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[casi] plutonium

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Dear Bob and others

The US released this information paper on behalf of NATO after the dirty DU found by UNEP in Kosovo 
in 2001. they still haven't told us how much dirty DU is used and it does seem to vary from batch 
to batch. The greatest danger from DU is when it burns at high temperatures and produces minute 
radioacitve and ceramic particles which can be inhaled and ingested. Even one particle of plutonium 
lodged in the deep lung would be bad news

"The majority of our depleted uranium is from the enrichment of natural uranium. There are trace 
amounts of transuranics (including plutonium and other heavier elements), as well as technicium-99, 
and uranium-236 in this depleted uranium which came primarily from the enrichment process. The 
machinery used for the enrichment process was also used in the 1950-1970's to enrich uranium 
extracted from recycled reactor fuel. This resulted in the contamination of those facilities with 
trace amounts of transuranics, uranium-236 and technicium. These trace amounts were picked up in 
the DU processed in the facility. In addition a small fraction of the raw material used for 
producing our DU came from the uranium extracted from reactor fuel. We are researching the exact 

- Depleted uranium is not manufactured from nuclear waste. It is a product of the uranium 
enrichment process and a small portion was from the enrichment of the uranium extracted from 
nuclear fuel."

U.S. Information Paper (January 2001) Depleted Uranium AD HOC Committee on Depleted Uranium (AHCDU) 
Pandora DU Research Project wrote:
Picked up from
I found the mention of plutonium towards the middle of the article
something I hadn't seen before.


Weapons of Mass Deception
What the Pentagon doesn't want us to know about
depleted uranium.

By Frida Berrigan | 6.20.03

An Iraqi woman and a child sit in the leukemia ward of the
Al Mansoor Hospital in Baghdad, where children with
various forms of cancer, attributed to the 1991 use of
depleted uranium munitions by the allies, are being

In the weeks leading up to the war on Iraq, TV screens
across America were crowded with images of U.S. soldiers
readying for upcoming battles with a crazed dictator who
would stop at nothing. One clip after another showed U.S.
soldiers racing to don $211 suits designed to protect them
from the chemical and biological attacks they would surely
suffer on the road to ousting Saddam Hussein.

But these grim forecasts were wrong. Despite the advance
hype, Hussein's dreaded arsenal was not the biggest threat
to Americans on the battlefield in Iraq. In fact, it was
no threat at all.

The real threat -- not only to U.S. troops but to Iraqis as well -- may
prove to be a weapon scarcely mentioned before, during or after the war:
depleted uranium.

A toxic and radioactive substance, depleted uranium
(DU) -- otherwise known as Uranium 238 -- was widely used by U.S. troops
as their Abrams battle tanks and A-10
Warthogs thundered through Iraq this spring.

Depleted uranium is a byproduct of enriched uranium, the
fissile material in nuclear weapons. It is pyrophoric,
burning spontaneously on impact. That, along with its
extreme density, makes depleted uranium munitions the
Pentagon's ideal choice for penetrating an enemy's tank
armor or reinforced bunkers.

When a DU shell hits its target, it burns, losing anywhere
from 40 to 70 percent of its mass and dispersing a fine
dust that can be carried long distances by winds or
absorbed directly into the soil and groundwater.

Depleted uranium's radioactive and toxic residue has been
linked to birth defects, cancers, the Gulf War Syndrome,
and environmental damage.

But the Pentagon insists depleted uranium is both safe and
necessary, saying it is a "superior armor [and] a superior
munition that we will continue to use." Pentagon officials
say that the health and environmental risks of DU use are
outweighed by its military advantages. But to retain the
right to use and manufacture DU weaponry and armor, the
Pentagon has to actively ignore and deny the risks that
depleted uranium poses to human health and environment.

To keep depleted uranium at the top of its weapons list,
the Pentagon has distorted research that demonstrates how
DU dust can work its way into the human body, potentially
posing a grave health risk. According to a 1998 report by

the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, the
inhalation of DU particles can lead to symptoms such as
fatigue, shortness of breath, lymphatic problems,
bronchial complaints, weight loss, and an unsteady
gait -- symptoms that match those of sick veterans of the
Gulf and Balkan wars. Dr. Rosalie Bertell, a Canadian
epidemiologist, released a study in 1999 revealing that
depleted uranium can stay in the lungs for up to two
years. "When the dust is breathed in, it passes through
the walls of the lung and into the blood, circulating
through the whole body," she wrote. Bertell concluded
that exposure to depleted uranium, especially when
inhaled, "represents a serious risk of damaged immune
systems and fatal cancers."

