Tests Could Show
Gulf Veterans Have DU Poisoning
Ex-US army doctor, Dr. Asaf Durokavic,
a scientist who has worked very closely with the gulf war veterans,
told a conference of the European Association of Nuclear Medicine
that many Gulf War veterans suffered from renal and other diseases
as a result of inhaling particles of depleted uranium used in anti-tank
At the conference in Paris on September 3rd, Durokavic said ``According
to some estimates, 320 tonnes of depleted uranium were exploded during
the (1991) Gulf War,'' ``Many of the patients (that I examined) suffered
renal disease and failure, the clinical consequences of inhaled uranium,''
Durakovic said depleted uranium that coated shells to ease penetration
of thick armour exploded into multiple particles, which ``became part
of atmospheric dust'' after hitting targets. ``Because of the omnipresence
of small sub-micron radioactive dust in the Persian Gulf, uranium
that was liberated by impact (with tanks) ... evaporated at temperatures
higher than several thousand degrees centigrade,'' he said. ``Some
of those particles were inhaled and stayed in the lungs ... where
they can cause cancer, and some entered into the bloodstream and affected
kidneys and bones.''
Durakovic, who is professor of nuclear medicine at Georgetown University,
Washington, and the former head of nuclear medicine at the US Army's
veterans' affairs medical facility in Delaware, told reporters that
he had come under "political pressure'' from US. authorities
to halt his research shortly after the Gulf War, when the US. military
first challenged the notion that a mysterious "Gulf War syndrome''
affected many veterans.
"I don't claim uranium contamination is the (main) cause of the
Gulf War syndrome but the veterans show high levels of depleted uranium
in their bodies and studies about this must be intensified,'' he said.
Some published medical studies have linked the Gulf War syndrome,
with symptoms ranging from flu to chronic fatigue and asthma, to the
multiple vaccines given soldiers during the war to counter possible
Iraqi chemical weapons attacks.
The findings will undermine the British and American governments'
claims that Gulf war syndrome does not exist and intensify pressure
from veterans on both sides of the Atlantic for compensation.
The research, which has been verified by four independent experts,
is embarrassing for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and American Defence
Department, which have consistently refused to test Gulf war veterans
Durakovic told the conference that tests on 17 veterans have shown
DU in the urine and bones of 70% of them.
The findings begin to explain for the first time why medical orderlies
and mechanics are the principal victims of Gulf war syndrome. British
Army engineers who removed tanks hit by DU shells from the battlefield
and medical personnel who cut off the clothes of Iraqi casualties
in field hospitals have been disproportionately affected.
In the UK, where more than 400 veterans are estimated to have died
from "Gulf war syndrome", at least 50 of those victims came
from REME (Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers) units. Others,
such as Ray Bristow, 42, of Hull, who was a theatre technician for
32 Field Hospital, are now wheelchair-bound. Tests carried out by
Durakovic on Bristow showed that, nine years after leaving the Gulf,
he had more than 100 times the safe limit of DU in his body.
Durakovic said: "I doubt whether the MoD or Pentagon will have
the audacity to challenge these results. I can't say this is the solitary
cause of Gulf war syndrome, but we now have clear evidence that it
is a leading factor in the majority of victims. "I hope the US
and UK governments finally realise that, by continuing to use this
ammunition, they are effectively poisoning their own soldiers."
An MoD spokesman said it would study any new evidence: "Our aim
is to get the best care for British veterans and our views are based
on the best evidence around."
Information and quotes taken from a Reuters report, and an article
in the Sunday Times, 3rd Sept., 2000