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Guest: Independent scientist Leuren Moret
Testimony of Leuren Moret for the International Criminal Tribunal for
Dec. 13-14, 2003, Tokyo, JAPAN © Leuren Moret
1. Please tell us your short biography and your present position. I am asking you because you are a witness.
Leuren Moret is an independent scientist and international expert on radiation and public health issues. She is on the organizing committee of the World Committee on Radiation Risk (WCRR), an organization of independent radiation specialists including members of the radiation committee in the EU Parliament - European Committee on Radiation Risk (ECRR). She is an Environmental Commissioner for the City of Berkeley.
URL OF THIS ARTICLE:
Ms. Moret earned her B.S. in Geology at U.C. Davis in 1968, and her M.A. in Near Eastern Studies from U.C. Berkeley in 1978. She has completed all but her dissertation for a PhD. in the Geosciences at U.C. Davis. She has traveled and conducted scientific research in 42 countries.
She wrote a scientific report on depleted uranium for the United Nations subcommission investigating the illegality of depleted uranium munitions. She has been trained on radiation issues by Marion Fulk, a former Manhattan Project Scientist and retired insider at the Livermore Lab who is an expert on radioactive fallout and rainout.
Her investigation of depleted uranium particle size formed under high temperature conditions on the battlefield is a critical depleted uranium issue. The production of particles in very high concentrations and numbers results in the permanent suspension of depleted uranium particulate matter in the atmosphere. This has been ignored, but is a major contributor to adverse health effects caused by DU exposure. [see Letter to Congressman McDermott - http://www.mindfully.org/Nucs/2003/Leuren-Moret-Gen-Groves21feb03.htm].
Members of the Japanese Parliament opposed to the US war against Iraq have appointed her as their Official Representative in the San Francisco Bay Area where she works closely with Congresswoman Barbara Lee. Her Berkeley Resolution which was passed September 10, 2002, by the first city in the world, calls for a permanent ban on the weaponization of space. She proposed the resolution after learning that lower orbital space is contaminated with uranium and its decay products from atmospheric testing, and burned up nuclear batteries and reactors in spacecraft.
During the summer of 2003, she traveled and lectured widely in Japan on the health effects of radiation from atmospheric testing fallout, nuclear power plants and depleted uranium weaponry used in Afghanistan and Iraq. She spoke at international press conferences in Japan on the long-term effects of depleted uranium with Dr. Al-Ali and Dr. G. Hassan, two medical doctors from Basra, Iraq. She and other international specialists, including Dr. Al-Ali and Dr. Hassan, presented their research findings at a World Depleted Uranium Weapons Conference in Hamburg, Germany, October 16-19, 2003 [http://www.uraniumweaponsconference.de].
Ms. Moret testified on June 26, 2003, in Chiba, Japan, as an expert on depleted uranium at a Public Hearing for the International Criminal Tribunal for Afghanistan (ICTA). She testified at a Public Hearing for the ICTA on September 11, 2003, in Manila, Philippines. She is a member of the organizing committee for the International Criminal Tribunal for Iraq (ICTI). The ICTI will be conducted in a series of Public Hearings hosted in countries around the world with the final Tribunal to be held in Istanbul on March 20, 2005.
President, Scientists for Indigenous People
Past President, Association for Women Geoscientists
City of Berkeley Environmental Commissioner
3. What kind of military strategy requires depleted uranium munitions ?
The major conventional weapons applications1 which require high density materials are:
* Penetration aids for bombs or cruise missiles
* Shield plates for armored tanks
* Munitions for anti-tank weapons
* Munitions for ground-attack aircraft or close-in-defense guns
Two important parameters for the military in selecting material for weapons are (1) the density of the material and (2) cost. High density is important for penetration in conventional (kinetic energy) weapons. Two of the densest materials known are tungsten (19.2 gm/cm3) and uranium (19.0 gm/cm3).
Although the density of tungsten and depleted uranium are nearly the same, tungsten is denser and actually outperforms uranium under certain battlefield conditions1. Uranium may outperform tungsten under certain laboratory-type armor steel penetration capability testing (in U.S. military labs) but this slight advantage does not prove out on the battlefield.
A 1980 U.S. Army report reveals the political decision made by the Army to use DU:
"This report provides an excellent history of the logic behind the Army’s decision to use DU as a kinetic energy, armored-piercing munition. DU’s final selection over tungsten was based on several reasons, including the lower initial cost of the penetrator itself and its better overall performance. DU and tungsten were rated even for "producibility". Tungsten had the advantage for safety, environmental concerns, and deployment." 2
Problems related to the radioactivity of uranium makes the over-all life-cycle cost much higher than tungsten. In the future micro- and nano-engineering of tungsten alloys will make it a much better munition than uranium. Although the United States and some other countries claim that uranium-based anti-tank weapons are preferable, other countries (Germany, Israel, China, Switzerland, Italy, Sweden, Spain, etc.) have continued to improve the tungsten alloy used in their anti-tank penetrators1. Depleted uranium munitions are proliferating and being exported around the world, as conventional weapons, but they are not. They are radiological weapons with extremely long-term effects.
Although claims by the U.S. military that DU provides superior penetration capabilities at extended ranges, concern over adverse health and environmental effects have led some military leaders to evaluate the use of tungsten in place of DU. Kinetic energy penetrators have been made from tungsten and used by many nations even before DU was selected as the primary material of choice by the U.S. military. This implies a decision was made early on by other nations to avoid the obvious health and environmental concerns about DU. It also suggests that since DU was proposed in the U.S. as a military weapon in 19433, but not used by the U.S. on the battlefield until 1991, that there may have been other reasons or strategies for introducing its use. One very good reason is that nuclear weapons spending was declining to an all time low in the U.S. 4 [see Question 12]
"Replacing the DU in weapon systems with a non-toxic material would mitigate the health risks associated with DU." 5 (AEPI p. 114)
In 1989 the U.S. Navy removed depleted uranium weapons from their arsenal (although they still use them):
" The interesting aspect in the history of this application is that after deciding in 1978 to use a uranium alloy, the U.S. Navy decided in 1989 to change to tungsten alloys, ‘based on live fire tests showing that tungsten met their performance requirements while offering reduced probabilities of radiation exposure and environmental impact’." 6
A story in USA Today, "Receivers of Depleted Uranium" 7, reported that from a list of 49 receivers, the U.S.Air Force was listed 24 times, U.S. Army 12, and U.S. Navy 5. Branches of the U.S. military listed as patent holders for depleted uranium8 are U.S. Army 17, U.S. Navy 3, U.S. Air Force 2. It is clear that the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Army are the major U.S. military users of DU weaponry:
"As of February 1994, contractors had produced more than 1.6 million DU penetrators for tank ammunition and more than 55 million DU penetrators for small caliber (20, 25, and 30 mm) applications. More than 99 percent of the U.S. production has been for the U.S. Air Force (30mm GAU-8)." 5
But some senior military officers previously assigned to the Pentagon, like U.S. Army Colonel Bob Cherry (PhD, retired U.S. Army health physicist who was responsible for radiation safety) and Colonel Eric Daxon (PhD, U.S. Army health physicist), continue to insist that DU weapons are necessary for "taking out tanks". And others in the Pentagon like Dr. Michael Kilpatrick, MD (U.S. Department of Defense) continue to cover up the extreme hazards of DU on and off the battlefield. Since other countries and some branches of the U.S. military have found tungsten to be a satisfactory and safer alternative, it is fair to ask why any branch of the U.S. military is still using DU weapons.
The answer is that the depleted uranium cover-up started with the 1991 Gulf War. Accountability must start with those who directed the coverup:
"Despite all of the above quotations [cautionary about DU] from U.S. government manuals, the Final Report of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans Illnesses report from December 1996 stated:
The Committee concludes that it is unlikely that health effects reported by Gulf War veterans today are the result of exposure to depleted uranium during the Gulf War." 9
Although common sense and observed health effects indicate serious adverse effects, Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs continue with their efforts to ensure DU munitions can always be used, by disregarding observed adverse health and environmental effects.
The cover-up began in 1991 with the Los Alamos memorandum10, continued with 2003 U.S. State Department Press Releases claiming that warnings regarding adverse health and environmental effects are/were Iraqi propaganda11 designed to prevent effective and essential use of DU munitions in combat. This still continues with the recent briefing to a U.S. Congressional Committee claiming that no adverse health effects have been observed as a result of exposures.
A memorandum from LTC Greg Lyle, Defense Nuclear Agency, dated March 199112, clearly stated that DU posed not only a health threat but a serious health threat. The December 1992 U.S. Army and Congressional directive instructed the Director of the Army Environmental Policy Institute to figure out how to reduce the toxicity of DU13. However the 1995 AEPI report5 is equally clear in that "there is no way to reduce the inherent toxicity of DU".
Although numerous written directives and orders, initially issued during Gulf War I and since then, require immediate medical care they are still ignored. Astonishingly, U.S. Army General Eric Shinseki, former U.S. Army Chief of Staff, ordered medical care, environmental cleanup and education and training14. This order was barely distributed and never enforced.
Field Commanders General Tommy Franks (1991 Gulf War, Afghanistan and Iraq 2003), General Wesley Clark (head of NATO in the Balkans), and General John Abizaid (Iraq 2003) are personally responsible for the continued use of a weapon which clearly meets the legal definition of illegal weapons and Weapons of Mass Destruction15 and violates U.S. military law16. The Commanders in Central Command, Command Units in the field where specific unit commanders and individuals sitting in tanks and planes were actually firing the DU munitions, are all personally responsible for using illegal weapons and should also be named and charged with war crimes.
Until names are named for responsible parties from the top down, the illegal use of DU and the illegal coverup will continue.
1 "Depleted Uranium Weapons: the Whys and Wherefores" by A. Gsponer, Postface to a book in publication by the Bertrand Russell Foundation, ISRI-03-03.24 February 17, 2003, p.6-13.
2 Manhattan Project: Groves memo October 30, 1943. http://www.mindfully.org/Nucs/Groves-Memo-Manhattan30oct43.htm
3 The Department of Energy Fiscal Year 2003 Budget Request for Nuclear Weapons Activities by Dr. Robert Civiak http://www.trivalleycares.org/2003budgetanalysis.asp
4 Richard P. Davitt "A Comparison of the Advantages and Disadvantages of Depleted Uranium and Tungsten Alloy as Penetrator Materials", Tank Ammo Section Report No. 107, Dover, NJ: US Army Armament Research and Development Command, June 1980. http://www.gulflink.osd.mil/du_ii/du_ii_tabl1.htm#TAB%20L_Research%20Report%20Summaries
5 June 1995 AEPI report "Health and Environmental Consequences of Depleted Uranium, Use in the U.S. Army" or AEPI-PPR-1494, September 1994, "An Assessment of External Interest in Depleted Uranium Use by the U.S. Army" P. 26.
6 B. Rostker, Development of DU Munitions, in Environmental Exposure Report, Depleted Uranium in the Gulf (II), (2000). http://www.gulflink.osd.mil/du_ii/du_ii_tabe.htm
7 "Receivers of Depleted Uranium" USA Today, June 22, 2001, http://www.usatoday.com/news/poison/2001-06-25-nukelist.htm
8 The weekly Christian newspaper "Famiglia Cristiana" (Italy), published the DU-BLACKLIST of patent holders: http://www.xs4all.nl/~stgvisie/VISIE/du-blacklist-txt.html
9 Depleted Uranium: Metal of Dishonor, International Action Center (rev. 1999), p.209.
10 Los Alamos Memo from Lt. Col. M.V. Ziehm: "The Effectiveness of Depleted Uranium Penetrators" March 1, 1991
11 WHITE HOUSE: "Apparatus of Lies: Saddam’s Disinformation and Propaganda 1990-2003" http://www.whitehouse.gov/ogc/apparatus/ Iraqi Propaganda – White House
12 March 1991 Memo from LTC Greg Lyle "Depleted Uranium (DU) Ammunition"
13 December 1992 U.S. Army and Congressional directive instructed AEPI to reduce toxicity of DU.
14 U.S. ARMY: Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff For Operations and Plans, Washington D.C. August 19, 1993: Memorandum Thru Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Plans – Director Army Staff – for Assistant Secretary of the Army (Installation Logistics & Environment); Subject: Review of Draft Report to Congress – Health and Environmental Consequences of Depleted Uranium in the U.S. Army – ACTION MEMORANDUM
15 "U.S. Air Force and International Law Forbid the Use of Uranium Weapons" by Karen Parker, J.D., Diplome (Strasbourg) and Piotr Bein, PhD.
16 U.S. AIR FORCE: "INTERNATIONAL LAW - - THE CONDUCT OF ARMED CONFLICT AND AIR OPERATIONS" - November 19, 1976; Judge Advocate General Activities Air Force Pamphlet AFP 110-31
4. What kinds of impact does depleted uranium munitions have on the environment as well as on the human body? Please explain its mechanism.
Depleted uranium was recognized in 19431 as a very effective weapon because it disperses like a radioactive gas and acts as an area contaminant to kill and disable the enemy. As a kinetic energy weapon, its ability to penetrate and destroy objects is outstanding. Because it is pyrophoric, large amounts of very fine particles are formed at high temperature which contaminate air, water, soil, and blood. When internal exposure occurs, the chemical heavy metal toxicity acts synergistically with the radioactive effects, increasing the toxic effects by as much as eight times2. Dispersal of the fine radioactive dust, long half-life, and radioactive daughter products, contribute to its detrimental effect long after the battle is over and in regions far from the battlefield3.
