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CADU NEWS 20
Campaign Makes MoD's Day
Dear Miss Akua Agyei - A Beginner's Guide to MoD Correspondence
Help Raise Money For CADU With Your Phone
New Campaign Worker
Postcard Campaign Makes MoD's Day
a big thank you to everyone who sent off their postcards to Mr Hoon MP.
As you will remember the postcards werecopies of the health warning given
to troops prior to Gulf War II.
It would seem that the MoD decided that DU was in fact dangerous to health
and that its troops should be informed. Unfortunately they neglected to
inform the population of Iraq,which seems a little short sighted given
that they have to actually live there.
We have had a great response to the campaign and are having a marvellous
time sifting through the MoDs replies.
Some of the more memorable statements from them include accusing Iraqi
doctors of lying and claiming that chromosomal damage does not cause illness.
What follows is our take on some of the issues raised.
The MoD is finally offering
urine tests to Gulf War veterans, which is a positive step forward. Unfortunately,
and in true MoD style, said urine tests are probably not the best indicator
of DU exposure.The ceramicised DU dust formed when DU rounds hit their
targets is prettyinsoluble stuff. This means that once it is lodged in
the lungs it dissolves extremely slowly. A proportion of the DU dust is
soluble and what is not laid down in bones and the brain leaves the body
The insoluble portion, however, will only exit the body very slowly and
in minute amounts. We have asked the MoD for more details of their tests
as they need tobe extremely precise to accurately measure the trace amounts
As you may have guessed, this means that post-event urinalysis is rather
poor at measuring the amount of damaging, ceramicised DU in victims
We are encouraging the MoD
to use thetest developed by Professor Schott. This is based on radiation
damage at a chromosomal level. The test measures the number of dicentric
and ring chromosomes in a subjects cells. These have been used as
indicators of radiation damage in cells for many years. But, despite the
test being used in the Kenhy Duncan compensation case, the MoD still refuses
to accept that it can accurately show DU chromosome damage, even when
other factors such as
smoking and medical x-rays are taken into account.
Our next concern is with their exposure levels. The MoD are using figures
provided by the Royal Societys DU investigation. These state that
troops are unlikely to be affected unless they are exposed underextreme
circumstances, e.g. being in
a vehicle hit by a DU round (DU inhalation will be the least of their
High exposure can also come
about through returning to a vehicle to help injured comrades. While all
this is fine for troops in theatre, there seems to be very little information
on, or concern about, post-conflict exposure.
It does not take a genius to realise that battle wreckage will have an
almost magnetic effect on children. Playing in DU damaged vehicles is
bound to expose children to dangerous levels of DU dust over a long period
of time. But in most of the responses we have seen, there does not seem
to be much mention of civilian exposure. Nor comment on the arid dusty
conditions in Iraq and the propagation of dust clouds.
To give them their due though,
in one response they assured us that the MoD has been exchanging information
withmany humanitarian and commercial organisations operating in
Iraq with a view to helping out with epidemiological studies.
They also claim to be supporting the WHOs proposals to conduct scientific
studies to determine any association between DU exposure and reported
increases in childhood leukemia and birth defects. Although in a different
response they claimed
that doctors claims should not be taken at face value.
(Must be an untrustworthy lot, these doctors!) In fact they go on at some
length about the possible studies the MoD want to get involved in. Impressive
What they fail to mention, is a timeframe. Only a minor detail of course
but one that we hope to pin them down on in the near future. Now that
Iraq is a peaceful beacon of democracy, a decent independent epidemiological
study cant be too far
behind... Can it?
Chromosomal changes can
arise from any number of different exposures to ionising radiation...there
is no proof that these changes result in any ill health. Now, we
want to believe the MoD, we really do, they have gone to so much effort
to us, but when they come out with nonsense like that it makes you question
everything they have written. One can only presume that they have never
heard of Downs Syndrome or Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia. Well, they
So where do we go from here? Well, the only way forward is to keep writing.
