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Afghanistan: The Nuclear Nightmare Starts

When questions were asked in the British Parliament a year ago about whether DU weapons had been used in the military strikes on Afghanistan, defence minister Geoff Hoon played his cards close to his chest. "No British forces currently engaged in operations around Afghanistan are armed with depleted uranium ammunition. However, we do not rule out the use of depleted uranium ammunition in Afghanistan, should its penetrative capability be judged necessary in the future."

He did not rule out the use of DU by the United States.

When the Afghan crisis began, many of us believed that a great amount of DU/dirty uranium would be used to achieve the US-British campaign objectives, both to penetrate the opposition's hideouts in rocky terrain and to test new weapons systems (see CADU News 9 for Dai Williams research or see his website at )

Startling report

A new report based on research in Afghanistan indicates that our worst fears have been realized. The study, produced by the Uranium Medical Research Centre (UMRC), points to the likelihood of large numbers of the population being exposed to uranium dust and debris.

Dr. Asaf Durakovic, a professor of nuclear medicine and radiology and a former science adviser to the US military, who set up the independent UMRC, has been testing US, British, and Canadian troops and civilians for DU and uranium poisoning over the past few years.

A scientific study team was sent to Jalalabad region, Nangarhar Province in Afghanistan in the aftermath of the conflict in 2001-02. This area was a strategic target zone for operation Enduring Freedom high and low altitude, precision guided-bombing and first time deployment of bunker busting and seismic shock warheads.

The UMRC field team identified several hundred people suffering from illnesses and medical conditions displaying complex clinical symptoms similar to those of Gulf War Veterans. Urine and soil samples were collected and sent to an independent science research lab in the UK. The results were astounding. Every person donating urine specimens tested positive for Uranium internal contamination, with concentrations of toxic and radioactive uranium isotopes between 100 and 400 times greater than in tests on Gulf War veterans in 1999.

The study was extended in September when a second team returned, this time to Kabul, Mazar-I-Sharif, Tora Bora, Kndahar and Jalalabad. Samples were taken from bomb craters, market squares, gardens, farms, watercourses etc adjacent to bombed targets. 30% of the members of families interviewed displayed medical problems, and examinations of new-borns showed congenital effects of contamination.


The results of study will be distributed to the governments of Afghanistan, NATO countries and the United Nations. However, it costs $1000 to test each sample due to the specialised equipment required, and UMRC need to raise this amount for 40 samples from this second study. To find out more and to help with finances, contact, or look at website

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Page last updated: January 28, 2003