Because antiwar activists and medical humanitarians are pushing the issue, the United Nations will be discussing the U.S. use of depleted uranium in weapons, particularly in Iraq, even as the U.S. military makes plans to use them again in the new campaign of bombings. We call your attention to these developments.
Our friend Dr. Mozhgan Savabiesfahani, a toxicologist, is studying the environmental destruction of Iraq during the U.S. occupation related to the high rate of birth defects there. Carol Dudek covered her recent talk at Columbia University to colleagues in the Medical School:
“Exposure to toxic metals and chemicals comes from three main sources: fired explosives, hundreds of military base junkyards and open air burn pits. The burn pits in Basra and Fallujah cover ten acres and burn 24 hours a day, seven days a week – appliances, animals, plastic, medicine, electronics, tires, explosives, asbestos installations, body parts and batteries. The pits were closed in 2010 and KBR and Halliburton, contractors of the burn pits, recently lost in a court of appeals which found that they were not entitled to immunity. The Institute of Medicine monitored one base in Baghdad and reported the metals caused cancer, respiratory and liver toxicity and morbidity. Children in Hawijah, close to Fallujah, show high levels of titanium, magnesium, cadmium, lead and arsenic.”
David Swanson, writing in al Jazeera last week, took on the specific issue of depleted uranium:
“This month, the US has deployed a type of aircraft to the Middle East responsible for more Depleted Uranium (DU) contamination than any other platform. Twelve ‘A-10’s have arrived in the region along with 300 US airmen.
“Whether or not the aircraft will be used in areas under ISIL control has not been confirmed. Master Sgt Hubble of the 122nd Fighter Wing told Al Jazeera that although no explicit order for their use was currently in place, this position “could change at any moment. When that order comes, US crews may load PGU-14 depleted uranium rounds into 30mm Gatling cannons”. Hubble continued: ‘Should the need arise ‘to explode something – for example a tank – they will be used.’”
He also reported Jeena Shah at the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) told Al Jazeera: “The US has denied a relationship between DU and health problems in civilians and veterans. Studies of UK veterans are highly suggestive of a connection. The US doesn’t want studies done.”
The International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons: “A US military spokesperson has confirmed that the US will use DU weapons in its fight against ISIS in Iraq if ‘it needs to’ – in spite of Iraq’s recent call for a global ban and for assistance.”
Sign the petition from The Center for Constitutional Rights: “The U.S. must end its opposition to UN action on depleted uranium. It must also support clean-up of areas where it has used depleted uranium…”
There are many more resources on the issue at The Fallujah Project, where veteran Ross Caputi writes:
“…since 2004 there has been a dramatic increase in birth defects, infant mortality, mental retardation, and cancers of all sorts in Fallujah. The birth defects are truly horrifying. Babies have been born with six fingers on each hand, scaly skin, missing limbs, two heads, and there has been one case of a child born with a single eye in the center of his forehead… This has led some to say that the health crisis in Fallujah is worse than in Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the atomic bombs.”
Debra Sweet is the Director of World Can’t Wait. You can receive messages like this in your email in-box by subscribing to the World Can’t Wait e-newsletter.