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Plague in Iraq

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Being on home turf doesn't mean we aren't negatively affected by the war in Iraq.  Aside from the usual consequences of war, the following articles bring this truth into clear focus on how far reaching the war affects us all, and will continue affecting us long after the war is over.


UPDATE 2010: Fallujah doctors report rise in birth defects...


Over 70,000 deaths, and over 1 million disabilities among American soldiers attributed to Iraq Wars says U.S. government data


Here's an extreamly disturbing link - click with caution.


And here are some Google Videos that address this unspoken plague in Iraq.


UPDATE:  US War Crimes: Cancer Rate in Fallujah Worse than Hiroshima
Global Research, July 23, 2010
The Iraqi city of Fallujah continues to suffer the ghastly consequences of a US military onslaught in late 2004.
According to the authors of a new study, “Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth Sex-Ratio in Fallujah, Iraq 2005–2009,” the people of Fallujah are experiencing higher rates of cancer, leukemia, infant mortality, and sexual mutations than those recorded among survivors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the years after those Japanese cities were incinerated by US atomic bomb strikes in 1945.
The epidemiological study, published in the International Journal of Environmental Studies and Public Health (IJERPH), also finds the prevalence of these conditions in Fallujah to be many times greater than in nearby nations.
The assault on Fallujah, a city located 43 miles west of Baghdad, was one of the most horrific war crimes of our time. After the population resisted the US-led occupation of Iraq—a war of neo-colonial plunder launched on the basis of lies—Washington determined to make an example of the largely Sunni city. This is called “exemplary” or “collective” punishment and is, according to the laws of war, illegal.
The new public health study of the city now all but proves what has long been suspected: that a high proportion of the weaponry used in the assault contained depleted uranium, a radioactive substance used in shells to increase their effectiveness.
In a study of 711 houses and 4,843 individuals carried out in January and February 2010, authors Chris Busby, Malak Hamdan, Entesar Ariabi and a team of researchers found that the cancer rate had increased fourfold since before the US attack five years ago, and that the forms of cancer in Fallujah are similar to those found among the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bomb survivors, who were exposed to intense fallout radiation.
In Fallujah the rate of leukemia is 38 times higher, the childhood cancer rate is 12 times higher, and breast cancer is 10 times more common than in populations in Egypt, Jordan, and Kuwait. Heightened levels of adult lymphoma and brain tumors were also reported. At 80 deaths out of every 1,000 births, the infant mortality rate in Fallujah is more than five times higher than in Egypt and Jordan, and eight times higher than in Kuwait.
Strikingly, after 2005 the proportion of girls born in Fallujah has increased sharply. In normal populations, 1050 boys are born for every 1000 girls. But among those born in Fallujah in the four years after the US assault, the ratio was reduced to 860 boys for every 1000 female births. This alteration is similar to gender ratios found in Hiroshima after the US atomic attack of 1945.
The most likely reason for the change in the sex ratio, according to the researchers, is the impact of a major mutagenic event—likely the use of depleted uranium in US weapons. While boys have one X-chromosome, girls have a redundant X-chromosome and can therefore absorb the loss of one chromosome through genetic damage.
“This is an extraordinary and alarming result,” said Busby, a professor of molecular biosciences at the University of Ulster and director of scientific research for Green Audit, an independent environmental research group. “To produce an effect like this, some very major mutagenic exposure must have occurred in 2004 when the attacks happened. We need urgently to find out what the agent was. Although many suspect uranium, we cannot be certain without further research and independent analysis of samples from the area.”
Busby told an Italian television news station, RAI 24, that the “extraordinary” increase in radiation-related maladies in Fallujah is higher than that found in the populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the US atomic strikes of 1945. “My guess is that this was caused by depleted uranium,” he said. “They must be connected.”
The US military uses depleted uranium, also known as spent nuclear fuel, in armor-piercing shells and bullets because it is twice as dense as lead. Once these shells hit their target, however, as much as 40 percent of the uranium is released in the form of tiny particles in the area of the explosion. It can remain there for years, easily entering the human bloodstream, where it lodges itself in lymph glands and attacks the DNA produced in the sperm and eggs of affected adults, causing, in turn, serious birth defects in the next generation.
The research is the first systematic scientific substantiation of a body of evidence showing a sharp increase in infant mortality, birth defects, and cancer in Fallujah.
In October of 2009, several Iraqi and British doctors wrote a letter to the United Nations demanding an inquiry into the proliferation of radiation-related sickness in the city:
“Young women in Fallujah in Iraq are terrified of having children because of the increasing number of babies born grotesquely deformed, with no heads, two heads, a single eye in their foreheads, scaly bodies or missing limbs. In addition, young children in Fallujah are now experiencing hideous cancers and leukemias...
“In September 2009, Fallujah General Hospital had 170 newborn babies, 24 percent of whom were dead within the first seven days, a staggering 75 percent of the dead babies were classified as deformed...
“Doctors in Fallujah have specifically pointed out that not only are they witnessing unprecedented numbers of birth defects, but premature births have also considerably increased after 2003. But what is more alarming is that doctors in Fallujah have said, ‘a significant number of babies that do survive begin to develop severe disabilities at a later stage.’” (See: “Sharp rise in birth defects in Iraqi city destroyed by US military”)
The Pentagon responded to this report by asserting that there were no studies to prove any proliferation of deformities or other maladies associated with US military actions. “No studies to date have indicated environmental issues resulting in specific health issues,” a Defense Department spokesman told the BBC in March. There have been no studies, however, in large part because Washington and its puppet Baghdad regime have blocked them.
According to the authors of “Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth Sex-Ratio in Fallujah,” the Iraqi authorities attempted to scuttle their survey. “[S]hortly after the questionnaire survey was completed, Iraqi TV reportedly broadcast that a questionnaire survey was being carried out by terrorists and that anyone who was answering or administering the questionnaire could be arrested,” the study reports.
The history of the atrocity committed by American imperialism against the people of Fallujah began on April 28, 2003, when US Army soldiers fired indiscriminately into a crowd of about 200 residents protesting the conversion of a local school into a US military base. Seventeen were killed in the unprovoked attack, and two days later American soldiers fired on a protest against the murders, killing two more.
This intensified popular anger, and Fallujah became a center of the Sunni resistance against the occupation—and US reprisals. On March 31, 2004, an angry crowd stopped a convoy of the private security firm Blackwater USA, responsible for its own share of war crimes. Four Blackwater mercenaries were dragged from their vehicles, beaten, burned, and hung from a bridge over the Euphrates River.
The US military then promised it would pacify the city, with one unnamed officer saying it would be turned into “a killing field,” but Operation Vigilant Resolve, involving thousands of Marines, ended in the abandonment of the siege by the US military in May, 2004. The victory of Fallujah’s residents against overwhelming military superiority was celebrated throughout Iraq and watched all over the world.
The Pentagon delivered its response in November 2004. The city was surrounded, and all those left inside were declared to be enemy combatants and fair game for the most heavily equipped killing machine in world history. The Associated Press reported that men attempting to flee the city with their families were turned back into the slaughterhouse.
In the attack, the US made heavy use of the chemical agent white phosphorus. Ostensibly used only for illuminating battlefields, white phosphorus causes terrible and often fatal wounds, burning its way through building material and clothing before eating away skin and then bone. The chemical was also used to suck the oxygen out of buildings where civilians were hiding.
Washington’s desire for revenge against the population is indicated by the fact that the US military reported about the same number of “gunmen” killed (1,400) as those taken alive as prisoners (1,300-1,500). In one instance, NBC News captured video footage of a US soldier executing a wounded and helpless Iraqi man. A Navy investigation later found the Marine had been acting in self-defense.
Fifty-one US soldiers died in 10 days of combat. The true number of city residents who were killed is not known. The city’s population before the attack was estimated to be between 425,000 and 600,000. The current population is believed to be between 250,000 and 300,000. Tens of thousands, mostly women and children, fled in advance of the attack. Half of the city’s building were destroyed, most of these reduced to rubble.
Like much of Iraq, Fallujah remains in ruins. According to a recent report from IRIN, a project of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Fallujah still has no functioning sewage system six years after the attack. “Waste pours onto the streets and seeps into drinking water supplies,” the report notes. “Abdul-Sattar Kadhum al-Nawaf, director of Fallujah general hospital, said the sewage problem had taken its toll on residents’ health. They were increasingly affected by diarrhea, tuberculosis, typhoid and other communicable diseases.”
The savagery of the US assault shocked the world, and added the name Fallujah to an infamous list that includes My Lai, Sabra-Shatila, Guérnica, Nanking, Lidice, and Wounded Knee.
But unlike those other massacres, the crime against Fallujah did not end when the bullets were no longer fired or the bombs stopped falling.
The US military’s decision to heavily deploy depleted uranium, all but proven by “Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth Sex-Ratio in Fallujah,” was a wanton act of brutality, poisoning an entire generation of children not yet born in 2004.
The Fallujah study is timely, with the US now preparing a major escalation of the violence in Afghanistan. The former head of US Afghanistan operations, General Stanley McChrystal, was replaced last month after a media campaign, assisted by a Rolling Stone magazine feature, accused him, among other things, of tying the hands of US soldiers in their response to Afghan insurgents.
McChrystal was replaced by General David Petraeus, formerly head of the US Central Command. Petraeus has outlined new rules of engagement designed to allow for the use of disproportionate force against suspected militants.
Petraeus, in turn, was replaced at Central Command by General James “Mad Dog” Mattis, who played a key planning role in the US assault on Fallujah in 2004. Mattis revels in killing, telling a public gathering in 2005 “it’s fun to shoot some people.... You know, it’s a hell of a hoot.”

