WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The battlefields of the Gulf War are reported contaminated with nuclear materials -- a by-product of the depleted uranium shells fired by US tanks during Operation Desert Storm.
Depleted uranium munitions are reported to have been used in Operation Desert Storm because of their spectacular armor piercing capabilities at long distances. The 120mm cannon shell used by the US army's M1A1 Abrams tank, the 30mm bullets used by A-10 anti-tank aircraft, and the munitions used by Britain's Challenger tank and the US and British navies' Phalanx gun systems are manfactured from depleted uranium.
When DU munitions explode they create microscopic airborne particles which contaminate soil, ground water and surface water for several kilometers. "They have contaminated Iraq's soil and water table with toxic and carcinogenic dust that will last 4,500 million years[?]. The dust released from these uranium tipped shells as they explode causes genetic damage and has been linked to rises in childhood cancers in Iraq" reports Hugh Livingstone of The Edge Gallery.
The Edge Gallery, London, England is planning an exhibit, documentary, and symposium on the testing, combat use, and possible health hazards of DU weapons. Gallery personnel have made several trips to Iraq where they met with the Iraqi Society for Environmental Protection and Improvement. They have also collected documents and accounts from Gulf War veterans, doctors, scientists, and environmentalists from America, Britain, Holland, and Iraq.
If the reports are correct, the use of DU in weapons is a callous solution to the nuclear industry's problem of waste disposal. In Britain and America when DU is produced as a by-product of uranium enrichment it is classified as nuclear waste subject to stringent regulations for handling and disposal. Yet as a weapon it becomes 'conventional'. The US Department of Energy is reported to be virtually giving away the DU to munitions manufacturers.
The Gulf War was the first opportunity that US and British forces had to test their DU weapons in combat conditions. There is speculation that the Gulf War Syndrome may be related to DU contamination.
["Gulf War Syndrome afflicted about 100,000 of 700,000 Gulf War
veterans , with about 30 percent of that number requiring
hospitalization," said J. Roy Cannon, Delaware Green Party member
and former veteran vocational rehabilitation counselor. "After
medical testing, the Department of Defense must closely monitor
those who are found to have D.U. present in their bodies. The
British military plans to take this precaution -- why not the
Steps Needed to Protect US Troops, Iraqis from the Effects of
Depleted Uranium," Green Party of the United States, May 2, 2003]
William Blum, "Anthrax for Export: U.S.
companies sold Iraq the ingredients for a witch's brew," The
Progressive, April 1998
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