Should DU be considered a WOMD?

diamond geezer

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Original poster
Jan 26, 2004
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In early September 2003, Army National Guard Spec. Gerard Darren Matthew was sent home from Iraq, stricken by a sudden illness.

One side of Matthew's face would swell up each morning. He had constant migraine headaches, blurred vision, blackouts and a burning sensation whenever he urinated.

The Army transferred him to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington for further tests, but doctors there could not explain what was wrong.

Shortly after his return, his wife, Janice, became pregnant. On June 29, she gave birth to a baby girl, Victoria Claudette.

The baby was missing three fingers and most of her right hand.

Matthew and his wife believe Victoria's shocking deformity has something to do with her father's illness and the war - especially since there is no history of birth defects in either of their families.

They have seen photos of Iraqi babies born with deformities that are eerily similar.

In June, Matthew contacted the Daily News and asked us to arrange independent laboratory screening for his urine. This was after The News had reported that four of seven soldiers from another National Guard unit, the 442nd Military Police, had tested positive for depleted uranium (DU).

The independent test of Matthew's urine found him positive for DU - low-level radioactive waste produced in nuclear plants during the enrichment of natural uranium.
Matthew was a truck driver in Iraq with the 719th transport unit from Harlem. His unit moved supplies from Army bases in Kuwait to the front lines and as far as Baghdad. On several occasions, he says, he carried shot-up tanks and destroyed vehicle parts on his flat-bed back to Kuwait.

After he learned of his unborn child's deformity, Matthew immediately asked the Army to test his urine for DU. In April, he provided a 24-hour urine sample to doctors at Fort Dix, N.J., where he was waiting to be deactivated.

In May, the Army granted him a 40% disability pension for his migraine headaches and for a condition called idiopathic angioedema - unexplained chronic swelling.

But Matthew never got the results of his Army test for DU. When he called Fort Dix last week, five months after he was tested, he was told there was no record of any urine specimen from him.

Thankfully, Matthew did not rely solely on the Army bureaucracy - he went to The News.

Earlier this year, The News submitted urine samples from Guardsmen of the 442nd to former Army doctor Asaf Durakovic and Axel Gerdes, a geologist at Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany. The German lab specializes in testing for minute quantities of uranium, a complicated procedure that costs up to $1,000 per test.

The lab is one of approximately 50 in the world that can detect quantities as tiny as fentograms - one part per quadrillionth.

A few months ago, The News submitted a 24-hour urine sample from Matthew to Gerdes. As a control, we also gave the lab 24-hour urine samples from two Daily News reporters.

The three specimens were marked only with the letters A, B and C, so the lab could not know which sample belonged to the soldier.

After analyzing all three, Gerdes reported that only sample A - Matthew's urine - showed clear signs of DU. It contained a total uranium concentration that was "4 to 8 times higher" than specimens B and C, Gerdes reported.

"Those levels indicate pretty definitively that he's been exposed to the DU," said Leonard Dietz, a retired scientist who invented one of the instruments for measuring uranium isotopes.

According to Army guidelines, the total uranium concentration Gerdes found in Matthew is within acceptable standards for most Americans.

But Gerdes questioned the Army's standards, noting that even minute levels of DU are cause for concern.

"While the levels of DU in Matthew's urine are low," Gerdes said, "the DU we see in his urine could be 1,000 times higher in concentration in the lungs."

DU is not like natural uranium, which occurs in the environment. Natural uranium can be ingested in food and drink but gets expelled from the body within 24 hours.

DU-contaminated dust, however, is typically breathed into the lungs and can remain there for years, emitting constant low-level radiation.
For the last five months, Daily News columnist Juan Gonzalez has chronicled the plight of soldiers who have returned from Iraq with mysterious illnesses.

His exclusive groundbreaking investigation began with a front-page story on April 4 that suggested depleted uranium contamination was far more widespread than the Pentagon would admit.

At the request of The News, nine soldiers from a New York Army National Guard company serving in Iraq were tested for radiation from depleted uranium shells - and four of the ailing G.I.s tested positive.

The day after Gonzalez's story appeared, Army officials rushed to test all returning members of the company, the 442nd Military Police, based in Rockland County.

By week's end, the scandal had reverberated all the way to Albany, as Gov. Pataki joined the list of politicians calling for the Pentagon to do a better job of testing and treating sick soldiers returning from the war.

