Campaign Against Depleted Uranium

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CADU NEWS 14
April 2003

Contents
- In the Hands of Fools - Iraq Contaminated Again
- Gulf War Illness II
- The Fight for Decontamination in Iraq Begins
- The Royal Society Debacle
- The Implications for Campaigning
- The Second International Day of Action Against DU- Holding them to Account- 29th May 2003
- European Parliament Calls for Ban on DU Weapons
- And DU Bill in Congress
- UNEP Confirms Balkan Hotspots
- Very Significant New Study into Chromosomal Damage Caused by DU
- 250 People Attend Action at Alliant Techsystems
- Citizens Inspection Team Enter DU Weapons Plant in Oak Ridge, Tennessee
- DU Information Given to Potential Recruits
- Biggest Ever UK Anti-DU Action at Scottish DU Test Site
- Protesters block Lockheed Martin facility in search for WMDs
- Rally to Prevent Uranium Enrichment Plant Being Built
- Bodies Spell Out NO WAR NO DU!
- Vieques to Close But the Struggle Continues
- DU Victim Loses Funding For Court Case
- The Ministry of Defence Launches Challenge to Recognition of "Gulf War Syndrome"
- US Navy test DU in Prime Fishing Coasts
- The Arabic Campaign Against Depleted Uranium
- A Message from CADU

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In the Hands of Fools - Iraq Contaminated Again

It has now become clear that both the US and British Governments have used depleted uranium again in the recent attack on Iraq. The amount used is not yet clear but given the much higher fire power seen in this attack than that used in the first Gulf War we can expect a much larger amount of depleted uranium to have been used. Estimates have been put at around 1000-2000 tonnes, and although these amounts are not confirmed, it is horrifying to compare them with official figures of 320 tonnes of DU used in the first Gulf War.

Another extremely disturbing development has been the use of DU weapons in urban, densely populated areas which will result in much greater civilian exposure to environmental contamination; as geochemist Vala Ragnarsdottir, who has taken part in United Nations DU field studies in the Balkans said, ''The fact that most of the fighting in Iraq has been in population centres is of great worry to me.'' At CADU, and in line with many others, we are staggered at the callous and irresponsible use of these weapons again in Iraq at a time when new studies are showing the damage DU does to health, when the European parliament has called for a moratorium on their use, when radioactive hotspots have just been found in the Balkans and when the chief body of scientists in Britain, the Royal Society, has been warning the Government of the dangers of DU.

Gulf War Illness II

One of the most hypocritical aspects of this war has been the 'support our troops' line thrown out by the Government and some sections of the media, which they have used to try and silence criticism. In actual fact they have shown an extreme disregard for the welfare of the British and US troops and their families by again exposing them to DU.

There is a schizophrenia in official policy which says they instruct troops to follow strict precautions when handling DU weapons or working in areas exposed to high levels of DU contamination while at the same time insisting they do not present a health problem and that troops have nothing to worry about.

The shots shown on TV of soldiers and journalists filming around burnt out tanks shows that basic safety precautions in battlefields are still not being taken. Moreover many incidences of 'friendly fire' have been recorded, in which soldiers who escape alive will face unnecessary long-term health risks after being in one of the most intensive exposure situations possible.

The Pentagon claims that it has put monitoring procedures in place after the first Gulf War that allows them to "have a better baseline of information when people are deployed that tells us about their health, better surveillance in the field, and collection of information in a more disciplined way to look at people after they return". "We have learned many lessons over the last decade," Dr. William Winkenwerder the Assistant Secretary of Defence for health affairs at the Pentagon said.

This was meant to have prevented the type of confusion that has resulted in the fudging of results of studies into Gulf War Illness among veterans of the 1991 attacks. However it was admitted in the House on March 25th that the Pentagon was not taking the blood samples needed to follow Public Law 105-85 but was just asking troops to fill in a questionnaire. Rep. Chris Shays, who held the hearing, told military officials they were "not meeting" the letter or spirit of the law. Denise Nichols, a retired Air Force Major and nurse, who served in Desert Storm and is now vice-chairman of the National Vietnam and Gulf War Veterans Coalition testified: "I hope that when the soldiers return the standard tactic of blaming PTSD [Post-Traumatic-Stress Disorder] or stress will never be allowed to block soldiers from getting fast answers to what is happening to their health."

