US' DU weapons in Gulf Wars taking worse toll than Hiroshima

‘I took the official definitions of terrorism … I took the definition that is given in US and British law … If you apply it, it turns out the United States is one of the leading terrorist states in the world.’ -- Noam Chomsky to Press TV in January this year.

 The United States has been generous in its use of depleted uranium weapons in the two Gulf Wars: first in Operation Desert Storm 1991 and then in 2003 when a full-scale invasion of Iraq was launched. Ten years later, the Depleted Uranium (DU) dropped through guided missiles, smart bombs and bunker-busters is taking its toll, not only on Iraqis, but, ironically, also on US personnel present in the theatre of war.

 The September 2012 Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology report noted the birth defect rate October to October 1994-95 in Basra and Fallujah was 1.37 per 1000 live births. By 2003 this increased 17 times with 23 babies born with serious defects in every 1000 live births. And this does not take into account the high incidence of miscarriage of grossly malformed foetuses.

 Cancer rates among adults and children have also shot up. An estimated 40 of 100,000 Iraqis suffered from cancer in 1991. By 1995 the number had risen 20 times to 800. And by 2005 it had doubled to 1600. 

Dr Samira Alani, a paediatrician working in Fallujah, kept detailed medical records on new-borns and talked to Japanese doctors to compare their data post the dropping of the atom bomb on Hiroshima. She concluded that the birth defect rate in Fallujah had surpassed that in Hiroshima. This could also be true in the rest of Iraq, but no detailed studies have been undertaken.

 Recently Dr Alani told an Al Jazeera reporter: “It’s common now in Fallujah for new-borns to have massive multiple systemic defects, immune problems, massive central nervous system problems, heart problems, skeletal disorders, babies with two heads, babies with their internal organs outside of their bodies, Cyclops babies literally with one eye – really, really, really horrific nightmarish types of birth defects.” 

Ironically, that evidence is strengthened by the higher than normal incidence of birth defects in children born to Iraq war veterans, recorded by the veterans’ organisations. It was Gary Vey in web news portal viewzone who broke the story in 2010 (it received little attention) that not only were more than 36 per cent Iraq veterans suffering from mysterious “undiagnosed” illnesses, American deaths in the Iraq War had surpassed those in Vietnam.

War casualties

Taking statistics from the Gulf War Veterans Information System as in May 2007 he revealed, “undiagnosed illness claims were 14,874 while the disability claims were 1.6 million. That is, 36 per cent of combat troops filed disability claims.

Moreover, it seems two different methods were adopted by the US military to report its casualties in Vietnam and Iraq, leading to a much lower figure for Iraq. In Vietnam soldiers dying of injuries received in the battlefield were treated as war casualties, but not so in Iraq.

Those dying in hospitals or even during transportation from the field were not counted in the official figure of 4,267 dead in the 2003 war.

The Vietnam War memorial in Washington records 58,197 deaths. The Gulf War Veterans Information System records a total of 78,980 deaths as in February 2008, including 19,152 deployed personnel and 59,828 non-deployed.

Official US studies, however, continue to deny any long-term adverse effect of DU, while admitting that DU had indeed been used.

James Denver in an article titled Horror from America (archive.truthout.org) quotes Chris Busby, a British radiation expert and UK representative on the European Committee on Radiation Risk. “I’m horrified. The people out there – the Iraqis, the media and the troops – risk the most appalling ill health. And the radiation from DU can travel literally anywhere. It’s going to destroy the lives of thousands of children, all over the world. We all know … (radiation) from Chernobyl reached Wales and in Britain …”

 That the hazards of this radiation can persist for millions of years is well established. What is also admitted now – the quantity is disputed -- is that the United States and Britain dropped DU in hundreds, if not thousands, of tons over Iraq: about 300 tons in 1991 when operation Desert Storm was launched (that figure is official) and an estimated 800 to 1500 tons since 2003 when a full-scale invasion of Iraq took place. In short, WMDs were deployed that will continue to kill and destroy lives for centuries. One estimate is about 1,000,000 pounds of fine uranium dust lies scattered over Iraq.

The core of the Little Boy dropped on Hiroshima is believed to have contained 64 kg of uranium 235 with an average of nearly 80 per cent enrichment. 

A mildly worded and non-binding United Nations general assembly resolution in December 2012 asking for “a precautionary approach” to the use of DU in weapons, was opposed by just four countries: US, UK, France and Israel. No surprise, for since the Gulf War the US and Israel have been itching to do to Iran what was done to Iraq.

It is the same familiar script, the same propaganda about WMDs falling into wrong hands. Presumably, they are safe in the hands of the US, the only country to use the atom bomb in Japan besides napalm and Agent Orange in Vietnam and DU in Iraq, and perhaps also Afghanistan. And one can be sure an impressive inventory of deadly DU weapons is ready for use, whenever the US thinks it needs to bring Iran to its knees.  

It is now official. Saddam Hussein’s WMDs were non-existent. One million dead Iraqis later, and more on what has been described as “DU death-row”, what is certain is the US and its allies in their so-called War on Terror used WMDs.

Why blame the US or Britain? After all, its nuclear facilities for uranium enrichment give depleted uranium waste for free to the armaments industry.  This ‘free’ waste is used to make deadly weapons. These are then dropped here and there. Wars are won. Hazardous waste is got rid of. Double benefit. 

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