Contamination of the skin by fine radioactive DU dust or bare DU metal can cause external exposure to alpha and beta radiation, and to gamma rays. Very fine particles can pass through the skin into the tissues and blood.
Ulcers and cancers which continue to spread, were observed by Dr. Prof. Siegwart-Horst Gunther4 on children playing with depleted uranium shells. Small children5 and adults who make money to feed their families as ammunition scrap metal scavengers are especially at risk. Dr. Chris Busby measured 24,000 Bq (counts per second) at the surface of a stray A-10 30mm penetrator lying on the ground in Iraq several years ago6. A medical doctor from southern Iraq has reported7, DU dust that settled on the heads of patients living in heavily contaminated areas near the border of Kuwait, caused cancerous growths which increased rapidly in size7 [photo]. Human shield people in Baghdad during bombing in March and April of 20038, and U.S. soldiers in contaminated areas have complained of skin rashes, black spots on their skin and mysterious diseases 9.
When fine particles (0.1 micron range to nanoparticles) are inhaled and pass into the blood they are carried throughout the body. Larger particles (2.5-10 microns) are removed from the lung and are coughed out or swallowed. But 70% of the finer particles (0.1 micron range) pass into the blood at the blood-lung barrier and are engulfed by white blood cells (about 10 microns) which may be 1000 or more times larger than DU particles. The tiny particles of DU are carried to all parts of the body - the brain, heart, bones, organs, muscles, nerves, and germ cells (ovum and sperm). Because depleted uranium oxides which form on the battlefield at high temperatures are very insoluble, they do not dissolve easily in body fluids which prevents excretion by the body. After exposure, the effects can be felt almost immediately depending on exposure levels. Soldiers on the battlefield and testing grounds have reported illnesses within 72 hours or less of exposure4,10.
Gulf War Illness Symptoms & Illnesses11
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
Cardiovascular signs or symptoms
Unusual Fevers & Night Sweats
* Gastrointestinal signs or symptoms
Abnormal Births & Defects
Blood In Stools & Urine
Epstein Barr Syndrome
Micoplasma Fermentans Incognitis Infections
Unusual Hair Loss
Loss Of Smell
Soldiers who have schrapnel in their bodies from battlefield wounds have DU metal exposure that is very different from exposure through inhalation of DU dust. DU dust is physically and chemically different from schrapnel. Schrapnel is solid DU metal. It is soluble in body fluids, excreted through the kidneys and bladder and can be measured in the urine. Schrapnel causes cancer in the bones and areas where it lodges23. Medical doctors treating Gulf War veterans with DU schrapnel were directed to leave the schrapnel in the soldiers10.
A 1995 five year study of Wistar rats, implanted with DU fragments, funded by the Department of Defense (Project DoD-7B), showed that soft tissue sarcomas and local tissue reactions occurred around DU implants32. In another study33 where rats were implanted with DU pellets, researchers reported unexpected accumulation of uranium in the brain, lymph nodes and testicles of lab animals, suggesting unanticipated pathways for exposure to uranium33. There were also significant levels of uranium in the muscle, spleen, liver, heart, and lung.
Chemical heavy metal effect12
Soldiers exposed to DU on the battlefield have complained of a metallic taste in their mouths. The physiological effect of uranium compounds depends on their solubility. DU metal is soluble in body fluids and can be deposited all over the body. It also has metabolic toxic effects, blocking transfer of phosphate to glucose, inhibiting the first step of metabolic utilization. This would contribute to weight loss which is common in DU exposed veterans. Phosphorous is also a crucial component of DNA, nerves and cell structure which must also be affected by DU.
The physical damage from the slow heavy alpha particle tearing through the cells like a bullet causes damage to the cell membrane (immune system damage), cell skeleton, the mitochondria (chronic fatigue syndrome), and the pumps, engines, pipes, gates and other parts of the cell which control cell function. The physical damage is 30% of damage caused by ionizing radiation exposure of the cell. About 70% of the damage from ionizing radiation is to the chemicals in the cells – the hormones, enzymes, signaling mechanisms, and other chemicals which control cell processes and cooperation with neighboring cells. Damage occurs by the dispersion of the energy along the ionization path as the energy particle or ray dumps its energy (Linear Energy Transfer or LET).
A single internal Uranium-238 alpha particle exposure to a cell is 50 times the yearly dose limit13. The LET of alpha particles is so great that the cell cannot repair the damage14,15. The alpha particle from Uranium-238 has a decay energy of 4.039 MeV. The binding energy of molecules in the cell is less than 10 electron volts (eV). The alpha particle irreversibly damages the cells it passes through and damages hundreds of cells around it14. The damage to surrounding cells is called the "bystander effect" 14. An alpha particle acts like a nuclear bomb in just 1-2 cells.
Somatic effects are damage from radiation to individual cells within the body which may result in cancer or other diseases. Cancer starts with one alpha particle13,16. Genetic defects caused by radiation damage in individual cells are usually not passed on to future generations.
Genetic effects occur when radiation damages the reproductive or germ cells, the ovum or sperm. When these cells are damaged, then all cells in the new organism carry the genetic defects. For this reason genetic effects of exposed individuals cannot be determined until studies are done on subsequent generations. H.J. Muller beginning in 192734, studied genetic effects induced by a single exposure to radiation in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster over 40,000 generations. He found visible and recessive changes occurred, but were expressed over many generations35.
Genetic defects that are visible in the first generation after a single exposure do not represent the total genetic damage that will be apparent over many future generations. This must be kept in mind when assessing birth defects in the first generation of babies born after DU exposure. Birth defects were reported in a U.S. Government study by the Dept. of Veterans Affairs on 251 Gulf War veterans from Mississipi19. Severe birth defects were identified in 67% of babies born after the Gulf War to soldiers who had normal children before the war19. Birth defects have been increasingly severe in babies born to civilians living in contaminated areas in southern Iraq17,18.
Voices from parents and grandparents in Afghanistan express the tragedy:
"After the Americans destroyed our village and killed many of us, we also lost our houses and have nothing to eat. However, we would have endured these miseries and even accepted them, if the Americans had not sentenced us all to death. When I saw my deformed grandson, I realized that my hopes of the future have vanished for good, different from the hopelessness of the Russian barbarism, even though at that time I lost my older son Shafiqullah. This time, however, I know we are part of the invisible genocide brought on us by America, a silence death from which I know we will not escape."
Jooma Khan of Laghman province, March 2003 20
"If they had killed us once, it would not be so bad. But what the Americans have brought upon us is not only depriving us but our future generations of our basic god given human right, the right to live. They will be killing us for generations to come"
An Afghan Victim of US-UK bombing 21
The father of one of the children in Paktia said this about his child 21:
"When I saw my little boy with those monstrous red tumors, I thought to myself, why is it difficult for Americans to understand that they are hated in our country. If I do this to the child of an American family, that family has the right to pull my eyes out of my eye sockets. I like to tell the Americans that they love to live their lives of luxury at the expense of our extermination."
Assadullah, February 2003 21
"What else do the Americans want? They killed us, they turned our newborns into horrific deformations, and they turned our farmlands into graveyards and destroyed our homes. On top of all that their planes fly over and spray us with bullets. We have nothing to lose; we will fight against them the same way we fought the previous monster [the former Soviet Union]."
Sa'yed Gharib, April 2003 21
Cumulative effect of chronic exposure in contaminated areas, dust particles in the air, contaminated water and food, will increase the levels of DU in the bodies of individuals and affected populations. Chronic internal exposure to increasing levels internally will have a cumulative effect. Predictably over time, this will increase the severity and the rate of disease in those living in contaminated areas. The long-term increased burden will result in increases in genetic effects, both in the number of babies affected and the severity of the deformations, exactly what is being reported now for southern Iraq in just one decade17,18. Babies born with deformities, due to damaged germ cells, may also have additional in vivo exposure during the pregnancy of the mother, radiation the mother is exposed to from contaminated air, water and food. After birth, the baby will be chronically exposed to yet more, the accumulation of DU from environmental contamination. In addition, and the reason DU is called the "Trojan Horse of Nuclear War", is that the uranium isotopes will naturally decay and transform into daughter isotopes2 which have much higher levels of radioactivity and are chemically changed by decay2. Clearly the environmental contamination which cannot be cleaned up puts each future generation at greater and greater risk.
1991 Gulf War veterans were exposed to DU and other chemical and biological toxins during the time they served in the Persian Gulf region. For most that was a short time, probably limited to weeks or months. A recent independent study has been done on chromosome damage in veterans and civilians exposed to DU, "Chromosome Aberration Analysis in Peripheral Lymphocytes of Gulf War and Balkans War Veterans" 22. This study reported a significant increase in the frequency of dicentric chromosomes and centric ring chromosomes in the veterans group, indicating a previous exposure to ionizing radiation22. The chromosome damage was typical of non-uniform exposure and/or exposure to radiation with a high linear energy transfer (LET) 22. [Alpha particles have high LET].
Chromosome studies are valuable, powerful, and irrefutable diagnostic evidence of radiation exposure. The radiation quality (LET) can also be distinguished (alpha, beta or gamma). The last thing the Pentagon wants is independent chromosome studies on veterans exposed to DU. In fact, the Pentagon doesn’t want them done on Iraqi citizens either.
Prof. Huda Salih Mahdi Ammash, a microbiologist from Iraq, was invited as a speaker to the World Depleted Uranium Weapons Conference in Hamburg in October 2003, but contact with her was not possible because she disappeared after the March/April 2003 war in Iraq. After months of pressure by an international agency on U.S. Govt. officials in Iraq, her location was finally revealed. She had been arrested after her face appeared on that famous U.S. deck of cards of “wanted” high level Iraqi Baath officials, and has been in prison for months at the Baghdad airport where many are being held. After much pressure, her daughter was allowed to send her a letter, and Prof. Ammash sent a short note back saying she was alright. But others are concerned because she has cancer and needs medicine. She was accused by U.S. authorities of making anthrax bioweapons for Saadam Hussein prior to the U.S. 2003 invasion. When I spoke with Iraqi scientists and others who know her, I was told that the research she had been working on was never related to anthrax or bioweapons. She had been doing chromosome studies on DU exposure of Iraqis in southern Iraq.
Other symptoms experienced by Gulf War veterans are:
Burning semen which contaminated their wives with DU and
Birth defects in their babies born after the Gulf War - as high
as 67% with severe birth defects19
Brain function problems - mood swings11, memory,
Mitochondria damage – chronic fatigue syndrome,
Parkinsons11,24, LouGehrig/ALS24, brain11, heart disease11
Immune system – impaired ability to fight infection, Asthma,
(diabetes can also be expected)
Teeth – teeth crumbling10
Bones – loss of calcium and cancer throughout the bones10
Joints and bones ache10
Increased violence in major cities globally has been linked to radiation exposure from atmospheric testing36. Violence37, suicide, and mood swings have been reported in soldiers who had served in Afghanistan and Iraq. Four soldiers who had served in Afghanistan returned to Ft. Bragg where all four murdered their wives within two months37. Suicides by soldiers now serving in Iraq have been covered up, but people in Iraq who came to the World Depleted Uranium Weapons Conference in Hamburg Oct. 16-19, 2003, reported that the numbers are increasing. Susan Riordan, described her husbands mood swings to me - from suicide to homicide until he died in 1998. Susan is the widow of Terry Riordan, Canadian 1991 Gulf War veteran whose official cause of death from "Gulf War Syndrome" is a rare official ackowledgement of severe DU contamination and cancer throughout his body.
The illnesses experienced by 1991 Gulf War veterans are so severe that over 240,000 are on permanent medical disability10, nearly one third of the soldiers sent to the Persian Gulf area in 1991. The Iraqis have had chronic exposure to DU left from that war3. The winds have carried it to neighbouring countries that are also affected now. Arab women have reported to me that their families in Kuwait are now complaining of escalating diabetes and leukemia in children born in Kuwait after the Gulf War, and that those diseases were almost unknown before the war. Not surprising since Kuwait is contaminated with DU25. Israel is also suffering from epidemics of breast cancer, diabetes and autism I was told by an Israeli medical doctor during a conversation about radiation linked diseases we were having in London in October 200338 .
The increased levels of DU used in Afghanistan in 2001 (1000 tons), and Iraq in 2003 (over 2000 tons) are many times greater than on the battlefields of Iraq in 1991 (340 tons). This time the cities, water supplies, infrastructure have been bombed into radioactive rubble where people are living and will continue to live. To quote the 1943 Groves memo1 suggesting the use of fission products (DU was proposed at the time):
"As a Gas Warfare Instrument. The material would be ground into particles of microscopic size [0.1 mm] and would be distributed in the form of a dust or smoke or dissolved in liquid, by ground-fired projectiles, land vehicles, airplanes, or aerial bombs. In this form, it would be inhaled by personnel. The amounts necessary to cause death to a person inhaling the material is extremely small. An infintesimal amount accumulating in a person's body would be fatal in a few day to weeks depending upon the amount absorbed and its radioactivity. There are no known effective methods of treatment for such a casualty." 1
Areas so contaminated by radioactive dusts and smokes, would be dangerous as long as a high enough concentration of material could be maintained. In these forms, the materials take on the characteristics of a quickly dissipating gas and it is improbable that heavy concentrations could be maintained for more than a few minutes time over a given area. However, they can be stirred up as a fine dust from the terrain by winds, movement of vehicles or troops, etc., and would remain a potential hazard for a long time." 1
The long-term effects from over a decade of exposure are emerging from southern Iraq. They are devastating. However, the increased amount of radioactive material used in Afghanistan (3 times greater than 1991) and Iraq in 2003 (6-10 times greater than 1991) will travel throughout a larger area and affect many more people. The impact on future generations is unknown but will also prove to be devastating. Countries within a thousand miles of Iraq will be greatly affected26.
