If the truth were admitted, compensation claims
to the US and UK governments from troops and civilians
would already be phenomenal. Instead we have veterans
hounded by MI5, scientists fired from their jobs and
journalists threatened and harassed.

One of the propaganda designs of recent wars has been
to avoid troops coming home in body bags and reassure
domestic populations that civilians are not really
being targeted. °ßWe have no quarrel with the people of
Iraq, the Balkans, Afghanistan....°® , our politicians
assure us. On this note we can be comforted by the
possible deployment of new °•non-lethal°¶ weapons
designed to attack electronic systems without
inflicting °•visible°¶ collateral damage. In a recent
article in the New Scientist, David Windle writes:

°ßUS intelligence reports indicate that key elements of
the Iraqi war machine are located in heavily-fortified
underground facilities or beneath civilian buildings
such as hospitals. This means the role of non-lethal
and precision weapons would be a critical factor in
any conflict. High Power Microwave (HPM) devices are
designed to destroy electronic equipment in command,
control, communications and computer targets and are
available to the US military. They produce an
electromagnetic field of such intensity that their
effect can be far more devastating than a lightning

We do not know what microwave weapons will do to
human health but our bodies are electrochemical in
nature and any force that seriously disrupts their
molecular functioning will cause irreparable damage.
Microwaves, for example, are used in gene altering
technology to weaken the cell membrane. Impaired cells
are open to viruses, fungi and other microorganisms.
Russian research on thousands of workers exposed to
microwaves during their work with radar in the 1950s
showed serious health effects known as °•microwave
sickness°¶. This is described in Robert O. Becker°¶s
book, °•The Body Electric°¶.

"It's [Microwave sickness] first signs are low blood
pressure and slow pulse. The later and most common
manifestations are chronic excitation of the
sympathetic nervous system [stress syndrome] and high
blood pressure.
This phase also often includes headache, dizziness,
eye pain, sleeplessness, irritability, anxiety,
stomach pain, nervous tension, inability to
concentrate, hair loss, plus an increased incidence of
appendicitis, cataracts, reproductive problems, and
The chronic symptoms are eventually succeeded by
crisis of adrenal exhaustion and ischemic heart
disease [the blockage of coronary arteries and heart

The effect of heart seizure was emphasised in a US
Defence Intelligence Agency Report °•Biological Effects
of Radiowaves and Microwaves°¶ 1973, along with the
other vital issue of electronic mind control.

As Iraq has already been bombed back to the stone age
(1991), does the US government really believe an
electronics blackout would be anything very unusual?
Is it worth targeting these weapons at the already
chronically malnourished and cancer ridden children in
the Baghdad hospitals? Are we to believe that to zap
them with electric bolts far greater than lightning
will do them no harm at all or are our politicians and
military cynical enough to think that as they are
dying anyway, no one will know nor care?

It would seem that as weapons technology advances so
the victims themselves become less and less visible.
No bloody massacre or mushroom cloud  to shock and
appal - just hundreds of thousands of slow, lingering,
silent deaths. Some conditions might take many years
to unfold, others are passed on from generation to
generation. The result is an irreversible and
insidious deterioration of our common gene pool.

Joanne Baker
Pandora DU Research Project
Joanne has visited Iraq four times since 1999.

* Alim Yacoub, MBChB, DPH, MSc., PhD, MFCM
Dean and Professor, College of Medicine,
Al-Mustansiriya University, Baghdad

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