According to newspaper reports the British Government, stung by criticism from the Royal Society, has agreed to testing of British troops for DU on their return. Testing for DU has always been controversial as widespread testing of sick veterans from the 1991 war has never occurred and some scientists say the tests the Government has proposed using are inaccurate and incapable of distinguishing DU from other uranium types.

At CADU we are certainly going to be monitoring the Government carefully to see if and how they fulfil their promise. The Green party in Australia has also called for testing of returning Australian troops. The US meanwhile has said it will not test its troops. Tellingly the top Bush administration official responsible for war veterans, Anthony Principi, the secretary of veterans' affairs, has appealed to Donald Rumsfeld, defence secretary, for more information on potential heath risks in Iraq and access to troop test results. This shows the deep unease in some parts of the US Government that they will be landed with Gulf War Illness II. And of course the clock is ticking…The Royal Society report on DU found that those with heavy exposure could die within days from kidney damage; how many have died from DU already that we will never know about?

The Fight for Decontamination in Iraq Begins

Now that, very sadly, DU has been used again the challenge to campaigners is to ensure that accurate and widespread testing of human and environmental exposure is carried out and that the British and American Governments are held responsible for decontamination of the exposed areas.

At CADU we believe that forcing governments to pay for decontamination when they use weapons they know to have dangerous and illegal side effects is crucial to stopping this type of behaviour. While governments may wriggle around international law treaties, being forced to pay for the damage they do with their weapons will hurt them financially. This unfortunately appears to be the only language they understand. As can be seen from the use of Agent Orange in the Vietnam War this will not be easy.

In a typically disturbing statement made at a Pentagon press conference just before fighting started Army Colonel. James Naughton said "Why do they (the Iraqis) want it to go away? They want it to go away because we kicked the crap out of them in 1991." The US and UK Governments have, unsurprisingly, said they will not clean up DU contamination in Iraq but pressure is mounting on them and from some surprising corners…

The Royal Society Debacle

Those who have been readers of CADU News for a while will know that CADU has always been very critical of the Royal Society reports on DU that were brought out in 2001 and 2002. (Full scientific responses can be found on our website to both reports). The basis of our criticisms stems from the fact that while the reports say very serious health damage can be caused by DU, including renal, respiratory and DNA damage, that DU presents a long term danger to civilians, that future monitoring should take place and that many more studies need to be undertaken because there are so many gaps in our knowledge, they also jump to the conclusion that battlefield exposures would be generally too low to have "adverse effects" on organs.

By emphasising that they thought doses would be too low to cause widespread harm while at the same time admitting they had incomplete data to draw conclusions they left themselves wide-open to misinterpretation. The British Government exploited this weakness in the reports for all they were worth; often quoting in letters to CADU supporters that the Royal Society reports showed that there was no scientific evidence that DU presented a health risk.

It seems that the Royal Society has been gradually growing more disturbed at the way that the Government has been misusing their work, especially after they ignored a warning before fighting began that DU is not safe, from Professor Brian Spratt, Chair of the Royal Society working group on depleted uranium. The final straw came when the Pentagon, obviously taking the British Government's lead, also claimed that the Royal Society said that DU was harmless. Professor Spratt was reportedly "furious" at this and has since been very vocal against the use of DU in Iraq. He has publicly stated that "DU is radioactive and it's toxic", that it presents a "short and long term" threat to the health of civilian populations and that it is "highly unsatisfactory to continue using DU without knowing people's exposure levels". He is quoted in the BBC as saying: "The Coalition needs to acknowledge that DU is a potential hazard and make inroads into tackling it by being open about where and how much has been deployed. He has called for the decontamination of Iraq, the testing of soldiers and field hospital staff, and the monitoring of water and milk supplies.