800 tons of DU is equivalent to 83,000 Nagasaki bombs
Professor Katsuma YAGASAKI has calculated the total radioactive atomicity of the Nagasaki bomb and compared it to the radioactive atomicity of DU. He reported13 at the World Uranium Weapons Conference in Hamburg, Germany, Oct. 16-19 2003, that 800 tons of DU is the atomicity equivalent to 83,000 Nagasaki bombs.
The amount of DU used in Iraq in 2003 is equivalent in atomicity to nearly 250,000 Nagasaki bombs.
[Busby has calculated that 1900 tons of DU is equivalent to 60TBq of alpha and beta particulate activity26.]
Because of the long half-life and the short period of use of DU, little is known about the long-term impact of DU contamination of the environment but it must be complex. How this will affect bacteria, viruses, pathogens, plants and animals in contaminated areas and regions is unknown. How it will impact the health of the environment is unknown, but the health of all species can be no better than the health of the environment. It may take decades before research can be done to address these questions. However, it is clear that all forms of life are affected by DU contamination of the air, water, food and soil. Other questions should be asked and investigations done on nanoparticles, nanopathology, and the exotic alloys and chemical compounds formed in the burning and explosions of DU weapons on the battlefield. What is the effect of pathogens and biological agents on organisms with damaged immune systems from radiation exposure? It is all interelated and will potentially have an effect on all lifeforms even at very low radiation levels.
Depleted uranium acts as an indiscriminate weapon that remains radioactive longer than the age of the earth (4.5 billion years). As it disperses in the environment and concentrates in the upper dust level (top 3 cm of soil), the low level radiation will spread to neighboring regions travelling long distances in atmospheric dusts. Where these dusts are rained out, snowed out or attach to pollution and moisture in the air27, the radiation will be concentrated and deposited in environments at great distances from the source. Animals will also spread the radiation just as birds have contaminated the Arctic with uranium and other isotopes in their droppings released by nuclear accidents, dumping in the sea and atmospheric weapons testing28. The isotopes bioconcentrate in plants and animals and up the food chain.
Damage to microbes, plants, animals, will cause unknown changes in the genetics of all lifeforms. DU, the "Trojan Horse of Nuclear War" is called an "omnicidal" weapon because it affects any living organism and contaminates the earth which supports life. The impact on the ecology of regions and on future generations of life in those regions is unknown. As in humans, it may be increasingly biologically destructive over time as genetic mutations and defects are expressed in future generations.
A detailed but preliminary environmental study3 was carried out in southern Iraq in war environment areas by a group of Iraqi scientists in 1995-6. Samples of DU contamination in soil, groundwater, surface water, wild plants, vegatables, meat and fish were measured for radiation levels. DU levels were concentrated at target locations and in and around destroyed vehicles. Further detailed research is needed to determine pathways, bioconcentration mechanisms, and contamination levels in that environment. Little is still known about exposure levels of Basra residents.
But what is known about DU contamination of biological systems is not good. A study29 on camels Camels dromodarius compared those living in areas contaminated with fallout from atmospheric testing in the southern Sahara, and DU in southern Iraq. Researchers found evidence of radiation damage in blood samples - from changes in cell counts and cell structure29. Samples from contaminated camels were also compared to camels tested in areas not exposed to radiation contamination. In the contaminated areas of Algeria and Iraq, tests have shown leukemia in humans, camels and other animals. Humans seem to have more sensitivity to ionizing radiation than camels.
A paper on DU30 presented at the 2001 Geological Society of America Annual Conference in a session on Munitions: Sources, Fate and Transport identified how tree rings can be used to identify, measure DU and heavy metal concentrations in groundwater, and monitor contamination plumes. It identified methods at a DU munitions plant used to analyze for DU contaminants in various tree tissues, uptake pathways (groundwater versus through the leaves), and how heavy metals migrate through (bluring the signal) or are fixed (historic record) in tree rings where they are first deposited.
Migration of DU from shells left in the ground after the 1998 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina 31 was reported by UNEP in March 2003. In just 5 years, 25% of the DU metal in the shells had dissolved and contaminated the groundwater.
"It's in our back yard... it's in our front yard. This nuclear contamination is shortening all life. We are going to have to unite as a people and say no more! We, the people, are going to have to put our thoughts together to save our planet here. We only have One Water...One Air...One Mother Earth."
Corbin Harney - Newe (Western Shoshone) Spiritual Leader
Founder & Chairman of the Board of The Shundahai Network
Email: Shundahai@shundahai.org http://www.Shundahai.org
Depleted uranium weapons are omnicidal. They are the Trojan Horse of Nuclear War - an indiscriminate war against the earth and all life.
1 Declassified memo to Gen. L.R. Groves 1943 – a blueprint for DU http://www.mindfully.org/Nucs/2003/Leuren-Moret-Gen-Groves21feb03.htm
2 ECRR 2003 Recommendations of the European Committee on Radiation Risk, by European Committee on Radiation Risk, Regulator’s Edition: Brussels 2003. http://www.euradcom.org
3 Environmental Pollution Resulting From the Use of Depleted Uranium Weaponry Against Iraq During 1991 by S. Al-Azzawi, B. Ma’aruf, M. Abdul-Rahman, M. Al-Saji, W. Rasheed, A. Mugwar, manuscript Nov. 2003.
4 Invisible War: Depleted Uranium and the Politics of Radiation by Martin Meissonier (2000) France.
5 "Iraqi Kids Toil in Dickensian Desperation" by V. Walt, S.F. Chronicle Aug. 13, 2003.
6 "Science on Trial: On the Biological Effects and Health Risks following Exposure to Aerosols produced by the use of Depleted Uranium Weapons" by Chris Busby PhD, presented to the Royal Society, London, July 19, 2000, p. 16. http://www.llrc.org/du/duframes.htm
7 Personal communication with Iraqi medical doctor [protected ID] from southern Iraq October 2003.
8 Personal communication with Jamilla Takahashi on July 7, 2003, Tokyo, Japan.
9 "Mysterious Diseases Haunt U.S. Troops In Iraq" IslamOnline.net July 17, 2003. http://www.islam-online.net/English/News/2003-07/17/article03.shtml
10 Major Doug Rokke, U.S. Army Depleted Uranium Project Leader, presentation October 16, 2003, Hamburg, Germany, at the World Depleted Uranium Weapons Conference.
11 "Gulf War Illness Symptoms & Illnesses" DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM Website (see articles on brain damage and malfunction on this website) http://www.ushostnet.com/gulfwar/articles.htm
12 "Observation of Radiation-specific Damage in Human Cells Exposed to Depleted Uranium: Dicentric Frequency and Neoplastic Transformation as Endpoints" by A.C. Miller, J. Xu, M. Stewart, K. Brooks, S. Hodge, L. Shi, M. Page and D. McClain, Radiation Protection Dosimetry Vol. 99 No. 1-4, P. 275 (2002). http://www.ntp.org.uk/rpda87/rpda2002991-4275.html
13 Presentation by Dr. K. YAGASAKI: World Uranium Weapons Conference Hamburg, Germany, Oct. 16-19 2003. http://www.uraniumweaponsconference.de
14 "Radiation risk to low fluences of a particles may be greater than we thought" by H. Zhou, M. Suzuki, G. Raners-Pehrson, D. Vannais, G. Chen, J. Trosko, C. Waldren, T. Hei in Proceedings National Academy Sciences Dec. 4 2001, Vol. 98 No. 25, pp.14410-14415.
15 G.E.Watson, D.A.Pocock, D. Papworth, S.A.Lorimore, E.G.Wright "In vivo chromosomal instability and transmissible aberrations in the progeny of haemopoietic stem cells induced by high- and low- LET radiations" Int. J. Radiat. Biol. 2001, Vol.77 (4), 409-417.
16 "One Too Many" by R. Edwards in NewScientist vol.169 issue 2274, Jan 20 2001, p.4.
17 A Different Nuclear War: Children of the Gulf War by Takashi MORIZUMI (2002) Hiroshima. http://www.savewarchildren.org
18 Reported by southern Iraq medical doctors at the World Uranium Weapons Conference Hamburg, Germany, Oct. 16-19 2003. http://www.uraniumweaponsconference.de
19 "Mal de Guerre" by Laura Flanders, The Nation March 7 1994.
20 "The Silent Genocide from America" by D. Miraki http://www.rense.com/general37/InvisibleGenocid.html
21 "Perpetual Death From America" by D. Miraki 2/24/03. http://www.rense.com/general35/perp.htm
22 "Chromosome Aberration Analysis in Peripheral Lymphocytes of Gulf War and Balkans War Veterans" by H. Schroder, A. Heimers, R. Frentzel-Beyme, A. Schott, and W. Hoffman in Radiation Protection Dosimetry Vol. 103, No. 3, pp. 211-219 (2003).
23 Discounted Casualties: The Human Cost of Depleted Uranium by A. TASHIRO, Chugoku Shimbun 2001,p.24, 94. http://www.chugoku-np.co.jp/abom/uran/index_e.html
24 SandiaLabNews Vol. 55, No. 19, September 19, 2003. http://www.sandia.gov/LabNews/LN09-19-03/key09-19-03_stories.html#nano
25 "Estimating the Concentration of Uranium in Some Environmental Samples in Kuwait After the 1991 Gulf War" by F. Bou-Rabee, Appl.Radiat.Isot.I Vol.46 No.4, pp.217-220,1995.
26 "If you think Cancer is a problem now, wait until more depleted uranium is released into the world." Busby, Sherman, Moret May 2003, Toronto Peace Center website: http://www.torontoforpeace.org/uranium-risks.html
27 Letter from Dr. Ernest Sternglass to Leuren Moret August 23, 2001. http://www.mindfully.org/Nucs/Radiation-Dust-Particles23aug01.htm
28 "Birds Bring Radioactivity Ashore" in New Scientist Jan. 4 2003, p. 5
29 Comparison of Effects on Animals and Environment From Ionizing Radiation From Above-Ground Weapons Testing in Algeria With DU Use in Iraq by A. Alaboudi, manuscript October 2003.
30 "Combined IDTIMS and LAM-ICPMS Dendrochemical Study of a Depleted Uranium and Heavy Metal Contaminated Bog Near Concord, Massachusetts" by M. Bulleri, D. Coleman, and D. Brabander, Abstract GSA Annual Meeting, Nov. 5-8, 2001.
31 Low-level DU contamination found in Bosnia and Herzegovina, UNEP calls for precaution, UNEP News Release - 2003/17 March.
32 "Implanted depleted uranium fragments cause soft tissue sarcomas in the muscles of rats" by F.F. Hahn, R.A. Guilmette, M.D. Hoover, Environ. Health Perspect. Vol. 110 No.1, pp.51-59 (2002). http://ehpnet1.niehs.nih.gov/docs/2002/110p51-59hahn/abstract.html
33 "Distribution of uranium in rats implanted with depleted uranium pellets" by T.C. Pellmar, A.F. Fucierelli, J.W. Ejnik, M. Hamilton, J. Hogan, S. Strocko, C. Emond, H.M. Mottaz, M.R. Landeuer in Toxicol. Sci. 49(1),29-39(1999) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=10367339&dopt=Abstract
34 H. J. Muller (1927) "Artificial Transmutation of the Gene," Science 66: 84-87.
35 Actions of Radiations on Living Cells D.E. Lea, Cmbridge University Press (1946), pp.144-161.
36 R.J. Pellegrini "Nuclear Fallout and Criminal Violence: Preliminary Inquiry Into a New Biogenic Predisposition Hypothesis" Intern.Jour.BiosocialRes. Vol. 9(2):125-143. 1987. R.J.Davidson, K.M. Putnam, C.L.Larson "Dysfunction in the Neural Circuitry of Emotion Regulation-A Possible Prelude to Violence" Science Vol. 289 July 28 2000, pp.591-594.
37 "Ft. Bragg suspect said to be dilusional" by M. Benjamin and D. Olmsted UPI 8/31/02 http://www.upi.com/print.cfm?StoryID=20020831-070355-9742r
38 Personal communication November 5, 2003, in London, England, with an Israeli MD.
5. Depleted uranium is said to have low level radiation as compared to the nuclear weapons. It is also pointed out that gamma rays caused major damage in the radiation from the atomic bomb while the alpha rays cause the damage in the depleted uranium. What is the difference in the damage caused by alpha rays as compared with those of gamma rays?
not a furnace for your foe so hot
That it do singe yourself.
William Shakespeare (1564–1616)
Faulty A-Bomb Studies – Poor Risk Model
Gamma rays have been called the major cause of damage from nuclear weapons, but other effects (internal contamination, internal dose to individual cells, diseases other than cancer etc.) were ignored or not considered in official A-bomb studies. Criticism of the A-bomb studies has not been limited to Dr. Alice Stewart1 who pointed out that the first five years (and more) of Hiroshima and Nagasaki data was not included in the official studies. A recent European Parliament report, ECRR 2003 Recommendations of the European Committee on Radiation Risk2, by the European Committee on Radiation Risk (ECRR) reports that A-bomb studies underestimate the radiation risk by more than 1000 times and failed to consider internal exposure and diseases other than cancer [see "Executive Summary" quote below].
