21th February 2001

Depleted Uranium Watch

DU: New NATO Members

Piotr Bein, piotr.bein@imag.net

Vancouver, Canada

The critical mass of depleted uranium [DU]-poisoned soldiers, left without help from the new NATO members' governments that sent them to contaminated areas to introduce democracy, is not large enough yet to arouse domestic public opinion. With one foot in the Western system, the institutions in Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic have to do as they are told by the civil and military headquarters in Brussels. The soldiers themselves would rather not jeopardize their well-paid jobs in the Balkans- until they get sick.

Nukes Everywhere

Polish President Kwasniewski faced nukes from the south, north and ... from inside his own country in January 2001. Given Western Europe's outrage over contamination of the Balkans with DU, he had to assure the nation that their sons were not at risk from DU while keeping peace in Kosovo. The President flew south to shake hands with Janeks and Wojteks in Kosovo, who, smiling into the TV cameras, re-assured us that nothing bad was happening to them, that they trusted their commanders, and would stay on for their full tour of duty.

At about the same time, an American “intelligence source” warned from the Washington Times (the usual outlet for Pentagon’s so-called Public Affairs propaganda spin) that Russia had moved nuclear weapons into its enclave around Kaliningrad, a Russian Baltic port between Poland's northern pristine Green Lungs region and the Baltic state of Lithuania.

The dismantling of the Iron Curtain left Poland in a non-nuclear zone. By joining NATO, just days before the pact's barbaric attack on Yugoslavia in 1999, Poland found itself "unsettled at the prospect of being on a front line," as Agence France Presse suggested. Poland was the only Nazi-occupied nation beside Serbia which did not capitulate to the Nazis, but inflicted painful losses to Hitler's forces through protracted resistance and guerrilla warfare.

Russia flatly denied the nuke allegation. "This report can only be a political provocation," said Anatoly Lobsky, a spokesman for Russia's Baltic Fleet. Observers wondered why Russia would need to deploy nuclear weapons in Kaliningrad if they could do it safely a couple hundred kilometres east. Also striking was a half year delay in announcing the alleged Russian deployment, and this belated announcement coinciding with the DU scandal.

President Kwasniewski called international inspectors to check out Kaliningrad. Kosovo's DU already stamped "safe," there remained only one more nuke source to check: Possible use of DU weapons by and on Polish shooting ranges. In Eastern Poland's Orzysz range and one at Drawsko Pomorskie not far from my beloved city of Szczecin, NATO tanks practice conditions titled "Russian winter." Both ranges are in the midst of lake country where DU contamination could easily spread through the lake systems. If Western navies had more DU ammunition tainted with uranium 236 and plutonium, as was confirmed by the UK, Canada, Australia, Israel and New Zealand, Polish Baltic ranges would be an ideal dumping ground, too.

Several participants of the anti-DU conference in Manchester, England last November expressed concerns that, given growing public protests in their own countries, NATO may move DU exercises, and eventually production, onto the territories of its new members. This writer sent an alert to this effect to independent Polish publications, and it remains to be seen whether and how the descendants of Polish World War II guerillas would peek under the tarpaulins hiding German Leopard II tanks on rail cars heading for Drawsko and Orzysz. Certain Polish ladies who work the streets in Germany were obliged to find out at which German military bases soldiers monkey around with DU bullets.

Health-for-Bread Programme

Soldiers from post-communist countries went to the Balkans to make extra money that would be impossible to earn in their own ruined economies. Some 2,500 Polish soldiers are participating in the KFOR mission in Kosovo.

On January 4th, 2001, my confidential journalistic source in Poland e-mailed me. "Our KFOR boys are fantastic people, always eager to help, but they know the limits. A tour of peacekeeping duty is a distinction and ... a privilege. Staff soldiers in Poland make some US$300 per month, compared to US$900 when on a tour of duty in Bosnia or Kosovo. Their families' welfare is more important than their own health. One considers whether it was worth it or not after a medical diagnosis has been rendered. For the time being, despite efforts to get information out of them, military secrecy and loyalty keeps their mouths shut.”

“Today the Bulgarians are examining their soldiers. A Bulgarian friend told me that the area along the border is closely guarded. No mention about it, either there or on Polish TV. Once again I suggested producing a program about it, but the editors are silent. Some time after, a decision was made. Someone somewhere decided that the DU topic is not interesting enough and there is no need to panic since 'experts' maintain that everything is OK. Just a moment ago I watched the government network TV news. They said a Pentagon spokeswoman assured that independent experts tested Kosovo and concluded everyone was safe, there were no proofs for the risks of DU.”

The next day Agence France Presse reported from Warsaw that Poland sent six military chemists and doctors to investigate the Balkan syndrome. Polish experts were to examine sites that might have high radioactive and chemical pollution, and areas where a joint Polish-Ukranian battalion was stationed, said Colonel Mieczyslaw Splawski, the head of Poland's anti-chemical warfare unit. The AFP dispatch ended with a compulsory dislaimer stuffed with words like "may," "suspected" and "no link": "Fragments or dust from the weapons, which soldiers may come into contact with or inhale after they have been fired, are suspected of being highly toxic. The US and NATO however have said there is no link between exposure to the weapons and the illnesses.”

