The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Iraq is left with long term toxic legacy of USA’s use of depleted uranium weapons

Iraq, 15 years On: A Toxic US Legacy, March 18, 2018, by  Middle East Eye   Fifteen years ago this month, the United States spearheaded a fantastically bloody war on Iraq as part of its ongoing effort to ensure the Iraqi nation’s perpetual misery. Common Dreams, by Belén Fernández,  Fifteen years ago this month, the United States spearheaded a fantastically bloody war on Iraq ….

Increasing rates of cancer and birth defects …..

Consider, for instance, Cockburn’s 2010 article for The Independent, headlined “Toxic legacy of US assault on Fallujah ‘worse than Hiroshima'”. In it, he outlined the results of a study by British scientist Chris Busby and colleagues Malak Hamdan and Entesar Ariabi on the increase in reports of cancer, birth defects, infant mortality and other forms of suffering in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, the focus of a particularly vicious US assault.

To be sure, as one of the top polluters on the entire planet, the US military has never been thrilled about acknowledging what would appear to be obvious: that saturating the environment with toxic materials will have repercussions on both environmental and human health, including the health of the United States’ own warriors, as underlined by the afflictions affecting veterans of the Vietnam War and first Gulf War, among other imperial escapades.

According to Mozhgan Savabieasfahani, an award-winning toxicologist based in Michigan, “around six billion bullets were expended into the Iraqi environment” between 2002 and 2005 alone – which, along with bombs, have led to “public contamination with … toxic metals”.

Depleted uranium: a long-term hazard

But the US military arsenal extends far beyond traditional guns and bombs. In 2012, Robert Fisk wrote about a 14-month-old Iraqi named Sayef who had a severely enlarged head, was blind, paralysed and unable to swallow. Noting that much blame for the rise in congenital birth defects in Fallujah had been directed at the United States’ use of white phosphorus there, Fisk was nonetheless forced to include the caveat: “No one, of course, can produce cast-iron evidence that American munitions have caused the tragedy of Fallujah’s children.”

Yet the possibility of a cause-and-effect relationship becomes more and more difficult to deny. Already in 2009, the Guardian had reported that doctors in Fallujah were “dealing with up to 15 times as many chronic deformities in infants” as the previous year, such as a baby born with two heads.

In 2013, Al Jazeera quoted Sharif al-Alwachi of the Babil Cancer Centre in southern Iraq, who attributed escalating cancer rates since 2003 on the US military’s use of depleted uranium (DU) weapons. Al Jazeera also threw in the following uplifting note: “The remaining traces of DU in Iraq represent a formidable long-term environmental hazard, as they will remain radioactive for more than 4.5 billion years.”

Indeed, DU constitutes a can of worms unto itself. A 2016 Washington Spectator essay titled “Irradiated Iraq,” by Washington, DC-based investigative journalist Barbara Koeppel, remarks on the convenient US classification of its own uranium weapons as “conventional” when in fact “they are radioactive and chemically toxic”.

Destructive capacity

This is the same US, of course, that goes into warmongering hissy-fits each and every time the word “radioactive” comes up in the context of Iran while also engaging in countless other varieties of hypocritical rampage.

Koeppel cites former United Nations weapons inspector Scott Ritter‘s observation: “The irony is we invaded Iraq in 2003 to destroy its non-existent WMD [weapons of mass destruction]. To do it, we fired these new weapons, causing radioactive casualties.”

Luckily for the US, there are plenty of members of the national media and wider domestic landscape willing to succumb to the notion that DU is simply Something We Don’t Talk About; you might even say the issue itself is radioactive.

Others, however, have wholeheartedly embraced the destructive wonders of DU, as was the case with a US special operations soldier I spoke with earlier this year. This young man had just completed tours of duty in Iraq and Syria, where the US recently came under criticism for its renewed use of DU; he expressed dismay that sectors of the international community had failed to appreciate the effectiveness of the weaponry in question.

Back in 2001, the International Committee of the Red Cross offered some watered-down thoughts on DU, gently suggesting that international humanitarian law “prohibit[s] weapons, means or methods of warfare of a nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering, which have indiscriminate effects or which cause widespread, long-term and severe damage to the natural environment”…..


March 19, 2018 Posted by | depleted uranium, environment, health, Israel | Leave a comment

The Pentagon’s lies: it DID use depleted uranium weapons in Syria

The Pentagon said it wouldn’t use depleted uranium rounds against ISIS. Months later, it did — thousands of times. WP,  February 16, 2017 

Months after the Pentagon said it wouldn’t use a controversial type of armor-piercing ammunition that has been blamed for long-term health complications, U.S. aircraft fired thousands of the rounds during two high-profile air raids in Syria in November 2015, the Pentagon acknowledged Wednesday.

The use of the ammunition, a 30mm depleted-uranium bullet called PGU-14, was first reported by a joint Air Wars-Foreign Policy investigation on Tuesday. The roughly 5,265 rounds of the munition were fired from multiple A-10 ground attack aircraft on Nov 16, 2015, and Nov. 22, 2015, in airstrikes in Syria’s eastern desert that targeted the Islamic State’s oil supply during Operation Tidal Wave II, said Maj. Josh Jacques, a U.S. Central Command spokesman.

When loaded with depleted-uranium bullets, the A-10s fired what is called a “combat-mix,” meaning the aircraft’s cannon fires five depleted-uranium rounds to one high explosive incendiary bullet.

The strikes, which involved 30mm cannon fire, rockets and guided bombs, destroyed more than 300 vehicles, mostly civilian tanker trucks, the Pentagon said at the time. The two incidents were championed by the Pentagon, and footage of trucks being destroyed was posted online. The Pentagon said that no civilians were present during the bombardment because fliers had been dropped before strafing runs warning those in their trucks to flee.