Gonzalez's exposé sparked a huge demand for testing. By mid-April, 800 G.I.s had given the Army urine samples, and hundreds more were waiting for appointments.

Two weeks later, the Pentagon claimed that none of the soldiers from the 442nd had tested positive for depleted uranium. But The News' experts found significant problems with the testing methods.
At least the US service men and women don't have to live (and give birth) in Iraq

link

CVW says the number of Iraqi babies born with serious deformities has risen from 3.04 per thousand in 1991 to 22.19 per thousand in 2001. Babies born with Downs Syndrome have increased nearly fivefold and there had been a rash of cases of previously little-known eye problems.
 

blackfox

macrumors 65816
Feb 18, 2003
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Illegal weapons of mass destruction have not only been found in Iraq but have been used against Iraqis and have even killed US troops.

But Washington and its allies have tried to cover up this outrage because the chief culprit is the US itself, argue American and other experts trying to expose what they say is a war crime.

The WMD in question is depleted uranium (DU). A radioactive by-product of uranium enrichment, DU is used in ammunition such as tank shells and "bunker busting" missiles because its density makes it ideal for piercing armour.

Thousands of DU shells and bombs have been used in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and -*both during the 1990-91 Gulf war and*the ongoing*conflict -*in Iraq.

"They're*using it in Falluja,*Baghdad is chock-a-block with DU - it's all over the place" ..."They're using it now, they're using it in Falluja,*Baghdad is chock-a-block with DU*- it's all over the place," says Major Doug Rokke, director of the US army's DU*project in 1994-95.

Scientists say even a tiny particle can have disastrous results once ingested, including various cancers and degenerative diseases, paralysis, birth deformities and death.

And as tiny DU particles are blown across the Middle East and beyond like a radioactive poison gas, the long-term implications for the world*are deeply disturbing.

DU has a "half-life" of 4.5 billion years, meaning it takes that long for just half of its atoms to decay.

Only 467 US soldiers*were officially wounded during the 1990-91 Gulf war.

But according to Terry Jemison at the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), of the more than 592,560 discharged personnel who served there, at least 179,310*-*one third*- are receiving disability compensation and over 24,760 cases were pending by in September 2004.

A*sixth of the Iraq war veterans
have already sought treatment
This does not include personnel still active and receiving care from the military, or those who have died.

And among 168,528 veterans of the current conflict in Iraq who have left active duty, 16% (27,571) had already sought treatment from the VA by July 2004.

"That's astronomical," says Rokke, whose team studied how to provide medical care for victims, how to clean contaminated sites, and how to train those using DU weapons.

Rokke admits the exact cause for these casualties cannot be confirmed. But he insists the evidence pointing to DU is compelling.

"There were no chemical or biological weapons there, no big oil well fires," he says. "So what's left?"

Dr Jenan Ali, a senior Iraqi doctor at Basra hospital's College of Medicine,*says her studies show a 100% rise in child leukaemia in the region in the decade after the first Gulf*war, with a 242% increase in all types of malignancies.

The director of the Afghan DU and Recovery Fund, Dr Daud Miraki, says his field researchers found*evidence of DU's effect on civilians in eastern and southeastern Afghanistan in 2003 although local conditions make rigorous statistical analysis difficult.

Iraqi and Afghan doctors have
seen*a rise in deformed foetuses
"Many children are born with no eyes, no limbs, or tumours protruding from their mouths and eyes," Miraki told Aljazeera.net. Some newborns are barely recognisable as human, he says. Many do not survive.

Afghan and Iraqi children continue to play amid radioactive debris. But the US army will not even label contaminated equipment or sites because doing so would be an admission that DU is hazardous.

This "deceitful failure", says Rokke, contradicts the US army's own rules, such as regulation AR 700-48, which stipulates its responsibilities to isolate, label and decontaminate radioactive equipment and sites as well as to*render prompt and effective medical care for all exposed individuals.

"This is a war crime," Rokke says. "The president is obliged to ensure the army complies with these regulations but they're deliberately violating the law. It's that simple."

But these blatant violations are practically irrelevant because Rokke's Iraq mission found that DU cannot be cleaned up and there is no known medical remedy.

US President George Bush and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair used Saddam Hussein's alleged possession of illegal weapons to justify invading Iraq. But several prominent jurists*hold Bush and Blair*guilty of war crimes for waging DU*warfare.