Czech and Slovak Fears

Radio Prague reported on January 8th, 2001 that up to 10,000 Czech soldiers who have served in the Balkan region over the past ten years now faced medical tests for signs of illness. An anonymous high-ranking Czech officer told the newspaper Pravo that if it was proven that DU could have adverse health effects, the Czech army would have to pay its soldiers dearly for risking lives in this way.

A Czech helicopter pilot died of leukemia a year earkier, after returning from a mission in the Balkans, but the defence ministry which confirmed this information refused to link his death with his stay in Bosnia. Apparently the Czech military health service has not discovered a single case that could be linked in any way with service in the Balkans.

Then on January 14th, 2001, the Czech News Agency reported that another Czech soldier was affected. With Jan Valo, former commander of the Czech anti-chemical unit in the Persian Gulf War, doctors detected retinal tumors in both eyes before he had surgery performed in 2000. "Doctors asked me whether I had been exposed to radiation or toxic substances," Valo was quoted as saying. Some veterans of NATO's Balkan missions reportedly suffer mainly from leukemia and cancer, but covered-up cases from Bulgaria and Yugoslavia include eye problems.

By January 22nd, 2001, Radio Prague said that the Czech Republic was sending 8 experts to Kosovo. Members of the group included nuclear experts equipped with devices able to measure very low levels of radioactivity. "Although no link had been established...," said Radio Prague as if under dictation from the Pentagon, the Czech army was nevertheless about to carry out "thorough medical check-ups" among its KFOR contingent.

On February 15th, 2001, Reuters wrote from Prague that a Czech army mission to Kosovo detected no threat of uranium contamination to the country's peacekeepers. Results in progress proved "no evidence of unusual levels of radiation among either Czech troops or in the air, water and food tested in areas where they were based." The Czech army planned to send another mission to Bosnia later in February.

Neighbouring Slovakia used to be in one country with the Czechs in the Soviet bloc, but now has its own statelet in which its trains have to reduce speed so as not to shoot across foreign borders. From there, the Czech News Agency wrote on January 11th, 2001, that Slovak KFOR soldiers were to undergo checks at a military hospital. "We will do an overall internal examination of the soldiers, with a focus on signs of tumor, blood creation possible failures, the function of kidneys and skin diseases," said the hospital head Igor Combor.

Some of the 127 Slovak soldiers mistrusted the military, so "the hospital will cooperate with civil clinics in Kosice [eastern Slovakia] and Bratislava," said Combor. Probably in an “issue management” move, the Slovak authorities sent military doctors to Slovak and Czech civilian clinics to prepare the ground for testing to government and military standards. "We have also sent our specialists to leading clinics in Hradec Kralove, eastern Bohemia, and Prague, which are interested in cooperation," said Combor.

Widow Maker

January 22nd Budapest Sun reported the deaths of four Hungarians who served in the Balkan wars. Sergeant Istvan Kormendi, a 39-year-old father of three, died in September 1999, possibly from exposure to DU or other toxic materials during tours of duty in Bosnia in 1996 and 1999. One other Hungarian Balkan veteran died of colon cancer since returning home; and one other of a pulmonary embolism, according to Gabor Borokai, spokesman for the Prime Minister's Office. The cause of the other death has not yet been published.

Zsuzsanna Kormendi, who had been demanding an explanation for the cause of her husband's death for over a year, informed the Budapest Sun that her husband told her he had never been warned by his superiors of any risk of exposure to dangerous substances. He drove an ambulance all over Bosnia in summer 1999, became ill in Sarajevo, returned and died a month later. Defense Minister Janos Szabo said the soldier had been in the region only a month and in areas where no such weapons had been used, so the illness was unrelated to DU.

Circumstances of Kormendi's 1996 tour of duty are still foggier when described by the military. The army's Chief Medical Officer, Laszlo Sved, told the press that Kormendi did not die of leukemia, but of internal bleeding from an infection from rodents and insects. The widow said her husband's death certificate clearly states that although causes similar to those cited by Sved contributed to her husband's death, leukemia was the primary cause.

DU in Polish Sauce

If DU is so vigorously covered up in the US, UK and Canada, how much easier it must be in the European Economic Community [EEC] countries where, for example, the tobacco companies bribed a professor with a trip to Hawaii for lying about the effects of nicotine, and reporters were paid off to write lies about cigarettes.

It is no surprise that NATO PsyOp recently enlisted top nuclear and medical experts from Central and Eastern Europe as witnesses for the defense in the DU case. In Poland, the servile and undoubtedly very well rewarded contribution started with statements of Polish nuclear "scientists" in the domestic media before going global. One of those professors with ambitions of holding up NATO loudspeaker's to the world, Professor Zbigniew Jaworowski of the Central Laboratory for Radiological Protection in Warsaw, went to great lengths to discredit himself more than helping NATO in the coverup of DU.