UPDATE: Cancer in Iraq vets raises possibility of toxic exposure

By Carla McClain

Arizona Daily Star

Tucson, Arizona | Published: 08.26.2007



After serving in Vietnam nearly 40 years ago — and receiving the Bronze Star for it — the Tucson soldier was called back to active duty in Iraq.


While there, he awoke one morning with a sore throat. Eighteen months later, Army Sgt. James Lauderdale was dead, of a bizarrely aggressive cancer rarely seen by the doctors who tried to treat it.


As a result, his stunned and heartbroken family has joined growing ranks of sickened and dying Iraq war vets and their families who believe exposures to toxic poisons in the war zone are behind their illnesses — mostly cancers, striking the young, taking them down with alarming speed.


The number of these cancers remains undisclosed, with military officials citing patient privacy issues, as well as lack of evidence the cases are linked to conditions in the war zone. The U.S. Congress has ordered a probe of suspect toxins and may soon begin widespread testing of our armed forces.


"He got so sick, so fast"


Jim Lauderdale was 58 when his National Guard unit was deployed to the Iraq-Kuwait border, where he helped transport arriving soldiers and Marines into combat areas.


He was a strong man, say relatives, who can't remember him ever missing a day of work for illness. And he developed a cancer of the mouth, which overwhelmingly strikes smokers, drinkers and tobacco chewers. He was none of those.


"Jim's doctors didn't know why he would get this kind of cancer — they had no answers for us," said his wife, Dixie.


"He got so sick, so fast. We really think it had to be something he was exposed to over there. So many of the soldiers we met with cancer at Walter Reed (Army Medical Center) complained about the polluted air they lived in, the brown water they had to use, the dust they breathed from exploded munitions. It was very toxic."


As a mining engineer, Lauderdale knew exactly what it meant when he saw the thick black smoke pouring nonstop out of the smokestacks that line the Iraq/Kuwait border area where he was stationed for three months in 2005.


"He wrote to me that everyone was complaining about their stinging eyes and sore throats and headaches," Dixie said. "For Jim to say something like that, to complain, was very unusual.


"One of the mothers on the cancer ward had pictures of her son bathing in the brown water," she said. "He died of kidney cancer."


Stationed in roughly the same area as Lauderdale, yet another soldier — now fighting terminal colon cancer — described the scene there, of oil refineries, a cement factory, a chlorine factory and a sulfuric acid factory, all spewing unfiltered and uncontrolled substances into the air.


"One day, we were walking toward the port and they had sulfuric acid exploding out of the stacks. We were covered with it, everything was burning on us, and we had to turn around and get to the medics," said Army Staff Sgt. Frank Valentin, 35.


Not long after, he developed intense rectal pain, which doctors told him for months was hemorrhoids. Finally diagnosed with aggressive colorectal cancer — requiring extensive surgery, resulting in a colostomy bag — he was given fewer than two years to live by his Walter Reed physicians.


He is now a couple of months past that death sentence, but his chemo drugs are starting to fail, and the cancer is eating into his liver and lungs. He spends his days with his wife and three children at their Florida home.


"I don't know how much time I have," he said.


Suspect: depleted uranium


None of these soldiers know for sure what's killing them. But they suspect it's a cascade of multiple toxic exposures, coupled with the intense stress of daily life in a war zone weakening their immune systems.


"There's so much pollution from so many sources, your body can't fight what's coming at it," Valentin said. "And you don't eat well or sleep well, ever. That weakens you, too. There's no chance to gather your strength. These are kids 19, 20 and 21 getting all kinds of cancers. The Walter Reed cancer ward is packed full with them."


The prime suspect in all this, in the minds of many victims — and some scientists — is what's known as depleted uranium — the radioactive chemical prized by the military for its ability to penetrate armored vehicles. When munitions explode, the substance hits the air as fine dust, easily inhaled.


Last month, the Iraqi environment minister blamed the tons of the chemical dropped during the war's "shock and awe" campaign for a surge of cancer cases across the country.


However, the Pentagon and U.S. State Department strongly deny this, citing four studies, including one by the World Health Organization, that found levels in war zones not harmful to civilians or soldiers. A U.N. Environmental Program study concurs, but only if spent munitions are cleared away.

Returning solders have said that isn't happening.


"When tanks exploded, I would handle those tanks, and there was DU everywhere," said Valentin. "This is a big issue."


The fierce Iraq winds carry desert sand and dust for miles, said Dixie Lauderdale, who suspects her husband was exposed to at least some depleted uranium. Many vets from the Gulf War blame the chemical used in that conflict for their Gulf War syndrome illnesses.


Congress orders study


As the controversy rages, Congress has ordered a comprehensive independent study, due in October, of the health effects of depleted uranium exposure on U.S. soldiers and their children. And a "DU bill" — ordering all members of the U.S. military exposed to it be identified and tested — is working its way through Congress.


"Basically, we want to get ahead of this curve, and not go through the years of painful denial we went through with Agent Orange that was the legacy of Vietnam," said Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., a co-sponsor of the bill.


"We want an independent agency to do independent testing of our soldiers, and find out what's really going on. These incidents of cancer and illness that all of us are hearing about back in our districts are not just anecdotal — there is a pattern here. And yes, I do suspect DU may be at the bottom of it."


What's happening today — growing numbers of sickened soldiers who say they were exposed to it amid firm denials of harm from military brass — almost mirrors the early stages of the Agent Orange aftermath. It took the U.S. military almost two decades to admit the powerful chemical defoliant killed and disabled U.S. troops in the jungles of Vietnam, and to begin compensating them for it.


Doctors flabbergasted


Whatever it was that struck Jim Lauderdale did a terrifying job of it.


Sent to Walter Reed with oral cancer in April 2005, he underwent his first extensive and disfiguring surgery, removing half his tongue to get to tumors in the mouth and throat. A second surgery followed a month later to clear out more of those areas.

Five months later, another surgery removed a new neck tumor. Then came heavy chemotherapy and radiation.


Shortly after, he had a massive heart attack, undergoing another surgery to place stents in his arteries. Two weeks later, the cancer was back and growing rapidly, forcing a fourth surgery in January 2006.


By this time, much of his neck and shoulder tissue was gone, and doctors tried to reconstruct a tongue, using tissue from his wrist. He couldn't swallow, so was fed through a tube into his stomach.

Just weeks later, four external tumors appeared on his neck — "literally overnight," his wife said.


Suffering severe complications from the chemo drugs, Lauderdale endured 39 radiation treatments, waking up one night bleeding profusely through his burned skin. The day after his radiation ended, new external tumors erupted at the edge of the radiation field, flabbergasting his doctors.


"As this aggressive disease grew though chemoradiation, it was determined at this point there was no chance for cure," his oncologist wrote then.


By then, the cancer had spread to his lungs and spine and, most frightening of all, "hundreds and thousands" of tumors were erupting all over his upper body, his wife said.


"The doctors said they'd never seen anything like it — that this happens in only 1 percent of cases," she said.


Efforts to contact his doctors at Walter Reed were unsuccessful, but a leading head-and-neck cancer specialist at the Arizona Cancer Center reviewed the course of Lauderdale's disease.


"This a a very wrenching case," said Dr. Harinder Garewal. "This is unusually aggressive behavior for an oral cancer. I would agree it happens in only 1 percent of cases."


When oral cancer occurs in nonsmokers and non-drinkers, it tends to be more aggressive, he said.


"My feeling is the immune system for some reason can't handle the cancer," he said.

Jim Lauderdale died on July 14, 2006, and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Dixie and their two grown children still feel the raw grief of loss, but not anger, she said.


"But I am convinced something very wrong is happening over there. Is anyone paying attention to this? Is the cancer ward still full?" she asked. "I would hate to see another whole generation affected like this, but I'm very afraid it will be."


Find more resources about cancer and other diseases in our searchable database at azstarnet.com/health


Contact reporter Carla McClain at 806-7754 or at cmcclain@azstarnet.com.



At last, someone in the Senate is paying attention, and the source is just as surprising.  I just hope it isn't lip service; and it very well might be, considering where it's coming from:

City, state veterans leaders seek munitions study

By Steve Collins, The Bristol Press

BRISTOL - During a campaign stop in Bristol, U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman said he may try to amend a defense spending bill next week to add money for a study about the impact of depleted uranium munitions on the health of veterans.
"We need an independent study," the Connecticut Democrat said Friday.

Advocates for veterans have been saying for years they are concerned that the weakly radioactive, dense metal used in modern-day munitions may have exposed hundreds of thousands of soldiers to a range of health hazards.

They argue the U.S. government has done little to follow up the reports or lend a hand to veterans who may be suffering because of exposure to the material.

State Representative Roger Michele, a Bristol Democrat from the 77th District, called depleted uranium "the Agent Orange of this war" and asked for Lieberman's help in raising the issue on the federal level.

Michele, who co-chairs the General Assembly's Veterans Affairs Committee, said it is a big issue and that comprehensive testing is needed to find out what's really gone on with it.

He said that soldiers are coming home from battle with a range of health problems that might be connected to depleted uranium.

Michele said he believes that depleted uranium is "causing an awful lot of problems, like birth defects" and that a testing regimen is needed for returning veterans to find out how widespread the problem is.

City Councilor Art Ward, a Democrat who works as a veterans counselor for the state, said that experts haven't pinpointed particular problems but most think there's a major issue with depleted uranium.

"It's more obvious that it is than it isn't," Ward told Lieberman during the senator's campaign stop at Carmine's Italian Grill.