We shall try and get a compilation or greatest hits gallery of the replies
we have been sent on the website. This should help you draft your responses.
If there is any background information that you need and that cannot be
found on the website or in our information pack, drop us a line at the
office and we will try our best to answer your queries.
Finally our thanks to everyone who has posted us copies of the MoDs
replies. Keep them coming.
Miss Akua Agyei - A Beginners Guide to MoD Correspondence
Should you be interested in
writing to the MoD for some clarification on depleted uranium issues,
here are some tips to help make the most of your postage.
Do your background research
- there is no point in making their jobs too easy. Check the CADU website
for the MoDs greatest hits.If you need any assistance contact CADU
for the latest DU information. Email
or telephone is easiest for us.
Make sure your letters are
individualised: there is no point in sending a series of identical
letters as you will just receive identical answers.
Read, read and read again
- jargon seems to the watchword of those at the MoD. Their peculiar brand
of military jive is extremely effective at sending the brain to sleep.
Challenge everything -
they can sound pretty convincing but, upon closer inspection, many of
their claims begin to fall apart.
Ask for sources and references
- they are tremendously keen on quoting various reports, organisations
and inquiries, but less keen on quoting their sources.
Send your letters to:
Miss Akua Agyei,
Veterans Policy Unit,
Ministry of Defence,
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This July the G8 group of industrialised
nations are meeting at Gleneagles in Perthshire to talk shop. We would
hate for them to feel lonely so, along with thousands of other activists
we are going to head up to say hello. After all, it is a
bit unfair for them to come all that way and not experience the best of
British. For more information on the events planned for their visit, accommodation
and transport, check out the following websites:
In early April, the Campaign
Against the Arms Trade will release their latest figures on arms investments
by councils, universities, charities, religious groups, trade unions and
a host of other organisations. You might well be surprised by
some of the people featured. Their Clean Investment Campaign has discovered
that the concept of ethical investment has remained a fringe interest
to the majority of UK local authorities.
CADU has been rather interested
to learn, for example, that the Greater Manchester Councils Pension Fund
has 14m shares in Rolls Royce and a further 3m shares in our old friends
BAE Systems proud manufacturers of DU weaponry. Take a look
at www.caat.org.uk if you would like to know what your local authority
is investing in on your behalf and what you can do about it.
The petition started by the
International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons rolls on. We have received
dozens of sheets from activists across the UK and have forwarded them
to the Netherlands. At the time of writing the petition has more than
100,000 signatories worldwide - a sterling effort. However, we can, and
must, do better.
We have decided that the most practical way forward is to use the online
petition. We are appealing to all of you techno wizards to forward the
weblink to the petition to everyone in your email lists and address books.
The ICBUW petition can
be found online at: www.bandepleteduranium.org
CADU t-shirts coming soon.
A variety of sizes and colours will be available - big boys to skinny
ladies all catered for.
Yet another reminder of DU
hypocrisy surfaced at the beginning of February, this time in Russia.
Customs officials stopped an amateur weightlifter in the Federal Volga
District as he attempted to pass through customs with nearly 40kg of DU
The man, who claimed that he had found the container in a dump,
had been using the heavy radioactive metal for exercise and occasionally
straightening nails. Unsurprisingly several news agencies,including
Reuters were screaming
dirty bomb and the hapless weightlifter has now found himself charged
with attempted contraband of a radioactive substance.
Just in case any of you are still confused, yes, the authorities think
it is OK to dump tonnes of the stuff overenemy states, just
as long as you don't try and bring it home. At the time of going to press
there was no indication of how the DU had ended up in the dump in the
The Italian inquiry into DU
and Balkan Syndrome suffered a set back last month after the Italian Defence
Minister was accused of using spoiling tactics to delay the appointment
of committee members.
The committee was established last November and, so far, has done absolutely
nothing. It was convened after large numbers of Italian peacekeepers returned
home and began to develop leukaemia and other ailments. It is suspected
that DU exposure is the chief culprit.