The Pentagon has to cloak this dangerous weapon in
deceptive and innocuous language. The adjective
"depleted," with its connotation that the substance is
non-threatening or diminished in strength, is misleading.
While depleted uranium is not as radioactive and dangerous
as U235 -- a person would not get sick merely from brief DU exposure --
depleted uranium has a half-life of 4.5 billion years (as long as the
solar system has existed) and may pose serious health risks and
environmental contamination.

Don't Believe the Hype: Propaganda Wars
As the U.S. military prepared to launch a new offensive
against Iraq early this year, the Pentagon and White House
embarked on a parallel effort to promote depleted uranium
as a highly effective weapon that would protect the lives
of innocent Iraqis. At the same time, the Iraqi
government sought to exploit the use of depleted uranium
and the serious public health concerns about its use in
its propaganda war against the United States.

At a March 14 Pentagon briefing, Col. James Naughton of
the U.S. Army announced that U.S. forces had decided to
employ DU munitions in the looming war on Iraq. When
asked about depleted uranium's possible effects on
civilians, Naughton characterized opposition to the use of
DU weapons as a product of propaganda and cowardice. "Why
do [the Iraqis] want [depleted uranium] to go away?" he
asked. "They want it to go away because we kicked the
crap out of them [in the first Gulf War]."

The White House echoed Naughton's sentiment, rejecting
reports linking depleted uranium to birth defects and
cancers in Iraq. Early this year the White House released
a report titled Apparatus of Lies: Saddam's Disinformation and
Propaganda 1990-2003, which includes a
section on "The Depleted Uranium Scare." In it, the White
House accuses the Iraqi government of launching a
"disinformation campaign" that uses "horrifying pictures
of children with birth defects" as a tool to "take
advantage of an established international network of
antinuclear activists." Iraq's aim, the report charged,
was to promote the "false claim that the depleted uranium
rounds fired by coalition forces have caused cancers and
birth defects in Iraq."

But few anti-DU activists say that depleted uranium is the
sole cause of cancer and birth defects. Rather, they
contend there is an obvious link between depleted uranium
and other toxins released into the environment during the
1991 Gulf War, that independent study is now required,
and, in the meantime, that the United States should
declare a moratorium on any future use of depleted

Depleted Uranium Use Increasing
Over the past 15 years, the Pentagon has become
increasingly dependent on DU weapons and armor. The 1991
Gulf War was the first major conflict in which DU weaponry
and armor was used. Almost 320 tons -- an amount equal to
the weight of five Abrams battle tanks -- were fired in the Iraqi desert.
About 10 tons of DU munitions were used in Kosovo and the former
Yugoslavia in the '90s. DU weaponry was reportedly used in Afghanistan
in 2001 as well, but reliable estimates are not yet available.

Depleted uranium was used extensively in this year's war
on Iraq, but if Pentagon officials have an accurate
accounting of total DU use, they are keeping that number
to themselves. In a May 15 article in the Christian
Science Monitor, reporter Scott Peterson wrote that after
the war, the Pentagon, when pressed by reporters,
announced that about 75 tons of DU munitions were fired
from A-10 Warthogs. However, the Pentagon has stalled on
releasing additional relevant data on how much depleted
uranium was fired from Abrams battle tanks -- the other
system that uses only DU munitions. More importantly, it
has not addressed concerns that DU weaponry was used much
more extensively in Iraq's urban and densely populated
areas in the 2003 war than in 1991.

The use of DU weapons in urban areas and against civilian
targets in Iraq gives the lie to the Pentagon's insistence
that it needed the DU advantage in order to win the recent
war quickly. To illustrate the power of this wonder
weapon, a March Pentagon press conference prominently
featured pictures from the first Gulf War of an Abrams
tank firing a DU munition through a sand dune to destroy
an Iraqi tank hidden behind. While this makes good TV,
did depleted uranium really provide a critical advantage
to the U.S. military in Iraq? The answer is no. The
U.S. military did not need a wonder weapon in Iraq
because the crippled country was not a wonder opponent.
Its arsenal was antiquated and had been poorly maintained
since the first Gulf War. Suffering under more than 12
years of U.N. economic sanctions, moreover, Iraq had not
been able to develop or purchase comparable high-tech
armored weaponry.

In his May 15 article, Peterson describes video footage
from the last days of the recent war showing an A-10
Warthog strafing the Iraqi Ministry of Planning in
downtown Baghdad. This was not an armored target; it was
a building in a heavily populated neighborhood. Peterson
visited the area and found "dozens of spent radioactive DU
rounds, and distinctive aluminum casings with two white
bands, that drilled into the tile and concrete rear of the

The indiscriminate use of DU munitions in densely
populated areas throughout Iraq, which put large numbers
of civilians in jeopardy of radioactive and toxic
exposure, violates the Geneva Convention's protocol
prohibiting the use of weapons that do not distinguish
between soldiers and civilians during wartime.