Nuclear Weapons vs. DU Weapons: An alpha particle… is an alpha particle… is an alpha particle…
It is important to understand that nuclear weapons work from the outside in (flash gamma exposure and later internal exposure from fallout), and depleted uranium (DU) weapons work from the inside out (low level radioactivity outside the body but very high internal exposure due to the localized effect). Nuclear weapons and DU both release energy from the nucleus (nuclear energy) but in different ways. Nuclear bombs involve a process that destabilizes the atoms by bombarding the nuclei with neutrons. The atoms fragment, releasing the energy in the nucleus instantaneously, in a cascade (not a chain reaction). When the atoms tear apart, they fragment into radioactive isotopes forming man-made isotopes of elements on the periodic chart, many of which do not occur in nature. The energy that is released from the nucleus is released as alpha, beta, gamma. These particles and rays have a set of energies3 which are characteristic of the particular isotope.
In the case of natural (the uranium isotopes in DU) and man-made radioactive decay, the rate of decay determines the half-life of the isotope. The energy that is released from the nucleus is also alpha, beta, and gamma rays, with their own discrete energies characteristic of the isotope. DU can be considered a radiological weapon4, because it releases the energy in the nucleus by natural "radiological" decay. And it can be considered a "nuclear" weapon because the energy is derived from the nucleus of the atom. The alpha particle has certain energies that are unique to a particular isotope. Beta particles have a spread of energies from 0 to the maximum (Fermi-Durac distribution), the maximum is given as the number that characterizes the beta spread. Gamma rays have a discrete set of energies which identify that isotope.
Fission Products and Natural Decay Products
Nuclear bombs release nuclear energy in a fission process which is almost instantaneous. Nuclear reactors release energy in a slow or controlled fission process. The fission process for nuclear bombs and nuclear reactors release the same fission products in the same proportions but at different rates. DU releases energy by natural decay, which is very slow because of the long half-life of Uranium-238 (4.5 billion years). However, the three uranium isotopes that make up DU transform into other radioactive isotopes2 in four steps before they become lead. The daughter products are much more radioactive than Uranium-238, which means that as DU transforms, the specific radioactivity of the daughter products increases by millions of times. It increases the internal exposure by magnitudes, and this happens in four transformations for a single atom before it is no longer radioactive. The alpha particle dose to a single cell from Uranium-238 is 50 times the annual dose limit. Cancer begins with a single alpha particle, beta, or gamma ray.
In 1950 THE EFFECTS OF ATOMIC WEAPONS (reprinted in 1977 as the U.S. Army manual on THE EFFECTS OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS5) recognized the danger of alpha particles from uranium and plutonium. The atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki ("Fat Man" and "Little Boy") contained large amounts of depleted uranium as "tamping" or reflector material. The diameter of "Fat Man" was five feet, nearly all of it was depleted uranium:
9.40 "…The uranium and plutonium which may have escaped fission in the nuclear weapon represent a further possible source of residual nuclear radiation…."
9.41 "The alpha particles from uranium and plutonium… are completely absorbed in an inch or two of air…. indicates that uranium and plutonium deposited on the earth do not represent a serious external hazard."
9.42 "Although there is negligible danger from uranium and plutonium outside the body, it is possible for dangerous amounts of these elements to enter the body through the lungs, the digestive system, or breaks in the skin. Plutonium, for example, tends to concentrate in bone and lungs, where the prolonged action of the alpha particles can cause serious harm." 5
Evolution of Health Protection Standards – Using a blender to hide local effects
As research over the years revealed the hazard of ionizing radiation, the evolution of health protection standards for nuclear workers became incrementally more conservative6 (See chart below). The ECRR report and others7 argue convincingly that there is no safe limit (threshold) for exposure to radiation. Many studies8,9on exposure to low level radiation around nuclear power plants document the effects. It is clear from these and other studies2 that the impact of chronic exposure to low level radiation is greater than what would be expected based on the risk model from A-Bomb studies. Low level radiation has an effect, per unit of radiation, that is greater than at higher dose rates. This is called the "supralinear" effect2 (see p. 79). From studies on Chernobyl victims, ultra-low level exposures are also a greater risk than previously thought2.
Closing the Circle on the Splitting of the Atom
There is no single set of radiation protection standards. This graph is based on recommendations, sometimes different, published by US and international groups concerned with radiation protection. They have been translated into a single, consistent set of numbers and measurement units for the purpose of this summary.
In order to hide the risk of the local exposure to the individual cell, government scientists and the pro-nuclear lobby working on dose risk and dose response (protecting the nuclear weapons and nuclear power programs), simply averaged the local exposure over the whole body. Even though Uranium-238 may have a long half-life and external low level radiation, inhaling billions of particles of DU dust (in a single day on or off the battlefield10), which then distributes throughout the body, is a horrific local dose. One gram of depleted uranium releases more than 12,000 alpha particles per second. The radiation slowly kills the cells that make life possible and Gulf War Syndrome, a complex of diseases, slowly kills the soldier. The low level and ultra-low level risk of ionizing radiation exposure is especially pertinent to the DU issue2,9.
Comparing radiation quality
This chart illustrates the Linear Energy Transfer (LET) of ionising radiation and helps to explain the effect that different internal exposures with different radiation quality, alpha, beta and gamma, have on the cell. The release of energy along the path travelled by the particle or ray, causes ionisation of the tissue - creating free radicals11 and other ionisation products. The dose to the individual cell is the critical concern in radiation exposure. Therefore the radiation quality - or the amount of energy and the pathlength of the particle or ray - determines the dose (energy per gram which equals ergs). Alpha particles have the shortest pathlength, 30-40 microns or 1-2 cells. A Uranium-238 atom releases an alpha particle with an energy of 4.039 MeV, and a Plutonium-239 has an alpha energy of 5.244 MeV. The difference is little when one considers that the molecules within the cell have a binding energy of less than 10eV. Beta particles have a less harmful effect because they travel a longer distance, and have a lower LET. Thorium-234, the daughter product of Uranium-238 is a beta emitter with a beta energy of 0.270 MeV, which means it has a much lower LET than Uranium-238. Uranium-238, Plutonium-239 and Thorium-234 are also gamma emitters. Gamma rays have a spectrum of energies and a much longer path of travel. The gamma ray for Uranium-238 has an energy of 0.048MeV. The LET for gammas is much lower than for alpha or beta particles. Alpha particles have such a high energy density that it is evident that cells may not repair themselves. There are repair mechanisms for beta particle and gamma ray damage to be repaired by the cell. But the cell may not repair itself properly, i.e after repair it may not be the same as it was before the damage occurred.
Fig 6.1. The interaction of ionising radiation with matter to produce ionized molecules.
ECRR: Executive Summary
The European Committee on Radiation Risk (ECRR) concludes:
"The present cancer epidemic is a consequence of exposure to global atmospheric weapons fallout in the periods 1959-1963 and that more recent releases of radioisotopes to the environment from the operation of nuclear fuel cycle will result in significant increases in cancer and other types of ill health."
"Using both the ECRR's new model and that of the International Committee for Radiation Protection (ICRP), the committee calculates the total number of deaths resulting from the nuclear project since 1945. The ICRP calculation, based on figures for doses to populations up to 1989 given by the United Nations, results in 1,174,600 deaths from cancer. The ECRR model predicts 61,600,000 deaths from cancer, 1,600,000 infant deaths and 1,900,000 fetal deaths. In addition the ECRR predicts a 10% loss of life quality integrated over all diseases and conditions in those who were exposed over the period of global weapons fallout." 2 (p. 182-183)
Nuclear Weapons Fallout
The radiation fallout map from Under The Cloud: The Decades of Nuclear Testing12 illustrates the effects of 1200 nuclear weapons tests conducted at the Nevada Test Site. The U.S. Government admitted in November, 2002, that every person living in the United States between 1958 and 1963 was exposed to fallout from nuclear weapons testing. The United States has an epidemic of radiation related diseases: cancer, heart disease, autism, diabetes, Parkinson's Disease, Lou Gehrigs (ALS), asthma, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, hypothyroidism in newborns, obesity, and learning disabilities. One out of 12 children in the United States is disabled. 13
Areas of the Continental United States
Crossed by Three or More Nuclear Clouds
from Aboveground Detonations.
It is clear that American citizens have paid the price for nuclear weapons testing with their health2, with the environment14, and with the Cold War Mortgage15 which will continue to be an economic burden for decades.
The nuclear weapons testing fallout did not stop at the U.S. borders. It travelled around the world, as atmospheric dust, and remains in the atmosphere and even lower orbital space today. ECRR has done a great service to the global community to present the global health impact of the “nuclear project” - nuclear weapons testing and nuclear power plants.
Nuclear Power and Chronic Low Level Radiation Exposure
The breast cancer map from The Enemy Within: The High Cost of Living Near Nuclear Reactors-Breast Cancer, AIDS, Low Birthweights, and Other Radiation Induced Immune Deficiency Effects16 shows the effects of chronic exposure to low level radiation. It represents two thirds of all deaths from breast cancer between 1985-1989 by county as reported by the U.S. Govt. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The United States has 110 nuclear power plants, approximately 103 are now operating. The majority of these plants are on the East Coast where the greatest population density has the greatest energy needs. The breast cancer areas in the Western United States are correlated with nuclear weapons facilities and/or nuclear power plants.
Figure 8-11 High Risk Counties Within 100 Miles of Nuclear Reactors
Figure from The Enemy Within by Jay Gould16.
The Radiation and Public Health Project (RPHP) 8, a group of independent scientists in the U.S., has collected over 4000 baby teeth from children living around nuclear power plants. By measuring the Strontium-90 (a man-made fission product) in the baby teeth (a “built in dosimeter”), they have been able to correlate Strontium-90 levels with radiation related diseases in children living near nuclear power plants as reported by the CDC. The main pathways for fission products from nuclear power plants are through dairy products and drinking water.
Low Level Radiation and Immune System Damage17 by Joseph Mangano, is an excellent presentation of the effects of low level radiation. The Low Level Radiation Campaign18 in the U.K. also has good information.
Accumulated Environmental Radiation
The ECRR report2 considers "natural background" radiation levels to be pre-1905, before radiation was introduced by man into the environment. Since then, and particularly after World War II, accumulated radiation has incrementally increased the radiation burden to the global community. Nuclear weapons testing, nuclear power plants, and radiation accidents like Three Mile Island and Chenobyl are steadily increasing the radiation contamination of the global environment. We cannot escape exposure because we breathe the air, drink the water and eat food from contaminated soils.
A good example of the accumulated effect is in the San Francisco Bay Area, where there are unexplained high breast cancer rates in Marin County and the Marina District of San Francisco. Large amounts of funding for studies by the University of California and the Livermore Nuclear Weapons Lab on Marin County, so far have not produced an answer. Recently I was surprised to read an article in the Journal of Environmental Radioactivity19 on a study conducted by the Livermore Nuclear Weapons Lab which has been monitoring Cesium-137 (a man-made fission product) on sediments in San Francisco Bay. When I investigated further, I discovered that the Sierra Nevada Mountains on the eastern edge of California, have an accumulation of residual fission product radiation from nuclear weapons testing at the Nevada Test Site (the source of radiation on the fallout map), Chernobyl, and the Rancho Seco nuclear power plant which was shut down in 1989. The sediments and radiation washing out of the Sierras travel past the shorelines of Marin County and the Marina District. The "Irish Seacoast Effect" described by Dr. Chris Busby18 reports on cancer clusters in children and adults caused by the radiation dumped into the Irish Sea from the Sellafield Nuclear Reprocessing Plant. This effect is also reported around other nuclear power facilities where low level radiation is washing up on the coastlines of Ireland and Wales. This could explain the high breast cancer rates in the Marina District and Marin County in the San Francisco Bay Area. It is certainly ironic that the University of California, called the "University that poisoned the world [with radiation]" and the nuclear weapons lab they manage, now have control of studies on breast cancer in the Bay Area. Another example of rewarding failure – they get paid to make the mess and then get paid to clean it up.
More Releases to the Environment:
"If you think Cancer is a problem now, wait until more depleted uranium is released into the world." 20
The 1991 introduction of depleted uranium weapons in Iraq, the radioactive trash from the "nuclear project", broke a 46 year taboo. These radioactive weapons, the "Trojan Horse of Nuclear War", continued to be used over the past decade and are still being used today. A study by Dr. A. Alaboudi reports on the radiation effects on camels in contaminated areas of the southern Sahara where the French conducted nuclear tests and camels living in DU contaminated areas of southern Iraq21. People, camels and other animals in both areas are reported to have cancer and radiation related diseases. There are some differences which would be expected from the different radiation sources – fission products from nuclear testing and decay products from DU.
The long-term effects from over a decade of DU exposure are emerging in southern Iraq. They are devastating. However, the increased amount of radioactive material used in Afghanistan (3 times greater than in Iraq in 1991) and Iraq in 2003 (6-10 times greater than 1991) will travel throughout a larger area and affect many more people. The impact on future generations is unknown but will also prove to be devastating. Countries within a thousand miles of Iraq will be affected20. [The radii of the circles approximate a distance of 1000 miles.]
800 tons of DU is equivalent to 83,000 Nagasaki bombs
Professor Katsuma YAGASAKI has calculated the total radioactive atomicity of the Nagasaki bomb and compared it to the radioactive atomicity of DU. He reported13 at the World Uranium Weapons Conference in Hamburg, Germany, Oct. 16-19 2003, that 800 tons of DU is the atomicity equivalent to 83,000 Nagasaki bombs.