The vice-president of the Indian Lawyers Association, Niloufer Bhagwat, sat on an international panel of judges for the unofficial International Criminal Tribunal for Afghanistan.

Bhagwat and her fellow judges*ruled that the US had used "weapons of extermination of present and future generations, genocidal in properties".

And not just against defenceless Afghan civilians.

Critics say George Bush (R) and
Tony Blair are 'war criminals'

"Bush was guilty of knowingly using DU weaponry against his own troops," Bhagwat told Aljazeera.net, "because the president knew the effects of DU could not be controlled".

A prominent US international human-rights lawyer, Karen Parker, says there are four rules derived from humanitarian laws and conventions regarding weapons:

weapons may only be used against legal enemy military targets and must not have an adverse effect elsewhere (the territorial rule)
weapons can only be used for the duration of an armed conflict and must not be used or continue to act afterwards (the temporal rule)
weapons may not be unduly inhumane (the "humaneness" rule). The Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 speak of "unnecessary suffering" and "superfluous injury" in this regard
weapons may not have an unduly negative effect on the natural environment (the "environmental" rule).

"DU weaponry fails all four tests," Parker told Aljazeera.net. First, DU cannot be limited to legal military targets.*Second, it*cannot be "turned off" when the war is over but keeps killing.

Third, DU can kill through painful conditions such as cancers and organ damage and*can also cause*birth defects such as facial deformities and missing limbs.

"Use of DU weaponry violates the grave breach provisions of the Geneva Conventions"

Karen Parker,
human rights lawyer
Lastly, DU cannot be used without unduly damaging the natural environment.

"In my view, use of DU weaponry violates the grave breach provisions of the Geneva Conventions," says Parker.*"And so its use constitutes a war crime, or crime against humanity."

Parker and others took the DU issue before the UN in 1995, and in 1996,*the UN Human Rights Commission*described DU munitions as weapons of mass destruction that should be banned.

Despite the evidence, Rokke says Pentagon and Energy Department officials have campaigned against him and others trying to expose the horrors of DU.

That charge is echoed by Leuren Moret, a geoscientist who has worked at the Lawrence Berkeley and Lawrence Livermore nuclear weapons research laboratories in California.

White House denials are part of a long-standing cover-up policy that has been exposed before, she says.

President Bush insists warnings
about DU are merely propaganda
"For example, the US denied using DU bombs and missiles against Yugoslavia in 1999," she told Aljazeera.net. "But scientists in Yugoslavia, Greece and Bulgaria measured elevated levels of gamma radiation in the first three days of grid and carpet bombing by the US."

Moret says: "A missile landed in Bulgaria that didn't explode and scientists identified a DU warhead. Then, Lord [George] Robertson, the head of NATO, admitted in public that DU had been used."

Even the US army expressed concern about the use of DU in July 1990, some six months before the outbreak of the first Gulf war. Those concerns were later echoed by Iraqi officials.

But brushing his own army's report aside - now said to be "outdated" -*US President George Bush has dismissed such warnings as "propaganda".

"In recent years, the Iraqi regime made false claim that the depleted uranium rounds fired by coalition forces have caused cancers and birth defects in Iraq," says Bush on his White House website.

"But scientists working for the World Health Organisation, the UN Environmental Programme and the European Union could find no health effects linked to exposure to depleted uranium," he says.

Bush*can point to a World Health Organisation (WHO) report in 2001 that*said there was*no significant risk of inhaling radioactive particles where DU weapons had been used.

It said the level of radiation associated with DU debris was not particularly hazardous,*but it accepted that high exposure could pose a health risk

WHO also commissioned a scientific study shortly before the 2003 invasion of Iraq that warned of the dangers of US and British use of DU*- but refused to publish its findings.