Before the November strikes, the Pentagon said it would not use depleted-uranium munitions in the campaign against the Islamic State. In response to a query from a reporter in February 2015, Capt. John Moore, a spokesman for the U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition in Iraq and Syria said in an email that “U.S. and Coalition aircraft have not been and will not be using depleted uranium munitions in Iraq or Syria during Operation Inherent Resolve.” ….

February 14, 2018 Posted by | depleted uranium, Syria, USA | Leave a comment

Plan for a criminal lawsuit against the 19 member states of NATO, over use of depleted uranium


The first in a series of meetings that should lead to the formation of a Council to prepare a criminal lawsuit against the 19 member states of NATO, who bombed Serbia in 1999, was held on Thursday night in Nis. According to the lawyer Srdjan Aleksic each country will be sued separately and invites lawyers and doctors to join them.

“We have been preparing documentation for the writing of the lawsuit for years. Several countries had to pay damages to the soldiers who were hired in Kosovo. I believe that citizens of Serbia, especially those who have cancer, have identical rights. Because of the depleted uranium our health is endangered and the environment is polluted,” says Aleksic.

February 12, 2018 Posted by | depleted uranium, EUROPE, Legal | Leave a comment

Depleted uranium “helped sow deaths and illnesses” in Italian soldiers

Uranium caused cancer – probe  But expert denies saying there was causal link,  Redazione ANSA, 7 Feb 18  ANSA) -Rome   – The final report of a commission on depleted uranium said Italian soldiers had been exposed to “shocking” levels of it in Italy and on foreign missions, and that it had “helped sow deaths and illnesses”.
However, the doctor whose expert opinion informed the panel’s conclusions denied a link between uranium and cancer. Levels of uranium in the sectors of security and workplace health for soldiers had been toxic and deadly, said the report from the parliamentary commission of inquiry. The report highlighted that military chiefs had been in “denial” on the phenomenon, and also stressed the “deafening silences maintained by government authorities.” Experts heard by the panel had verified the links between exposure to depleted uranium and tumours, the report said.
Commission Chair Gian Piero Scanu of the Democratic Party said “repeated judicial sentences have consistently affirmed the existence of a causal link between exposure to depleted uranium and the pathologies cited by the soldiers: this is a milestone and now those who were exposed will have the possibility of getting justice without having to struggle as they have done so far”.

But the Italian doctor whose expert testimony was cited by the commission as evidence that depleted uranium caused cancer in soldiers denied “ever saying that”. “That is absolutely not my thinking, I never said that depleted uranium is responsible for the tumours found in the soldiers,” said Giorgio Trenta of the Italian association for medical radioprotection. Trenta’s report was cited by the panel as proof of the causal link between depleted uranium and cancer.
The relatives of soldiers who died of uranium-linked cancer have been suing the government for years and pursuing cases in the courts, amid denials from military authorities.
In 2016 a Rome appeals court upheld a guilty verdict for the defence ministry in the 1999 death from leukemia due to depleted uranium exposure of 23-year-old Corporal Salvatore Vacca who handled uranium-tipped munitions during a 150-day mission in Bosnia in 1998-99.
The court found the ministry guilty of not having protected Vacca.
It ordered the ministry to pay more than one and a half million euros in compensation to Vacca’s family.
The families of other victims are suing the ministry for deaths allegedly due to depleted uranium exposure on several Italian missions.
Domenico Leggiero of the Military Observatory group said the sentence was “historic, because it confirms that the ministry was aware of the danger the soldiers sent to those zones were subject to”.
He said “I am sure Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti will bear this ruling in mind when she appears before the parliamentary depleted uranium commission”.
Italian authorities consistently played down the uranium risks

February 9, 2018 Posted by | deaths by radiation, depleted uranium, EUROPE, legal | Leave a comment

Silence about depleted uranium contamination in Albania

SOURCE Vecernje Novosti   
NATO aircrafts, during 78 days of bombing with uranium ammunition, poisoned large part of the territory of Kosovo and Metohija, so even today, with the latest equipment, it is impossible to locate all contaminated areas. Every NATO bullet with depleted uranium, if not detected and extracted, will practically continue killing forever.

This said Lieutenant-Colonel Radomir Aleksandric for the daily Vecernje Novosti, the man who on Christmas 1999, with only 29 years of age, received post of Commander of 52nd ABHO (Atomic-biological-chemical defense) battalion in Kosovo. He explained that only when the uranium bullet is extracted – ABHO device goes “crazy”, and while in the ground, it is barely detected with equipment. In the meantime, uranium oxidizes, the rain carries toxic poisons deeper into the ground and through water further into the food chain.

According to the Lieutenant-Colonel, all our officers in Kosovo and Metohija (KiM) in 1999 knew of the danger of this ammunition. He adds that ABHO equipment was inadequate, i.e. good only for mass atomic-chemical warfare, and that we were confronted with subversive nuclear mini-strikes.

In April and May 1999 ABHO units of the Pristina Corpus measured the consequences of the NATO strikes in KiM in 360 positions immediately after the actions of the enemy. The results were confusing: “slightly elevated” radioactivity was recorded in the vicinity of Pristina, Slatina airport, then in Belacevac, Gracanica, Podujevo, Urosevac, Prizren, Djakovica, Decani…

“These were minimal deviations from the natural background radiation, or, as we concluded later, we had instruments for measuring “tons”, and we should have measured milligrams. Namely, in most of the sites that were examined bullets made of depleted uranium were deeply in the ground and did not at first seem to be too dangerous. Only after the aggression we realized what had happened to us”, said Aleksandric.

October 20, 2017 Posted by | depleted uranium, EUROPE | Leave a comment

UK govt should now rethink its view on nuclear weapons

Recent news means we should change our perspective on nuclear weapons Independent UK , Robert Forsyth, 8 Oct 17  Caroline Lucas spelled out on Saturday 7 October what the PM should now do about nuclear weapons. To which I would add that the PM’s first and immediate action should be to rescind her statement that she is prepared to carry out pre-emptive nuclear strikes.