The amount of DU used in Iraq in 2003 is equivalent in atomicity to nearly 250,000 Nagasaki bombs.
[Busby has calculated that 1900 tons of DU is equivalent to 60TBq of alpha and beta particulate activity20.]
In the Fall of 2003, it was announced in the news that India is about to suffer a major AIDS epidemic. Is this related to the contamination of Afghanistan and Iraq with DU, and the fact that India is downwind? Low level radiation is linked to immune system damage17,18,19 and would impact the ability of exposed populations to fight infectious diseases.
In the areas where the two circles overlap for Afghanistan and Iraq, the environment and populations living in those areas are at increased risk, from increased DU exposure. Iran, Georgia and the Caspian region lie within that region. So do the oil deposits for the Middle East and oil rich Russian Republics.
Health of the Environment
We cannot escape the radiation madness, we are all downwinders. The health of the environment connects all species. 22
"The committee lists its recommendations. The total maximum permissible dose to members of the public arising from all human practices should not be more than 0.1mSv, with a value of 5mSv for nuclear workers. This would severely curtail the operation of nuclear power stations and reprocessing plants, and this reflects the committee’s belief that nuclear power is a costly way of producing energy when human health deficits are included in the overall assessment. All new practices must be justified in such a way that the rights of all individuals are considered. Radiation exposures must be kept as low as reasonably achievable using best available technology. Finally, the environmental consequences of radioactive discharges must be assessed in relation to the total environment, including both direct and indirect effects on all living systems." 2
1 G. Greene, The Woman Who Knew Too Much, Univ. Michigan Press (1999) .
2 ECRR 2003 Recommendations of the European Committee on Radiation Risk, by European Committee on Radiation Risk, Regulator’s Edition: Brussels 2003.
3 Handbook of Chemistry and Physics has tables of isotopes with the energy levels of particles and rays.
4 See Gsponer in Question 12.
5 THE EFFECTS OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS, Dept. of the Army Pamphlet No. 50-3, Headquarters, Dept. of the Army (March 1977).
6 Closing the Circle on the Splitting of the Atom, U.S. Dept. of Energy Office of Environmental Management DOE/EM-0266, January 1996. [Chart p. 38] http://legacystory.apps.em.doe.gov/text/close/closetoc.htm
7 R. Graeub, The Petkau Effect: Nuclear Radiation, People and Trees Four Wall Eight Windows (1992) ISBN: 0941423727
8 Radiation and Public Health Project (this group of independent scientists have authored ten books on Low Level Radiation. http://www.radiation.org
9 C. Busby Wings of Death Green Audit Books, Aberystwyth (1995).
10 L. Moret "Letter from Leuren Moret to Congressman McDermott with Declassified memo to Gen. L.R. Groves 1943 – a blueprint for DU 21feb03", http://www.mindfully.org/Nucs/2003/Leuren-Moret-Gen-Groves21feb03.htm
11 B. Halliwell, M.C. Gutteridge Free Radicals in Biology and Medicine Oxford (2001) 3rd Edition.
12 R. L. Miller Under The Cloud: The Decades of Nuclear Testing (1991).
13 D.V.Conn "U.S. Counts one in 12 children disabled" Washington Post 7/6/02.
14 Linking Legacies: Connecting the Cold War Nuclear Weapons Production Processes To Their Environmental Consequences, U.S. Dept. of Energy Office of Environmental Management, DOE/EM-0319, January 1997. http://legacystory.apps.em.doe.gov/
15 Estimating The Cold War Mortgage- The 1995 Baseline Environmental Management Report Executive Summary March 1995, U.S. Dept. of Energy Office of Environmental Management, DOE/EM-0232, March 1995. http://web.em.doe.gov/bemr/
16 J. Gould The Enemy Within: The High Cost of Living Near Nuclear Reactors-Breast Cancer, AIDS, Low Birthweights, and Other Radiation Induced Immune Deficiency Effects¸ Four Walls Eight Windows 1996.
17 J. Mangano Low Level Radiation and Immune System Damage Lewis Pub. NY (1999).
18 The Low Level Radiation Campaign website is: http://www.llrc.org
19 A.M.Volpe, B.B. Bandong B.K. Esser, G.M. Bianchini, "Radiocesium in North San Francisco Bay and Baja California coastal surface waters" Journal of Environmental Radioactivity Jan 2002. http://www.elsevier.com/inca/publications/store/4/0/5/8/6/1/ [Or click here for abstract]
20 "If you think Cancer is a problem now, wait until more depleted uranium is released into the world." Busby, Sherman, Moret May 2003, Toronto Peace Center website: http://www.torontoforpeace.org/uranium-risks.html
21 Comparison of Effects on Animals and Environment From Ionizing Radiation From Above-Ground Weapons Testing in Algeria With DU Use in Iraq by A. Alaboudi, manuscript October 2003.
22 Quote by Dr. Alonso Aguirre at the International Seminar "Health of the Environment: Healthy Ecosystems, Healthy Biodiversity and Healthy People" Organized by Dr. Alexey Yablokov and Dr. Vladimir Zakharov, Center for Russian Environmental Policy, at the White Oak Plantation June 8-12, 2003.
6. When the DU weapon irradiates an object, what would happen to the object and how would DU diffuse into what ?
Depleted Uranium radioactive dust, in very fine particles of insoluble uranium oxides, begins forming and contaminating the air when the DU projectile starts to burn or oxidize. From films I have watched of actual 1991Gulf War battlefield footage in Iraq1, depleted uranium projectiles shot from Abrams tanks were already burning and looked like tracers going through the night sky. The heat of friction ignites them as they leave the tank gun barrel. When anti-tank DU penetrators break through the armor and tank shielding (which often is also depleted uranium), they generate an intense shower of melted metallic fragments and particles which can badly burn the personnel, ignite the fuel-tank, or detonate the munitions in the ammunition magazine. Temperatures of the burning DU can reach 3-5000 C, and it can even be partially melted when it impacts. The fragments of depleted uranium schrapnel can wound personnel, and the tank quickly fills with radioactive smoke which kills or wounds the personnel inside.
Personnel are also exposed to radiation from depleted uranium munitions during normal operations and deployment of DU weapons. The shielding on many tanks is also DU. A medical doctor told me about his first Gulf War patient:
"Saw my first Gulf War Syndrome case from Kuwait. Four months in an Abrams M-1-A tank and splashing jet fuel on himself while refueling the tanks and then sleeping in the tank at night. He said if you opened the shell magazine in the dark the depleted uranium shells glowed." 2
Munitions containing DU can be identified by the color of the fires while burning off the DU metal. When depleted uranium bombs hit a target or the ground the penetration and incendiary effects can be seen:
Journalist: "…Well can you tell me which of the B[unker].B[uster].s have DU warheads?"
U.S. Army Colonel: "Well… (long pause) I think I will tell you about one and leave it at that. The G.B.U.-28 (guided bomb unit) BLU 113B 5000 pounder is capable of being fitted with a D.U. warhead and dropped. It is not solely a D.U. warhead; they still use them with conventional non-D.U. warheads. If you were watching T.V. and you saw any bombs hit there was an easy way to tell if it was D.U. If you saw all those little secondary white fires burning in the air in the blast, that was D.U. burning off. D.U. burns with a whitish orange flame, almost like a firework shell burning." 3
U.S. military research reports indicate that as much or more than 70%4 of the depleted uranium projectile is aerosolized, and the greatest number of dust particles are in the 0.1 micron range4. Large amounts of very fine particles of radioactive DU dust are released into the air from burning DU munitions. Fragments of DU metal and particles larger than 2-5 microns are deposited on the ground. Very fine particles in the 0.1 micron range and smaller are invisible and remain suspended in the air, eventually becoming part of atmospheric dust. The DU dust and schrapnel is sometimes mixed with oxides of other metals such as iron from the target object like a tank or vehicle. The radioactive dust from the burning depleted uranium contaminates the battlefield exposing soldiers in the area and downwind. A soldier in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 350 miles downwind from the battlefields in 1991was reported to be contaminated with DU5. Vehicles, tanks, or other objects impacted by DU projectiles, and buildings, soil, plants, and water will have residual radiation and dust on them. The radioactive dust is carried by the wind and exposes populations hundreds and even thousands of miles downwind 6,7,8, 13.
Long after the battle is over the destroyed vehicles have residual radiation contamination in and around them. Teams investigating battlefields a decade later have measured radiation levels inside the tanks and outside on the ground where tanks and vehicles were destroyed with DU weapons. Dr. Chris Busby measured 24,000 Bq (counts per second) at the surface of a stray A-10 30mm penetrator lying on the ground in Iraq several years ago9. Radioactive holes in the tanks were from A-10 hits. After 20 weeks, DU is in equilibrium with its daughter products Thorium-234 (beta; 0.26MeV, 24 days) and Protactinium-234 (beta; 0.23MeV, 6.75 hrs) which are both beta emitters. The beta emitters are the main hazard in handling metalic DU. He measured radiation levels in three areas: the southern battleground area near tanks destroyed by DU fire13, the same area away from the tanks, the cities of Al Basrah and Baghdad. Alpha activity on the battleground was five times higher than Basrah and ten times higher than Baghdad9, 13.
Battlefields today are littered with old bullets, shells and fragments of depleted uranium munitions13. Iraqi families and children frequently collect and handle the old munitions to sell as scrap. They will be contaminated handling the radioactive debris. As the seasons change and the bullets weather, more radioactive dust is released into the air, water and soil and is carried by the winds8 providing fresh sources of DU. In a recent study by UNEP10, depleted uranium bullets left in the ground after the 1998 conflict, were found to have lost 25% of their mass and the groundwater is now contaminated with depleted uranium. As the metal from old munitions is disolved it migrates through the soil and into the groundwater.
Plants, trees11, animals12, bacteria, viruses and any living things in an ecosystem contaminated with DU may bioconcentrate radioactive isotopes and daughter products of the DU dust and metal left in the environment13. Once radioactive materials have escaped there is no way to control or contain them. They go everywhere.
A paper "Combined IDTIMS and LAM-ICPMS Dendrochemical Study of a Depleted Uranium and Heavy Metal Contaminated Bog Near Concord, Massachusetts" 11 was presented at the 2001 Geological Society of America Annual Meeting in a session on Munitions: Sources, Fate and Transport. It identified methods to analyze for DU contaminants in various tree tissues, uptake pathways (groundwater versus through the leaves), and how to create historic records of heavy metal uptake using tree cores. Monitoring contamination in various parts of the tree was suggested as a method that could be used to identify and monitor contamination plumes from munitions in shallow groundwater systems. This study reveals not only air and groundwater pathways for contamination by DU and other heavy metals, but also can be used to monitor concentrations of contaminants.
A recent study by Dr. A. Alaboudi, Comparison of Effects on Animals and Environment From Ionizing Radiation From Above-Ground Weapons Testing in Algeria With DU Use in Iraq12, compared blood samples of camels from U.A.E., Botrosburg, Sudan, India, Egypt, Iraq and Algeria. Blood in camels from Algeria and the southern areas of Iraq showed differences due to radiation exposure compared to blood from camels in uncontaminated environments. Algerian camels were exposed to fission products from French atmospheric testing while Iraqi camels were exposed to DU and its decay products. These different types of radiation exposure were apparent in the blood testing.
Radioactive contamination of the environment13 results in recycling of the isotopes and decay products through all living things from contamination of the air, water and soil until the isotopes are no longer radioactive. In the case of DU, that is a very long time – 45 billion years.
1 Invisible War: Depleted Uranium and the Politics of Radiation by Martin Meissonier (2000) France.
2 Personal communication January 13, 2003.
3 Interview by Jay Shaft, Editor Coalition for Free Thought in Media, "U.S. Colonel Admits That 500 Tons of D.U. Were Just Used in Iraq" May 5, 2003.
4 "Prototype Firing Range Air Cleaning System" by J.A. Glissmeyer, J. Mishima and J.A. Bamberger, Pacific Northwest Laboratory, Richland, Washington, Proceedings of the 18th DOE Nuclear Airborne Waste Management and Air Cleaning Conference, Baltimore, Maryland, August 12-16, 1984. Published March 1985, Editor M.W. First, U.S. DOE and The Harvard Air Cleaning Laboratory; CONF-840806 Vol.2, p. 854-855.
5 Gulf Veterans reject uranium ‘small risk’ report from BreakingNews. ie 12 March 2002. http://archives.tcm.ie/breakingnews/2002/03/12/story42793.asp
6 Personal communication from Dr. Hari Sharma (March 28, 2002) reporting DU levels at 150 micrograms/kg tissue measured in 71 dead residents of Basra following 1991 Gulf War. Manscript now in publication.
7 "Did NATO Attacks in Yugoslavia Cause a Detectable Environmental Effect in Hungary?" by A. Kerekes, A. Capote-Cuellar, and G.J. Koteles, Health Physics Feb. 2001, Vol.80 No.2.
8 "Estimating the Concentration of Uranium in Some Environmental Samples in Kuwait After the 1991 Gulf War" by F. Bou-Rabee, Appl.Radiat.Isot.I Vol.46 No.4, pp.217-220,1995.