Lieberman said that if there is a question, the federal government has a responsibility to veterans to find out answers. He said that a defense appropriations bill that the Senate plans to take up Monday would be a good vehicle for adding funding to cover the necessary study.

"It may be that we can get an amendment in to get a study," Lieberman said. "It's short notice, but I think we can do it."

©The Bristol Press 2006



The horror of Depleted Uranium is not limited to Iraq – it may well be at our doorsteps.


James Denver




January 22, 2005

'I’m horrified. The people out there – the Iraqis, the media and the troops – risk the most appalling ill health. And the radiation from depleted uranium can travel literally anywhere. It’s going to destroy the lives of thousands of children, all over the world. We all know how far radiation can travel. Radiation from Chernobyl reached Wales and in Britain you sometimes get red dust from the Sahara on your car.’

The speaker is not some alarmist doom-sayer. He is Dr Chris Busby, the British radiation expert, Fellow of the University of Liverpool in the Faculty of Medicine and UK representative on the European Committee on Radiation Risk, talking about the best kept secret of this war: the fact that, by illegally using hundreds of tons of depleted uranium (DU) against Iraq, Britain and America have gravely endangered not only the Iraqis but the whole world. For these weapons have released deadly, carcinogenic and mutagenic, radioactive particles in such abundance that – whipped up by sandstorms and carried on trade winds – there is no corner of the globe they cannot penetrate – including Britain. For the wind has no boundaries and time is on their side: the radioactivity persists for over 4,500,000,000 years and can cause cancer, leukaemia, brain damage, kidney failure, and extreme birth defects – killing millions of every age for centuries to come. A crime against humanity which may, in the eyes of historians, rank with the worst atrocities of all time.

These weapons have released deadly, carcinogenic and mutagenic, radioactive particles in such abundance that there is no corner of the globe they cannot penetrate – including Britain.

Yet, officially, no crime has been committed. For this story is a dirty story in which the facts have been concealed from those who needed them most. It is also a story we need to know if the people of Iraq are to get the medical care they desperately need, and if our troops, returning from Iraq, are not to suffer as terribly as the veterans of other conflicts in which depleted uranium was used.

A dirty Tyson

‘Depleted’ uranium is in many ways a misnomer. For ‘depleted’ sounds weak. The only weak thing about depleted uranium is its price. It is dirt cheap, toxic, waste from nuclear power plants and bomb production. However, uranium is one of earth’s heaviest elements and DU packs a Tyson’s punch, smashing through tanks, buildings and bunkers with equal ease, spontaneously catching fire as it does so, and burning people alive. ‘Crispy critters’ is what US servicemen call those unfortunate enough to be close. And, when John Pilger encountered children killed at a greater distance he wrote: ‘The children’s skin had folded back, like parchment, revealing veins and burnt flesh that seeped blood, while the eyes, intact, stared straight ahead. I vomited.’ (Daily Mirror)

The millions of radioactive uranium oxide particles released when it burns can kill just as surely, but far more terribly. They can even be so tiny they pass through a gas mask, making protection against them impossible. Yet, small is not beautiful. For these invisible killers indiscriminately attack men, women, children and even babies in the womb – and do the gravest harm of all to children and unborn babies.

A terrible legacy

Doctors in Iraq have estimated that birth defects have increased by 2-6 times, and 3-12 times as many children have developed cancer and leukaemia since 1991. Moreover, a report published in The Lancet in 1998 said that as many as 500 children a day are dying from these sequels to war and sanctions and that the death rate for Iraqi children under 5 years of age increased from 23 per 1000 in 1989 to 166 per thousand in 1993. Overall, cases of lymphoblastic leukemia more than quadrupled with other cancers also increasing ‘at an alarming rate’. In men, lung, bladder, bronchus, skin, and stomach cancers showed the highest increase. In women, the highest increases were in breast and bladder cancer, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (.1)

On hearing that DU had been used in the Gulf in 1991, the UK Atomic Energy Authority sent the Ministry of Defence a special report on the potential damage to health and the environment. It said that it could cause half a million additional cancer deaths in Iraq over 10 years. In that war the authorities only admitted to using 320 tons of DU – although the Dutch charity LAKA estimates the true figure is closer to 800 tons. Many times that may have been spread across Iraq by this year’s war. The devastating damage all this DU will do to the health and fertility of the people of Iraq now, and for generations to come, is beyond imagining.

The radioactivity persists for over 4,500,000,000 years killing millions of every age for centuries to come. This is a crime against humanity which may rank with the worst atrocities of all time.

We must also count the numberless thousands of miscarried babies. Nobody knows how many Iraqis have died in the womb since DU contaminated their world. But it is suggested that troops who were only exposed to DU for the brief period of the war were still excreting uranium in their semen 8 years later and some had 100 times the so called ‘safe limit’ of uranium in their urine. The lack of government interest in the plight of veterans of the 1991 war is reflected in a lack of academic research on the impact of DU but informal research has found a high incidence of birth defects in their children and that the wives of men who served in Iraq have three times more miscarriages than the wives of servicemen who did not go there.

Since DU darkened the land Iraq has seen birth defects which would break a heart of stone: babies with terribly foreshortened limbs, with their intestines outside their bodies, with huge bulging tumours where their eyes should be, or with a single eye – like Cyclops, or without eyes, or without limbs, and even without heads. Significantly, some of the defects are almost unknown outside textbooks showing the babies born near A-bomb test sites in the Pacific. Doctors report that many women no longer say ‘Is it a girl or a boy?’ but simply, ‘Is it normal, doctor?’ Moreover this terrible legacy will not end. The genes of their parents may have been damaged for ever, and the damaging DU dust is ever-present.

Blue on blue

What the governments of America and Britain have done to the people of Iraq they have also done to their own soldiers, in both wars. And they have done it knowingly. For the battlefields have been thick with DU and soldiers have had to enter areas heavily contaminated by bombing. Moreover, their bodies have not only been assaulted by DU but also by a vaccination regime which violated normal protocols, experimental vaccines, nerve agent pills, and organophosphate pesticides in their tents. Yet, though the hazards of DU were known, British and American troops were not warned of its dangers. Nor were they given thorough medical checks on their return – even though identifying it quickly might have made it possible to remove some of it from their body. Then, when a growing number became seriously ill, and should have been sent to top experts in radiation damage and neurotoxins, many were sent to a psychiatrist.

Over 200,000 US troops who returned from the 1991 war are now invalided out with ailments officially attributed to service in Iraq – that’s 1 in 3. In contrast, the British government’s failure to fully assess the health of returning troops, or to monitor their health, means no one even knows how many have died or become gravely ill since their return. However, Gulf veterans’ associations say that, of 40,000 or so fighting fit men and women who saw active service, at least 572 have died prematurely since coming home and 5000 may be ill. An alarming number are thought to have taken their own lives, unable to bear the torment of the innumerable ailments which have combined to take away their career, their sexuality, their ability to have normal children, and even their ability to breathe or walk normally. As one veteran puts it, they are ‘on DU death row, waiting to die’.

Whatever other factors there may be, some of their illnesses are strikingly similar to those of Iraqis exposed to DU dust. For example, soldiers have also fathered children without eyes. And, in a group of eight servicemen whose babies lack eyes seven are known to have been directly exposed to DU dust. They too have fathered children with stunted arms, and rare abnormalities classically associated with radiation damage. They too seem prone to cancer and leukaemia. Tellingly, so are EU soldiers who served as peacekeepers in the Balkans, where DU was also used. Indeed their leukaemia rate has been so high that several EU governments have protested at the use of DU.

The vital evidence

Despite all that evidence of the harm done by DU, governments on both sides of the Atlantic have repeatedly claimed that as it emits only ‘low level’ radiation DU is harmless. Award winning scientist, Dr Rosalie Bertell who has led UN medical commissions, has studied ‘low level’ radiation for 30 years.(2 )She has found that uranium oxide particles have more than enough power to harm cells, and describes their pulses of radiation as hitting surrounding cells ‘like flashes of lightning’ again and again in a single second.(2) Like many scientists worldwide who have studied this type of radiation, she has found that such ‘lightning strikes’ can damage DNA and cause cell mutations which lead to cancer. Moreover, these particles can be taken up by body fluids and travel through the body, damaging more than one organ. To compound all that Dr Bertell has found that this particular type of radiation can cause the body’s communication systems to break down, leading to malfunctions in many vital organs of the body and to many medical problems. A striking fact, since many veterans of the first Gulf war suffer from innumerable, seemingly unrelated, ailments.

In addition, recent research by Eric Wright, Professor of Experimental Haematology at Dundee University, and others, have shown two ways in which such radiation can do far more damage than has been thought. The first is that a cell which seems unharmed by radiation can produce cells with diverse mutations several cell generations later. (And mutations are at the root of cancer and birth defects.) This ‘radiation induced genomic instability’ is compounded by ‘the bystander effect’ by which cells mutate in unison with others which have been damaged by radiation – rather as birds swoop and turn in unison. Put together, these two mechanisms can greatly increase the damage done by a single source of radiation, such as a DU particle. Moreover, it is now clear that there are marked genetic differences in the way individuals respond to radiation – with some being far more likely to develop cancer than others. So the fact that some veterans of the first Gulf war seem relatively unharmed by their exposure to DU in no way proves that DU did not damage others.