So why did the Pentagon insist on using DU weapons in
Iraq? Tungsten alloys would have worked as well.
Depleted uranium, it turns out, has one tremendous
advantage over tungsten. It is provided to weapons
manufacturers nearly free of charge by the U.S.
government -- an ingenious method of radioactive waste
disposal. Essentially, depleted uranium is the waste left
over from decades of nuclear weapons development. In
fact, the United States has stockpiles of depleted uranium
scattered at sites throughout the country -- 728,000 metric tons to be
exact -- a tiny fraction of which is used in the manufacture of depleted
uranium warheads.

Lies and Silence
In an April 14 video address, President Bush spoke
directly to military personnel and their families,
thanking them for their role in the Iraq war. The
monuments to Hussein had been toppled in Baghdad, and the
first troops were beginning to return home triumphant.
The message, broadcast on armed services networks around
the country and beamed to troops on the Iraq battlefield,
included Bush's promise that veterans of "Operation Iraqi
Freedom" would receive "the full support of our
government. We will keep our commitment to improving the
quality of life for our military families."

The same day, the Defense Department and the Centers for
Disease Control released the results of their four-year
study on birth defects in the children of Gulf War
Veterans. Although the study did not mention depleted
uranium specifically, it found "significantly higher
prevalences" of heart and kidney birth defects in
veterans' children. Unfortunately, the study's disturbing
findings were not reported by any U.S. media outlets
until June.

The Pentagon and White House propaganda on depleted
uranium was never challenged by the mainstream media this
past spring. If members of the national press corps had
done their homework, they would have found ample evidence
that the Pentagon is fully aware of the dangers posed by
DU weaponry and is actively ignoring its own research and

A 1974 military report evaluated the medical and
environmental effects of depleted uranium, noting that "in
combat situations involving the widespread use of DU
munitions, the potential for inhalation, ingestion, or
implantation of DU compounds may be locally significant."
This contradicts recent Pentagon claims that depleted
uranium does not pose a threat and demonstrates the
military's understanding of how depleted uranium is
absorbed into the human body, posing risks to organs.

In a 1998 training manual, the U.S. Army acknowledged the
hazards of depleted uranium, requiring that anyone who
comes within 25 meters of DU-contaminated equipment or
terrain wear respiratory and skin protection. The manual
cautioned: "Contamination will make food and water unsafe
for consumption."

And in November 1999, NATO sent its commanders the
following warning: "Inhalation of insoluble depleted
uranium dust particles has been associated with long-term
health effects, including cancers and birth defects."

They Hid It Well
The fact that these reports are in the public record is
the result of years of hard work, study, and Freedom of
Information Act (FOIA) requests by anti-DU activists. The
Pentagon and Bush administration have also been hard at
work. In the past two years, they have clamped down on
sources of information that had been immensely valuable to
service personnel and their families over the past decade.

Dan Fahey served in the United States Navy just months
after the fighting ended in the Gulf War. Seeing the
havoc the war wreaked on his fellow veterans, he set out
to become an independent expert on depleted uranium. He
sits on the board of Veterans for Common Sense and has
played a major role in obtaining U.S. government
documents about depleted uranium through FOIA.

Fahey says that, under President Bush, the Department of
Defense is controlling the release of information about
depleted uranium so tightly that if he were starting his
research and disclosure efforts today, he would be unable
to get any information through the Freedom of Information
Act. "There is less information and more secrecy," he
says. "There are tighter restrictions on access to

Fahey was responsible for publicizing the findings of a
July 1990 report by Science Applications International
Corporation (SAIC), a defense contractor commissioned by
the Pentagon to study depleted uranium.

The report revealed that the Pentagon knew that depleted
uranium was harmful before 1991, when they sent 697,000
American troops to the Gulf, where they could be exposed
to DU dust and residue. SAIC asserted that depleted
uranium is "a low-level alpha radiation emitter" that
could be "linked to cancer when exposures are internal."
The report further warned, "DU exposures to soldiers on
the battlefield could be significant, with potential
radiological and toxicological effects." In addition the
report found that "short-term effects of high doses [of
depleted uranium] can result in death, while long-term
effects of low doses have been implicated in cancer."

SAIC says in its report that widespread knowledge of
depleted uranium's harmful properties could lead to public
outrage about the "acceptability of the continued use of
DU kinetic energy penetrators for military applications."
That's what worries the Pentagon.