9 "Science on Trial: On the Biological Effects and Health Risks following Exposure to Aerosols produced by the use of Depleted Uranium Weapons" by Chris Busby PhD, presented to the Royal Society, London, July 19, 2000, p. 16. http://www.llrc.org/du/duframes.htm
10 Low-level DU contamination found in Bosnia and Herzegovina, UNEP calls for precaution, UNEP News Release - 2003/17 March
11 "Combined IDTIMS and LAM-ICPMS Dendrochemical Study of a Depleted Uranium and Heavy Metal Contaminated Bog Near Concord, Massachusetts" by M. Bulleri, D. Coleman, and D. Brabander, Abstract GSA Annual Meeting, Nov. 5-8, 2001.
12 Comparison of Effects on Animals and Environment From Ionizing Radiation From Above-Ground Weapons Testing in Algeria With DU Use in Iraq by A. Alaboudi, manuscript October 2003.
13 Environmental Pollution Resulting From the Use of Depleted Uranium Weaponry Against Iraq During 1991 by S. Al-Azzawi, B. Ma’aruf, M. Abdul-Rahman, M. Al-Saji, W. Rasheed, A. Mugwar, manuscript Nov. 2003.
10. Is there a report or reports prepared by an international agency, a military institute, or a scientist, which confirms what you said under the item 9? Yes, No,
Yes, a recent European Parliament report1 (January 2003), a scientific paper2 (2002), and research3 (Sept. 19, 2003) at a U.S. nuclear weapons lab support the information presented in Question 9.
Research by EU Parliament radiation committee on effect of radiation decay products
The recent European Parliament report1 issued by the ECRR describes the radiological and chemical effects from isotopes decaying into daughter products. They state that this potentially increases the local dose (damage) and changes the chemistry of the radioactive particle:
"There is also the "Trojan Horse" exposure to a sequentially decaying isotope whereby the isotope enters a system with one chemical identity and on decay changes to a different chemical species which is also radioactive. An example here is the series Sr-90/Y-90/ the radioactive decay product of the dipositive ion Sr.-90 decay is a tripositive Y-90 ion. The committee is concerned that such a sequence might result in accumulation of Y-90 in parts of the organism (e.g. the brain) where there are biological filters based on ionic strength or valency and that this might result in enhanced local doses.
A similar enhancement of local dose would occur as a result of adsorption of radioactive ions (e.g. Cs-137) at an interface. The positive ions involved in nervous system signalling collect at synaptic junctions and the similar concentrations of radioactive species with the same chemical group affinity would increase the local dose." 1
Research by Scientists on radiation and chemical effects of DU on human cells
In a recent paper "Observation of Radiation-specific Damage in Human Cells Exposed to Depleted Uranium: Dicentric Frequency and Neoplastic Transformation as Endpoints" by A.C. Miller et. al2, researchers demonstrated that "DU exposure in vitro to immortalised human osteoblast cells (HOS) is both neoplastically transforming and genotoxic [damages the cells and causes genetic change]. DU has both a radiological (alpha-particle) and a chemical (metal) component."2 Since DU is not considered to be a radiological hazard as compared to natural uranium, and the biological effects are unknown, the researchers wanted to determine the potential contribution of radiation to DU-induced biological effects. They first compared the biological effects (dicentrics) following DU exposure in vitro to incubation of the cells with the heavy metals tungsten and nickel. The DU exposure increased biological damage (dicentrics) but the other metals had no observed effect. Then the HOS cells were exposed in vitro to three uranium compounds with different isotopes (specific activities) – 238U-uranyl nitrate specific activity 0.33 mCi.g-1, DU-uranyl nitrate specific activity 0.44 mCi.g-1, and 235U-uranyl nitrate specific activity 2.2 mCi.g-1. By comparing the results of exposure at equal uranium concentration, there was a specific activity dependent increase in neoplastic transformation frequency. "This data suggests that DU can play a role in DU-induced biological effects in vitro." 2
Research at a U.S. Nuclear Weapons Lab on DU damage to mitochondria in Gulf War victims
New research by Sandia research physicist Paul Gourley (1141) and Marcus Keep, a neurosurgeon professor at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine, is underway at a nuclear weapons lab. "Sandia nanolaser may help extend life-spans by rapidly analyzing possible neuroprotectant drugs" 3 reported Sept. 19, 2003 by N. Singer in SandiaLabNews, is a startling U.S. Government admission that cancer and birth defects are not the only diseases caused by radiation exposure. It is even more remarkable that this study specifically links radiation damage to malfunction of the mitochondria and illnesses in Gulf War victims:
"’Helping Gulf War victims’ – Sandia has been doing research on the role of mitochondria malfunctions identified as the most immediate cause of Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, and Alzheimer’s. Loss of brain function is caused by neurons killed by malfunctions in the mitochondria. "Malfunctioning mitochondria have also been linked to battlefield aftereffects caused by radiation or by nerve agents like sarin." Gulf War victims frequently develop Lou Gehrig’s disease or "ALS (the neuron disease amytrophic lateral sclerosis) which is a neurodegenerative disorder that kills motor neurons causing paralysis and death in three years." It affects both Gulf War veterans and civilians." 3
The research funding at Sandia National Laboratories was provided by the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Biological and Environmental Research, and Sandia’s Laboratory Directed Research and Development. Funding is now being requested from the U.S. Congress for research "to help Gulf War victims".
A higher incidence of Lou Gehrig’s disease has been reported in 1991 Gulf War veterans who served in the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Army – both heavy users of depleted uranium weapons. Lower rates of this disease were reported for veterans who had served in the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps during the 1991 Gulf War. This research on the mitochondria helps to explain brain function problems, mood swings, neurodegenerative disorders, neuromuscular degenerative diseases, and chronic fatigue syndrome, all reported by Gulf War victims.
1 ECRR 2003 Recommendations of the European Committee on Radiation Risk, by European Committee on Radiation Risk, Regulator’s Edition: Brussels 2003, p.88.
2 "Observation of Radiation-specific Damage in Human Cells Exposed to Depleted Uranium: Dicentric Frequency and Neoplastic Transformation as Endpoints" by A.C. Miller, J. Xu, M. Stewart, K. Brooks, S. Hodge, L. Shi, M. Page and D. McClain, Radiation Protection Dosimetry Vol. 99 No. 1-4, P. 275 (2002). http://www.ntp.org.uk/rpda87/rpda2002991-4275.html
3 SandiaLabNews Vol. 55, No. 19, September 19, 2003. http://www.sandia.gov/LabNews/LN09-19-03/key09-19-03_stories.html#nano
International Criminal Tribunal for Afghanistan
QUESTION 11. WHAT DOES THE U.S. GOVT. KNOW ABOUT DU?
November 25, 2003
By Leuren Moret <email@example.com>
11. The US government flatly denies risk of DU officially. World Health Organization published a similar report recently. Please tell us what you think the US government really knows.
1943 – MANHATTAN PROJECT: Memo to General Leslie R. Groves October 30, 1943 - Blueprint for Depleted Uranium weapons
Recommendation from Manhattan Project physicists
(Compton, Urey, Connant) to develop radioactive battlefield weapons
"which would behave like a radioactive gas" using nuclear trash from
the atomic bomb program in order to beat the Germans who might do it
first. Depleted uranium was specifically mentioned in other
Source of document: Major Doug Rokke, U.S. Army Head of Depleted Uranium Project to clean up Iraq and Kuwait after1991 Gulf War.
1946 – OPEN LITERATURE
ACTIONS OF RADIATIONS ON LIVING CELLS by D.E. Lea, Cambridge University Press (1946) (includes early research beginning in 1927 by H.J. Muller on genetic mutations in Drosophila from ionizing radiation); through collaboration with the Radiological Society of North America, the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, and the Royal Society.
1950 – U.S. ARMY Pamphlet: THE EFFECTS OF ATOMIC WEAPONS
9.40 "…The uranium and plutonium which may have escaped fission in the nuclear weapon represent a further possible source of residual nuclear radiation…."
9.41 "The alpha particles from uranium and plutonium… are completely absorbed in an inch or two of air…. indicates that uranium and plutonium deposited on the earth do not represent a serous external hazard."
9.42 "Although there is negligible danger from uranium and plutonium outside the body, it is possible for dangerous amounts of these elements to enter the body through the lungs, the digestive system, or breaks in the skin. Plutonium, for example, tends to concentrate in bone and lungs, where the prolonged action of the alpha particles can cause serious harm."
THE EFFECTS OF ATOMIC WEAPONS (1950), U.S. Army republished 1957, 1962, 1964 as THE EFFECTS OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS, Dept. of the Army Pamphlet No. 50-3, Headquarters, Dept. of the Army (March 1977).
1974-99 – U.S. MILITARY: Research Report Summaries on Depleted Uranium
Major research on military use of depleted uranium, 1974-1999, Office of the Special Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses – "GulfLINK" http://www.gulflink.osd.mil/du_ii/du_ii_tabl1.htm
These summaries represent extensive research to test and characterize depleted uranium as a military weapon. The summaries confirm everything that was known in 1943 in the Groves Memo.
1976 - U.S. AIR FORCE: "INTERNATIONAL LAW - - THE CONDUCT OF ARMED CONFLICT AND AIR OPERATIONS" - November 19, 1976
Judge Advocate General Activities Air Force Pamphlet AFP 110-31
The U.S. Department of the Air Force manual, "International Law: The conduct of Armed Conflict and Air Operations," AFP 110-31, November 19, 1976 (hereinafter "USAF manual"), governs the actions of all U.S. Air Force pilots including operators of the A-10 Thunderbolts. This Air Force manual acknowledges that the Department of the Air Force must adhere to international and U.S. military law regarding bombardment and air operations.
"It is especially important that treaties, having the force of law equal to laws enacted by the Congress of the United States, be scrupulously adhered to by the United States armed forces." This is the legal policy of the U.S. Department of Defense. (USAF manual, p. 1-7)
Article VI of the Constitution of the United States says: "…all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or the laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding."
"The following are relevant examples of treaties to which the U.S. is a party: Hague Conventions IV of October 18, 1907 (USAF manual, p. 1-7); Geneva Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or Other Gases and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare of 1925 [the Geneva Gas Protocol, June 17, 1925] (USAF manual, p. 1-7); Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilians in Time of War, August 12, 1949." (USAF manual, p. 1-8)
Even without a formal declaration of war, the United States Department of Defense is legally obligated under the U.S. Constitution to obey the laws of war. "The law of armed conflict applies to an international armed conflict regardless of whether a declared ‘war’ exists." (USAF manual, p. 1-10) "The Armed Forces of the United States will comply with the law of war in the conduct of military operations and related activities in armed conflict however such conflicts are characterized." (USAF manual, p. 1-8)
Although uranium weapons are not banned by name in an existent treaty, they are illegal under binding Air Force law and international conventions. "Any weapon may be put to an unlawful use." (USAF manual, p. 6-1) "A weapon may be illegal per se if either international custom or treaty has forbidden its use under all circumstances. An example is poison to kill or injure a person." (USAF manual, p. 6-1) The International Court of Justice recognizes this rule in its Advisory Opinion, "Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons" (International Court of Justice Reports, 1996). In paragraph 87 of that Opinion, the Court found that the principles and rules of humanitarian law apply to all weapons, including nuclear ones. In other parts of the Opinion the Court stresses the duty to evaluate legality or illegality prior to use in military operations.
The Geneva Gas Protocol prohibits, "the use in war of asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases, and of all analogous liquids, materials or devices." (USAF manual, p.6-3, 6-4) The Geneva Conventions now include the four Geneva Conventions of 1949, their Protocol Additional I, and Protocol Additional II. [The two protocols strongly set out prohibitions of military operations that would unleash hazardous forces (such as an attack on a nuclear power facility or a dam) or would damage the natural environment or water supply. ]
The 1907 Hague Convention IV, at Section II, Article 23, absolutely forbids any use of poison. It states: "In addition to the prohibitions provided by special Conventions, it is especially forbidden ¾ a) To employ poison or poisoned weapons; b) To kill or wound treacherously individuals belonging to the hostile nation army; e) To employ arms, projectiles, or material calculated to cause unnecessary suffering." (USAF manual, p.5-1)
Poison is defined in the Air Force manual in a way that clearly describes uranium munitions: "Poisons are biological or chemical substances causing death or disability with permanent effects when, in even small quantities, they are ingested, enter the lungs or bloodstream, or through the skin. The longstanding customary prohibition against poison is based on their uncontrolled character and the inevitability of death or permanent disability as well as on a traditional belief that it is treacherous to use poison." (USAF manual, p. 6-5)
U.S. Air Force Pamphlet [Manual] AFP 110-31
"U.S. Air Force and International Law Forbid the Use of Uranium Weapons" by Karen Parker, J.D., Diplome (Strasbourg) and Piotr Bein, PhD.
Source: John LaForge, Nukewatch http://www.nukewatch.com/
1978 - 95th CONGRESS AND U.S. PRESIDENT – Speech by Senator Bob Dole
Making Bullets Out of Depleted Uranium - Mr. Dole: "Mr. President, an article appeared in the Washington Star on March 14 , reporting that the Pentagon is about to start using depleted-uranium to produce bullets. They seem to have chosen this material for bullets because uranium metal is dense, and because depleted uranium is cheap. Needless to say, I find this proposal shocking. On the one hand this shows a complete lack of sensitivity to the general fear of using radioactive materials. On the other hand, only a strange set of policy decisions could have made this material so cheap that anybody would consider using it for bullets."
Opening paragraph of 140-line long statement by Senator Bob Dole at the 95th Congress, 2nd Session, Vol. 124 (part 29) March 17, 1978, page 7416.