Such an action, or even the threat of doing so, is in contravention of Nuremberg and Geneva Conventions, the UN Charter and a 1996 ruling by the International Court of Justice and therefore places our Trident submarine commanding officers in an impossible position as to whether they should carry out such an order, bearing in mind they are not absolved of responsibility by the military chain of command.


October 9, 2017 Posted by | depleted uranium, Legal, UK | Leave a comment

The well -kept secrets of depleted uranium and the toxic economy of war in Iraq

Invisibility and the Toxic Economy of War in Iraq, by Toby C. JonesIn April 2008 a small US engineering firm—Stafford, Texas-based MKM Engineers—brought to a close almost two decades of toxic cleanup work on a former US military facility just west of Kuwait City. Seventeen years earlier, in July 1991, a defective heating unit on a military vehicle loaded with 155mm artillery shells at Camp Doha caught fire and ignited a devastating inferno. The blaze injured several dozen people and damaged scores of other vehicles, including several highly prized M1A1 tanks.[1]

Thousands of artillery shells cooked in fire, setting off an extended explosive chain reaction. Ricocheting debris and bursting ordinance sent base personnel scurrying for safety in what quickly came to be known as the Doha Dash.[2] The fire also unleashed a toxic plume. Seared metal—the detritus of broken war machines and spent artillery—always leaves a hazardous legacy. But the base was also home to thousands of 120mm anti-tank depleted uranium (DU) artillery shells, weapons forged from the waste of the American nuclear fuel cycle. DU weapons are both radioactive and toxic. Normally, depleted uranium not put to military or other industrial use, is handled and stored as hazardous waste. The American Environmental Protection Agency and the Pentagon today have strict guidelines in place for its handling with both recognizing it as a danger to human and environmental health. At Camp Doha over 600 of the nuclear waste-turned-weapons detonated in the fire, coating the sky with noxious black smoke and dust that drifted for miles.[3]
Although having been informed over many years that DU, particularly its chemical toxicity, constituted a threat to health and environments, the US military limited its effort to address the mess in Kuwait.[4] Damaged machines were quietly returned to the US either to be scrubbed or destroyed. Spent weapons and some contaminated sand were packaged into barrels, many of which were shipped to remote parts of the Kuwaiti desert and buried. Claiming that it had only a minimal legal obligation to address the fallout and commit to the recovery of the environment around the base, the US abandoned the cleanup job only partially completed by the end of 1991.
Halliburton, the giant oil services company, carried out additional work on the site after the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq. But it was not until 2008 that the area around Camp Doha was fully neutralized and the danger abated by engineers from Texas. Financed by the Kuwaiti military, MKM Engineers oversaw the final excavation of the site, digging up almost 7,000 tons of toxic and irradiated sand. Once unearthed the poisoned sand was loaded aboard the container ship BBC Alabama and shipped thousands of miles away to the Port of Longview, Washington, nestled on Columbia River in the southwestern part of the state. From there, the sand was transported by rail to a private hazardous waste facility outside of Boise, Idaho where it was permanently buried.[5]
The details of the fire at Camp Doha and its toxic legacy—in which the US military forsake its responsibility to ameliorate a toxic site, only to have much of the site itself ultimately transported back to the US for final treatment and disposal, are absurd.
The global movement of hazardous waste remade as weapons in the United States and put to use the Middle East, in this case to be returned as waste years later, is remarkable and disturbing.
Beyond the details of the fire at Camp Doha, though, why does this episode help us think critically and more broadly about economies and political economies of war?
Below I suggest we set aside more conventional ways of thinking about the value of weapons and arms in war economies, particularly the oft-reported details of the monetary value of weapons bought and sold between global powers. (from monetary to exchange) Weapons systems are always also parts of environmental and health economies and ecologies. To think about this in part, I point toward broader visibility and invisibility as well as how we might use the environmental and health impacts of DU weapons’ use — which remain little known and more disturbingly, often deliberately obscured from view—to expand our frame of what a war economy includes and how parts of it are able to function.
It is the furtive character of DU weapons manufacturing, its testing (primarily and secretly in the American southwest), the scale of its use, and ultimately, the nature and impact that result, that makes it simultaneously difficult to investigate, but also so useful for the American military and its clients.
I suggest that the relative invisibility of DU weapons systems is more than just an idiosyncratic footnote to wars in the Middle East more generally. While non-DU weapons have almost certainly killed more people, caused more damage, and profited investors more significantly, the power of smaller systems and their secretive character transcends their relative “market share.” In one way this has to do with broader politics of visibility and war.
Much happens, from profit to pain, out of sight. War and those it benefits carry on much more easily, and perhaps enthusiastically, as a result. Indeed, the invisibility of key aspects of war and its wages create small, but critical access ways for a broader range of private, corporate and political interest to benefit. They also bracket off or diminish suffering of various kinds, including long term environmental and health impacts.
The magnitude of the damage done in Kuwait was relatively small compared to the devastation of war elsewhere, particularly in Kuwait’s northern neighbor Iraq, where the country was ravaged by the long American war there between 1991 and 2011.[6] The small cost of the Camp Doha fire, perhaps around $40million, is minor in comparison to the trillions of dollars of spent on war and damage in Iraq.[7] And while weapons manufacturing and sales, and the routine exchange of billions of dollars in oil revenues for American weapons and military systems, are critical for understanding the importance of the political economy of war in the Middle East—and its global entanglements—depleted uranium weapons, while not insignificant, make up a small fraction of the amount of weapons industry’s profit on wars in the region.
Since the 1970s when depleted uranium waste first began to be fashioned into weapons designed to destroy Soviet tanks, the total number of DU weapons manufactured is unknown. Made in small batches and designed primarily to destroy heavy armor, depleted uranium’s total production likely numbers in the hundreds of thousands of artillery rounds, millions of smaller caliber shells, as well as armor for tanks and other uses. Whatever the actual scale of production over decades, the United States military used DU weapons extensively against military and non-military targets in Iraq between 1991 and 2011—as well as in Afghanistan and Syria.[8] The Pentagon has been unwilling to disclose the full extent of its use of DU weapons, though anecdotal evidence from various media suggests it was widely deployed from Basra to Falluja against human and non-human targets.
The broader context and story around Camp Doha—in which DU weapons were made in places like Concord, Massachusetts, tested in places like Los Alamos, New Mexico, used in Iraq and Kuwait, finally disposed of by a firm from Texas in a global network that passed from the northern Persian Gulf to Idaho—enrolled and touched upon thousands of people, generated an unknown amount of damage and profit, and yet has remained almost entirely unknown. This invisibility is not trivial. Rather, it is productive, arresting the possibility of scrutiny, operating on multiple small levels simultaneously and over time, rendered local rather than caught up in the much broader networks of which it is a part, and almost entirely uncontested because the unseen is unseen.