This is a monumental embarrassment to the Government as it robs them of their chief backup in claiming DU to be harmless and it exposes Defence Minister Geoff Hoon's limited understanding of the truth. Even last week, after the Royal Society had spoken out, the Minister was still saying DU has no adverse health effects. Does he know something the Royal Society does not? Or is he just clinging desperately to past propoganda to cover up the Government's illegal actions? As for the Royal Society, we are thankful to Professor Spratt for having the moral courage to speak out and correct past mistakes.
(The original reports can be found at: http://www.royalsoc.ac.uk/policy/cur_du.htm)

The United Nations Environmental Programme has also spoken out strongly and has called for scientific studies and decontamination to begin. They claim research at sites hit by DU is a "scientific priority" and that "the intensive use of DU weapons has likely caused environmental contamination of as yet unknown levels or consequences." They have stressed the need for an immediate public awareness raising campaign into the dangers of DU to prevent unnecessary exposures.

UNEP has said they will do the study into DU with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and are waiting to go into Iraq. They have already carried out a desk study into Iraq's environment. Researcher Dai Williams has made a number of important points in relation to any UNEP study including that, uranium testing must start without delay especially in urban areas, targets must include known and suspected uranium weapons, that all types of uranium must be looked for and that air radiation monitoring is required throughout the Gulf region. David Nabarro of the WHO, has said "We've done quite a lot of work on depleted uranium, and we just can't be sure of its effects for people close to exploding munitions or for the people who handle it." With such international institutions being openly critical of the British and US use of DU their arrogant and dangerous stance on the issue is looking embarrassingly exposed.

The Implications for Campaigning

Perhaps the only plus that can be drawn from the use of DU in Iraq is that it has concentrated attention on the issue. At CADU we have certainly noticed a lot more media and public focus on the issue than we have seen at any point in the recent past. After years of "fobbing off" letters on the subject from the public with a collection of half-truths and a selective ignoring of key studies, the British Government is finally being directly challenged. Especially for this attack on Iraq the British Government brought out a new 'fact sheet' called Middle East 2003. We have now refuted this point by point and a copy of this is available with this newsletter and on our website. This is partly in response to our supporters who after receiving standard replies from the government have wanted to challenge what they have been sent. Please do use this material yourself in any campaigning work you have been involved in. The New Scientist magazine has also challenged the Government's standard claims that no studies have found "a connection between DU exposure and illness". As the magazine states:

"These statements imply a level of knowledge that we simply do not have. An investigation conducted by Britain's Royal Society and quoted by the minister akes clear that there are numerous ways in which DU can cause illness and even death. And those media reports about Iraq were not substantiated because no studies were ever carried out. Evidence of the absence of any health impacts would be reassuring but all we have at present is an absence of evidence."

This maybe a difficult time in the fight against depleted uranium for campaigners but the point to be made is that the Government and military positions are slipping and now is really the time to keep pressure exerted. As the main fighting in Iraq stops, this is an issue that is not going to go away.

The Second International Day of Action Against Depleted Uranium - Holding them to Account- 29th May 2003

The second Day of Action Against Depleted Uranium is again going to be on the 29th May this year. Last year was great with actions happening truly all over the world. This year with press attention over the use of DU in Iraq and, of course, outrage at the war it will hopefully be even better. CADU has hada good response so far with many new groups getting in touch saying they want to organise actions in their area. We really encourage everyone to take part and make it a day that belongs to all those who want justice against uranium weapons. At CADU we are encouraging all groups and individuals to organise something whether it be giving out leaflets or visiting a company involved with DU in their area. Giving out information at Army Recruitment Centres, carrying out citizens' inspections, and phoning companies or politicians to make your views known are all effective actions that groups of any size can carry out. Holding a stall, showing a film, organising a meeting and giving out leaflets are all good ways to spread the message about DU further.

CADU is working to support people and groups who want to do actions on the day. We can provide information on targets and active groups working against DU in your area. We have prepared flyers to advertise the day and have an (updated) list of places and companies connected with depleted uranium in Britain. We can try to find out targets for those interested in other countries as well. Also we have leaflets that are suitable to for different types of actions that we can send out. If there is any other type of support we can help you with please do let us know. If you are based outside the UK and are willing to act as a contact point for any enquires we receive at CADU from your country or area that would be very useful for strengthening international anti-DU networks. Please let CADU know if you organising anything for the 29 May so we can include it in publicity. By working together we can ensure that the British and US governments are held responsible for the suffering they have inflicted.

