The best-kept secret in America today is the deadly effect our depleted uranium (DU) weapons are having, not only on our enemies, but on our own loved ones who have served in our wars since the 1991 Gulf War where DU was first used.
Far, far worse than the Agent Orange used by the U.S. in Vietnam that took decades
to be acknowledged for its destructive qualities, DU not only kills and maims, but will continue to kill for countless centuries.
Used in weapons ranging from shoulder-mounted rockets and missiles to our largest bunker-busting bombs, each time one explodes, millions of tiny dust-size toxic uranium particles fly into the air, soil and water, to be carried aloft in sandstorms and helicopter takeoffs and landings where air currents carry them far and wide. Just nine days after the massive U.S. bombings began in Iraq in 2003, the radiation level in England soared to 19 times the natural rate.
Readily inhaled, even small amounts lodge in the lungs and can lead to lung and many other cancers.
At the same time individuals become DU-contaminated, their DNA is permanently altered, and they are subject to bearing children who are miscarried, premature, still-born, or with minor to extreme birth defects.
On my 2001 visit to Iraq with the Veterans for Peace Iraq Water Project, in meetings with medical, scientific and university experts, we were given an epidemiological study that documents the proven deadly effect DU is having on the health and reproductive lives of the suffering Iraq people. Other than this, very few if any of these studies have been allowed to leave Iraq. We also were given dozens of pictures of extremely deformed babies born there. Iraq has reported that 56 percent of all new cancer cases occur in children age 5 or younger.
Several international news services claim that well over a million Iraqis have died as a result of the DU bombing.
Despite restricted release of U.S. veteran birth defect data, Florida-based Birth Defect Research for Children did a study that showed that Gulf War veterans parented 2 to 4 times more children with 31 specific birth defects than those who had not served in the Gulf.
Meanwhile, denial still controls center stage here.
In December 2007 in Stars and Stripes, Dr. Michael Kilpatrick , deputy director of the Pentagon’s Department of Health Affairs, stated the U.S. military had yet to discover a case of an American service member becoming ill due to its use of depleted uranium over the past few decades.
Back in August 2004, Glen Lamartin, director of Pentagon defense systems, wrote Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona that none of the guided bombs or cruise missiles that the U.S. used in Iraq or Afghanistan contained uranium of any type.
In September 2007, the Public Health Surveillance Organization reported that the ‘VA withholds data for up to 70,000 veteran cases a year from U.S. cancer registries.”
If DU is so harmless, why did we bring a huge shipload of DU-contaminated soil from Kuwait to a waste depot in our Northwest while publicly stating that Iraq is totally responsible to clean up their own toxic waste now that they have oil money that can pay for it?
Since the 1991 Gulf War, close to 2 million of our troops and government and contract workers have cycled in and out of Iraq, some on their fourth and fifth tour of duty. All possibly DU contaminated.
In the last few years, four states have passed bills mandating DU contamination testing for all their Gulf National Guard veterans. To date, I have not heard of any testing being done. Could the $1,000 cost of the state-of-the-art test be the cause?
I have proposed to the members of the congressional Armed Services and Veterans Affairs committees that they mandate offering DU contamination tests to all veterans who served in the Gulf since 1991, and also, early pre-natal birth defect testing for all prospective military parents where one or both have served there. No response as yet.
This January, the Sun-Times Media Group Quote Info reported that the magnitude of the complications and damage related to the use of such radioactive and toxic weapons on the environment and the human population mostly results from the intended concealment, denial and misleading information released by the Pentagon about the quantities, characteristics and areas in Iraq in which these weapons have been used.
The American and British occupation forces are totally responsible for:
1. forbidding any release of statistics related to civilian casualties after the U.S. invasion
2. refusing to clean up contaminated areas
3. depriving international agencies and Iraqi researchers the right to conduct full DU-related exploration programs to prevent further damage.
This is the best evidence that the occupation forces are covering up conclusive evidence of the harmful health impacts of depleted uranium.
So much for our humanitarian interventions!
Bud Deraps (peacebud @ earthlink.net) is a retiree in St. Louis whose grandchild was killed in Iraq.