DU Cover-up Saga

Piotr Bein, piotr.bein@imag.net
January 15, 2001 – 10th anniversary of criminal DU war in the Persian Gulf
Military Information Operations that include Psychological Operations (PsyOp) misrepresent radioactive and toxic effects of depleted uranium (DU) in order to temper public protests, which could lead to a ban on DU weapons. This would put the US and other NATO countries at a military disadvantage where DU ammunition is required to destroy enemy heavy armour and concrete bunkers. Admission of DU harm would mean multi-billion dollar liabilities for lives and health of over 100 000 veterans in the US alone, and perhaps one order of magnitude more civilians near battlefields and shooting ranges, as well as cleanup costs at DU waste storage, production and military sites and areas

The harmful effect of DU waste and ammunition will persist for billions of years, as DU does not transform back into stable uranium ore. Uranium mining is “massive futurecide” and “DU war is war against all future, and in that respect worse than Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” wrote nuclear specialist Hans-Peter Schnelboegl after a group of US- based email lists, including anti-nuclear, stopped operating for unexplained reasons on January 14th, 2001. Anti-NATO movement experienced interference ever since information war in the cyberspace followed 1999 “humanitarian intervention” in Yugoslavia. 

I presented a hypothesis about the mechanisms of DU cover-ups in a January 2nd, 2001, article posted at http://news.suc.org/bydate/2001/Jan_03/8.html. Developments since then confirm the theory. Dutch daily “NRC” of January 13th, 2001, confirmed the foreign component of information warfare, “The United States have kept the Dutch ministry of defence uninformed for months on the true extent of the use of DU ammunition during the Kosovo war. This is apparent from internal ministry of defence documents […] The Netherlands were completely dependent on the information provided by the NATO headquarters SHAPE to the member states.”

Presently, while the anti-DU types are having the ball of their lives, Pentagon and NATO PsyOp and Special Operations are becoming desperate, despite vigorous and frantic efforts. They are seemingly unable to stop the steamroller of public outrage, as the naked DU truth surfaces daily for a third week in a row. Let’s hope that it means a good start of the new millennium for humanity and an unforgettable lesson for the military-government-industrial-information complex. 

The Special Services efforts produce unintended humor at times. Not so intelligent Hungarian intelligence sources told the world that it was “Milosevic” who planted the DU toxins and nukes not only in Kosovo under NATO bombs but also in the Gulf eight years earlier, and in Bosnia in 1994-95. Likewise the US “intelligence source” accusation of Russia at about the same time regarding deployment of nukes in Kaliningrad might also be an attempt to divert attention from the real DU issue. One of the tactics of PsyOp is to distract and confuse.

Polish President Kwasniewski objected to nukes in Kaliningrad, asked for international inspections and went to Kosovo, along with Polish military and atomic specialists to “examine” the safety of Polish boys in KFOR. His moves might look Impressive politically, but are not too creative compared to most other NATO members who sent military medical specialists to “investigate” the crimes of their order-givers. At the same time, Polish nuclear “scientists” made asses of themselves in the Polish media, while one of them showed off with another “esteemed” European professor in an article featured on Chris Milloy's Junk Science.com of January 10th, 2001.

Foreign “research institutes” did not fare any worse. The director of supposedly esteemed SIRI-US contributed to the debate something about DU dust being “too heavy” to fly and disperse in the environment. To disprove the leukemia-DU connection, he compiled a list of research papers, strategically omitting key independent research. Before signing off from the list that he could not sway the way of his sponsors, he labelled this writer a “hysteric” and “leftist”. It was a compliment to me, for Professor Kazimierz Poznanski who critiques the current giveaway of Polish assets to Western “investors” received the same invectives for his best-selling Polish book about the scam of the present “elites”. 

The present cover-up of DU in Kosovo is the newest chapter of a saga that started a few decades ago. Still, the standard answer from Pentagon and NATO propaganda written dutifully into most press, TV and radio news reads more or less, “Research has shown no link between DU used in armor-piercing weapons and serious illnesses in veterans.” Rick Rozoff from Stop NATO calls lines like this “10 on the Göbbels scale.”