The making and circulation of weapons, typically easily monetized and measured, are only one way to think through the cost of war and the character of its economies. There is a second dimension to the productive power of toxic invisibility for war-makers as well. Because so much around depleted uranium is deliberately mystified and withheld – a pattern that is at odds with how militaries often conspicuously celebrate the power of their weapons systems—military and political authorities have also been able to deny claims about its most pernicious toxic effects. While all war results in long lasting environmental, infrastructural, and embodied suffering, toxic weapons produce consequences that are particularly devastating and long lasting. Given their molecular qualities and the scientific and medical difficulty in linking particular cases of exposure to illness, and especially because they mete out their violence over years and decades—slow violence—the damage they do often persist well after that last bombs were dropped.

In spite of the Pentagon’s efforts to obscure the scale of the use of depleted uranium weapons in Iraq and elsewhere as well as what amounts to obstruction of investigation into DU’s effects, Iraqi scientists and doctors, often assisted by global observers, have documented some of health and environmental damage done. The environmental and health impact has been significant and generational. In the face of extensive epidemiological and other evidence, the US military, alongside its allies that employ it in battle as well, deny the toxic dangers of DU weapons. Whatever the arguments put forward by other observers that DU’s hazardous effects are yet unproven, and there are many, claims of uncertainty are not driven by science, but by politics.[9] The evidence that DU causes health and environmental calamity is overwhelmingly understood to be true except to those who have an interest in believing otherwise.

Beyond the politically driven quest for scientific certainty around depleted uranium’s impact on Iraqi bodies and environments, much is lost. Because the impact of DU is denied by those with the power to potentially neutralize its effects, toxic DU dust is left suspended in Iraqi food systems, coated along infrastructure, lodged in the organs and bones bodies, passed on through childbirth, and left on scraps of metal destroyed in the war that themselves have become commodities exchanged in the country’s postwar economy. Iraqis in particularly affected areas come into constant contact with it. Their exposures are repeated and routine and, yet, remain unmeasured and untreated. And while experts can deny the linkage or withhold certainty about the connections between militarized toxins and affected communities, significant networks of suffering exist.

Indeed, alongside the weapons and the political economic terms of their production, use, and the veils that shroud them, the need for care in war-ravaged communities are the “other side” of these small parts of war economies. The injured and sick, particularly those who face long struggles as a result of toxic exposures, are also central to making sense of the economy of war.[10] Suffering and care, then, must also be accounted for not as the afterlife of war, but as central to our moral and economic calculations of what it involves in the first place. Like depleted uranium weapons themselves, the scale and cost of care and the struggle over health are too easily unseen and uncounted.[11]

[1] Associated Press, “56 Soldiers Hurt in Kuwait Blast,” New York Times, 12 July 1991,

[3] Thomas D. Williams, “The Depleted Uranium Threat,” Truthout, 13 August 2008,

[4] For one early example such a warning, see Wayne C. Hanson, “Ecological Considerations of Depleted Uranium Munitions,” Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, United States Atomic Energy Commission, June 1974.

[5] Williams, op cit. See also, Snake River Alliance, “Tons of Waste Shipped to Idaho From Kuwait,”; Penny Coleman, “How 6,700 Tons of Radioactive Sand from Kuwait Ended up in Idaho,” Alternet, 16 September 2008,

[6] Toby Craig Jones, “America, Oil and War in the Middle East,” Journal of American History 99, no. 1 (June 2012): 208-218,

[7] Daniel Trotta, “Iraq War Costs more than $2 trillion: Study,” Reuters, 14 March 2013, On the cost of the Camp Doha fire, see

[8] Samuel Oakford, “The United States Used Depleted Uranium in Syria,” Foreign Policy, 14 February 2017,

[9] Toby Craig Jones, “Toxic War and the Politics of Uncertainty in Iraq,” International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 46 no. 4 (October 2014).

[10] See Omar Dewachi, Ungovernable Life: Mandatory Medicine and Statecraft in Iraq (Stanford University Press, 2017).

[11] Omar Dewachi, “The Toxicity of Everyday Survival in Iraq,” Jadaliyya, August 13, 2013.

September 4, 2017 Posted by | depleted uranium, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Call for Pentagon to disclose depleted uranium target

Jack Cohen-Joppa: McSally: Ask Pentagon to disclose depleted uranium target data. 14 May 17,  Jack Cohen-Joppa

Last year, Rep. Martha McSally’s office helped a military journalist and I confirm that for the first time since 2003, A-10s had fired their armor-piercing depleted uranium (DU) ammunition while attacking an ISIS convoy in Syria in November, 2015.

In February, I wrote to ask her assistance in getting the Pentagon to share with appropriate Iraqi and international authorities all of the locations where this radioactive ammunition has been used.

 Twenty-six years ago during Operation Desert Storm, U.S. armed forces flying over Iraq fired nearly one million rounds of the special ammunition, totaling about 300 tons of refined depleted uranium. Another 125-plus tons of these radioactive bullets were fired during Operation Iraqi Freedom, the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The vast bulk of this ordnance came from the guns of the A-10 warplanes, while the remainder was fired from the Abrams tank, Bradley Fighting Vehicle and Marine AV-8B Harrier.