To Find Out How the Day Went Click Here

European Parliament Calls for Ban on DU Weapons

Two important legislative steps have been taken on the issue of DU. On the 12th February the European Parliament, after a debate, passed a resolution that calls for the establishment of moratoriums on cluster bombs and depleted uranium ammunition "pending a total ban".

The scope of the legislation is quite broad, calling for the "Council to support independent and thorough investigations into the possible harmful effects of the use of depleted uranium ammunition (and other types of uranium warheads) in battlefield operations such as in the Balkans, Afghanistan and other regions" and for the results to be presented in Parliament; that a comprehensive study should take place on the requirements of international humanitarian law in relation to DU weaponry and that the Commission should monitor developments in relation to environmental contamination and long-term hazards to human health.

Most pleasingly the resolution also calls for action by EU Member States to provide "assistance, in the form of economic assistance, land clearance, social assistance and medical support, to those affected by such weapons". That Tony Blair was willing to defy the European Parliament and follow the US into using DU barely a month after this resolution was passed shows us a lot about where his interests lie.

...And DU Bill in Congress

Congressman Jim McDermott has introduced legislation requiring studies on the health and environmental impact of depleted uranium into the US Congress. Bill 1483 also demands the cleanup and mitigation of depleted uranium contamination at sites within the United States where DU has been used or produced. McDermott, a medical doctor, has been concerned about this issue since veterans of the Gulf War started experiencing unexplained illnesses. His concern deepened, he said, after visiting Iraq, where Iraqi paediatricians told him that the incidence of severely deformed infants and childhood cancers has skyrocketed. This bill can be seen at:
http://traprockpeace.org/DUBill24March03.html

UNEP Confirms Balkan Hotspots

The UNEP report into DU contamination in Bosnia has been published. It confirms that DU is present in three of the sites investigated, over eight years after the NATO bombings there. The sites may be only a small amount of the 'hotspots' in need of decontamination. For the first time it was found that DU had leached into groundwater. The report recommends decontamination of the sites and stressed that NATO coordinates of six other DU-attack sites in the vicinity of Sarajevo were "still missing" and "should be reported to the authorities without delay." The report advocates long-term, annual testing of local drinking water. Klaus Toepfer, executive director of UNEP said, "These findings must not be seen as a cause for alarm."
The report can be downloaded from: http://postconflict.unep.ch/publications/BiH_DU_report.pdf

Very Significant New Study into Chromosomal Damage Caused by DU

A new scientific study, reported in the New Scientist this month has found worrying new evidence of the genetic damage DU can cause even at levels deemed so low as to be non-toxic. Alexandra Miller at the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, is due to complete an investigation into DU for the US Department of Defence next year. Her study shows that when human bone cells are exposed to DU, some suffer immediate genetic damage. The type of damage varies but often fragments break off chromosomes, the strings of genes in almost every cell, and form tiny rings of genetic material. This much was expected. But as other cells evidently undamaged by the depleted uranium started to divide, creating new cells, Miller noticed the genes in some of these new cells were damaged.

More than a month after the DU was removed, new cells were forming with broken chromosomes or other genetic damage. The DU was having a delayed effect. She also found that tiny amounts of DU, too small to be toxic and only mildly radioactive, cause more genetic damage in cells than either the toxicity or radiation could explain. Her latest results suggest that the toxicity and radioactivity of DU reinforce one another, causing more damage than the two just added together. "You can get more than an eight-fold greater effect than you'd expect," she says. In other words, more than eight times as many cells suffer genetic damage than predicted. Without taking this effect into account, the health risk of DU could be grossly underestimated.