The price of truth

That the evidence from Iraq and from our troops, and the research findings of such experts, have been ignored may be no accident. A US report, leaked in late 1995, allegedly says, ‘The potential for health effects from DU exposure is real; however it must be viewed in perspective... the financial implications of long-term disability payments and healthcare costs would be excessive.(’3)

Clearly, with hundreds of thousands gravely ill in Iraq and at least a quarter of a million UK and US troops seriously ill, huge disability claims might be made not only against the governments of Britain and America if the harm done by DU were acknowledged. There might also be huge claims against companies making DU weapons and some of their directors are said to be extremely close to the White House. How close they are to Downing Street is a matter for speculation, but arms sales makes a considerable contribution to British trade. So the massive whitewashing of DU over
the past 12 years, and the way that governments have failed to test returning troops, seemed to disbelieve them, and washed their hands of them, may be purely to save money.

The possibility that financial considerations have led the governments of Britain and America to cynically avoid taking responsibility for the harm they have done not only to the people of Iraq but to their own troops may seem outlandish. Yet DU weapons weren’t used by the other side and no other explanation fits the evidence. For, in the days before Britain and America first used DU in war its hazards were no secret.(4 O)ne American study in 1990 said DU was ‘linked to cancer when exposures are internal, [and to] chemical toxicity – causing kidney damage’. While another openly warned that exposure to these particles under battlefield conditions could lead to cancers of the lung and bone, kidney damage, non-malignant lung disease, neuro-cognitive disorders, chromosomal damage and birth defects(.5)

A culture of denial

In 1996 and 1997 UN Human Rights Tribunals condemned DU weapons for illegally breaking the Geneva Convention and classed them as ‘weapons of mass destruction’ ‘incompatible with international humanitarian and human rights law’. Since then, following leukaemia in European peacekeeping troops in the Balkans and Afghanistan (where DU was also used), the EU has twice called for DU weapons to be banned.

Yet, far from banning DU, America and Britain stepped up their denials of the harm from this radioactive dust as more and more troops from the first Gulf war and from action and peacekeeping in the Balkan and Afghanistan have become seriously ill. This is no coincidence. In 1997, while citing experiments, by others, in which 84 percent of dogs exposed to inhaled uranium died of cancer of the lungs, Dr Asaf Durakovic, then Professor of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine at Georgetown University in Washington was quoted as saying, ‘The [US government’s] Veteran Administration asked me to lie about the risks of incorporating depleted uranium in the human body.’ He concluded, ‘uranium… does cause cancer, uranium does cause mutation, and uranium does kill. If we continue with the irresponsible contamination of the biosphere, and denial of the fact that human life is endangered by the deadly isotope uranium, then we are doing disservice to ourselves, disservice to the truth, disservice to God and to all generations who follow.’ Not what the authorities wanted to hear and his research was suddenly blocked.

During 12 years of ever-growing British whitewash the authorities have abolished military hospitals, where there could have been specialized research on the effects of DU and where expertise in treating DU victims could have built up. And, not content with the insult of suggesting the gravely disabling symptoms of Gulf veterans are imaginary they have refused full pensions to many. For, despite all the evidence to the contrary, the current House of Commons briefing paper on DU hazards says ‘it is judged that any radiation effects from…possible exposures are extremely unlikely to be a contributory factor to the illnesses currently being experienced by some Gulf war veterans.’ Note how over a quarter of a million sick and dying US and UK vets are called ‘some’.

The way ahead

Britain and America not only used DU in this year’s Iraq war, they dramatically increased its use – from a minimum of 320 tons in the previous war to at minimum of 1500 tons in this one. And this time the use of DU wasn’t limited to anti-tank weapons – as it had largely been in the previous Gulf war – but was extended to the guided missiles, large bunker busters and big 2000 pound bombs used in Iraq’s cities. This means that Iraq’s cities have been blanketed in lethal particles – any one of which can cause cancer or deform a child. In addition, the use of DU in huge bombs which throw the deadly particles higher and wider in huge plumes of smoke means that billions of deadly particles have been carried high into the air – again and again and again as the bombs rained down – ready to be swept worldwide by the winds.

The Royal Society has suggested the solution is massive decontamination in Iraq. That could only scratch the surface. For decontamination is hugely expensive and, though it may reduce the risks in some of the worst areas, it cannot fully remove them. For DU is too widespread on land and water. How do you clean up every nook and cranny of a city the size of Baghdad? How can they decontaminate a whole country in which microscopic particles, which cannot be detected with a normal geiger counter, are spread from border to border? And how can they clean up all the countries downwind of Iraq – and, indeed, the world?

So there are only two things we can do to mitigate this crime against humanity. The first is to provide the best possible medical care for the people of Iraq, for our returning troops and for those who served in the last Gulf war and, through that, minimize their suffering. The second is to relegate war, and the production and sale of weapons, to the scrap heap of history – along with slavery and genocide. Then, and only then, will this crime against humanity be expunged, and the tragic deaths from this war truly bring freedom to the people of Iraq, and of the world.

Read the full article in issue 60 of Caduceus... :


1. The Lancet volume 351, issue 9103, 28 February 1998.

2. Rosalie Bertell’s book Planet Earth the Latest Weapon of War was reviewed in Caduceus issue 51, page 28.


The secret official memorandum to Brigadier General L.R.Groves from Drs Conant, Compton and Urey of War Department Manhattan district dated October 1943 is available at the website www.mindfully.org/Nucs/2003/Leuren-Moret-GenGroves21feb03.ht


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"A Treatise on Military Weapons Containing the Radioactive Material: Depleted Uranium"

Introduction by Lynnie Howe

Atomic secrecy has corrupted American democracy. And the rationale for this corroding secrecy has always been national security, the need to keep powerful information from falling into the hands of the current US enemy. Nuclear scientists even today regard the Q security clearance as a badge of honor, even while it signifies a determination not to spill the truth.

But now secrecy has mutated into an instrument of self-preservation not for the security of the nation but for the profits of the nuclear industry. The [keeping] of secrets has evolved into the telling of lies. And the deception is being perpetrated not on the enemies of the US but on its tax-paying citizens, whose contributions finance US atomic atrocities and line the coffers of nuclear profiteers.

The reason for this secrecy and deception has also changed. The nuclear industry's greatest fear is no longer of an "enemy." It fears instead that the truth about the environmental and health effects of radiation, if fully conveyed to the American people, will result in the collapse of the nuclear industry with its obscene profits. It especially fears what will happen when the American public learns the truth about depleted uranium (DU) munitions.

Therefore, US officials and nuclear industrialists repeatedly and strategically misrepresent depleted uranium's deadly impact on nature and humanity. They claim that DU is too feebly radioactive to be harmful to life. They claim that DU cannot be considered a poison, because only its hardness and its readiness to catch fire and not its radioactivity or its heavy metal toxicity are exploited in DU weaponry. They emphasize that DU is "depleted," since a tiny fraction of a more radioactive isotope has been removed. They claim that their only source of DU is mined uranium minus that fissionable isotope. They ignore how easily radioactive dust can be inhaled and claim that DU radiation cannot reach the bone marrow to cause leukemia, because it cannot penetrate the skin. They keep the medical records of sick Gulf War veterans locked in secrecy, and they suggest that the "Gulf War Syndrome" is a figment of the imaginations of 10,000 dead and 250,000 sick veterans.

Out of many half-truths they have constructed one big deliberate lie, because they know and they have always known the extreme danger of DU. And they care more about continuing to exploit its destructive potential than about protecting their own citizens, their soldiers, and all the world's living things from its devastating effects. In A Treatise on Military Weapons Containing the Radioactive Material: Depleted Uranium, Dr. Albrecht Schott, Damacio A. Lopez, and John M. LaForge have a horrifying truth to tell.



A Treatise on Military Weapons Containing the Radioactive Material: Depleted Uranium

January, 2003 Copyright

By Dr. Albrecht Schott Director of the World Depleted Uranium Center, Germany;
Damacio A. Lopez, Director, International Depleted Uranium Study Team (IDUST), United States; and
John M. LaForge, Editor, Nukewatch Pathfinder, United States.

The United States (U.S.) and many other countries use the radioactive metal uranium-238, so-called "depleted uranium" or DU; this so-called DU also contains reprocessed nuclear reactor waste. This material is now being used in military weapons systems, such as armor-piercing bullets, casings for bombs, shielding on tanks, counterweights and penetrators on missiles, and in cluster bombs, anti-personnel mines, and other anti-personnel weapons called dirty bombs.

Weapons containing DU are appealing to military planners because of their pyrophoric qualities, which cause them to friction-burn on impact. When a DU penetrator strikes a hard target, it burns and creates respirable-sized radioactive dust particles that contaminate surrounding soil, water, flora, and fauna, as well as the human body. Explosives also are also used to disperse this radioactive dust that poisons people and inflicting illnesses, injuries and sometimes a lingering death, DU is as an immune system killer such as aids.

A recent report entitled "VA Confirms Massive 1991 Casualties," states that 206,861 of the 696,778 U.S. Gulf War veterans have filed claims for veterans’ benefits based on service-connected injuries and illnesses, 159,238 have been granted these benefits. Since the end of the Gulf War over 8,000 returning veterans have died, in what has become known as the Gulf War Syndrome.

There is urgency as each new battle erupts. The possibility that DU will again be used is real. According to recent statements of the Ministry of Defense, United Kingdom, DU weapons will be used again if it is considered necessary. Local civilian populations are unlikely to be warned when DU weapons are used even if DU contaminates their food or water supplies.

Prior to the Gulf War, the U.S. Army was aware of the potential for DU contamination to cause health problems among civilian populations. However, during and after the Gulf War, the U.S. Department of Defense did nothing to warn the inhabitants of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Iraq about DU contamination of their air, soil and water. Rather, U.S. Army reports express more concern about public outcry and future restrictions on the use of DU weapons than about contaminating lands at home and abroad and poisoning soldiers and civilians. Is this the case in Afghanistan? Up to now, there have been no official reports confirming the use of DU in Afghanistan. And what about Iraq, can we expect Gulf War Syndrome II with another invasion of Iraq?