As a radioactive heavy metal, use of DU in industry is licensed from federally owned stockpiles. Public health officials recognize it as a chemical and radiological hazard. Industrial emissions are subject to regulation, and production facilities have been shut down due to off-site contamination. Protocols and procedures exist to protect the health and safety of those in industry and the military who manufacture and handle the uranium ammo until its use in combat.

Since 1991, the United States has been asked to provide international aid NGOs, United Nations agencies, and the government of Iraq with full information about where this ammunition was used. According to the World Health Organization, the International Atomic Energy Agency and the United Nations Environmental Program, this basic data is needed to help identify contaminated sites for remediation and the eventual removal of this toxic remnant of war.

 Today, more than two decades later, our government has refused to fully disclose this information. The failure to disclose has a continuing political cost as well, because it counters any claim that the United States cares for the future of the Iraqi, and now also the Syrian, people.

It is known that such targeting information is available to disclose because a subset of the data was shared with the Dutch government for locations where Dutch coalition troops may have encountered DU contamination. NATO also released targeting data for DU use in the Balkans in 1999. Another limited set of targeting data from 2003 was uncovered recently in George Washington University’s National Security Archive.

I asked Representative McSally to add her voice to those demanding the Pentagon provide international authorities with comprehensive information regarding where DU was used by the A-10s and other platforms since 1991.

But now, three months later, neither McSally nor her office have replied to my letter, let alone provided an answer about her views on the matter. As a veteran A-10 commander now sitting on the House Armed Services Committee, her support for releasing this information would be significant, benefiting the health and safety of U.S. military personnel, international aid workers and the affected civilian populations for generations to come. I encourage all of her  constituents to join me in asking her to support this request.

 Jack Cohen-Joppa, a Tucson resident since 1986, is co-coordinator of the Nuclear Resister. Contact Jack at

May 15, 2017 Posted by | depleted uranium, USA | Leave a comment

USA confirms use of depleted uranium i n Syria, despite its previous promises

depleted-uraniumSamuel Oakford:  US promised it wouldn’t use Depleted Uranium in Syria. But then it did. February 14, 2017. Officials have confirmed that the US military – despite vowing not to use controversial Depleted Uranium (DU) weapons on the battlefield in Iraq and Syria – fired thousands of rounds of such munitions during two high-profile raids on oil trucks in Islamic State-controlled Syria in late 2015. The air assaults mark the first confirmed use of this armament since the 2003 Iraq invasion, when hundreds of thousands of rounds were fired, leading to outrage among local communities which alleged that toxic remnants caused both cancer and birth defects.

ICBUW: United States confirms that it has fired depleted uranium in Syria 21 October 2016. US admits that it fired DU on two occasions in November 2015, contrary to earlier claims; military justification for use unclear after target analysis; ICBUW and PAX call for full disclosure to facilitate harm reduction measures; Russia takes advantage of news to distract from its own conduct in the conflict.

February 20, 2017 Posted by | depleted uranium, Syria, USA | Leave a comment

Cry from soldier, unrecognised victim of depleted uranium radiation

Depleted uranium, used in some types of ammunition and military armour, is the dense, low-cost leftover once uranium has been processed….

A high-ranking official from Veterans Affairs says a handful of vets mistakenly believe their bodies have been damaged by depleted uranium…..

the Federal Court of Canada has found depleted uranium to be an issue.  The court ruled the Veterans Affairs Department must compensate retired serviceman Steve Dornan for a cancer his doctors say resulted from exposure to depleted uranium residue.

text-from-the-archivesPoisoned soldier plans hunger strike at minister’s office in exchange for care, Montreal Andy Blatchford, The Canadian Press, 30 Oct 11,  MONTREAL — An ex-soldier who says he was poisoned while serving overseas is planning to go on a hunger strike outside the office of Canada’s veterans affairs minister until he gets medical treatment.

Or until he dies.

Continue reading

December 26, 2016 Posted by | Canada, depleted uranium, health, PERSONAL STORIES, Uranium | Leave a comment

Mounting evidence of long term harm of depleted uranium weapons

text-from-the-archivesThere is increasing worldwide support for a Depleted Uranium  ban….There is a du_roundsgrowing consensus among civil society groups, scientists and
some military organisations
that the health risks from DU have been seriously underestimated.

Latest documents advocating the ban of depleted uranium. By Jerry Mazza, Online Journal, 23 July 2010, US Armed Forces Radiobiology Institute Between 2000 and 2003, Dr Alexandra Miller of AFFRI was at the forefront of US Government sponsored research into DU�s chemical toxicity and radioactivity. Through a series of peer-reviewed papers, Dr Miller and her colleagues demonstrated for the first time that internalised DU oxides could result in �a significant enhancement of urinary mutagenicity,� that they can transform human cells into cells capable of producing cancerous tumours,

……and that DU was capable of inducing DNA damage in the absence of significant radioactive decay, i.e. through its chemical toxicity alone. In one study, 76% of mice implanted with DU pellets developed leukaemia.
International response

�There is increasing worldwide support for a DU ban. In 2007 Belgium became the first country in the world to ban all conventional weapons containing uranium with �other states set to follow their example. Meanwhile the Italian government agreed to a 170m Euro compensation package for personnel exposed to uranium weapons in the Balkans.

Later that year the UN General Assembly passed a resolution highlighting serious health concerns over DU and in May 2008, 94% of MEPs in the European Parliament strengthened four previous calls for a moratorium by calling for a DU ban treaty in a wide-ranging resolution. In December 2008 141 states in the UN General Assembly ordered the World Health Organisation, International Atomic Energy Agency and United Nations Environment Programme to update their positions on the long-term health and environmental threat that uranium weapons pose.