The study's main author, Dr Keith Baverstock, told Aljazeera.net that "the report was deliberately suppressed" because WHO was pressed by a more powerful, pro-nuclear UN body - the International Atomic Energy Agency. WHO has rejected his claims as "totally unfounded".
...SNIP
http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/B2E2DF9B-1E0C-43F4-BBF6-074C1367E27C.htm
 

zimv20

macrumors 601
Jul 18, 2002
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pun unintentional, btw. here we go: there will be fallout from this for years to come. eventually, DU ordinance will be banned and we'll feel as stupid about it then as we do using mustard gas in WWI now.
 

pseudobrit

macrumors 68040
Jul 23, 2002
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zimv20 said:
pun unintentional, btw. here we go: there will be fallout from this for years to come. eventually, DU ordinance will be banned and we'll feel as stupid about it then as we do using mustard gas in WWI now.
I'd say it'll be more like land mines, though. We'll feel stupid, but many will insist that its continued use is neccessary and in the meanwhile it'll be lying around everywhere hurting people.

At least a landmine can only kill you or blow a limb off.
 

blackfox

macrumors 65816
Feb 18, 2003
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pseudobrit said:
...snip...

At least a landmine can only kill you or blow a limb off.
and it is only a one-time deal. Mine explodes. Damage done.

DU is forever (pretty much)...
 

skunk

macrumors G4
Jun 29, 2002
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Very nasty stuff. And did you know that the Abrams tank has DU-reinforced armour as well? It seems our armaments manufacturers are very cavalier with their materials.
 

mischief

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Aug 1, 2001
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I've been wondering for some time, being that we're not usually facing MBT's, hardened targets, Hind Gunships, et al... Do we really need all this?

If you drop a load of compressed cars out the back of a B-52 at high altitude, or a load of recycle-destined beer bottles or even a load of frozen turkeys... Wouldn't that do the job?
 

mischief

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blackfox said:
I would happily contribute to the war effort...
You have to admit the irony couldn't be lost on prohibitionist religious extremists to be taken out by a load of booze remnants.

It's an action that says: " We got so upset about you all over there that we got plastered and decided to show you just HOW plastered."

Edit: shards of glass will go right through Kevlar BTW...
 

takao

macrumors 68040
Dec 25, 2003
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mischief said:
If you drop a load of compressed cars out the back of a B-52 at high altitude, or a load of recycle-destined beer bottles or even a load of frozen turkeys... Wouldn't that do the job?
haha frozen turkeys ...just the image of an hercules crew throwing them out of the plane is priceless ....

serious: actually the training ammunition of the 120mm gun (made out of concrete) has enough power to penetrate the armour of older russian tanks (T-72 and older) and practically all APCs...
i'm pretty sure that there could be something found between concrete and uranium
 

blackfox

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Feb 18, 2003
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As opposed to the irony of using 21st century weapons to attack 19th century defenses ? ( laser-guided bunker-buster vs. mud hut )

or

Of compromising the effacy of your fighting forces by using radioactive armor and munitions, which were intended to increase that effacy?
 

mischief

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blackfox said:
As opposed to the irony of using 21st century weapons to attack 19th century defenses ? ( laser-guided bunker-buster vs. mud hut )

or

Of compromising the effacy of your fighting forces by using radioactive armor and munitions, which were intended to increase that effacy?
I suppose we could fit the laser-guidance retrofit kits to some oldschool limestone cannonballs... ;)
 

yellow

Moderator emeritus
Oct 21, 2003
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Depleated uranium rounds give an edge against armored targets. They are most definitely NOT WoMD. It's not like they explode, or they irradiate immediately. They are simply meant to better penetrate armor.
 

blackfox

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Feb 18, 2003
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yellow said:
Depleated uranium rounds give an edge against armored targets. They are most definitely NOT WoMD. It's not like they explode, or they irradiate immediately. They are simply meant to better penetrate armor.
I am aware of this fact (the density aids in armor-piercing). So was the military, which is why they are using them.

<rest of post deleted because it was obviously crap>
 

mischief

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blackfox said:
I am aware of this fact (the density aids in armor-piercing). So was the military, which is why they are using them.

The call for them to be called WMD, is because by the nature of their usage over a wide area, the radioactivity is affecting many people US soldiers and native populations alike. The fact that the effects are not acute in most cases does not mitigate the massive detrimental inpact it has on environments and their inhabitants. It is this scale of potential victims (over area and time) that in the minds of some qualify it as a WMD, as per it's definition.
They qualify more directly as Nondiscriminant Ordinance (see also Landmines).
 

yellow

Moderator emeritus
Oct 21, 2003
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blackfox said:
It is this scale of potential victims (over area and time) that in the minds of some qualify it as a WMD, as per it's definition.

I (mostly) disagree.