DU is radioactive waste from the reactor fuel and weapons uranium refining process of natural uranium (U). Natural U exists in soils throughout the world at an average concentration of three parts-per-million, equal to a tablespoon of uranium in a truckload of dirt.

While natural U, a radioactive mineral, contains a small amount of the isotope U-235, nuclear reactors and nuclear bombs require greater concentrations of U-235 to sustain a chain reaction. The process to concentrate the U-235 is called enrichment; the waste generated from this process is called DU. DU is 40% less radioactive than natural uranium; it "typically contains about 99.8% U-238, 0.2% U-235 and 0.0006% U-234 by mass." (World Health Organization, "Depleted Uranium: Sources, Exposure and Health Effects," Executive Summary, April 2001, p. 1).

DU, the isotope U-238, a mostly low-level radioactive material, has a radioactive half-life of 4.5 billion years. U-238 has a uranium decay chain of daughter isotopes that emit alpha, beta, and gamma radiation. After 15 decays, the chain ends with stable lead-206. DU is a highly toxic and radioactive waste that must be contained, monitored, and managed as such.

DU has accumulated in huge quantities since the dawn of the nuclear age. It is estimated that there are over two million tons of DU in the world today.

DU is radioactive waste that would cost the U.S. Department of Energy billions of dollars to manage in nuclear waste storage dumps. It is now provided free of charge to the military and to private industry. The U.S. Army Environmental Policy Institute says:

In addition to military weapons systems, DU is used commercially in medicine, aviation, space and petroleum exploration. Particular applications include radiation shielding for the medical field and industry; counterweight components of aircraft elevators, landing gear, rotor blades and radar antennae; ballast in satellites, missiles and other crafts; and drilling equipment used in petroleum exploration.

From 1969 through 1984, the Boeing Aircraft Company used DU as counterweights on its Boeing 747 commercial aircraft, primarily on the upper rudder and on the horizontal stabilizer elevators. Each aircraft contains approximately 1,000 pounds of DU. In 1984, Boeing began using tungsten counterweights. Nevertheless, DU counterweights remain in place on approximately 550 Boeing 747 aircraft.

When alloyed in military applications, DU is often used in armor penetrators. DU has been used in Army systems for many years and the Army has developed, tested, and fielded a number of weapons systems containing DU. The U.S. is not alone. The U.S. Army Environmental Policy Institute reports that,

The United Kingdom, Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Thailand, Israel, France and others have developed or are developing DU-containing weapons systems for their inventories. Additionally, DU munitions are sold in the world arms market.

Indeed, Defense Trade News reported in 1992 that legislation in the U.S. made it permissible to sell the M-833 or comparable anti-tank shells containing DU penetrators, as well as individual DU penetrators, to these NATO countries: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. Major non-NATO allies included were Australia, Egypt, Israel, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan.

In 1994, President Bill Clinton signed a presidential order (1994 Export Financing and Related Programs Appropriation Act) providing export financing of DU to other governments. It reads:

I hereby determine that it is in the national security interest of the United States to allow funds provided in that Act or any other Act to be made available to facilitate the sale of the M-833 depleted uranium anti-tank ammunition to Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, and M-829 depleted uranium anti-tank ammunition to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

How is it possible that DU can be sold on the world’s arms market? This information comes from the U.S. International Security and Development Cooperation Act of 1980:

… upon a finding that an export of uranium depleted in the isotope 235 is incorporated in defense articles or commodities solely to take advantage of the high density or pyrophoric characteristics unrelated to its radioactivity, such export shall be exempt from the provisions of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 (42 U.S.C. 2001 et seq.) and of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Act of 1978 (22 U.S.C. 3201 et seq.) when such exports are subject to the controls established under the Arms Export Control Act

(22 U.S.C. 2751 et seq.) or the Export Administration Act of 1979 (50 App. U.S.C. 2401 et seq.).

Health Hazards

There are severe health hazards associated with exposure, inhalation, or ingestion of DU. A 1995 article in the International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology included this information on DU health hazards in the 1991 Gulf War:

Depleted Uranium particles can be inhaled easily in smoke resulting from the impact of armor-piercing projectiles on hard targets and the aerosolization of uranium into small particles. If even one small particle (< 5 microns in diameter 5-millionths of a meter the size of cigarette ash) is trapped in the lungs, surrounding tissues can be exposed up to 272 times the maximum permitted dose for workers in the radiation industry.

As it decays, DU emits alpha, beta, and gamma radiation. An understanding of how DU’s emissions may harm human health can be drawn from existing knowledge of how radiation in general causes health effects. The Institute of Medicine explains radiation’s health effects in its report, "Potential Radiation Exposure in Military Operations":

Ionization and other radiation-induced effects, such as excitation and free radical formation, cause chemical changes in components of the living cell, including chemicals, such as deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), the genetic material that is located in the chromosomes within the cell nucleus. Alpha radiation colliding with atoms gives up its energy in a very short distance, such as the thinness of a piece of paper, less than the thickness of the skin, or a few centimeters of air. Consequently, alpha particles emitted by radioactive materials are not likely to be harmful when striking the outside of the human body that is protected by clothing and the outermost dead layer of skin. However, when the same alpha-emitting radionuclides are taken into the body their emission can directly irradiate nearby cells of tissue in which they are deposited and may cause cellular changes. Such changes may result in adverse health effects in the short and long term, depending on the nature of the changes.

In comparison to alpha radiation, fast-moving electrons, which are known as beta particles, have much smaller mass and electric charge, are more deeply penetrating, and dissipate their energy over a larger volume of tissue. Even high-energy beta particles, however, will transfer most of their energy and come to a stop within about 1-centimeter of plastic, 1 to 2 centimeters of tissue, or 4 to 5 meters of air. Therefore, beta particles that strike the outside of the body will penetrate only a short distance, but they may travel far enough to damage the actively dividing cells of the skin. Beta-emitting radionuclides may be found in contamination consisting of fission products from a nuclear detonation or resulting from the dispersion of nuclear reactor waste or radiotherapy sources. Gamma rays and x-rays, which are emitted from radionuclides as well as produced by machines, are the most penetrating form of ionizing radiation and consist of electromagnetic energy. While randomly colliding with electrons in the body along a scattered path length, gamma rays may give up all or part of their energy in the tissue or, although it is unlikely, they may pass all the way through the body, without interacting. Therefore exposure to gamma rays are most commonly encountered in the use of radiation-producing equipment used in medical applications (including those in combat medical facilities).

Dr. Marvin Resnikoff, a noted particle physicist, writes:

Once inhaled, fine uranium particles can lodge in the lung alveoli and reside there for the remainder of one’s life. The dose due to uranium inhalation is cumulative. A percentage of inhaled particles may be coughed up, then swallowed and ingested. Smoking is an additional factor that needs to be taken into account. Since smoking destroys the cilia, particles caught in a smoker’s bronchial passage cannot be expelled. Gofman estimates that smoking increases the radiation risk by a factor of 10.

Uranium emits an alpha particle, similar to helium nucleus, with two electrons removed. Thus, alpha radiation is a heavy particle with a double positive charge. Though this type of radiation is not very penetrating, it causes tremendous tissue damage when internalized. When inhaled, uranium increases the probability of lung cancer. When ingested, uranium concentrates in the bones. Within the bone, it increases the probability of bone cancer, or, in the bone marrow, leukemia. Uranium also resides in the soft tissue, including the gonads, increasing the probability of genetic health effects, including birth defects and spontaneous abortions. The relationship between uranium inhaled or ingested and the resultant radiation doses to bone marrow and specific organs (dose conversion factors) are listed in numerous references.


Shortly after the Gulf War, a report by the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) expressed concern about DU contamination in Kuwait:

It would be unwise for people to stay close to large quantities of DU for long periods and this would obviously be of concern to the local population if they collect this heavy metal and keep it. There will be specific areas in which many rounds will have been fired where localized contamination of vehicles and the soil may exceed permissible limits and these could be hazardous to both clean-up teams and the local population. Furthermore, if DU gets into the food chain or water then this will create potential health problems.

A November 10, 1991 article in The Independent (London) reported on the potential health effects considering the amount of DU used in projectiles during the Gulf War:

The AEA said in April the best estimates were that the U.S. tanks fired 5,000 DU rounds, U.S. aircraft many tens of thousands of rounds, and British tanks "a small number." The tank ammunition alone would contain more than 50,000 pounds of DU enough radioactive material, on International Committee of Radiological Protection risk estimates, to cause 500,000 potential deaths, if it were inhaled the report says.

Radiation has an immediate effect on the immune system of humans when it is inhaled or ingested, this weakening of the immune system make the person more susceptible to diseases and illnesses. After the radiation weapons were used in Iraq the United Nations imposed an embargo or sanctions as they call them that prohibited medical supplies and other items that might be considered as dual use products. This left the Iraqi medical community without the proper medicine or medical equipment to treat their sick patients who were being exposed to ionizing radiation from the weaponry used against them. Illnesses such as leukemia only have a survival rate of 9% in Iraq whereas the usual survival rate with proper medical treatment is 70%. Many diseases that were considered rare before the war are now common and the motility rate is extremely high for the treatable diseases.

Over 1.5 million Iraqi people have died of unnatural causes since the 1991 Gulf War, over one-third of them children under the age of five. Many of these deaths have been attributed to leukemia, cancers, and rare childhood diseases. In bombing Iraq and Kuwait, the U.S. and Great Britain used more that 320 tons of DU in solid-core ammunition alone. How much additional DU was expended in warheads and other explosive methods is unknown outside the Pentagon.