The solution

With more than 100 member organisations worldwide, ICBUW represents the best opportunity yet to achieve a global ban on the use of uranium in all conventional weapon systems. Even though the use of weapons containing uranium should already be illegal under International Humanitarian, Human Rights and Environmental Laws, an explicit treaty, as has been seen with chemical and biological weapons, landmines and cluster bombs, has proved the best solution for confirming their illegality. Such a treaty would not only outlaw the use of uranium weapons, but would include the prohibition of their production, the destruction of stockpiles, the decontamination of battlefields and rules on compensation for victims.

ICBUW has prepared a draft treaty, which contains a general and comprehensive prohibition of the development, production, transport, storage, possession, transfer and use of uranium ammunition.

There is a growing consensus among civil society groups, scientists and
some military organisations
that the health risks from DU have been seriously underestimated. Establishment scientific bodies have been slow to react to the wealth of new research into DU and policy makers have been content to ignore the claims of researchers and activists. Deliberate obfuscation by the mining, nuclear and arms industries has further hampered efforts to recognise the problem and achieve a ban. The past failure of the UN Convention on Certain Conventional �Weapons to deal with landmines and cluster bombs suggests that an independent treaty process is the best route to limiting the further use and proliferation of uranium weapons.

As enshrined in the Geneva Conventions, the methods and means of warfare are not unlimited. We must not allow the short term military advantage claimed for uranium weapons to override our responsibility for the long-term welfare of people and planet.

Latest documents advocating the ban of depleted uranium

December 19, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, depleted uranium, Uranium | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

6th depleted uranium resolution passed by UN General Assembly’s First Committee

depleted-uraniumflag-UN-largeUN General Assembly’s First Committee passes 6th depleted uranium resolution

Germany and Canada abstain, Norway joins the Netherlands in questioning language on the potential health risks from DU, Palau votes in favour for the first time.
1 November 2016 – ICBUW 146 states have voted in favour of the sixth resolution on DU weapons since 2007. This year’s text paid particular attention to the technical difficulties that affected states face in tackling DU contamination to internationally recognised radiation protection standards.

The resolution also took note of the ongoing concerns from states such as Iraq, and from health experts and civil society over the effects of the weapons on civilians. With the vote coming a week since the US admitted firing DU in Syria in 2015, concern over the health and environmental consequences of the use of the weapons is once again on the international agenda.

“With attention increasingly focused on the lack of obligations for the post-conflict management of DU contamination, the resolution’s reference to the difficulties affected states face is welcome,” said ICBUW Coordinator Doug Weir. “Without clear standards for clearance, and a mechanism for international assistance, civilians will continue to face avoidable exposure risks.”

True to form, just four states voted against the text, which will be voted on again by the General Assembly in early December. The US, UK, France and Israel remain the only four governments to continuously oppose the resolutions. In spite of repeated appeals from the European Parliament for progress on the topic, EU member states remained split on the resolution, with many among the 26 states still abstaining.

Germany, who up until 2014 had supported the resolutions, once again abstained, angering campaigners from ICBUW-Germany. Their position is all the more frustrating given that they elected not to develop DU weapons on the grounds of acceptability in the 1970s; and needless to say they warn their own military personnel of the dangers of battlefield exposure. Many abstainers used language in paragraph seven of the text to justify their political decision to abstain.

Last month Germany’s Foreign Minister Michael Roth claimed that the government took the debate on DU “very seriously” in a response to a parliamentary question from Green MP Agnieszka Brugger. However, in the run up to the vote Germany repeatedly sought to weaken the text of the resolution even though it seems apparent that Berlin had no intention of voting in favour.

“PAX is deeply disturbed that states abstaining on the resolution refused to recognise civilian concerns over exposure to depleted uranium, civilians who are rightly concerned that low-level radioactive waste in their environment could impact the lives of their families,” said PAX’s Wim Zwijnenburg. “Those states abstaining should look to their own guidelines on radiation protection and then consult their consciences on what would be the right thing do when it comes to protecting civilians in armed conflict.”

Prior to the 2015 election that saw Justin Trudeau sweep to power in Canada, his Liberal Party had been polled on their views on DU by Mines Action Canada. Their response couldn’t have been clearer: “The Liberal Party of Canada opposes the use of depleted uranium munitions.” Sadly Canada failed to live up to this ideal and abstained once again.

In spite of championing work on DU for many years, Norway joined the Netherlands in submitting an explanation of vote that cautioned against the use of language on the “potential health risks from DU”. While both nevertheless voted in favour, they argued that the term “possible health effects” would have been preferable.

ICBUW was pleased that Sweden and Bulgaria, who first voted in favour of the resolution in 2014 supported the text again this year. Sweden joined Switzerland in calling for harm reduction measures, such as risk awareness work for affected communities. Palau voted in favour for the first time, continuing the trend that has seen the number of abstentions decreasing in recent years.

November 4, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, depleted uranium, politics international | Leave a comment

Humans, wildlife threatened by Navy’s Use of Depleted Uranium in USA Coastal Waters

depleted-uraniumThe Navy’s Use of Depleted Uranium in Our Coastal Waters Threatens Humans, Wildlife Monday, 31 October 2016 By Dahr JamailTruthout | Report
 Earlier this month, Truthout reported that the US Navy is knowingly introducingtoxic metals and chemicals into the environment during its war game exercises.

Sheila Murray with the Navy Region Northwest’s public affairs office, when asked what the Navy was doing to mitigate environmental contamination from the large numbers of Depleted Uranium (DU) rounds it left on the seabed off the Pacific Northwest Coast claimed current research “does not suggest short- or long-term effects” from the release of DU to the environment that could result in its uptake by marine organisms.”

She also said that DU rounds “are extremely stable in sea water and pose no greater threat than any other metal.”

In response to this, Mozhgan Savabieasfahani, an environmental toxicologist and winner of the 2015 Rachel Carson Prize environmental award for her work on DU and heavy metal contamination, told Truthout, “The US Navy representative’s views exhibit an alarming level of amnesia.”

