23th January 2001

Depleted Uranium Watch

Uranium Poisoning: Masque Of The White Death

Richard W. Rozoff, rrozoff@webtv.net

Chicago, USA

This morning's press wires announce that an eighth Italian soldier who had recently served in Kosovo has died of leukemia. 

His death follows that of at least 16 other NATO troops stationed in that Serbian province, including victims from Portugal, Belgium and Spain. 

In Hungary the widow of a soldier dead of a suspected uranium weapon-related illness is seeking damages from the government. Confronted with the threat of leukemia (from the Greek root leukos, white), a third of the total Greek KFOR contingent has opted to return home, with the prospect of a complete withdrawal in the offing. 

The governments of countries as remote as Australia and New Zealand have announced plans to test troops who had been stationed in Kosovo and Bosnia, particularly those who had been exposed to depleted uranium weapons employed by the United States in both areas.

Several doctors in Bosnia have detailed near-epidemic levels of cancer deaths among ethnic Serbs who were near American bomb sites in 1995. Yesterday's Guardian documents several cases of former Yugoslav soldiers, exposed to U.S. uranium ordnance during the 1999 bombing of Kosovo, afflicted with eye cancer.

Practically every NATO nation has promised to conduct tests of military personnel who had been in Kosovo, and several countries, the Czech Republic most recently, have sent teams of scientists and doctors to investigate radiation levels at and around bomb sites.

All, that is, except that country most responsible, almost exclusively responsible, for the manufacture and use of the weapons suspected in the illness and deaths of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of soldiers and civilians: The United States.

The U.S. will not test its soldiers, who make up one of the biggest contingents of NATO troops in Kosovo, most ensconced in Camp Bondsteel, the largest overseas American military compound built since the Vietnam War.

Nor will U.S. officials acknowledge that the uranium weapons used by its army and air force during the 78 day onslaught against Yugoslavia in 1999, and which now are known to have also contained enriched uranium and plutonium, the latter 100,000 times as dangerous as depleted uranium, are a danger to either soldier or civilian. The American government is, true to form, stone walling. And so is the establishment media, also characteristically, and in glaring contrast to their opposite numbers abroad who are reporting extensively on this new plague.

That almost all the uranium munitions employed in the war against Yugoslavia in 1999, the extensive bombing of Serbian targets in Bosnia in 1995, and the saturation of Kuwait and Iraq in 1991 were produced in three plants in the United States -Oak Ridge, Tennessee; Paducah, Kentucky; Portsmouth, Ohio- would seem to place an additional, a compelling, burden on the U.S. to come clean concerning the actual composition of the uranium weapons over the past decade. That the same country fired the lion's share of bullets, shells and missiles composed of uranium products, depleted and not so depleted, makes that responsibility imperative.

More than this, as correlational, laboratory and other evidence mounts that the uranium arms in question have contributed to malignant diseases, neurological disorders and birth defects in Iraq and Bosnia among both local inhabitants and former troops and their families, the demand that the nation that produced and employed these deadly weapons be held accountable for their consequences is picking up momentum worldwide.

The European Parliament has called for a moratorium on the use of uranium weapons. Editorials in papers of record from India to Egypt and from Ireland to Lebanon have demanded they be banned altogether. Religious leaders have condemned both the weapons and their wielders. China has denounced their use as one of the most egregious, though by no means the sole, war crime perpetrated by NATO in its war of aggression against Yugoslavia.

The Russian government has demanded an international conference on what they earlier identified, more accurately than the euphemism depleted uranium, as low-grade nuclear weapons under United Nations auspices.

Yet in the United States, as in other NATO nations until recently, virtually no recognition of this dire situation is evinced. The official myth that President Clinton launched a humanitarian relief effort in 1999 instead of an unprovoked and unnecessary war, and that he and his allies made every effort to avoid needless death and suffering, persists in the popular imagination. Rivers, including the Danube, artery and lifeline for much of Europe, are poisoned and unnavigable; the soil and air of much of Yugoslavia and surrounding countries are contaminated by toxins released from bombed chemical plants and storage tanks; the civilian infrastructure of Yugoslavia, in Kosovo and throughout, including power facilities, bridges, roads, sanitation systems and air ports, is in shambles.

The human tragedy is even worse. As many as two thousand civilians perished in NATO's bombing rampage. As many more have been brutally murdered or 'disappeared' in Kosovo since NATO marched into the province in June of 1999. Anywhere from a quarter to a third of a million Kosovo civilians of all ethnic backgrounds - Serbs, Albanians, Roma, Turks, Goranci, Egyptians, Jews - have been terrorized into fleeing and are now living destitute in other parts of Yugoslavia.

But, again, there's no concern for any of the above in the citadels of the NATO community. The human, legal and moral catastrophe that was Operation Allied Force in 1999 is now relegated to the fairy tale history of triumphant empires. We came, we saw, we destroyed. We forgot.

That is until it remembers us. By the time most Americans graduate from high school they've read Edgar Allen Poe's short story "The Masque Of The Red Death." In an unnamed locality, but one resembling a medieval Italian city-state, a plague - The Red Death - is ravaging the populace outside the walls of the palaces of the powerful. "The Red Death had long devastated the country. No pestilence had ever been so fatal, or so hideous."

But as the victims are outsiders, the type that in today's world can safely be bombed and abandoned, the rulers ignore the wails and death rattles of the victims while attending a masked ball among opulent surroundings. A feast in a time of famine, an ostentatious display of wealth are indulged as though to mock the misery outside.

Until the Red Death, personified, enters the gathering and strikes terror - and the contagion - into the revellers.

NATO's white death, the plague that was to have remained in Iraq and Bosnia and Yugoslavia while the people of the North Atlantic community remained oblivious of it (and so much else), has now entered the palace. It's been brought there by the sons sent on history's first 'safe' military expedition. The sons have now come home to die.

Let the concerns for the health of afflicted troops be the beginning and not the end of a renewed interest, perhaps a reawakened conscience, in the West. A tremendous task is incumbent on the populations of those nations, none more than the United States and Britain, that are responsible for the uranium poisoning of peoples and nations: A mass-scale, immediate international relief effort must be launched, in Yugoslavia, in affected parts of Bosnia, in Iraq, to investigate, test, clean up and treat the lethal consequences of the unconscionable use of uranium weaponry.

A total ban on the production, deployment and use of these weapons must be codified in each nation and internationally; international inspections of the plants producing them, especially the notoriously dangerous Paducah, Kentucky factory should commence immediately.

As it's impossible, legally and morally, to condemn a crime and exonerate the criminal, the leaders of those countries found to have employed these weapons, full well knowing their effects, on a widespread basis - and that means the United States and Britain most prominently - must be brought to justice. Brought to trial.

This page: http://www.stopnato.org.uk/du-watch/rozoff/whitedeath.htm

 
 

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