Angus Parker, vice chairman of the UK National Gulf Veterans and Families Association asked in response to a similar line from the British minister of defence in the second week of January 2001, “When did the cataclysmic event take place? I refer of course to the changes in the fundamental laws of physics when uranium suddenly became harmless.”

From WW2 to the Gulf

Radioactive and toxic DU is harmless if left alone in the ground, where it rests abundantly as an unwanted content in uranium ores that our civilization converts into nukes and A-electricity. Aboriginal cultures have a great respect for the nuclear dirt, leaving it undisturbed in Mother Earth. Uranium tailings pose hazards very similar to DU, whose radioactivity comes in 85% from U-238, 14% from U-234 and about 1% from U-235.

U-234 and U-235 emit disproportionately more per unit of mass. 99.8% of DU by mass is U-238, almost 0.2% is U-235 and only a tiny fraction is U-234. DU appears in three principal forms: i) gaseous uranium hexafluoride which leaks from countless tanks around uranium enrichment facilities, ii) combustible DU metal converted from the gas, and, iii) uranium oxide powder that readily disperses into air, water and food chains. The military uses the metal in bullets to pierce enemy armour, but the silvery metal converts into the powder in the process.

In WW2, toxic DU powder was considered for use as a chemical weapon. Government, military and industry labs had worked on the material ever since, because a 1984 US Federal Aviation Administration instruction for investigators warned about DU ballast in crashed civilian aircraft, “The main hazard associated with DU is the harmful effect the material could have if it enters the body. If particles are inhaled or digested, they can be chemically toxic and cause a significant and long-lasting irradiation of internal tissue." The 1984 FAA document recommends full cover of the body, gloves, goggles and respirators, which should be disposed of as "radioactive waste" after crash investigations.

A wealth of subsequent reports did not change the tune. Six months before 1991 Desert Storm, a report from Science Applications International Corporation wrote about DU weapons, “Short-term effects of high doses can result in death, while long-term effects of low doses have been implicated in cancer.” US General Accounting Office report GAO/NSIAD-93-90 of 1993 stated, “Inhaled insoluble [DU] oxides stay in the lungs longer and pose a potential cancer risk due to radiation. Ingested DU dust can also pose both a radioactive and toxicity risk.” 

July 1990 report prepared for the US Army Production Base Modernization Activity at Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey considered the use of DU shells, “heavy metal, radioactive,” versus not radioactive tungsten shells in the Gulf War. When DU is used in combat, “Exposure to military personnel may be greater than those allowed in peacetime, and could be locally significant on the battlefield. Cleanup of penetrators and fragments, as well as impact site decontamination may be required.” 

Public relations are also easier with tungsten ammunition, according to the report. For DU, “Public relations efforts […] may not be effective due to the public's perception of radioactivity. Fielding and combat activities present the potential for adverse international reaction […] Increased costs can be expected for DU public relations when compared to tungsten.” Special Operations spend our tax money on making us into DU ignorants, and then poisoning and killing us and fellow human beings.

The same report was clear about the potential health hazards of DU: “Low level alpha radiation emitter which is linked to cancer when exposurers are internal, chemical toxicity causing kidney damage. Health hazards (i.e. uranium) have been extensively investigated. It is our initial hypotheses that impacts to civilian populations will not be significant from combat use [of DU], including post combat impacts. However, aerosol DU exposure to soldiers on the battlefield could be significant with potential radiological and toxicological effects. These health impacts may be impossible to reliably quantify even with additional detailed studies."

A secret September 1990 memo from the Department of the Navy outlined the need to make Saudi Arabia aware of the effect of DU weapons. Additionally, “the spent rounds emit low level Alpha radiation which can be washed off after contact, but prolonged exposure could cause illness. In the meantime, all efforts should be made by the IMEP to 'lay the cards on the table' to the Saudis on the DU round radiation characteristics."

Despite this knowledge, US, British and enemy forces, and civilians in the Gulf, were exposed to potent doses of DU. According to estimates by Gulf War veteran associations, over 35 000 former US soldiers out of nearly 700 000 who served in the Gulf, and over 500 out of 5000 UK soldiers had already died. The toll is not over, for cancer develops over years. Although multiple agents were implicated, independent scientists have no doubt that DU contributed significantly to the Gulf War syndrome, because Gulf War syndrome is like symptoms after DU exposure.

