Most Americans have no idea that depleted uranium munitions used by the U.S. military are causing one of the greatest environmental nightmares in the history of the world. In fact, most Americans have no idea what depleted uranium even is. But even as many Americans gobble down their burgers and french fries and pizza and enjoy the “good life” watching their big screen televisions, an entirely different story is being written on the other side of the world. In Iraq and Afghanistan today, there are some areas that have been so polluted by depleted uranium that they have literally become uninhabitable hellholes. Americans like to think of themselves as so “environmentally conscious”, but the truth is that one of the greatest environmental tragedies of all time is being caused by the U.S. military and yet nobody seems to care.
But now some of the victims are starting to fight back – at least in court. According to one Iraqi minister, Iraq’s Ministry for Human Rights will file a lawsuit against the United States and the United Kingdom over their use of depleted uranium munitions in Iraq.
Iraq’s Minister of Human Rights, Wijdan Mikhail Salim, reportedly told the Assabah newspaper that the lawsuit will be based on reports from the Iraqi ministries of science and the environment. These reports allege that the U.S. and the U.K. used nearly 2,000 tons of depleted uranium bombs during the early years of the the Iraq war.
In fact, one official Iraqi study has found that more than 40 sites across Iraq are currently contaminated with high levels of radiation and dioxins.
So who is responsible for that?
In areas where depleted uranium use was the highest, Iraqi doctors have reported a massive rise in the number of babies born with birth defects and they have seen the number of cancer cases among Iraqi citizens absolutely skyrocket.
In fact, what is happening to babies in the city of Fallujah is beyond horrifying. Back in November, one major U.K. newspaper described the situation this way….
In September this year, say campaigners, 170 children were born at Fallujah General Hospital, 24 per cent of whom died within seven days. Three-quarters of these exhibited deformities, including “children born with two heads, no heads, a single eye in their foreheads, or missing limbs”. The comparable data for August 2002 – before the invasion – records 530 births, of whom six died and only one of whom was deformed.
The top brass in the U.S. and the U.K. militaries know full well the impact that depleted uranium munitions have had on many areas of Iraq, but they simply do not care.
So what exactly are depleted uranium munitions?
They are essentially “dirty bombs” made from nuclear waste.
Depleted Uranium is a waste product of the nuclear enrichment process. Despite claims that depleted uranium is much less radioactive than natural uranium, the truth is that it actually emits about 75% as much radioactivity as natural uranium.
This makes it highly toxic to humans.
When depleted uranium munitions impact a target, the uranium coating of these weapons becomes a powder which easily contaminates the surrounding air, soil and water.
Depleted uranium is both chemically toxic and highly radioactive. In laboratory tests it severely damages human cells, causes DNA mutations and has other carcinogenic effects.
Depleted uranium poisoning has been linked to a vast array of illnesses and diseases including severe skin rashes, intense muscle and joint pain, major birth defects, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, brain tumors and just about every type of cancer. Depleted uranium also replaces calcium in the body, thus destroying both teeth and bones.
As a result of the massive depleted uranium contamination in Iraq and Afghanistan, severe birth defects and cancer have dramatically increased not only among civilians living in the affected areas, but also among U.S. troops who served in areas where depleted uranium munitions were used.
Depleted uranium munitions are classified by the United Nations as illegal weapons of mass destruction, and yet the U.S. and the U.K. continue to use them.
The uranium used in depleted uranium munitions has a half-life of 4.5 billion years, so the environmental hell that the invading armies have caused in Iraq and Afghanistan will be a gift that keep on giving.
It has been said that when a woman delivers a baby in Iraq now, the first question she asks is typically not if it is a boy or a girl.
Instead the most typical first question now is this: “Is it normal?”
But it is not just those in other nations who are suffering from the effects of depleted uranium.
Most Americans have no idea that thousands upon thousands of our own troops are getting sick and dying from depleted uranium exposure.
According to official (but unpublicized) U.S. government data, there have been over 70,000 deaths and over 1 million disabilities among U.S. troops as a result of America’s wars in the Middle East.
The truth is that we have been slowly nuking our own troops and most Americans don’t even realize it.
In her excellent article entitled “Death By Slow Burn:How America Nukes Its Own Troops”, Amy Worthington painted a very graphic picture of the effect that exposure to depleted uranium is having on U.S. and British troops….
U.S and British troops deployed to the area are the walking dead. Humans and animals, friends and foes in the fallout zone are destined to a long downhill spiral of chronic illness and disability.
Kidney dysfunction, lung damage, bloody stools, extreme fatigue, joint pain, unsteady gait, memory loss and rashes and, ultimately, cancer and premature death await those exposed to DU.