Having teamed up with one Dr. Roger Bate from Cambridge (veterinary clinic?), the duo falsified data on DU exposure and doses in Kosovo. They distributed the amount of DU uniformly over Kosovo's 10,000 km2, then applied this miniscule amount to the mass of all viscera inside our bodies, and - "no danger, just hysteria from ignorants, alarmists and enemies of the good old NATO." The NATO "scientist" duo drew on a decades long cover-up from the International Commission on Radiological Protection and like bodies serving humanity with ...increasingly higher incidence of leaukemia and cancers from nuclear production, accidents, weapon tests and, recently, low-level nuclear DU wars.

Jaworowski is known for his message that most incremental "industrial" risks of radioactivity exposure are trivial compared to the natural background." To prove it, he imprisoned laboratory mice in the depths of medieval salt mines near Cracow, to prove that the lack of cosmic radiation was not good for their well being. The poor creatures died... of "lack of cosmic radiation" according to the prof. "This experiment does not convince me, since I would not like to be imprisoned several hundred meters below the sea level in the dark," I was written by another Polish professor - of economics. But what would he know about radiation?

Disarmed Uranium

Amazed, I read the same propaganda tricks in the Polish press that I knew from the Western media. A linguistic genius likely commissioned by PsyOp Poland, tried to introduce a new name for DU, "disarmed uranium", to hint that the name is faulty rather than the metal.

Polish nuclear "experts" convey NATO scripts like, "DU has nothing to do with the Gulf War illness" instead of their own scientific opinions. They, or editors and reporters in NATO's service, broke the code of ethics. The "experts" had strong opinions about DU effects on health, but neither participated in any studies of this kind, nor are they professionals in this field of science. It is plain that they must be hired mouthpieces of NATO and nuclear lobbies.

The chairman of the Polish Nuclear Agency, Professor Jerzy Niewodniczanski, insulted the public with irresponsible statements about DU. The few Poles who can read English and have access to the Internet know that DU is not about gamma and beta rays, but mainly about alfa radiation, heavy metal toxocity, and minute particles taken in with food or breathing. Shortly, "the prof made an ass of himself," as kids on my block would say. He probably got away with his crime, for an average Pole gets information from the TV, billboards and tabloids.

A "NATO expert," Professor Zbigniew Zagorski from the Institute of Chemistry and Nuclear Technology in Warsaw, compared the radioactivity from 300 tonnes of DU in the Gulf War to 1953-1977 emissions of "natural uranium" over the entire area of the USA, implying that since it did not harm Americans for so many years, why would it be dangerous in the Persian Gulf region! The same "professor" insisted that one can safely sit on intact DU rounds for 2000 hours! DU is known to give out on contact - in one hour - a radioactive dose comparable to the annual allowable limit!

Predictably, tests conducted at the Army Institute for Chemistry and Radiometry in Warsaw (Zagorski's institute?) concluded that there was no elevated level of radiation in Polish peacekeepers from Kosovo. Hair and urine samples from 54 soldiers revealed nothing suspicious. Also tested were soil and water samples brought back from "former Yugoslavia," reported Witold Zygulski for Warsaw Voice on January 23rd, 2001. If for Zygulski Kosovo is "former Yugoslavia," then "nothing suspicious" in his report may very well mean "severe DU contamination."

A Voice of Truth

In contrast with the above propaganda from the region, here is the anonymous voice of a medical doctor from one of the countries concerned: "Even a low dose of radioactivity at the right place (for example next to a quickly dividing cell) has a much greater effect than a higher ammount of radioctivity that is, for example, applied to a less-sensitive tissue. [...] A man living in an area contaminated with the radioactive aerosol cannot avoid it (unless he wears a protective mask), because he does not detect the hazard with his senses."

"DU ammunition is made of radioactive waste [...] Caesium, Strontium, Iodine, Barium [...] are an integral part of the biological metabolism and get nested in an organism (for example, natural iodine selectively accumulates in the thyroid gland). DU ammunition [includes] a long line of isotopes that are highly directly toxic (Plutonium, Strontium, etc.) and/or get nested into the organism [...] exerting a permanent effect."

"To properly assess the health hazards of DU ammunition, we must therefore take into account all the components of the ammunition that are released anew at the impact on the target. The radioactivity of uranium U238 or U235 is only a fraction of the hazard. NATO experts are arguing that the cumulative radioactivity of the DU ammunition is relatively low (also because it is spread across a wide geographical area) and that the radioactivity does not surpass the amount of radioactivity we are exposed to annually from the cosmic emissions."

"DU includes a myriad of other toxic substances, in comparison with which Uranium is a pure joke, for example, plutonium. In addition, an explosion of DU ammunition produces [...] toxic gasses and new isotopes that did not even exist before the impact with the target. Moreover, the isotopes get built into the food chain [...] The effect on an organism is cumulative and [practically unchanged] over time."

Some real professionals from the CEE region seem to be more up to date on the subject than so-called NATO experts. This despite the difficulties presented by the fact that most of the scientific references are in Western languages.

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This page: http://www.stopnato.org.uk/du-watch/bein/neo-nato.htm