250 People Attend Action at Alliant Techsystems

Protesters participated in a mass act of trespass at Alliant Techsystems in Edina, Minnesota on the 2nd April. Alliant Techsystems is one of the largest makers of DU weapons and is the largest military contractor in Minnesota. They also have a very well organised local campaign run against them. Twenty-eight people were arrested for trespassing and were released later that morning. For more information please contact Nuke Watch on: nukewatch@lakeland.ws
Website: www.nukewatch.com

Citizens Inspection Team Enter DU Weapons Plant in Oak Ridge, Tennessee

Citizens in Oak Ridge declared their intent to inspect the site on March 30th because of "overwhelming evidence that the United States possesses weapons of mass destruction and that the Bush regime is intent on using them." If the inspectors were blocked citizens said they would have no choice but to close the site through nonviolent direct action. For more information please visit: www.stopthebombs.org

DU Information Given to Potential Recruits

CADU supporter Ellen Murphy was found guilty of trespass after she attempted to distribute information about DU at a military recruiting office during an anti-war protest. Dr. Doug Rokke who was in charge of DU clean up after the first Gulf War, gave evidence but the jury was not present during his testimony, as the judge had ruled that this evidence could not be used in the trial. Ellen is currently appealing her case.

Biggest Ever UK Anti-DU Action at Scottish DU Test Site

CADU supported a demonstration held at the Dundrennan MoD testing range by Kirkcudbright, Galloway on Saturday May 3rd. It was a great day with Gulf Veteran Terry Gooding, Green MEPs, local campaigner Danny Kenny, SSPs speaking as well as representatives of CADU and CND. Around 80 people came and demonstrated. Dundrennan is one of three sites in Britain where DU weapons are tested. DU shells that fall short of their Solway Firth targets are not traced. The Ministry of Defence has test-fired some 6,350 DU rounds into the Solway Firth.

Protesters block Lockheed Martin facility in search for WMDs

Hundreds of peace demonstrators blocked entrances to Lockheed Martin, in Sunnyvale near San Francisco, protesting the manufacture of weapons of mass destruction. Lockheed manufactures depleted uranium missiles, anti-personnel landmines and AUP-3(M). Protestor Valarie Kaur Brar said, "Lockheed blatantly violates human rights by continuing to produce anti-personnel landmines and depleted uranium weapons which have been banned by international human rights law."

Rally to Prevent Uranium Enrichment Plant Being Built

On March 25th a rally was held on the Trousdale County Courthouse steps in Hartsvile, Tennessee, as Commissioners were voting on whether they should rezone the land belonging to the Four Lakes Authority so that a uranium enrichment facility could be built there. In a statement protesters said, "The by-product of the proposed uranium enrichment facility in Middle Tennessee will be DU. It is a fact that DU produced by the Paducah, Oak Ridge and Ohio uranium enrichment plants were used in producing DU munitions used in these wars. Please help us fight the proposed LES plant in Hartsville, our success will mean a lot for the health of our soldiers and for victims of America's future wars."
For more information: www.StopLES.org

Bodies Spell Out NO WAR NO DU!

In Hiroshima Central Park on March 2nd writers from all around Japan spelt out the message "No War No DU" using their bodies. The organisers asked people to bring flowers and musical instruments and said they would: "Sing songs of peace and make a strong statement showing our determination to stop war and stop creating hibakusha anywhere in the world." For more information contact: Hiroshima Human-Formed Peace Message Committee, Hiroshima Headquarters.
Tel: 082-504-8751 Fax: 082-504-8762 URL: http://www.peace2001.org/

Vieques to Close But the Struggle Continues

The Navy will permanently close its Vieques base on May 1st, bowing to public pressure after the outpost became a magnet for protests against the long arm of the U.S. military. But befitting a tiny island in the eye of a storm, Vieques will grapple with the Navy's legacy long after the base is closed.

Residents of Vieques, population 9,500, say environmental contamination and medical ills will plague the island for years in what many here characterize as a modern-day form of American imperialism. "The people of Vieques have suffered enough. Their land has been taken away. The fauna and the water have been poisoned," said Philadelphia City Councilman Angel Ortiz, who is Puerto Rican and a vocal opponent of the military operations, "The Navy is leaving, but they are leaving behind poison in the ground and the sea." The Navy admit they tested 24 napalm bombs on Vieques in 1993 and in 1999, they accidentally fired 267 DU bombs at the island.