Iraqi medical scientists have studied the health effects of DU in the Iraqi population. Dr. Selma A.H. Ai-Taha, a geneticist, explains the results of her survey of clinic patients for a chromosomal study:


In this study, those types of abnormalities that show increases are ambiguous genitalia, skeletal, chromosomal trisomies, anencephaly and hydrocephalus, and eye abnormalities. Such increases are perhaps due to the effects of depleted uranium used in manufacturing of shells that were thrown on Iraq. Other studies done in the post-war period have shown increases in skeletal malformation especially limb abnormalities as compared to results obtained from the pre-war period. Limb reduction abnormalities (phocomelia) have not been reported in the pre-war period studies, but this study as well as others (1994) have shown the occurrence of such cases in their results. Such abnormalities were originally reported in the early 1950s where some mothers consuming some sedatives and antiemetics (Thalidomide) delivered babies with phocomelia but such causes are no longer existing nowadays.

Origins of the Dirty Bomb

How did it all begin? Albert Speer, author of Inside the Third Reich and former Nazi Munitions Minister, makes this statement concerning the shortage of ammunition material in Nazi Germany and the subsequent use of their uranium stock as solid-core ammunition:

In the summer of 1943, wolframite imports from Portugal were cut off, which created a critical situation for the production of solid-core ammunition. I thereupon ordered the use of uranium cores for this type of ammunition. My release of our uranium stocks of about twelve hundred metric tons showed that we no longer had any thoughts of producing atomic bombs.

For the first time in history, solid-core ammunition made of radioactive material was used in military combat.

In a secret U.S. War Department memorandum dated October 30, 1943, Colonel KD Nichols sent to Brigadier General LR Groves a proposal for research into the "Use of Radioactive Materials as a Military Weapon." According to Nichols, the possible military uses of radioactive materials against enemy personnel would be:

As a gas warfare instrument. The material would be ground into particles of microscopic size and would be distributed in the form of a dust or smoke or dissolved in liquid, by ground-fired projectiles, land vehicles, airplanes, or aerial bombs. In this form, it would be inhaled by personnel.

The proposal also asked that the department "make theoretical studies pertaining to the methods, means and equipment for disseminating radioactive materials as a weapon of warfare."

Ten years after World War II, the 280-mm howitzer nuclear projectile appeared in West Germany. S.T. Cohen, author of "Enhanced Radiation Warheads: Setting the Record Straight," in Strategic Review, comments on this nuclear warhead:

Although the Little Boy did not enter the war in Europe during World War II, less than ten years after Nazi Germany was defeated a very similar weapon made its debut in West Germany. This was in the form of a projectile for the U.S. Army’s 280-mm howitzer. Designed as a battlefield weapon (albeit a cumbersome one), had it been employed to help blunt a

Soviet-Warsaw Pact armored attack against NATO, for the above reasons it would have been essentially an antipersonnel device achieving its effects through prompt nuclear radiation. It is worth stressing that this warhead entered the arsenal approximately twenty-five years ago, at a time when the biological effects of radiation were sufficiently well understood to allow anyone to make the deduction that it was an antipersonnel weapon.

Cohen goes on to say:

… today’s most effective conventional anti-tank weapons are designed to penetrate tank armor and produce effects which will kill or disable the tank crews. ... the bulk of NATO’s battlefield nuclear weapons (and perhaps also those of the Soviet Union) have their most extensive anti-tank effects in the form of nuclear radiation against tank crews.

Cohen has been involved in nuclear weapons development, military applications, and policy matters since 1944. His experience includes the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos, New Mexico, nuclear weapons planning with the U.S. Air Force, and nuclear policy consultation with the Office of Secretary of Defense. In 1958, he performed the study that led to the formation of the enhanced radiation warhead concept, which he describes in brief:

During the last year, a major international debate has flared over the issue of development and deployment of enhanced radiation [ER] weapons. Misunderstanding has been rife with regard to the effects of these devices. Since the advent of nuclear weapons, a major emphasis has been on designing large-yield devices rather than "clean" low-yield and discriminating tactical nuclear weapons which could reduce unintended damage. ER weapons have the desirable advantage for NATO of making it possible to attack military targets without causing widespread structural damage. The outcry against ER tends to be based on erroneous assumptions and/or emotion. The addition of more discriminating weapons including ER weapons to the NATO arsenal will be a step towards a more credible tactical nuclear posture for the Alliance.

Stephen M. Younger, associate director for nuclear weapons at Los Alamos National Laboratory, has called for so-called "lower yield" warheads to be combined with precision delivery systems. In "Nuclear Weapons in the Twenty-first Century," a piece he wrote for Los Alamos National Laboratory, June 27, 2000, he recommends, "… tailored output weapons that produce enhanced radiation for the destruction of chemical or biological weapons with minimum collateral damage."

Human Radiation Experiments

To better understand the deadly effects of radiation weapons, the U.S. government did extensive experiments on human beings, as well as pigs and other animals. Between 1944 and May 1974, the government exposed U.S. citizens to radiation in a variety of biomedical experiments. The details, or in some cases even the existence of these experiments and deliberate radiation releases were not publicized. Many of the subjects, some of whom were from vulnerable populations such as children, the mentally ill, pregnant women, and the elderly, were not aware of the purposes and risks of being exposed to radiation. Experiments on individuals involving intentional exposure to ionizing radiation, and

… experiments involving intentional environmental releases of radiation … (A) were designed to test human health effects of ionizing radiation; or (B) were designed to test the extent of human exposure to ionizing radiation.

On October 21, 1994, the "Interim Report of the Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiment" was released. The committee was appointed by then President Clinton to investigate the intentional releases of radioactive materials into populated areas prior to 1963 and other human radiation experiments conducted throughout the United States. The committee’s final report said, in part, "These releases were generally related to radiation warfare tests, the gathering of intelligence, and the development of instruments."

The U.S. government deliberately dropped radioactive material from planes or released it on the ground in New Mexico and other states a dozen times after World War II. One radiation cloud was tracked 70 miles downwind from Los Alamos to Watrous.

The tests released lanthanum-140, uranium, and strontium. The tests were part of a series of 250 open-air explosions conducted at the Los Alamos National Laboratory from 1944 to 1961 at Bayo Canyon. All 250 tests released radiation at levels far greater than would be allowed today.

A secret 1947 memorandum from the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission signed by Colonel O.G. Haywood had this openly self-incriminating statement about medical experiments on human beings:

It is desired that no document be released which refers to experiments with humans and might have adverse effects on public opinion or result in legal suits. Documents covering such work field should be classified "secret".

In the 1950s, weapons containing DU began being tested, developed, manufactured, and stored across the U.S. One such test site is Socorro, New Mexico, home to the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (NMIMT), a publicly supported state university, where DU open-air testing began in 1972. The DU work is carried out by one of the school’s divisions, the Energetic Materials Research and Technology Center (EMRTC), formerly known as the Terminal Effects Research and Analysis (TERA) facility.

Among TERA’s experience with gun-fire test programs are a variety of armor-penetrator experiments with different materials and designs, including a variety of heavy metals, pyrophoric metals, steel, copper, and other metals in such forms as flechettes, tubes, rods, and spheres. Experimental work has also included such programs as vulnerability studies of various types of munitions to gun-fired fragment impacts, proximity-fuse testing, tracer time studies, aerial bomb ricochet studies using gun-fired simulations, evaluation tests of prototype gun systems, and numerous tests of target vulnerability to different gun-fired projectiles.

The EMRTC test site is atop Socorro Mountain, a spot where water wells supply drinking water for the city of Socorro. The 8,000-member community is less then two miles downgrade and downwind from the test site. An unusual number of hydrocephalus cases appeared during the 1980s in Socorro. Three out of New Mexico’s 19 cases of hydrocephalus recorded between 1984 and 1988 occurred in Socorro.

A 1984 Uranium Traffic special report on "Uranium Bullets" had this to say about the deadliness of the DU bullets and the new flechette cartridge:

DU bullets are soft enough that when they hit human flesh they spread out, thus entering at a tiny point but leaving a big hole on the other side. The military refers to this effect as an "explosive type wound." In order to enhance the damage done bullets have been made out of 2 cm. long needle-like darts or arrows, complete with fins, called flechettes. The flechettes curls over into a hook shape on impact, thus maximizing the explosive effects, and may have a split tip to further increase wounding power. They may be made out of steel, DU, or other metals. (Dr. M. Lunsden, Anti-personnel Weapons, 1978, p. 299). Flechettes are used in rockets and rifle and shotgun shells; Flechette cartridges have been made for the American M-14 7.62mm rifle and the M-16 5.56mm rifle. This type of ammunition has also been made for pistols by a French manufacturer. (E. C. Ezell, Small Arms of the World, 1977, p. 671).

DU containing weapons continue to be manufactured, tested, and used on battlefields around the world today. The cost involved in removing the topsoil from contaminated areas could be astronomical. As an example:

The cost of cleaning up the estimated 152,000 pounds of DU on 500 acres of the recently-closed Jefferson Proving Ground in Indiana has been placed at $4 to $5 billion. The cost of cleaning up 600,000 pounds of DU spread over hundreds of square miles in Kuwait, and Iraq could therefore easily run into the tens of billions of dollars.

The Institute of Medicine reported that during Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm, the U.S. Army Foreign Service and Technology Center warned of the possibility that,

… conventional explosives could be used by threat force to disseminate radioactive materials (e.g., from reactor waste or radium and radioactive isotopes of cesium and cobalt from radiotherapy sources) on the battlefield.