She said this because Murray’s statement has been one that has been recycled by the Navy for years. Reuters reported in January 2003 that the Navy confirmed its use of DU shells in arms tests off the Washington State coast, at which time the Navy claimed, “The DU rounds dissolve so slowly that they would not contribute to naturally occurring (radiation) levels … and do not pose a significant risk.”

Meanwhile, ample scientific reports — including Savabieasfahani’s own research — demonstrate the deleterious health impacts caused by DU.

“When those bullets and bombs explode, dangerous nanoparticles of metals, including uranium nanoparticles, are released into the environment,” she explained to Truthout. “Laboratory research has already established that exposure to environmentally relevant concentrations of uranium has negative impacts on fish embryogenesis, and on the reproductive success of fish.”

Naval documents show that as much as 34 tons of DU could be present on the seabed just 12 miles from the outer coast of Washington State.

Even more distressing, the Navy’s own documents reveal that the extent of its use of DU off the coast of the US is far more pervasive than it admits to the public.

And results of a Freedom of Information Act filing provided to Truthout show that the Navy, which claims in its environmental impact statements it has not used DU since 2008, has actually shipped it from a Puget Sound munitions area as recently as 2011.

A Bogus Study

The Navy’s public affairs officer, Murray, also told Truthout that a “recent study” of an area off the south coast of England that was used for test firing DU rounds “did not show presence of DU in sample of intertidal and ocean bottom sediments, seaweed, mussels, and locally caught lobster and scallops. (Toque, 2006).”

However, the study Murray cites — and which the Navy consistently cites when arguing that DU is not harmful — is heavily disputed.

Carol Van Strum, an Oregon-based environmental advocate who has researched DU for years, told Truthout that Murray’s statement is “an out-and-out lie.”

Van Strum, who has read the Toque study closely and knows it well, pointed out that, for starters, the study’s author works for a British military contractor. She went on to point out two very serious flaws in the study.

“While the study relied on ‘locally caught’ lobster and scallops as samples for testing for depleted uranium, the samples were never ‘caught’ but rather bought in a local market, and thus could have come from anywhere,” Van Strum explained. “Second, and most worrisome … the actual study reports depleted uranium contamination in nearly all of the samples.”

The Navy’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the matter claims “the survey results show no evidence of DU being present in any marine environmental sample collected in the year 2004.”

But Van Strum called their claim “incontrovertibly false” because the study itself stated it had found DU contamination in the soil in many areas where the military was operating cannons, in the soil where ordnance had been fired, and in the soil, sea water and marine life where the ordnance they had fired had landed.

“The study’s methodology would not pass muster for even a high school science project,” Van Strum said. Karen Sullivan, a retired endangered species biologist who co-founded the website West Coast Action Alliance that acts as a watchdog of Naval activities in the Pacific Northwest, questioned why the Navy would open itself up to accusations of bias by relying on only a single study done by someone who works for a group affiliated with the British military.

“Why would the Navy rely on such a flawed and obviously biased study to ‘prove’ that DU in seawater poses no threat greater than any other metal?” Sullivan, who worked at the US Fish and Wildlife Service for more than 15 years and who is an expert in the bureaucratic procedures the Navy is supposed to be following, asked in an interview with Truthout. “Probably because the enormous body of properly conducted and unbiased science completely refutes it.”

Van Strum went on to point out additional significant problems with the study, including the almost laughable procurement and use of the samples……..

Human Health Impacts of DU “Quite Relevant” to Naval Exercises

“Navy exercises in the waters of the Pacific Northwest will release contaminants into the marine environment, with an undeniable potential to harm human health,” Savabieasfahani said, noting that this would apply even to low-level amounts of DU being introduced into the oceans. “It is long established that explosives can contaminate soil, sediment and water and thereby impact environmental and human health.”

She explained that the human and environmental impacts of the Navy’s use of DU in past exercises is “quite relevant,” and cited a report that showed how DU exposure has been linked to lower cognitive ability in adults.

“This leads us to expect much worse impacts on growing children, newborns and infants — to say nothing of unborn babies,” Savabieasfahani added. “Furthermore, epidemiological evidence is also consistent with an increased risk of birth defects in the children of people exposed to DU.”

She also heavily emphasized the fact that the internalization of uranium in any form will result in both chemical and radiation exposure. “Once inside a living body, DU and uranium’s effects are virtually the same,” Savabieasfahani explained. “This is a point worth repeating.”

Moreover, Savabieasfahani emphasized that it’s dangerous to guesstimate “safe” levels of DU, whether or not it reaches levels determined to be “toxic.”

“Our knowledge of the human health impacts of DU is consistent with laboratory studies of other mammals,” she said. “DU exposure affects neurogenesis during prenatal and postnatal brain development by disrupting patterns of cell proliferation and cell death. Even sub-toxic levels of DU have been shown to alter brain function.”

She also took issue with Murray’s argument, which Savabieasfahani described as, essentially, “the solution to pollution is dilution.” This is the nuclear industry’s default argument about radiation and other forms of pollution, and has been for decades, despite the fact that this logic was “decisively rejected” more than 40 years ago. Savabieasfahani pointed out that even Richard Nixon’s EPA administrator, William Ruckelshaus, rejected the dilution argument in a 1972 Congressional testimony regarding the Clean Water Act.

Savabieasfahani noted that any upcoming Naval exercises that introduce heavy metals and other pollutants, regardless of whether they use DU, will increase the environmental “background burden” of DU and other pollutants.

“Increasing that burden is simply irresponsible,” Savabieasfahani said. “Seabed pollutants have already found their way into our bodies. Those pollutants will continue to impact the most vulnerable populations — infants, newborns and growing children — most profoundly, and their imprint will be found in the baby teeth of our children.”

Other Instances of DU

Problems with DU in the Pacific Northwest are not limited to the Navy…….