Dr MacKenzie, director of Vieques' only hospital, said she had seen perplexing cases, including cancer patients who have non-metastasized tumours, many patients with kidney failure, and many children with high levels of heavy metals in their blood. "These are not normal medical conditions. There's only one industrial plant on the island, so it can't be that," she said. The Committee for the Rescue and Development of Vieques have organised an amazing series of events from the 1st-4th May to push the US Navy to take responsibility for the decontamination of Vieques. Events include a Peace and Justice camp, concerts, vigils, a 'rap for peace' and the placing of a large cross on the bombing range.

For more information please contact the:
Committee for the Rescue and Development of Vieques
Apartado 1424 Vieques, Puerto Rico 00765
Tel. 787 741-0716 Fax 741-0358 E mail: bieke@prorescatevieques.org
http://www.prorescatevieques.org, http://groups.yahoo.com/group/bieke_pr/

DU Victim Loses Funding For Court Case

Nibby David is a civilian who believes he has been contaminated with DU while working with the material. He has substantial scientific evidence to back his case but his insurers have suddenly withdrawn funding, leaving him with no money for solicitors. This case could establish a legal precedent of acknowledging harm from DU. Nibby will continue the case representing himself but would appreciate any support, legal or otherwise. Please contact him at: nibby@david54.fslife.co.uk

The Ministry of Defence Launches Challenge to Recognition of "Gulf War Syndrome"

In previous editions of CADU News we covered the case of Shaun Rusling, who served as a sergeant during the Gulf conflict and subsequently developed various medical problems. Mr Rusling won his case when The Pension Appeal Tribunal formally accepted last year that Gulf War Syndrome was attributable to military service and said the MoD should pay him a pension for his illness. The MoD however are appealing this claiming that while that some Gulf veterans have been suffering from illnesses, these do not represent a "syndrome" in the sense of a defined set of symptoms. The case is very important as it was the first legal recognition of Gulf War Syndrome and its outcome could have repercussions for hundreds of veterans of the 1991 conflict and any new cases that arise from the current Gulf war. In the wake of the present attack, Paul Tyler, the Liberal Democrats' shadow leader of the Commons said it was "not only insensitive, but frankly scandalous that the MoD refuses to recognise the illnesses of Gulf war veterans."

US Navy test DU in Prime Fishing Coasts

It has been revealed that the US Navy routinely tests DU weapons by firing them into prime fishing areas off the coast of Washington. Scientists and environmentalists were horrified at the revelations claiming that the affects on local fish were unknown and that the DU could enter the human foodchain when they were fished. A coalition of Northwest environmental and anti-war activists say they are considering seeking an injunction to halt the tests. Unsurprisingly the Navy insists that the weapons pose no threat to the environment or crew.

The Arabic Campaign Against Depleted Uranium

A group of Iraqi and Arab scientists have set up ACADU or the Arabic Campaign Against Depleted Uranium. They have already had the success of a one hour TV program on the Arabic satellite channel ANN to start the campaign and have had a very good response from academics and victims in the area. The aim of the campaign is to raise public awareness in the Arab countries of the effects of DU and to seek decontamination of affected areas. They have made an appeal for help for materials, those with scientific skills, translators and help with funding. Anyone who is interested in their work or would like to support the campaign should contact Dr. Ali Al-Jawad on 0207 706 1895 or by email at: ABAIJawad@aol.com

A Message from CADU

Many thanks for recent donations. As our supporters will realise, there has been a very high level of enquiries, requests for information and invitations to talk and write on DU munitions throughout the last month. We have therefore been very grateful for extra funds. All contributions allow us to provide more time and materials. We are sure that public opinion and the view of many of the authorities involved is changing, so now is the time for us all to work even harder to achieve a ban on the use of DU.We know you will want to join us in expressing our deep sympathy and regretto all the Iraqi people and the military personnel from all sides who will suffer as a result of the further use of DU munitions.