A July 1990 report prepared for the U.S. Army warned:

Assuming U.S. regulatory standards and health physics practices are followed, it is likely that some form of remedial action will be required in a DU post-combat environment.

However, once the scale and cost of cleaning up DU in the Persian Gulf region became clear, the U.S. Army Environmental Policy Institute informed U.S. policy makers that "no international law, treaty, regulation, or custom requires the U.S. to remediate the Persian Gulf War battlefields." Former Navy officer Dan Fahey says:

As the most powerful nation in the world today, the United States established a standard of behavior in the Gulf War which allows nations and armed forces to use depleted uranium weapons without taking any responsibility for cleanup, environmental restoration, or provision of health care to exposed combatants or civilians.

Depleted Uranium and the Law

U.S. soldiers were not informed that they were using weapons containing DU until two weeks after the Gulf War ended. Over 250,000 returning U.S. Gulf War troops have reported to veterans’ hospitals asking for medical help for a variety of undiagnosed ailments that have collectively become known as the Gulf War Syndrome.

At its 48th session, the UN Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, in its resolution 1996/16 of August 29, 1996, writes:

Concerned at the alleged use of weapons of mass or indiscriminate destruction both against members of the armed forces and against civilian populations, resulting in death, misery and disability, and concerned also at repeated reports on the long-term consequences of the use of such weapons upon human life and health and upon the environment, urges all states to be guided in their national policies by the need to curb the production and spread of weapons of mass destruction or with indiscriminate effect, in particular, nuclear weapons, chemical weapons, fuel-air bombs, napalm, cluster bombs, biological weaponry and weaponry containing depleted uranium.

British human rights attorney Karen Parker submitted the following to the UN Sub-Commission:


The laws and customs of war include all treaties governing military operations, weapons and protection of victims as well as all customary international law on these subjects. In other words, in evaluating whether a particular weapon is legal or illegal when there is not a specific treaty, the whole of humanitarian law must be consulted. There are four rules derived from the whole of humanitarian law regarding weapons:

(1) Weapons may only be used in the legal field of battle, defined as legal military targets of the enemy in the war. Weapons may not have an adverse effect off the legal field of battle. (The "territorial" test).

(2) Weapons can only be used for the duration of an armed conflict. A weapon that is used or continues to act after the war is over violates these criteria. (The "temporal" test).

(3) Weapons may not be unduly inhumane. (The "humane-ness" test).

(4) Weapons may not have an unduly negative effect on the natural environment. (The "environmental" test).

DU weaponry fails all four tests. (1) [DU] cannot be "contained" to legal fields of battle and thus fails the territorial test. (2) [DU] continues to act after hostilities are over and thus fails the temporal test. (3) [DU] is inhumane and thus fails the humanness test. DU is inhumane because of how it can kill by cancer, kidney disease, etc. long after the hostilities are over. DU is inhumane because it causes birth (genetic) defects thus affecting children (who may never be a military target) and who are born after the war is over. The use of DU weapons may be characterized as genocidal by burdening gene pools of future generations. (4) DU cannot be used without unduly damaging the natural environment and thus fails the environment test.


The use of DU weapons in combat is a violation of the Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocols. The applicable provisions are: the grave breaches provisions of the Geneva Convention; Article 147 of the Forth Geneva Convention describes grave breach as "willful killing"; "torture or inhuman treatment, including biological experiments"; willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health". Article 85(3) of Additional Protocol 1 also contains grave breaches relating to the conduct of hostilities known as The Hague Regulations. They are: making the civilian population or individual civilians objects of the attack; launching an indiscriminate attack affecting the civilian population or civilian objects in the knowledge that such attack will cause excessive loss of life; injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects.

In a 1996 advisory opinion, the International Court of Justice affirmed that under humanitarian law, States must "… never use weapons that are incapable of distinguishing between civilian and military targets."

The UN Sub-commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities is preparing a report on weapons containing DU due at the August 2003 session with Justice Sik Yuen from Mauritius as Special Rapporteur. Sik Yuen submitted a report in 2002. He was subsequently voted off the Sub-commission it was because he would submit the report that the US/UK fought against his re-election to the Sub-commission. He in fact was not re-elected to the Sub-commission (vote at 2002 Commission) but, to the consternation of the U.S., submitted his report anyway. And the 2002 Sub-commission voted to have him do a follow-up (due 2003) in spite of the fact that he was no longer on the Sub-commission. This report was originally to be completed in 1998 but the Rappateur assigned to present that report was absent. The report was again scheduled for presentation in 1999, 2000, and 2001 and in each case the Rappateur assigned the responsibility of presenting the report was either absent or not prepared. Now it is scheduled for 2003.

Pentagon Denials Face Officers Breaking Ranks

Dr. Doug Rokke, who served as a lieutenant with the U.S. Army Preventative Medicine Command, led the army team that was assigned to clean up contaminated vehicles hit by "friendly" DU rounds during the 1991 bombardment of the Persian Gulf. Dr. Rokke had this to say about DU weapons:

There can be no reasonable doubt about this: As a result of the heavy metal and radiological poison of DU, people in southern Iraq are experiencing respiratory problems, breathing problems, kidney problems and cancers. Members of my own team have died or are dying from cancer. There were two memorandums that came to us in March of 1991 as we started the cleanup of the contaminated equipment and the casualties in the Gulf. One memo was known as the Los Alamos memorandum.

The Los Alamos memorandum, written by Lt. Colonel. M. V. Ziehmn, says in part:

… there has been and continues to be a concern regarding the impact of DU on the environment. Therefore, if no one makes a case for the effectiveness of DU on the battlefield, DU rounds may become politically unacceptable and thus, be deleted from the arsenal. ... Keep this sensitive issue in mind when after action reports are written.

Dr. Rokke’s response to the memo was:

The Los Alamos memorandum specifically gave us guidance that said when we are writing a report, or reporting our findings, make sure that we don’t disrupt the future use of depleted uranium munitions.

On January 24, 2000, Gary Sheftick reported on a NATO DU Press Conference for the Army News Service. His article, entitled: "Expert dispels myth about depleted uranium," said in part:

Depleted uranium could not have caused leukemia in allied troops who served in Kosovo, according to a U.S. Army medical expert. Col. Eric Daxon, the DU consultant to the Army Surgeon General, was in Europe last week to convince NATO officials that there’s no link between depleted uranium munitions and leukemia.

It’s been less than two years since the Kosovo air campaign. And DU is actually 40 percent less radioactive than uranium found in the natural environment, he said. Daxon, who holds a doctorate in radiation hygiene from the University of Pittsburgh and a master’s degree in nuclear engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is making it his business to dispel myths about the dangers of depleted uranium. He said the false link between DU and leukemia began with a report issued in Iraq two years ago.

"If you read the (Iraqi) report, it’s just not scientifically valid," Daxon said. He pointed to studies by the National Academy of Sciences that show no evidence of an increase in leukemia due to uranium exposure. Other studies show the incidence of leukemia in soldiers deployed to the Gulf is actually the same as those not deployed, he said. But the Iraqi report has been cited by some to try and link DU ammunitions used in Kosovo to leukemia in allied soldiers there, Daxon said. "Science just doesn’t support it," Daxon said. "I cannot understand from a scientific medical point of view what the furor is over this safe, effective material," he said. "It leads me to believe that this is a purposeful disinformation campaign."

"It’s tactically a significant advantage," to use DU instead of tungsten in armor-piercing rounds, Daxon said. M-1 Abrams rounds with DU can effectively engage targets at 3,000 meters, he said, adding that Tungsten rounds fired by the Iraqis in the Gulf War were only effective at about 2,000 meters. (Tungsten is another heavy metal used in armor-piercing munitions, but it’s lighter than depleted uranium.)

"A lot of this misinformation ... is the stringing together of true statements," Daxon said, explaining that the propaganda takes facts out of context and makes illogical conclusions.

"These misperceptions are actually hurting our soldiers and families," Daxon said. That’s why he’s making it his business to debunk the myths about DU health risks.

A year later, a NATO press conference took place on the use of DU munitions in the Balkans, NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson said in part:

The North Atlantic Council, at its regular meeting today, gave special consideration to the possible environmental health risks associated with the use of depleted uranium munitions in the Balkans. Allies are committed to ensuring the health and safety of their servicemen and servicewomen and to avoiding any ill-effects for the civil population and personnel or non-governmental organizations as a result of NATO military operations. The Council noted in this context that there is no evidence currently available to suggest that exposure to expended depleted uranium munitions represents a significant health risk for NATO-led forces or the civil population in the Balkans.

Brent Scowcroft, former National Security Advisor under President George H.W. Bush, spoke on a British documentary titled "Riding the Storm," which aired January 3, 1996, Skowcroft said,

Depleted uranium is more of a problem than we thought when it was developed. But it was developed according to standards and was thought through very carefully. It turned out, perhaps, to be wrong.

DU Spiked with Plutonium and other Fission Products

Recent revelations about the radioactivity of DU are disturbing. Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology discovered that DU munitions used in Kosovo were contaminated with uranium-236, an isotope of uranium not found in natural uranium ore. Numerous medical scientists have found traces of U-236 in the urine of Gulf War veterans. This means that some DU cannot be naturally occurring uranium with the fissionable U-235 removed from it, as the U.S. government had claimed until recently.

U-236 is created only inside nuclear reactors, a product of the fission process there is no other source. Some of the DU being used has come from reprocessed reactor fuel. The Pentagon, NATO, and the British Ministry of Defense have always downplayed the danger of DU, saying it was "less radioactive than uranium ore." But at least half of the DU (250,000 metric tons) is now known to have been left over from the reprocessing of irradiated reactor fuel (done to extract weapons-grade plutonium), leaving it salted with fission products. See Table 1, titled "Reprocessed Nuclear Reactor Waste Products" for details on this nuclear waste that has been added to the DU (250,000 metric tons) available to weapons manufactures..

