Further Confusion over DU use in Afghanistan
There was confusion in Afghan government circles in mid-April after Reuters’ Kabul correspondent reported that Faizullah Kakar, the Afghan Deputy Public Health Minister for Technical Affairs, was planning to launch an inquiry into reported cases of birth malformations in Afghanistan’s Tora Bora region.
“We have decided to do a study to see what is going on. We will take samples of soil, rocks, water in different areas where the war had taken place in the past and look in the same area to see if there is an excess of malformed babies,” Kakar said. “It’s then that we can tell you what is going on. But until then it is still speculation.”
He continued: “In Afghanistan, we have so many problems with nutritional deficiency, like folic acid. So it’s difficult to tell if it’s due to depleted uranium or due to some nutritional problems or some other genetic issues,” he said.
Asked if the United States had told Afghanistan if depleted uranium was used during the war, Kakar said: “They have not told us that they have used it, but my source said it was used.”
Just 24 hours later, Reuters reported that the Afghan Public Health Ministry had retracted their previous statement: “The Public Health Ministry, so far, has no information from any official source about the presence of nuclear contamination in Tora Bora and has launched no investigation about it. The ministry even has no plan for such an investigation.”
BBC World’s Pashtu service then took up the baton, with a broadcast featuring Asaf Durakovic of the Uranium Medical Research Council. He repeated largely unsubstantiated claims that vast quantities of uranium were used by US Forces in 2001, chiefly in the form of bunker/cave busting weapons. [We still have no evidence that this is the case - Ed] The net result appears to be increased confusion over the nature of uranium weapons generally and confusion within the Afghan Public Health Ministry and local media.
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Page last updated: September 30, 2008