It is outright sabotage aimed at hindering the work of the inquiry
into depleted uranium deaths, said Gigi Malabarba, chief senate
whip for the PRC Party. The major culprits are Defence Minister
Martino and ForzaItalia, who have resorted
to spoiling tactics such as delaying the appointment of committee members
and interfering with the appointment of other party members.
Following the claims, Defence Minister Martino accused the Left and Malabarba
political point scoring.
A 6-year-old Iraqi boy who
returned to Iraq last October after undergoing treatment for leukemia
for nearly 10 months in Japan, has died after his condition suddenly deteriorated.
Abbas A-Ali Al-Malky, who is believed to have contracted leukaemia from
depleted uranium used in the Iraq war, died shortly after being taken
to hospital, said Mariko Ono, representative of the Nagoya group Save
the Iraqi Children. The boy developed a fever the night before his death.
Save the Iraqi Children had sponsored his stay and treatment in Japan.
Finally, now for some positive
news: members of the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons are
currently in talks with Oxfam Netherlands and the Dutch Campaign Against
the Arms Trade to discuss a possible fact-finding mission
Afghanistan faced a huge military onslaught between 2001 and 2002. Although
the US and UK are suspected of using uranium weapons there has been little
research done on their impact in the area.
ICBUW are hoping to assemble a team to inspect sites where the weapons
may have been used. Reports of bunkerbusting bombs and the so-called daisycutters
were commonplace during the conflict and it is likely that heavy duty
DU weaponry was used, as well as lighter munitions such as those fired
by the A10 Warthog.
Last week we were sent a copy
of a paper investigating the possible health effects of tungsten. As a
super-heavy metal tungsten has been suggested as a possible alternative
to DU. Indeed the MoD have already converted their naval PHALANX
Close-in Weapon System to it, apparently because its equally
effective at its role at less cost. Presumably because these weapons
systems do not need a high level of armour penetration.
The research was undertaken by the US Army Forces Radiobiology Research
Institute and found that rats implanted with tungsten alloy pellets, quickly
developed highly aggresive tumours. This could make shrapnel wounds potentially
It was also found to have neurotoxological effects.
Several publications are claiming that tungsten is the environmentally
friendly alternative to DU. Unfortunately this is not really the
case. Tungsten is a heavy metal, as such its chemical toxicity is well
known. On the plus side it does not vapourise on impact and create a dust
like DU, and it is not radioactive. However, describing any weapon as
environmentally friendly seems patently bizarre.
What does this mean for the campaign? Well, persuading the politicians
and the military to ban DU would be far easier if we could suggest a viable
alternative. It is somewhat idealistic to hope that a ban on both DU and
tungsten could be pushed through, so until then we shall have to continue
with the pragmatic approach. Equally, it is not our job to help the MoD
do their research. We are sure we should all be far happier if there were
no need for tungsten or DU.
Since mid-January we have had
a new worker at CADU. Doug Weir will be following on from Camilles
excellent work, or at least he will be once he has got his head round
several years worth of propaganda, claim and counter claim. Dougs
background is in geology, environmental and arts communications and journalism.
Unfortunately it is not in statistics or epidemiology, but three out of
five is not bad.
He has joined the ICBUW board as part of their outreach team, with Rae
Street taking Camilles place on the legal political board. Doug
is usually available in the office between Wednesday and Friday.
CADU would like to send a big
thank you for all recent donations - and also for the many messages of
support we receive.
Our new worker, together with the expanded Steering Group, have drawn
up a wide reaching programme for the next six months. But we will need
extra funds for campaigning materials. This includes a new easily postable
and portable exhibition to give us a presence at many more events.
We have had some notable successes during the year - working with the
ICBUW on the draft Treaty to Ban Uranium Weapons and generating UK press,
public and parliamentary coverage; we want to build on these successes.
So, as ever, we would appreciate any help you can give us.
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