That extremely carcinogenic substances were used by the U.S. armed forces was officially acknowledged in February 2001 at a NATO press conference which revealed that

...shells used in the 1999 Kosovo conflict were tainted with traces of plutonium, neptunium and americium byproducts of nuclear reactors that are much more radioactive than depleted uranium.

In a January 2000 letter, the U.S. Department of Energy’s David Michaels said, "One may normally expect that depleted uranium contains a trace amount of plutonium."


The fission products (See Table 1) created inside nuclear reactors are known to be mixed with the uranium-238 used in DU munitions. Three hundred and twenty tons of DU ammunition was shot into Iraq and Kuwait in the 1991 bombardment, how much DU was used in other weapons systems against Iraq is now known outside the pentagon; three tons into Bosnia in 1995; and ten tons into Kosovo in 1999. Out of the roughly 720,000 tons of DU available to weapons merchants, some 250,000 tons is now known to be spiked with these extremely radioactive isotopes.


The U.S. War Department has had the clear intent to use radioactive

material in military weapons to poison enemy personnel, this declared intent goes back to the1943 memorandum "Use of Radioactive Material as a Military Weapon" to General L.R. Grove. The memorandum stated that one of the possible military uses of radioactive materials against enemy personnel would be as a gas warfare instrument. The material would be ground into particles of microscopic size and would be distributed in the form of dust or smoke by ground-fired projectiles, land vehicles, airplanes, or aerial bombs. In this form, it would be inhaled by personal. It could also be dissolved in liquid. This goal has come to fruition.

In 1990 the U.S. Army Foreign Service and Technology Center warned prior to the Gulf War of the possibility that, conventional explosives could be used by threat force to disseminate radioactive materials (e.g., from reactor waste or radium and radioactive isotopes of cesium and cobalt from radiotherapy sources) on the battlefield. It is estimated that over 800 tons of DU has been dumped on Iraq and Kuwait. Iraqi medical scientist have found levels of radiation that are unacceptable by international standards in their drinking water, vegetables and meat especially in southern Iraq and in the Tigrus river. In the U.S. officials have conducted many studies that clearly show that DU enters the food chain and contaminates water.

The facts are straightforward. DU (radioactive waste) is an anti-personnel weapon that is designed to cause superfluous injury and unnecessary suffering. Provisions of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 and from the Nuclear Non- proliferation Act of 1978 are being subverted by the U.S. by simply saying that they are not using the uranium for its radiation effects (which are poison) but for the heavy weight and pyrophoric qualities of DU. This material is clearly a dual use weapon, used for its heavy weight and to poisons personnel through inhalation and ingestion, causing illness and, in some cases, a lingering death. If we do not act soon to ban this radioactive material in military weapons, humans yet unborn are going to pay a fearsome price. Radiation from DU will affect the human gene pool, bequeathing to our descendants countless inherited defects. The World Health Organization should immediately begin health and environmental studies in Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the Balkans region.

Recommendations of the Authors

1. A ban on the use, development, production, transport, storage, and possession of DU weapons and DU armor-plating, as well as all other military uses of DU.

2. Medical treatment for all victims of DU.

3. A ban on the civilian use of DU because of potential accidental exposure to uranium or its compounds.

4. Decontamination of all military and civilian equipment contaminated by DU.

5. Decontamination of all territory contaminated by DU, not only theaters of war but military practice ranges and other areas where DU has been employed.

6. Conversion of the global stocks of DU from its presently insufficiently stable form of uranium hexafluoride approximately 2-3 million tons into a stable uranium oxide.

7. Prosecution of the military use of DU as a war crime (in accordance with Art. 85 - 3(b) GP 1; Art. 6b IMT Statute Art. 2(c), 3(a) and (b), ICTY Statute; Art. 8-2(b), Statute of Rome).

8. Eradication of consequential damage caused by DU use according to customary liability principals of international (humanitarian) law.

9. Establishment of an international center for the study of DU problems worldwide.

About the Authors

Dr. Albrecht Schott

Director of the World Depleted Uranium Centre (WoDUC) in Berlin, Germany. He is a chemist working in basic medicine. Professor Schott is a retired chemist who worked at the Free University of Berlin, WoDUC is a scientific NGO focused on basic DU research, diagnosis, and treatment of DU-poisoned persons and land decontamination procedures. According to literature, Dr. Schott was the first to select 20 European Gulf War veterans suited to Chromosomal Aberration Analysis, to take blood samples and to find an independent qualified institute to carry out this analysis. The results are to be published. Co-operation for the development of land decontamination procedures is underway.

Dr. Schott published in April 2000 the "Resolution on the Banning of DU." Together with Mr. Lopez, he invites anti-DU/Atom NGOs and peace/humanitarian organizations to join this resolution. It has been sent to governments/MoDs worldwide and to the UN. Twelve international DU-conferences voted for it; some 1,000 signatures have been collected. It is translated into dozens of languages. WoDUC cooperates with scientists involved in DU-research. Together with Mr. Lopez and UK Gulf War veteran Ray Bristow, Schott plans an Expert Conference of the extremely complicated DU action on humans and the environment (complicated further by the consequences of novel, untested military vaccinations and the special 1991 battlefield conditions in the Arab desert). Dr. Schott first became involved in DU when Prof. Siegwart-Horst Günther was forced by a court to be examined in a psychiatric clinic. Schott was consulted to prevent Günther being detained there. (Prof. Günther is the author of Uranium Projectiles: Severely Maimed Soldiers, Deformed Babies, Dying Children, 2000, Ahriman-Verlag, Freiburg, Gr.) Dr. Schott can be reached at albrecht_schott@nexgo.de

Mr. Damacio A. Lopez

Executive Director of IDUST (International DU Study Team), a non-governmental organization of researchers, activists, soldiers, doctors and scientists throughout the world dedicated to immediately stopping the use of DU in military weapons. Through coalition and alliances with other organizations, IDUST works to inform and coordinate community advocacy efforts around the globe to stop the proliferation and use of weapons containing DU. IDUST promotes health studies and medical care for soldiers and civilians exposed to DU, the clean up and remediation of contaminated sites, and the abolition of DU in military weapons. IDUST joins the World Depleted Uranium Center in the campaign to ban DU in military and civilian applications.

Mr. Lopez first became involved in DU research in 1985 when he organized Socorro residents in the investigation of potential health risks associated with nearby explosive testing of DU weaponry at New Mexico Tech. He has authored and co-authored many respected works, including: "Friendly Fire, the Link Between Depleted Uranium Munitions and Human Health Risk,"1994; "Uranium Battlefields Home and Abroad: Depleted Uranium Use by the U.S. Department of Defense,"1993; and "Progress on the Persian War Illness: Reality and Hypotheses,"1995, published by the International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology. Mr. Lopez served as a consultant to the United Nations Sub-Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland in 1997. Mr. Lopez can be reached at idust@sdc.org.

John M. LaForge

Co-director of Nukewatch, a peace and environmental action group based in Wisconsin, and editor of its quarterly newsletter The Pathfinder. His articles on militarism, nuclear weapons, reactors, and radioactive waste have appeared in The Progressive, Z Magazine, Earth Island Journal, Utne Reader, the Minneapolis StarTribune and Peace News. Nukewatch is a grassroots organization that employs Gandhian nonviolence to confront the nuclear industry and to critique, protest, and abolish nuclear power and weapons. Mr. LaForge was a member of the 2001 Gorleben International Peace Team, a group of human rights monitors that observed and documented police behavior during the November 2001 shipment of high-level radioactive waste across Wendland, Germany. Mr. LaForge can be reached at nukewatch@lakeland.ws.

Table 1

Reprocessed Nuclear Reactor Waste Products









432.2 yr.

alpha & gamma

bone & lung

Created only in reactors when uranium is bombarded with neutrons


7,370 yr.

alpha & gamma

bone & lung

Created only in reactors; Decays to the more radioactive Pu-239


2,140,000 yr.

alpha & gamma

Created only in reactors


2.35 days

beta & gamma


Created only in reactors; decays to plutonium-239


24 million years

alpha, gamma

kidneys, lung, liver

Created only in reactors


4.5 billion yr.


kidneys, lung, liver



24,110 yr.


lymph, liver, lung, gonads & bone

Created only in reactors; 200,000 times more radio-active than U-238


88 yr.


lymph, liver, lung, gonads & bone

Created only in reactors (300 X as radioactive as Pu-239)

Sources: Plutonium: Deadly Gold of the Nuclear Age, by IPPNW & IEER, 1992, International Physicians Press, Cambridge; Low-Level Radiation and Immune System Damage: An Atomic Era Legacy, by Joseph J. Mangano, 1999, Lewis Publishers, New York; The Menace of Atomic Energy, by Ralph Nader & John Abbotts, 1979, WW Norton, New York; No Immediate Danger: Prognosis for a Radioactive Earth, by Rosalie Bertell, 1985, The Women’s Press; "The Yellow Pages," 4th Ed., 1994, by Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, Takoma Park, MD; "After the Dust Settles" by Steve Fetter & Frank von Hippel, The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Dec. 1999; "Groundswell," Nuclear Information & Resource Service, Spring 1989, p.1.

[For detailed notes and references, please contact the authors.]

* * * * * * * * *

People for Peace, Justice, and Healing
is grateful to Dr. David Sparling for making this material available.

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