1979 - U.S. ARMY: Mobility Equipment, Research & Development Command
The U.S. Army Mobility Equipment, Research & Development Command, March 7, 1979, states: "Not only the people in the immediate vicinity (emergency and fire fighting personnel) but also people at distances downwind from the fire are faced with potential over exposure to air borne uranium dust."
1984 – U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY - Testing Problems from DU Contamination
"Prototype Firing Range Air Cleaning System" by J.A. Glissmeyer, J. Mishima and J.A. Bamberger, Pacific Northwest Laboratory, Richland, Washington, Proceedings of the 18th DOE Nuclear Airborne Waste Management and Air Cleaning Conference, Baltimore, Maryland, August 12-16, 1984. Published March 1985, Editor M.W. First, U.S. Dept. of Energy and The Harvard Air Cleaning Laboratory; CONF-840806 Vol. 2.
"The Ballistics Research Laboratory, a component of the U.S. Army Research and Development Command, contracted with Pacific Northwest Laboratory (PNL) to provide a prototype air cleaning system for a new large caliber firing range where depleted uranium munitions are testfired. …too costly to operate… rapid particle loading results in short filter life necessitating frequent replacement and disposal as low-level radioactive waste. The rapid particle loading also results in decreased airflow causing an excessive waiting period before personnel can reenter the target area."
"The U.S. Army Material Test Directorate (MTD) and the Ballistics Research Laboratory (BRL) both operate two firing ranges (Ranges A, B, and C, D respectively) for the testing of large caliber depleted uranium (DU) penetrators. The targets are housed in enclosures which contain DU aerosols and fragments produced by the test firings. One of the drawbacks of using a target enclosure is that the airborne DU must be removed by ventilation and air cleaning before personnel can enter the enclosure without respiratory protection."
1984 – U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION (DOT): FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION (FAA)
FAA Advisory Circular 20-123, "Avoiding or Minimizing Encounters With Aircraft Equipped With Depleted Uranium Balance Weights During Accident Investigations" dated 12/20/84, signed by M.C. Beard, Director of Airworthiness.
This memo circulated to all FAA crash site investigators, which is still valid and in effect (1/11/01- FAA spokesman Les Dorr to M. Ruppert), describes the health hazard of depleted uranium aircraft balance weights at crash sites. The U.S. Government has always treated depleted uranium as a hazardous material. This memo reveals that it has been used as a component of aircraft manufacturing for years with full knowledge by the U.S. Govt.:
"While the depleted uranium normally poses no danger, it is to be handled with caution. The main hazard associated with depleted uranium 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."
"- Personnel handling the balance weight should
- Industial eye protection should be worn.
- Respirator mask should be worn to ensure no radioactive dust particle ingestion.
- …any articles used in the handling of damaged balance weights… discarded… and labeled as radioactive waste…"
Aircraft manufacturers such as McDonnell-Douglas and Boeing have routinely advised health advisory and safety precautions in their aircraft manuals.
From The Wilderness: FTW SUBSCRIBER BULLETIN
[At the Pentagon crash site on Sept. 11, 2001, Leuren Moret reported that EPA official Bill Bellinger of the agency’s Region III Environmental Radiation Monitoring Office, confirmed that crash rubble, was radioactive and "probably depleted uranium. He was convinced that depleted uranium is not radiologically toxic, but commented that it is more of a hazard when aerosolized."
"Depleted uranium: devastation at home and abroad" San Francisco Bay
View, November 7, 2001
This was also reported in NATUR magazine January 10, 2002, "Todliches Uran-Recycling" p.10-12.]
1989 - U.S. NAVY - Changes from Depleted Uranium to Tungsten Alloys
" The interesting aspect in the history of this
application is that after deciding in 1978 to use a uranium alloy, the
U.S. Navy decided in 1989 to change to tungsten alloys, ‘based on live
fire tests showing that tungsten met their performance requirements
while offering reduced probabilities of radiation exposure and
B.Rostker, Development of DU Munitions, in Environmental Exposure Report, Depleted Uranium in the Gulf (II), (2000). http://www.gulflink.osd.mil/du_ii/du_ii_tabe.htm
1990 - Office of the ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE, A. H. Passarella, Dir. Freedom of Information and Security Review, February 11, 1990 letter to Mr. Dan Fahey
"Depleted uranium (DU) material can constitute a
heavy metal poisoning and radiation poisoning hazard in the pulverized
(powder) state only if it is either ingested or inhaled."
Case Narrative: Depleted Uranium (DU) Exposures, 2nd Edition, July 2, 1998, National Gulf War Resource Center, pp. 197-198.
1990 – SAIC: Government Contractor
"Short-term effects of high doses can result in death, while long-term effects of low doses have been implicated in cancer."
"Aerosol DU exposures to soldiers on the battlefield could be significant with potential radiological and toxicological effects."
From the Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) report, included as Appendix D of AMMCOM’s Kinetic Energy Penetrator Long Term Strategic Study, Danesi, July 1990. This report was completed six months before Desert Storm.
1990 - U.S. ARMY - Armament, Munitions and Chemical Command [AMCCOM]
"…reported in July 1990, that depleted uranium
is a "low level alpha radiation emitter which is linked to cancer when
exposures are internal, [and] chemical toxicity causing kidney damage."
(AMCCOM’s radiological task group has said that "long term effects of
low doses [of DU] have been implicated in cancer…there is no dose so
low that the probability of effect is zero."
Case Narrative: Depleted Uranium (DU) Exposures, 2nd Edition, July 2, 1998, National Gulf War Resource Center, Inc., p. i)
1991 – LOS ALAMOS MEMO - Los Alamos Nuclear Weapons
SUBJECT: The Effectiveness of Depleted Uranium Penetrators March 1, 1991
From: Lt. Col. M.V. Ziehm
To: Major Larson "Studies and Analysis Branch" (WR 13)
"There is a relatively small amount of lethality data for uranium penetrators, either the tank fired long version or the GAU-8 round fired from the A-10 close air support aircraft. The recent war has likely multiplied the number of du rounds fired at targets by orders of magnitude. It is believed that du penetrators were very effective against Iraqi armor; however, assessments of such will have to be made.
There has been and continues to be a concern regarding the impact of du on the environment. Therefore, if no one makes a case for the effectiveness of du on the battlefield, du rounds may become politically unacceptable and thus, be deleted from the arsenal.
If du penetrators proved their worth during our recent combat activities, then we should assure their future existence (until something better is developed) through Service/DoD proponency. If proponency is garnered, it is possible that we stand to lose a valuable combat capability.
I believe we should keep this sensitive issue at mind when after action reports are written."
Los Alamos National Laboratory Memorandum
March 1, 1991
Source of this document: Major Doug Rokke, Head of Depleted Uranium Cleanup Project for Iraq and Kuwait after the Gulf War 1991.
1992 – UNITED STATES CENTRAL COMMAND log - following a major fire at a depleted uranium ammunition storage facility in Doha
"EOD POC (point of contact) states that burning depleted uranium puts off alpha radiation. Uranium particles when breathed can be hazardous. 11ACR has been notified to treat the area as though it were a chemical hazard area; i.e. stay upwind and wear protective mask in the vicinity."
United States Central Command log, "11ACR Fire in Doha: Updates from CENTCOM Forward," July 12, 1991, entry 10.
1993 – U.S. GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE (GAO)
"Inhaled insoluble 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 a toxicity risk."
Operation Desert Storm: Army Not Adequately Prepared to Deal With Depleted Uranium Contamination, United States General Accounting Office (GAO/NSIAD-93-90), January 1993, pp. 17-18.
1993 – U.S. ARMY ARMAMENT, MUNITIONS, AND CHEMICAL COMMAND (AMCCOM)
"When a DU penetrator impacts a target surface, a large portion of the kinetic energy is dissipated as heat. The heat of the impact causes the DU to oxidize or burn momentarily. This results in smoke which contains high concentration of DU particles. These uranium particles can be ingested or inhaled and are toxic."
U.S. ARMY ARMAMENT, MUNITIONS, AND CHEMICAL COMMAND (AMCCOM)
"Depleted Uranium Facts," photocopy in Bukowski, et. al, Uranium Battlefields Home and Abroad, March 1993, p. 97.
1993 - U.S. ARMY: Colonel Robert G. Claypool, Medical Corps Director, Professional Services of the Department of the Army, Office of the Surgeon General, August 16, 1993 letter to U.S. Army Chemical School
"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 days 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."
Case Narrative: Depleted Uranium (DU) Exposures, 2nd Edition,
July 2, 1998, National Gulf War Resource Center, pp. 263-264).
1993 - U.S. ARMY: Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff For Operations and Plans, Washington D.C. August 19, 1993: Memorandum Thru Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Plans – Director Army Staff – for Assistant Secretary of the Army (Installation Logistics & Environment)
Subject: Review of Draft Report to Congress – Health and Environmental Consequences of Depleted Uranium in the U.S. Army – ACTION MEMORANDUM
[This was a response to a GAO report to Congress on DU issues]
3. "In response to the GAO report, the Deputy Secretary of Defense (DEPSECDEF) issued a tasking memorandum on 8 June 1993. The memorandum directs the Secretary of the Army to:
1. Provide adequate training for personnel
who may come in contact with DU contaminated equipment.
2. Complete medical testing of personnel exposed to DU contamination during the Persian Gulf War.
3. Develop a plan for DU contaminated equipment recovery during future operations."
Signed - Brigadier General Eric K. Shinseki
[The rest of the memorandum is in regard to implementation of this order.]
[General Shinseki served four years as the Army Chief of Staff and retired in June 2003 after two years of tension between him and Donald Rumsfeld over resources needed for the Iraq war.]
Source of document: Major Doug Rokke, U.S. Army Head of Depleted Uranium Project to clean up Iraq and Kuwait after1991 Gulf War.
1993 - U.S. ARMY: Operations Support Directorate –
Subject: Medical Management Of Unusual Depleted Uranium Exposures October 2, 1993
"Unusual exposures to DU are also expected to cause no medical problems. But in the interest of documenting the expected minimal exposures, the exposures should be documented and specimens taken. Unusual exposures include situations which could result in ingestion/inhalation of DU dust; or the contamination of wounds by DU dust or fragments. These unusual exposures could result from:
1. Being in the midst of the smoke from DU
fires resulting from the burning of vehicles uploaded with DU munitions
or depots in which DU munitions are being stored.
2. Working within environments containing DU dust or residues from DU fires.
3. Being within a structure or vehicle while it is struck by a DU munition.
5. Safety guidance on appropriate soldier response
to accidents involving DU is contained within reference A. and guidance
on appropriate management of potentially DU-contaminated equipment is
contained within reference B.
6. In cases such as those in described in Paragraph 4, the following steps should be taken:
1. A MED-16 report (RCS MED-15(R4)) should be
submitted in accordance with Paragraph 5-10 of Reference B.
2. Specimens should be collected and forwarded for analysis in conformance with the information provided in subsequent paragraphs and paragraph 9-6 of Reference A.
1. Nasal swipes could be collected… Nasal
swipes can be useful if confirming exposure to DU dust environments…
2. Any filters used for respiratory protection (Protective mask canister, dust masks, field-expedient cloths placed over the nose etc.) should be sealed in plastic bags or other protective containers…
3. Twenty-four hour urine specimens should be collected…"
Source of document: Major Doug Rokke, U.S. Army Head of Depleted Uranium Project to clean up Iraq and Kuwait after1991 Gulf War.
12. You insist that the US government is developing new types of nuclear weapons. Is there anything you know about the plan in association with DU?
Because nuclear weapons testing is not possible under the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), a determination of the effects for low yield nuclear weapons must be made indirectly. It would be possible to use depleted uranium (DU) weapons as an analog to study the low level radiation effects of fourth generation nuclear weapons. This exact comparison was presented in a talk at the 4th International Conference of the Yugoslav Nuclear Society, Belgrade, September 30-October 4, 2002:
A comparison of delayed radiobiological effects of depleted-uranium munitions versus fourth-generation nuclear weapons by A. Gsponer, J.-P. Hurni, and B. Vitale
It is shown that the radiological burden due to the battlefield use of circa 400 tons of depleted-uranium munitions in Iraq (and of about 40 tons in Yugoslavia) is comparable to that arising from the hypothetical use of more than 600 kt (respectively 60 kt) of high-explosive equivalent pure-fusion fourth-generation nuclear weapons.
Despite the limited knowledge openly available on existing and future nuclear weapons, there is sufficient published information on their physical principles and radiological effects to make such a comparison. In fact, it is shown that this comparison can be made with very simple and convincing arguments so that the main technical conclusions of the paper are undisputable—although it would be worthwhile to supplement the hand calculations presented in the paper by more detailed computer simulations in order to consolidate the conclusions and refute any possible objections.1
There are three reasons why DU was introduced in the 1991 Gulf War, breaking a 46 year taboo against using radioactive weapons on the battlefield. DU weapons were introduced to test the effects of fourth generation nuclear weapons which may have similar radiation levels. As radiological weapons that are somewere in between conventional and nuclear weapons, they were introduced to blur or break down the clear distinction between conventional and nuclear weapons. And they were used as a strategy to make it easier to reintroduce nuclear weapons into the U.S. military arsenal.
On November 26, 2003, A. Gsponer sent me his comments on the significance of the New Scientist article below:
"As you know, nuclear isomers are a potential technology for new types of nuclear weapons, either in the form of a main explosive, or (more likely) in the form of a primary explosive able to trigger a miniaturised thermonuclear secondary of the type studied at NIF, LMJ, GEKKO, and other big lasers throughout the world.
