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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 shells.
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,'' he said.

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 for DU.

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

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From CADU News 4: Autumn 2000

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