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[casi] Political foes unite on depleted uranium munitions

Political foes unite on depleted uranium munitions

By Bob Nichols
Online Journal Contributing Writer

May 18, 2003-An amazing thing happened in Tulsa during the shooting part of
the invasion of Iraq. Bitter political enemies representing the right and
left wings of American politics agreed about the American forces' use of
depleted uranium (DU) munitions in Iraq and subsequent wars.

On the flickering monitors of the online readers of Tulsa's leading
conservative newszine, TulsaToday, agreed that DU-based shells and bombs are
too dangerous to our own troops for general use. A letter was sent to
General Tommy Franks requesting that the use of DU shells and bombs be
stopped immediately and DU munitions use documented and tracked for later

DU munitions include bullets, tank shells, bombs, and cruise missiles made
with major proportions of uranium in the body of the shell or bomb. The
well-known Abrams Tank's 130 mm main gun round contains just under 10 pounds
of DU; a 2,000 lb bomb contains about 800 pounds of DU.

The DU from American nuclear power plants and nuclear weapons factories is
given "free" to arms manufacturers and then sold back to the federal
purchasing agents at the War Department as bullets, shells, bombs and cruise

Fully deployable Cruise Missiles cost the War Department about $1.3 million
each. The U.S. used about 12,000 of the flying bombs and 2,000 lb "smart
bombs" during the siege of Baghdad. That's up to 9,600,000 pounds of DU
smoke and dust hanging in the radioactive dust cloud over Baghdad. That's a
lot of lethal radioactive smoke.

The DU in the bullets, shells, bombs, and cruise missiles does not go away
into nothingness upon impact or upon explosion. The DU merely changes into a
breathable form from the force of the impact or explosion. The War
Department thinks this is a "good thing."

DU is a heavy, pale yellow metal that is radioactive. The radioactivity
level is so dangerous that federal government workers handling it to make
shells and bombs have to wear protective clothing and equipment.

If you are looking at a definition of uranium on your monitor and right
click on it to get the "properties," you'll notice that uranium is
pyrophoric-it burns by itself-when it is hot enough and in the presence of
oxygen. DU munitions ignite at about 600 degrees and burn at a rather
towering 10,000 degrees Centigrade.

This is important to the War Department. The guaranteed metal high-temp fire
assures that enemy tank crews are incinerated-fast. Then the super heated
air shoots skyward where it scoots along on the desert winds for 25 miles or
more with its payload of lethal radioactive microscopic particles.

The conservatives at are ably led by Stephen Nuchia. Your
fearless writer, Bob Nichols, spoke up for the lefty progressives and
centrists. Nuchia is unequivocally a hawk.

As Nuchia said in the letter to General Tommy Franks: "General, the
principal author of this letter [Nuchia] is a patriot, an engineer, a former
naval person, a student of history and a hawk. He would consider it treason
to attempt to divert your attention from the conduct of combat operations
unless he had reason to believe the matter both gravely important and
urgently relevant."

Nuchia goes on to urge the Franks to immediately issue these four orders:

DU munitions represent a potential near term and long term hazard to
personnel and the environment. While the magnitude of this hazard is unknown
and disputed, it is the policy of this command to minimize the use of DU
whenever it does not interfere with mission performance to do so.

Therefore, DU will be used only in direct support of troops actually engaged
and against hard targets of very high value.

Whenever possible, "walking" DU weapons onto a target is to be avoided in
favor of measured, aimed fire.

All DU rounds expended are to be accounted for using procedures comparable
to those for land mines. Because it is conceivable that target areas will
need to be decontaminated in the future, we will keep the most detailed and
accurate records possible . . .
Nuchia added "This war is being fought, in part, to eliminate the threat of
chemical and radiological weapons. It would be tragic if history comes to
regard the weapons we use in this war as chemical and radiological time
bombs . . . If we fail to use these weapons with restraint and
accountability I fear history, as well as generations of Iraqis unborn, will
curse our names."

When all is told, the American forces have used weapons containing uranium
and plutonium five times since Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed in
1945, on August 6 and 9 respectively. There was to be a period of 46 years
before the United States again used weapons containing uranium. It was in
the first Gulf War.

The U.S. continued to use DU weapons in Bosnia 1995, Yugoslavia/Serbia in
1999, and in Afghanistan from October 2001. The U.S. is alone in the world
in justifying the continued use of DU bullets, shells, bombs, and missiles.
The most recent and visible defection from the radioactive forces is the
United Kingdom. The British Ministry of Defence has already conceded that it
has a moral obligation to assist in the cleanup in Iraq after its attack by
nuclear forces.

Nuclear cleanup is a bit of a problem though. First, the clean-up teams are
looking for thousands of tons of dust and rock-like chunks in a sandy desert
country. Second, the only clean-up team sent in after the First Gulf War
suffers now from radiation poisoning and a 30 percent death rate (2002
statistics), and, it is climbing.

The gaseous particles are so small that the funny looking [standard] gas
masks are useless. But the U.S. has an Achilles Heel. The treasured DU
bullets, shells, bombs, and cruise missiles must be used by those willing to
die a long and painful death from radiation poisoning. It is like the
gladiator's salute in the Roman empire.

More than 50 percent or 300,000 of the brave American troopers in the First
Gulf War are now disabled by the mysterious Gulf War Syndrome.1 The symptoms
are the same as radiation poisoning.

There are no chances of hoping it will go away or you can outlive it. The DU
dust stays radioactive a majestic 45 billion years. Many think the 640,000
lbs of DU dust from DU bullets, shells, bombs, and cruise missiles used in
GWI are the cause.

Talk to any of your acquaintances, right, left, or center, about the DU
shells and bombs. Our troops are breathing the DU dust from them right now
in Iraq. Then tell them in a quiet steady voice "There is no treatment. This
a death sentence for our troops serving our country. This ain't right. Help
me change it."2 Sign them up, make a list, send the list to me.

If you think the U.S. must delete these DU bullets, shells, bombs, and
cruise missiles from its munitions inventory, contact this writer, Bob
Nichols at . I'll pass all conservative writers on to my
good friend and bitter political enemy, that famous patriot and
conservative, Steve Nuchia. Just say "for the Conservative one" or "the
Lefty" at the top.


1. "Gulf War Illnesses Affect 300,000 Vets," Ellen Tomson, Pioneer Press.
See also American Gulf War Veterans Association. (Fifty percent, this is the
highest number yet, as of May 1, 2003. The number affected keeps growing. A
year ago, it was 30 percent. Watch this space for periodic reports.

2. Nichols Note: Steady now. This discussion can get real serious, real
quick when someone in the group has a family member, acquaintance, or friend
in the on the ground in the Iraq war zone. Remember, there is no treatment.
Do not hold out false hope. Enlist them to help us rid the War Department
inventories of this deadly radioactive metal.

Bob Nichols is a writer living and working in Oklahoma. He is a member of
CASE (Citizens' Action for Safe Energy) and president of the Carrie
Dickerson Foundation. CASE has sucessfully killed two serious, well-funded
attempts to build Nuclear Power Plants in Oklahoma and several attempts to
site what is now known as the "Yucca Mountain Reactor Dump" in Oklahoma.

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