While I will agree that expose to increased levels of radiation are detrimental to health and the environement, even potentially deadly, DU shells should NOT be considered WoMD. That's just grasping at straws. Perhaps my definition of "mass" greatly differs from those at the state department. One simply cannot lob a DU shell 5000, 2500, or even 1000 miles and cause "mass destruction". In this instance, an HE shell is MUCH closer to a WoMD than a DU shell. Just because it's radioactive doesn't make it a WoMD.

Why haven't we invaded Ford Motor Company? Surely the SUVs that they produce degrade the environment, destroy the ozone, pollute our lungs, as well as roll over and squish us. It kills far more Americans every year then DU shells. Is every Explorer and Expidition that I see on the street a potential WoMD? Invade Detroit! Occupy Detroit! See?? We TOLD you there was WoMD in Detroit! There's no reason to wonder why we've spend $150 billion on this war in Detroit.
 

skunk

macrumors G4
Jun 29, 2002
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yellow said:
While I will agree that expose to increased levels of radiation are detrimental to health and the environement, even potentially deadly, DU shells should NOT be considered WoMD.
I agree that DU shells do not properly qualify as WoMD, but they are nevertheless unnecessarily inhumane and indiscriminate in their effects, and should be abjured voluntarily by all civilized countries, as should landmines.
 

takao

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Dec 25, 2003
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well boeing 747s contain between 450 to 1500 kg of of DU as counterweights (as far as i know but i heard that they were switching over to somethign else after 'complaints') _that's_ even more nice ...
the difference is that the DU sabots of the m256 (and the shells of the warthog) vaporize after penetrating the target and radioactive dust is 'created'
 

mischief

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Aug 1, 2001
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yellow said:
Why haven't we invaded Ford Motor Company? Surely the SUVs that they produce degrade the environment, destroy the ozone, pollute our lungs, as well as roll over and squish us. It kills far more Americans every year then DU shells. Is every Explorer and Expidition that I see on the street a potential WoMD? Invade Detroit! Occupy Detroit! See?? We TOLD you there was WoMD in Detroit! There's no reason to wonder why we've spend $150 billion on this war in Detroit.
Now now....

The Ford line of SUV's is officially referred to as a "Life expectancy limitation device" and isn't utterly indiscriminant... you must be travelling above 15MPH and either smoking, talking on a Cell Phone, spilling coffee, checking a map, panic stopping, cornering.... you know... non-standard driving. ;)
 

diamond geezer

macrumors regular
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Jan 26, 2004
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Yellow, would you consider a "dirty bomb" (a explosive device filled with radoiactive material), to be a WOMD?
 

yellow

Moderator emeritus
Oct 21, 2003
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Good question. Supposing one of sufficient strength could aerate a large amount of nuclear material over a relatively large area. Possibly. It would come down to one's definition of how large a "mass" is. Enough to double or triple the amount of lethal rads a thousand people are exposed to? Yes. That would be a weapon of mass destruction, accounted in human lives.

Given that, would a box of DU .50 caliber shells detonated as a 'dirty' bomb suffice? I don't know, I'm not a munitions or nuclear engineer. If a sufficient amount of DU could be smuggled into the U.S. and then used to manufacture a 'dirty' bomb, then I would probably rethink my stance on DU rounds being classified a WoMD.

Would I consider a country that possessed DU rounds as a potential enemy because of possession of potential WoMD? No. Possession of, or the ability to manufacture chemical or biological or (non-dirty) nuclear weapons? Yes.

However, if possession of nuclear material, even if it's only in the form of depleted uranium, is the justification for invading a foreign land, then we've got a long road ahead of us.
 

takao

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Dec 25, 2003
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yellow said:
Would I consider a country that possessed DU rounds as a potential enemy because of possession of potential WoMD? No. Possession of, or the ability to manufacture chemical or biological or (non-dirty) nuclear weapons? Yes.

However, if possession of nuclear material, even if it's only in the form of depleted uranium, is the justification for invading a foreign land, then we've got a long road ahead of us.
how many countries out there, besides those who already have them , have the ability to produce weapons of mass destruction ?
nuclear weapons: >25
chemical weapons:>50
but thats only my guess

how many DU is already in the US ? there are other uses for DU than tank rounds etc. liek i said before ..i nairplanes and a lot of other things..are these secured enough..is the danger worth it ?