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Aug 3 2003
By Rupert Hamer, UK Sunday Mirror

MORE than 25,000 British troops are to have a new medical test which
could finally prove that Gulf War Syndrome exists.

Their victory comes after scientists developed a way of tracing even
minute amounts of depleted uranium (DU) in their bodies.

And in a major U-turn which follows a Sunday Mirror campaign for justice
the Government has agreed that ALL veterans will be able to have the test.

For years after the first Gulf War, the MoD claimed DU - used in
thousands of shells fired in the conflict - was not a threat to health.

But it has now been linked to leukaemia, lung cancer, kidney damage and
other symptoms which around 5,000 soldiers who served in the 1991
conflict say they have been suffering.

All 45,000 troops who served in the latest Iraq conflict have
automatically been given the right to be tested.

Shaun Rusling, 44, of the National Gulf Veterans And Families
Association - who won a landmark case in fighting to get Gulf War
Syndrome recognised - said last night: "This is a great victory."

The former Army medic in the 1991 conflict added: "Many soldiers who
have Gulf War Syndrome have had to go abroad to get themselves tested.
It is disgusting that we have not been offered this kind of test before."

If DU shows up in the veterans' bodies, they may be able to claim
billions of pounds in compensation.

Dr Randall Parrish, 50, an expert on radioactive material who helped
devise the test, said: "It has taken one and half years to produce
something which could detect what would now be small traces of DU - but
it is capable of doing that."

He said the lapse in years since exposure meant it would be far more
difficult to say for sure that DU had caused illnesses. "These tests
should have been done years and years before." Patrick Mercer, a member
of the Commons defence select committee, said: "This is a major U-turn,
especially as the MoD has always maintained that DU did not pose a
threat to the health of soldiers."

British and Americans forces used up to 2,000 tonnes of DU in the war in
Iraq this year - twice as much as in the 1991 Gulf War.

More than 400 soldiers who have so far returned from this year's war
have already asked for the test to be carried out. Many more are
expected to request it when they come back. MoD officials are refusing
to say if any have yet tested positive.

In addition, troops are to be monitored for signs of mental stress in
the largest study of its kind undertaken of military personnel. The
study will involve thousands of servicemen and women and is being run by
experts at King's College, London.

The use of DU shells flouts a United Nations resolution. According to a
report by a UN committee in August last year, it also breaks
international law.

Professor Doug Rokke, a former director of a depleted uranium project at
the Pentagon, described its use as a "war crime".

He said: "There is a moral point to be made here. This war was about
Iraq possessing illegal weapons of mass destruction - yet we are using
weapons of mass destruction ourselves."

An Army spokeswoman last night confirmed that 1991 veterans are now
being offered a DU test. She added: "Anyone who wants to be tested for
DU should approach us and we will provide one."

The Sunday Mirror led the way in highlighting the scandal of Gulf War
Syndrome. We also exposed the miserly pension payments made to widows of
Gulf War victims - and won a promise from Tony Blair to review the scheme.


DEPLETED uranium is an extremely dense and hard metal which makes it
ideal for use in tank or artillery shells designed to pierce enemy vehicles.

But it explodes when it hits its target and sprays out tiny radioactive
particles which can be carried miles by the wind.

If inhaled, DU stays in the lungs for years and is said to cause lung

It can also get into the bloodstream and cause cancers in other parts of
the body.

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