In March 1991 it was a month too late for the soldiers. They already left the combat zone thick with DU-laden smoke, after thousands of them took tours of the front line, climbed on destroyed Iraqi tanks dusted with DU, collected DU shrapnel and shells and took them home as souvenirs. By then an internal memo from US Defense Nuclear Agency added beta radiation to the concerns about toxic war souvenirs collected by the Gulf War veterans, political furor and post conflict clean-up, “Alpha particles (uranium oxidants) from expended rounds is a health concern but Beta particles from fragments and intact rounds is a serious health threat, with a possible exposure rate of 200 millirads per hour on contact." 

August 1993 memo from US Army Chemical Medical School on DU safety training reveals full knowledge of DU risks, "When soldiers inhale or ingest DU dust, they incur a potential increase in cancer risk. The magnitude of that increase can be quantified (in terms of projected day of life lost) if the DU intake is known (or can be estimated). Expected physiological effects from exposure to DU dust include possible increased risk of cancer (lung or bone) and kidney damage [… ] much of the needed data on DU does not exist."

A 1995 report of the US Army Environmental Policy Institute warned, “If DU enters the body, it has the potential to generate significant medical consequences.” 

On the Other Side of the Atlantic

In the UK, warnings about serious health risks from DU in the Gulf leaked recently from the government adviser on nuclear safety, according to Jonathon Carr-Brown (The Sunday Times, January 14, 2001). Yet, only a few days earlier UK defence secretary Geoff Hoon repeated the government's position that DU ammunition is safe. Sean Rusling from the UK Gulf Veterans Association said, "There is now too much documentary evidence for the government to ignore. The precautionary approach demands we stop using these weapons as they clearly cause indiscriminate damage to health - and that's been known about since they invented DU munitions." The following British documents show that the risks had been known for at least a decade.

After the Gulf War, the UK Atomic Energy Agency (UKAEA) attempted to assess impact of using DU shells. 340 tons of DU ammunition was expended in the Gulf, 8% of which or 25 t was shot from US and British tanks. “If the tank inventory of DU was inhaled, the latest […] risk factor […] calculates 500,000 potential deaths. Obviously this theoretical figure is not realistic, however it does indicate a significant problem." Notably, UKAEA was alarmed to discover from brief reports in the media that DU weapons had been used in the Gulf, according to an interview of Felicity Arbuthnot with the spokesman at UKAEA.

The UKAEA paper warns of "potential hazards" from the possible "spread of radioactive and toxic contamination as a result of firing in battle". It also states, "Inhalation of airborne DU dust particles can lead to unacceptable body burdens and manufacturers of DU munitions take precautions to ensure that their staff are not exposed to undue risk for this reason." 

In April 1991, the paper was sent to Royal Ordnance in restricted correspondence from AEA Industrial Technology, a commercial arm of UKAEA. The letter was anticipating public opposition to DU weapon use in the Gulf War, "The whole subject of contamination of Kuwait is emotive and thus must be dealt with in a sensitive manner. It is necessary to inform the Kuwait Government of the problem in a useful way…”

The British government was aware of the DU contamination in the Gulf; on March 2, 1998, the minister of defence Lord Gilbert succinctly aired that concern in a rare display of openness. However, on January 9th, 2001, minister John Spellar addressed parliament regarding concerns over the use of DU weapons, "Handled in accordance with the regulations, DU shells present no hazard to our forces." He sounded like an echo of Pentagon statements.

The third NATO power who has DU weapons is France. On January 14th, 2001, Michel Collon posted to the Internet highlights from a new French book “La sale guerre propre” (The dirty clean war) by Christine Abdelkrim-Delanne, who investigated DU in France since 1996 and helped the French veterans organize. Her revelations forced minister Alain Richard to "turn". France produces and uses DU weapons and, like the US and British military, the French army tried to cover-up its dead and sick soldiers
(Part II)