Award-winning journalist Will Thomas wrote: “As the last Gulf conflict so savagely demonstrated, GI immune systems reeling from multiple doses of experimental vaccines offer little defense against further exposure to chemical weapons, industrial toxins, stress, caffeine, insect repellent and radiation left over from the last war. This is a war even the victors will lose.”
When a DU shell is fired, it ignites upon impact. Uranium, plus traces of plutonium and americium, vaporize into tiny, ceramic particles of radioactive dust. Once inhaled, uranium oxides lodge in the body and emit radiation indefinitely.
A single particle of DU lodged in a lymph node can devastate the entire immune system according to British radiation expert Roger Coghill. The Royal Society of England published data showing that battlefield soldiers who inhale or swallow high levels of DU can suffer kidney failure within days. Any soldier now in Iraq who has not inhaled lethal radioactive dust is not breathing.
In fact, the vast majority of veterans who have served in the Gulf War, Iraq or Afghanistan either have already developed incapacitating illnesses or they will eventually develop them as Worthington explained in her article….
The Gulf War Veterans Association reports that at least 300,000 Gulf War I vets have now developed incapacitating illnesses. To date, 209,000 vets have filed claims for disability benefits based on service-connected injuries and illnesses from combat in that war.
Dr. Asaf Durakovic, a professor of nuclear medicine at Georgetown University, is a former army medical expert. He told nuclear scientists in Paris last year that tens of thousands of sick British and American soldiers are now dying from radiation they encountered during Gulf War I. He found that 62 percent of sick vets tested have uranium isotopes in their organs, bones, brains and urine. Laboratories in Switzerland and Finland corroborated his findings.
In other studies, some sick vets were found to be expressing uranium in even their semen. Their sexual partners often complained of a burning sensation during intercourse, followed by their own debilitating illnesses.
How is the world can we possibly do this to our own troops?
Is our government simply this cold?
What in the world are we becoming?
The following is just one testimony from one of our soldiers who has had his life changed forever by depleted uranium….
In early September 2003, Army National Guard Spec. Gerard Darren Matthew was sent home from Iraq, stricken by a sudden illness.
One side of Matthew’s face would swell up each morning. He had constant migraine headaches, blurred vision, blackouts and a burning sensation whenever he urinated.
The Army transferred him to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington for further tests, but doctors there could not explain what was wrong.
Shortly after his return, his wife, Janice, became pregnant. On June 29, she gave birth to a baby girl, Victoria Claudette. The baby was missing three fingers and most of her right hand.
Matthew and his wife believe Victoria’s shocking deformity has something to do with her father’s illness and the war — especially since there is no history of birth defects in either of their families.
They have seen photos of Iraqi babies born with deformities that are eerily similar.
In June, Matthew contacted the Daily News and asked us to arrange independent laboratory screening for his urine. This was after The News had reported that four of seven soldiers from another National Guard unit, the 442nd Military Police, had tested positive for depleted uranium (DU).
The independent test of Matthew’s urine found him positive for DU – low-level radioactive waste produced in nuclear plants during the enrichment of natural uranium.
What have we done?
This is one of the greatest environmental tragedies imaginable, and yet nobody is talking about it.
What does it say about us when we live in a world where we can knowingly create this kind of environmental nightmare and nobody seems to care?
The truth is that we owe the world an apology of unprecedented magnitude for using depleted uranium munitions. This is one of the biggest environmental crimes in the history of the planet, and it must stop NOW.
In the video posted below, you will see Dr. Doug Rokke (who was one of the top depleted uranium experts in the U.S. military) talk about depleted uranium and the effects that it had on his team.
Dr. Rokke’s team was one of the first assigned to try to clean up some of the depleted uranium contamination in Iraq. Of the 100 people on Dr. Rokke’s decontamination team, 30 have already dropped dead.
Dr. Rokke is seriously ill himself with radiation damage to his lungs and kidneys. He also has severe brain lesions, skin pustules, chronic fatigue, continual wheezing and painful fibromyalgia. He is not just an expert on depleted uranium, he is also living through the horror of DU poisoning….
The stories of U.S. military veterans who have had their lives destroyed by depleted uranium exposure could literally fill a phone book. We have turned Iraq, Afghanistan and a number of other areas across the globe (including Puerto Rico) into environmental wastelands.
And yet the U.S. military continues to use depleted uranium and continues to insist that there is nothing wrong with it.
Depleted uranium needs to become one of the top priorities for every environmental advocacy organizations in the entire world. The environmental damage that is being caused by these weapons is of an unprecedented magnitude and it will never be able to be cleaned up.
It is time to wake up and start making this an issue. Now that you know the truth, you can be part of the solution.
But will you?