All the while, as the Pentagon hides behind claims that
more study is needed to prove depleted uranium's
connection with the ailments suffered by Gulf War veterans
and Iraqi civilians, their own research demonstrates that,
at best, depleted uranium is radioactive and toxic -- and
that at worst, it can lead to incurable diseases and

Veterans Suffer
The Pentagon says more study is needed. But veterans of
the Gulf War, meanwhile, need medical care, information,
and benefits, and for the Pentagon to come clean about
depleted uranium. The veterans had been exposed to a
"toxic soup" of smoke from oil and chemical fires,
pesticides, vaccinations, depleted uranium and, most
likely, plutonium.

Two types of depleted uranium exist. One is "clean"
depleted uranium, a byproduct of the processing of uranium
ore into uranium-235 (which is used in nuclear fuel and
weapons). The other type is created at government
facilities as a byproduct of reprocessing spent nuclear
fuel (done to extract plutonium for nuclear warheads) and
is known as "dirty" depleted uranium because it contains
highly toxic plutonium.

In November 2000, U.N. researchers examined 11 sites in
Kosovo hit by DU shells and found radioactive
contamination at eight of them. Furthermore, those tests
uncovered evidence that at least some of the DU munitions
in the U.S. arsenal used in Kosovo contained "dirty"
depleted uranium. This raises the question: How much of
its plutonium-processing waste did the U.S. government
supply to weapons manufacturers?

If some of the DU shells in the U.S. arsenal have been
made from dirty depleted uranium, that could help explain
why about 300 of 5,000 refugees from a Sarajevo suburb
heavily bombed by NATO jets in 1995 had died of cancer by
early 2001. And it could also help explain the fact that
28 percent of veterans who served in the first Gulf War
have over the past 12 years sought treatment for illness
and disease resulting from their military service and
filed claims with the Veterans Administration for medical
and compensation benefits. In all, 186,000 veterans of
that war have sought treatment for a collection of
maladies including chronic fatigue, joint and muscle pain,
memory loss, reproductive problems, depression, and
gastrointestinal disorders. Together these ailments are
known as the Gulf War Syndrome.

Based on the struggles of Gulf War veterans, Congress
passed a law in 1997 requiring the Pentagon to conduct
pre- and postdeployment medical screenings of troops and
military personnel so that medical professionals would
have an accurate base of information if health problems
developed. In the early months of this year, as U.S.
troops were being deployed to Iraq, lawmakers found that
the Pentagon was not complying with the 1997 law: The
troops were not being screened at all.

According to Steven Robinson, a former Army Ranger who now
directs the National Gulf War Resource Center, it took two
congressional hearings, 30 news interviews, 60 radio
interviews, and a timely New York Times ad courtesy of to pressure the Pentagon to follow the
law. On April 29, the Pentagon announced it would begin
conducting postdeployment examinations. Anti-DU activists
say the military's grudging compliance is too little, too

Activists are struggling for treatment of veterans, for
information about depleted uranium and other toxins that
could be responsible for the Gulf War Syndrome, and for
some sort of government acknowledgement or apology. But
they are also battling against a legacy of lies, secrecy,
and official promotion of an ends-justifies-the-means
posture. Veterans with Gulf War Syndrome can be seen as
the latest in a long line of Pentagon guinea pigs that
includes the troops ordered to witness the atomic blasts
in the early days of the Cold War, soldiers exposed to
Agent Orange in Vietnam, and the black men in Tuskegee,
Alabama, who were subjected to federal
government-sponsored syphilis experiments.

Keeps on Killing
If the Pentagon and the Federal government can treat
American troops and their families with such casual
disregard and use doublespeak with such abandon, what hope
is there for Iraqi civilians and troops?

The people of Iraq have known nothing but decades of war,
deprivation, and oppression. It is understandable that
many cheered when the statues of dictator Saddam Hussein
toppled. At the same time, how could they greet the
United States, their liberators, with anything other than
the deepest skepticism?

In his just-released book The New Rulers of the World,
Australian journalist John Pilger recounts conversations
with Iraqi doctors like Jawad Al-Ali, a cancer specialist
in Basra. Before the Gulf War, Dr. Al-Ali told Pilger,
"We had only three or four deaths in a month from cancer.
Now it's 30 to 35 patients dying every month, and that's
just in my department. That is a 12-fold increase in
cancer mortality. Our studies indicate that 40 to 48
percent of the population in this area will get cancer.
That's almost half the population."

Not only are Dr. Al-Ali's patients suffering, but his own
family members are ill as well. "Most of my own family
now have cancer, and we have no history of the disease,"
he told Pilger. "We strongly suspect depleted uranium."

The public has had to rely on anecdotal evidence like Dr.
Al-Ali's testimony to get a sense of the health crisis in
Iraq. Throughout the '90s, Hussein's government released
data on cancer and birth defects, but it is unlikely that
those figures provide an accurate picture.

Kathy Kelly, director of the Chicago-based Voices in the

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