This possibility was the subject of the lead article (pages 4-5) of the August 16, 2003, issue of "New Scientist" which is available in part at http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99994049 .
This article had a very large impact, with over 200 internet citations within a couple of days, and tens of articles in major newspapers world-wide (e.g., "The Guardian" and the "Mirror" in the UK, "Der Spiegel" and "Frankfurter Rundschau" in Germany, etc.)
However, in my view, the most interesting piece in relation with the proliferation of new nuclear weapons and DEPLETED URANIUM is a commentary in a box on page 5 which is not available on internet to non-subscribers of "New Scientists," and which is directly useful to you and your Japanese contacts."
The New Scientist 2 reveals that "conventional or nuclear weapons" is a tricky thing to define:
"Andre Gsponer of the Independent Scientific Research Institute in Geneva and others believe that any weapon incorporating radioactive material could be considered a nuclear weapon under international law. This would include nuclear-isomer explosives, as well as depleted uranium ammunition, a controversial weapons material that the U.S. and other nations would be keen to avoid linking with nuclear weapons."
"Nuclear-isomer explosives may also fall into another category: "any weapon or device that is intended, or has the capability, to cause death or serious bodily injuries to a significant number of people through the release… of radiation or radioactivity." That is how the U.S. government defines a weapon of mass destruction. Even if nuclear-isomer explosives are not nuclear weapons, they could still spell political trouble."2
The political trouble, spelled out, means that the plan to develop fourth generation nuclear weapons has encouraged an international discussion about what defines "conventional" and what defines "nuclear" in terms of new fourth generation nuclear weapons. And because nuclear-isomer explosives as well as depleted uranium are both radioactive, supports the debate that they fit into the category of nuclear weapons making them vulnerable to legislation regarding nuclear weapons. This debate has inadvertanly revealed that depleted uranium weapons fit the U.S. govt. definition of WMD. Under their own definition, this makes the U.S. guilty of war crimes for using WMD in Iraq (twice), Kosovo/Bosnia/Serbia, and Afghanistan.
The fact is that the U.S. govt. knows it has violated or intends to violate international laws, treaties and agreements. It has been forcing other countries to change their Constitutions or laws to make the U.S. military exempt from accountability. Just consider the recent U.S. pressure on the Philippines3 and Belgium to change their laws. The U.S. military is busy building "lilly pad" bases in countries around the world, for example Australia and the Philippines3. (The U.S. military is now doing bombing practice with depleted uranium on the west coast of Australia with the British military, having lost Vieques Island in Puerto Rico.) "Lily pad" bases will be dispersed and isolated bases that remain nearly empty (avoiding large infrastructure and housing for dependents) until needed as staging grounds for "trouble spots" 7. The Moslem population on Mindanao3, Philippines, is currently being terrorized and the island occupied by U.S. and Philippine troops for construction of "lily pad" bases to be used for Southeast Asia. The U.S. military wants to be exempt from local and international laws for good reason.
Research on basic science necessary for the development of fourth generation nuclear weapons is occuring in all five nuclear-weapon States (U.S., France, Russia, China, and U.K.) as well as other major industrialized States such as Germany and Japan*4. There are many possibilities for their development:
These new fission or fusion explosives could have yields in the range of 1 to 100 ton equivalents of TNT, i.e., in the gap which today separates conventional weapons from nuclear weapons. These relatively low-yield nuclear explosives would not qualify as weapons of mass destruction. Seven physical processes which could be used to make such low-yield nuclear weapons, or to make compact non-fission triggers for large scale thermonuclear explosions, are investigated in detail: subcritical fission-burn, magnetic compression, superheavy elements, antimatter, nuclear isomers, metallic hydrogen and superlasers (i.e., ultrapowerful lasers with intensities higher than 1019 W/cm2). 4
The aim of fourth generation nuclear weapons is to avoid the radioactive fallout, a product of fission which impedes military action. In general there will be an effort to avoid "heavy" material such as Uranium, Uranium-238, Uranium-235, and Plutonium-239. However, at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Livermore (nuclear weapons lab where I worked as a Staff Scientist 1989-1991), Plutonium as well as Tritium and Deuterium will be used in the NIF microexplosion chamber. For whatever reason Plutonium is going to be used at NIF8 makes it possible that other fissile or radioactive materials could also be used (including Uranium):
"The various radioactive substances - from tritium to highly enriched uranium to plutonium - that will or may be used in NIF are not discussed directly in the report." 8
The design of these new weapons is still in the experimental stage.
The construction of large inertial confinement fusion (ICF) microexplosion facilities in nuclear-weapon and non-nuclear-weapon States has contributed to great progress in the science necessary for the development of fourth generation nuclear weapons5. In fact, it is giving the arms race a fresh boost. A risk is apparent that some countries may directly acquire fourth generation nuclear weapons, without acquisition of, and bypassing earlier generations of nuclear weapons.
In a recent personal communication from Prof. Andre Gsponer he comments on new developments:
Japan is working very hard on 4th gen nukes since many years. Their main research laboratory is the "Institute of Laser Engineering" at Osaka University where they are building a huge laser facility comparable to NIF at Livermore or LMJ in Bordeaux. (See their documents, annual reports, etc., on their website: http://www.ile.osaka-u.ac.jp).
The competition is very stong with the U.S. (in fact Japan and Germany have replaced the USSR as the competitor) but there is also some collaboration. Japan has of course all the ancillary facilities, including the production and the separation of tritium.
Of course, Japan is also very advanced on all technologies relevant to "old-style" A- and H-bombs. Their ambition is to be ready to be able to counter on short notice anything China could do. (The same applies to South Korea which is, in fact, technologically much more advanced than North Korea, the difference being that South Korea has not assembled any nuclear weapon yet.) 6
* A member of the Japanese Parliament told me in February 2002 that the United States was pressuring the Japanese Government to construct a large tritium facility in Japan under a joint program with the U.S. She was concerned about the danger of tritium pollution of the environment, and asked me what tritium is used for. I told her "nuclear weapons".
1 "A comparison of delayed radiobiological effects of depleted-uranium munitions versus fourth-generation nuclear weapons" by A. Gsponer, J.-P. Hurni, and B. Vitale, 4th International Conference of the Yugoslav Nuclear Society, Belgrade, September 30-October 4, 2002. http://arXiv.org/abs/physics/0210071
2 "Conventional or Nuclear?" by D. Hambling, New Scientist, August 16 2003, P. 5.
3 Based on interviews by Leuren Moret with Phillipinos and displaced Filipinos Moslems on Sept. 11-13, 2003, in Manilla, Philippines.
4 Fourth Generation Nuclear Weapons: The Physical Principles of Thermonuclear Explosives, Inertial Confinement Fusion, and the Quest for Fourth Generation Nuclear Weapons by A. Gsponer and J.Hurni (1999). ISBN 3-933071-02-X
5 Media Coverage of Fourth Generation Nuclear Weapons
"New nukes in the making" 10/27/03 http://www.rnw.nl/hotspots/html/iso031024.html
"H-bomb baby boom?" 10/13/03 http://www.nukewatch.org/media2/postData.php?id=544
"Busting the bunker of non-proliferation" 090702 http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2002/09/06/1031115939075.html
6 Personal Communication November 24, 2003 from Prof. Andre Gsponer.
7 The U.S. will buy basing rights from friendly nations: Germany will be replaced by Poland, isolated areas of Iraq may be used for a Middle Eastern base, South Korean bases may be moved to Japan or a nearby area. From a retired U.S. General on FOX News February 18, 2003.
8 "Government Audit Adds $200 Million to NIF", Discloses Plutonium Plans, Citizens Watch Newsletter June 2001. http://www.trivalleycares.org/newsletters/cwjun01.asp
12-2 Is there a paper which explains about a new nuclear weapon in detail?
There is an excellent report: Fourth Generation Nuclear Weapons: The Physical Principles of Thermonuclear Explosives, Inertial Confinement Fusion, and the Quest for Fourth Generation Nuclear Weapons by A. Gsponer and J.Hurni (1999), ISBN 3-933071-02-X.
Review Comments on this report from International Network of Engineers and Scientists Against Proliferation - INESAP Technical Report No.1:1
* A very informative overview of first and second generation
nuclear weapon technology (that is, pure fission devices, boosted
fission devices, and staged thermonuclear designs)
* An excellent summary of current research directions in weapons-applicable physics, such as the U.S. Science-Based Stockpile Program, and the prospects of developing a new generation of fourth generation nuclear weapons.
[It should be noted in passing that third generation nuclear weapons include such devices as hot X-ray and enhanced neutron emission ("neutron bomb") thermonuclear weapons, specialized devices that were never procured in large numbers, and have been largely abandoned as of little military interest.]
Of special interest is their excellent and extensive bibliography that brings together many references regarding weapon history, basic weapon physics, and fourth generation weapon concepts. To people interested in these subjects the bibliography alone is easily worth the modest cost of the publication.
To Order: Orders should be sent to: IANUS, firstname.lastname@example.org, or by fax to No.\ (+49) 6151-16-6309. Price: $20 + postage.
Copyright, 1997, 1998, 1999. INESAP, c/o IANUS, Darmstadt University of Technology, Germany. All rights reserved. ISBN: 3-933071-02-X.
1 International Network of Engineers and Scientists Against Proliferation: - Review Comments - INESAP Technical Report No.1 http://www.inesap.org/publ_tech01.htm
14 What kinds of reports and papers does the UN have on the risk of DU?
Karen Parker J.D., introduced the depleted uranium issue to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights at the Spring 1996 session. She has continued since then to keep the issue moving through the U.N. at all levels. Her recent paper informs us on the issue at the U.N.:
Why Weapons Containing Depleted Uranium Are Illegal
by Karen Parker, J.D. September 30, 2003
There are two ways to determine if the use of a particular weapon in military operations is illegal. The easiest way is if the weapon is used in violation of a treaty that forbids its use and the State using it is a party to that treaty. If there is no treaty on a specific weapon, then one must determine if the use of that weapon would violate existing rules and principles of binding humanitarian (armed conflict) law. Under these rules (the "weapons test") – derived from The Hague Conventions, the Geneva Conventions, and all other sources of military law – a weapon may be banned if: (1) it has harmful effects outside the legal field of battle (the "geography" test); (2) it has harmful effects after the war is over (the "time" test); (3) its use is unduly inhuman or causes undue suffering (the "humaneness" test); or (4) it has a harmful effect on the environment (the "environment" test). The first two tests arise from the requirement that weapons may not be indiscriminate. Because there is no specific weapon treaty forbidding the use of depleted uranium, the illegality of DU must be shown by the second method.
Weaponry containing depleted uranium (DU) fails all four tests. It is indiscriminate in geography as the effects of DU weapons cannot be contained to the legal military targets. Instead is air-born far afield of legal targets to illegal (civilian) targets: hospitals, schools, civilian dwellings and even neighboring countries with which the user is not at war. DU weapons are indiscriminate in time, and cannot be "turned off" when the war is over. Even with rigorous clean-up of war zones, the air-born particles have a half life of billions of years and can keep killing and injuring former combatants and non-combatants long after the war is over. DU weapons "kill" in inhumane ways, causing cancers, kidney problems, eye problems, lung diseases, and according to the medical researchers who have investigated it, many other serious conditions. Additionally, DU weapons cause disabilities in the children of those exposed – cranial-facial anomalies, missing limbs, grossly deformed and non-viable infants and the like –so in this sense are tetragenic. As these conditions can occur to non-combatants or may arise long after military operations have concluded, DU weapons are necessarily inhumane. The tetragenic nature of DU weapons raises the possibility of a genocidal effect. Finally, DU weapons unduly contaminate the natural environment, including water and agricultural land necessary for the subsistence of the civilian population for beyond the lifetime of that population.
The effects of DU weapons were presented to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights by this author at its Spring 1996 session. At the Summer 1996 session of the United Nations Sub-Commission on Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, the Sub-Commission passed a resolution finding the use DU weapons "incompatible" with existing humanitarian law, reaching the same conclusion that the author had reached. That resolution also began a series of initiatives by the Sub-Commission on DU weapons and several other weapons of concern, including fuel-air bombs, cluster bombs, "bunker busters" and the like. In 1997 the Secretary-General submitted a report to the Sub-Commission (U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/Sub.2/27 and Adds) that contains the concerns submitted by this author and a number of States and non-governmental organizations. After the failure of one member to submit a requested paper, in 2001 the Sub-Commission appointed its member Justice Yeung Sik Yuen (Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Mauritius) to prepare a paper on this topic. In his paper submitted the next year (U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/Sub.2/2002/38), Justice Sik Yuen provides a detailed analysis of the sources of humanitarian law and why DU weapons are illegal. He submitted a follow-up paper (U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/Sub.2/2003/35) repeating the legal conclusion about the illegality of DU and incorporating concerns raised by the second war against Iraq. He and other members of the Sub-Commission pointed out Article 3 of The Hague Convention of 1907 establishing liability for compensation. International law also requires users of illegal weapons to carry out effective clean-up. Use of illegal weapons may also subject the user State and its military comanders to trials for violations of the Geneva Convention in States who are party to the Geneva Conventions.
Karen Parker received her J.D. (honors) from University of San Francisco School of Law and her Diplome (cum laude) in International and Comparative Law of Human Rights from the Institut International des Droits d’Homme (Strasbourg). She has represented human rights and humanitarian law concerns at the United Nations for over 20 years, since 1996 on behalf of International Educational Development/Humanitarian Law Project, a non-governmental organization with UN credentials.