November 4, 2016 Posted by | depleted uranium, Reference, USA | Leave a comment

America DID use depleted uranium weapons in Syria

depleted-uraniumUnited States confirms that it has fired depleted uranium in Syria International Coalition to Ban Nuclear Weapons  US admits that it fired DU on two occasions in November 2015, contrary to earlier claims; military justification for use unclear after target analysis; ICBUW and PAX call for full disclosure to facilitate harm reduction measures; Russia takes advantage of news to distract from its own conduct in the conflict. 21 October 2016 – ICBUW

The US has finally confirmed that it has fired DU ammunition Syria, after it had earlier stated that the weapons would not be used. US Central Command (CENTCOM) has acknowledged that DU was fired on two dates – the 18 and 23 November 2015. Between the strikes on the two dates, 5,100 rounds of 30mm DU ammunition were used by A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft. This equates to 1,524kg of DU. CENTCOM said that the ammunition was selected because of the “nature of the targets”.

The news comes as governments are debating a UN General Assemblyresolution on DU weapons in New York. And, although DU use has only been admitted on two dates, ICBUW and PAX are concerned that this disclosure could be the sign that DU has, or will, be used more widely in the conflict.

In March 2015, and following the deployment of A-10s to the conflict, the US hadconfirmed to journalists that the aircraft would not be armed with DU, stating:“U.S. and Coalition aircraft have not been and will not be using depleted uranium munitions in Iraq or Syria during Operation Inherent Resolve.” Justifying the decision, CENTCOM public affairs explained that:  “The ammunition is developed to destroy tanks on a conventional battlefield; Daesh does not possess large numbers of tanks.”

CENTCOM confirms DU use     IRIN news finally extracted the confirmation that DU had been used from CENTCOM on October 20, and after weeks of denials. The revelations first came to light after an aide to Congresswoman Martha McSally (Rep, AZ) – herself a former A-10 combat pilot – responded to a question from DU activist, and constituent, Jack Cohen-Joppa. However a number of CENTCOM sources initially denied that the information was accurate. Confirming that the data were indeed accurate, a spokesperson for CENTCOM said earlier denials were due to “an error in reporting down range.”

“Without the chance disclosure from McSally’s office, and the dogged pursuit of CENTCOM by IRIN, the US would not have volunteered this data,” said ICBUW Coordinator Doug Weir. “Sadly this is typical of the poor transparency we have seen from the US and we urge CENTCOM and the Coalition to clarify their policy on DU use in Syria and explain how its use fits with its public claims that the ammunition is solely for use against armoured targets.

Unclear why DU was used  The US regularly states that DU ammunition is specifically used only for engaging armoured targets, in accordance with its own legal guidelines, although evidence from a number of conflicts has shown that these guidelines are commonly ignored……..

October 24, 2016 Posted by | depleted uranium, Syria, USA | Leave a comment

UN again to study the effects of depleted uranium contamination

depleted-uraniumUnited Nations highlights cost and difficulty of tackling depleted uranium contamination

Depleted uranium once again on the UN’s agenda as a new resolution is tabled that serves to remind the international community of the absence of rules governing its post-conflict management.
19 October 2016 – ICBUW A resolution submitted to the United Nations General Assembly’s First Committee draws attention to the technical and financial barriers that countries affected by the use of depleted uranium face following conflicts when they seek to clear contamination. The resolution also reminds governments that states, communities, health experts and civil society organisations remain profoundly concerned about the health and environmental risks that the weapons can pose.

The resolution is the sixth on the topic to be tabled at the General Assembly since 2007. Shortly before the last resolution was debated in 2014, Iraq called for assistance from the international community in addressing the legacy of DU use in the country in 1991 and 2003. The 2014 resolution, which was supported by 150 states, called on member states to provide such assistance. Disappointingly, assistance has not been forthcoming in the interim and the appalling security situation in Iraq has hampered efforts to assess and clear sites.

“Managing DU contamination to internationally accepted standards is complex, time-consuming and costly,” said ICBUW Coordinator Doug Weir. “Research has repeatedly shown that most countries recovering from conflict are poorly placed to implement these vital risk reduction measures, which are recommended by UN agencies, and it is civilians who all too often pay the cost of inaction.” Part of the problem lies in the fact that unlike land mines and cluster munitions, there are no formal obligations, on either those countries that use the weapons, or are affected by them, to clear them after conflicts.

Previous resolutions have passed by huge majorities, with just four states consistently voting against and, while it is unlikely that the UK, US, France and Israel will vote in favour this year, overall the number of governments abstaining has been on a downward trend since 2007. As a result, there is increasing focus on the likes of Canada, Denmark and a number of EU governments who refuse to vote yes, often on extremely dubious grounds.

However, it is Germany that many will be watching. In 2014, the German government abstained on the DU resolution for the first time, triggering a backlash from German parliamentarians and civil society. A parliamentary question urging the government to vote yes was tabled in September by the Green Party. “Germany has got to accept that the potential hazards from DU contamination are widely accepted by the UN agencies that recommend remedial measures, and by their own military, who take a precautionary approach to DU in their own guidelines,” said PAX’s Wim Zwijnenburg. “Doubtless the German authorities would take steps to prevent civilian harm if DU were dispersed in Germany, why should it be different for other countries following conflicts?”

What will the resolution achieve?

The resolutions do not seek to ban DU weapons, however they do underscore the fact that the overwhelming majority of governments object to their use. Each resolution is also helping to define soft norms around some of the most problematic issues surrounding DU. One of these, the need for DU users to share data on where they fire the weapons, has featured since 2010, and its importance was highlighted by a recent report from PAX and ICBUW over DU use in the 2003 Iraq War. The report showed that more than half the DU fired by the US is still unaccounted for, and that the refusal of the US to release data to UN agencies hampered their post-conflict assessments.

Voting on the resolution will take place in early November. A second vote will take place in early December. You can follow the debate on social media using #FirstCommittee and by following @ICBUW

October 22, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, depleted uranium, Reference | Leave a comment