by Sherwood Ross
Sherwood Ross is a Miami, Florida-based free-lance writer who covers
military and political topics.
Reach him at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Ross has worked as a reporter for the
Chicago Daily News and several wire services and is a contributor to
Sherwood Ross has worked in the civil rights movement
and as a reporter for major dailies and wire services.
By firing radioactive ammunition, the
U.S., U.K., and Israel may have triggered a nuclear holocaust in the
Middle East that, over time, will prove deadlier than the U.S.
atomic bombing of Japan.
So much ammunition containing depleted uranium (DU) has been fired,
asserts nuclear authority Leuren Moret,
"The genetic future of the Iraqi
people for the most part, is destroyed."
"More than ten times the amount of radiation released during
atmospheric testing (of nuclear bombs) has been released from
depleted uranium weaponry since 1991," Moret writes, including
radioactive ammunition fired by Israeli troops in Palestine.
Moret is an independent U.S. scientist
formerly employed for five years at the Lawrence Berkeley National
Laboratory and also at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory,
both of California.
Adds Arthur Bernklau, of Veterans For Constitutional Law,
"The long-term effect of DU is a
virtual death sentence. Iraq is a toxic wasteland. Anyone who is
there stands a good chance of coming down with cancer and
leukemia. In Iraq, the birth rate of mutations is totally out of
Moret, a Berkeley, Calif.,
Environmental Commissioner and past president of the
Association for Women Geoscientists, says,
"For every genetic defect that we
can see now, in future generations there are thousands more that
will be expressed."
"the (Iraq) environment now is
Dr. Helen Caldicott, the
prominent anti-nuclear crusader, has written:
"Much of the DU is in cities such as
Baghdad, where half the population of 5 million people are
children who played in the burned-out tanks and on the sandy,
"Children are 10 to 20 times more susceptible to the
carcinogenic effects of radiation than adults," Caldicott wrote.
"My pediatric colleagues in Basra,
where this ordnance was used in 1991, report a sevenfold
increase in childhood cancer and a sevenfold increase in gross
congenital abnormalities," she wrote in her book, "Nuclear Power
is not the Answer".
(The New Press).
Caldicott goes on to say the two Gulf
"have been nuclear wars because they
have scattered nuclear material across the land, and people -
particularly children - are condemned to die of malignancy and
congenital disease essentially for eternity."
Because of the extremely long half-life
of uranium 238, one of the radioactive elements in the shells fired,
"the food, the air, and the water in
the cradle of civilization have been forever contaminated,"
Uranium is a heavy metal that enters the
body via inhalation into the lung or via ingestion into the GI
tract. It is excreted by the kidney, where, if the dose is high
enough, it can induce renal failure or kidney cancer. It also lodges
in the bones where it causes bone cancer and leukemia, and it is
excreted in the semen, where it mutates genes in the sperm, leading
to birth deformities.
Nuclear contamination is spreading around the world, Caldicott adds,
with heaviest concentrations in regions within a 1,000-mile radius
of Baghdad and Afghanistan.
These are, notably, northern India, southern Russia, Turkey, Egypt,
Saudi Arabia, Tibet, Pakistan, Kuwait, the Gulf emirates, and
"Downwind from the radioactive
devastation in Iraq, Israel is also suffering from large
increases in breast cancer, leukemia and childhood diabetes,"
Doug Rokke, formerly the top U.S.
Army DU clean-up officer and now anti-DU crusader, says Israeli
tankers fired radioactive shells during the invasion of Lebanon last
year. U.S. and NATO forces also used DU ammunition in Kosovo. Rokke
says he is quite ill from the effects of DU and that members of his
clean-up crew have died from it.
As a result of DU bombardments, Caldicott writes,
"Severe birth defects have been
reported in babies born to contaminated civilians in Iraq,
Yugoslavia, and Afghanistan and the incidence and severity of
defects is increasing over time."
Like symptoms have been reported among
infants born to U.S. service personnel that fought in the Gulf Wars.
One survey of 251 returned Gulf War veterans from Mississippi made
by the Veterans Administration found 67% of children born to them
suffered from "severe illnesses and deformities."
Some were born without brains or vital organs or with no arms,
hands, or arms, or with hands attached to their shoulders.
While U.S. officials deny DU ammunition is dangerous, it is a fact
Gulf War veterans were the first Americans ever to fight on a
radioactive battlefield, and their children apparently are the first
known to display these ghastly deformities.
Soldiers who survived being hit by radioactive ammunition, as well
as those who fired it, are falling ill, often showing signs of
radiation sickness. Of the 700,000 U.S. veterans of the first Gulf
War, more than 240,000 are on permanent medical disability and
11,000 are dead, published reports indicate.
This is an astonishing toll from such a short conflict in which
fewer than 400 U.S. soldiers were killed on the battlefield.
"depleted uranium munitions were and
remain another causative factor behind Gulf War Syndrome
(GWS)," writes Francis Boyle, a leading American
authority on international law in his book "Biowarfare
"The Pentagon continues to deny that there is such a medical
phenomenon categorized as GWS - even beyond the point where
everyone knows that denial is pure propaganda and
disinformation," Boyle writes.
"The Pentagon will never own up to
the legal, economic, tortuous, political, and criminal
consequences of admitting the existence of GWS. So U.S. and U.K.
veterans of Gulf War I as well as their afterborn children will
continue to suffer and die. The same will prove true for U.S.
and U.S. veterans of Bush Jr.'s Gulf War II as well as their
Boyle said the use of DU is outlawed
under the 1925 Geneva Convention prohibiting poison gas.
Chalmers Johnson, president of the Japan Policy Research
Institute, writes in his "The
Sorrows of Empire" that, given the abnormal clusters of
childhood cancers and deformities in Iraq as well as Kosovo, the
evidence points "toward a significant role for DU."
By insisting on its use, Johnson adds,
"the military is deliberately
flouting a 1996 United Nations resolution that classifies DU
ammunition as an illegal weapon of mass destruction."
Moret calls DU "the Trojan Horse of
nuclear war." She describes it as "the weapon that keeps killing."
Indeed, the half-life of Uranium-238 is 4.5-billion years, and as it
decays it spawns other deadly radioactive by-products.
Radioactive fallout from DU apparently blew far and wide. Following
the initial U.S. bombardment of Iraq in 2003, DU particles traveled
2,400 miles to Great Britain in about a week, where atmospheric
But it is in the Middle East, predominantly Iraq, where the bulk of
the radioactive waste has been dumped.
In the early Nineties, the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority
warned that 50 tons of dust from DU explosions could claim a half
million lives from cancer by year 2000. Not 50 tons, but an
estimated two thousand radioactive tons have been fired off in the
Middle East, suggesting the possibility over time of an even higher
Dr. Keith Baverstock, a World Health Organization
radiation advisor, informed the media, Iraq's arid climate would
increase exposure from its tiny particles as they are blown about
and inhaled by the civilian population for years to come.
The civilian death toll from the August, 1945, U.S. atomic bombings
of Hiroshima and Nagasaki has been put at 140,000 and 80,000,
Over time, however, deaths from radiation sickness are
thought to have claimed the lives of another 100,000 Japanese
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