By Robert C. Koehler
image above: An example of the damage done by depleted uranium shells on armour plating.
WN: Below is another form of blowback we keep hearing about, but it is consistently denied by militaries . . . What do you think?
It’s time to listen for a moment not to defense analysts briefing officers, poles or pundits, but to people like Jooma Khan, a grandfather who lives in a village in Laghman Province, in northeastern Afghanistan, who is quoted above. Surely he deserves 30 seconds of our undivided attention. “When I saw my deformed grandson,” he told an interviewer in March of 2003, “I realized that my hopes of the future have vanished for good. (This is) different from the hopelessness of the Russian barbarism, even though at that time I lost my older son Shafiqullah. This time, however, I know we are part of the invisible genocide brought on us by America, a silent death from which I know we will not escape.”
We’re waging war-plus in Afghanistan and Iraq – in effect, nuclear war, with our widespread use of depleted-uranium-tipped shells and missiles. This is no secret. DU, with its extraordinary penetrating power and explode-on-impact capability, helps assure our military dominance everywhere we go. But people like Jooma Khan and his grandson reap its toxic legacy.
So, of course, do our own troops.
Please click on: Silent Genocide
Please also see: Depleted Uranium: The True Price (fringemedia.net), by fringemedia.net.
The military has always maintained that ammunitions made from depleted uranium are completed safe and do not present a significant health hazard. Ammunitions are made from depleted uranium as it is much denser than lead and as a consequence has far greater armour piercing capabilities. Also uranium behaves quite differently when piercing the armour itself. Rather than the projectile becoming rounded as it enters the armour as happens with lead, uranium actually sharpens which increases its overall armour piercing capabilities. It is because of this that ammunitions containing depleted uranium gives the military using it a huge advantage as it significantly increases the range at which it can take out enemy armoured vehicles.
It is recognised that of the 697,000 U.S. veterans who served in the 1991 Gulf War, some 250,000 have been afflicted with what has become known as Gulf War Syndrome (Wikipedia – Gulf War Syndrome). The medical conditions the veterans suffer from range from the serious to the chronic. However authorities in the U.S. refuse to acknowledge that depleted uranium is the cause of Gulf War Syndrome but instead have attempted to blame oil well fires and anthrax vaccines administered to troops. The official verdict on depleted uranium is that it is completely safe and does not represent a significant radiological hazard.
When depleted uranium ammunition penetrates the armour of a tank it is often already molten and the molten metal instantly fills the inner compartment of the tank causing a fire which can then result in an explosion. As a result of the vaporisation of the depleted uranium a microscopic powder containing uranium-238 and traces of uranium-235 is formed. This microscopic powder can be blown around by the wind and can hence be breathed in. This radioactive dust has been detected on the surface of the remains of burnt out armoured vehicles in Iraq with Geiger counters even many years after the war has ended. The uranium dust can also be moved around by water and ultimately ends up in the water table contaminating the water supply and it is this that is said to be the cause of the significant increase in birth defects in the city of Fallujah, Iraq.
Civilians in Afghanistan have been tested and shown to have raised levels of depleted uranium in their systems which are far in excess of what would normally be expected. These same civilians also have symptoms comparable to Gulf War Syndrome (BBC News – Afghans’ uranium levels spark alert).
The use of depleted uranium ammunitions has also been linked to a 40% fall in the sperm counts of Israeli men over a ten year period up until 2008 (Israel’s Declining Sperm Quality Tied To Depleted Uranium Exposure). The Israeli military in its offences against Gaza have used weapons containing depleted uranium. The suggestion is that microscopic powder containing uranium have been formed which have then blown over Israeli population lowering the sperm count.
Once depleted uranium gets into the environment it contaminates the entire area for thousands of years to come. Windblown dust containing uranium will be breathed in and uranium will get into and contaminate the water supply. This ultimately significantly increases the cancer rate and the number of birth defects. The various cleanup operations conducted by the military in the area will only ever have a partial effect on the problem and there will always be some contaminating depleted uranium remaining. We have to ask ourselves if such a price is really worth paying for the sake of victory or whether such weapons should be banned for the benefit of the health and wellbeing of future generations?