Campaign Against Depleted Uranium

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March 2005

CADU Postcard Campaign Makes MoD's Day
Dear Miss Akua Agyei - A Beginner's Guide to MoD Correspondence
Help Raise Money For CADU With Your Phone
National News
International News
New Campaign Worker

CADU Postcard Campaign Makes MoD's Day

AFirstly 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 MoD’s 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.

Urine Analysis

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 fairly quickly.

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 of uranium.
As you may have guessed, this means that post-event urinalysis is rather poor at measuring the amount of damaging, ceramicised DU in victims’ lungs.

Chromosomal Testing

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 subject’s 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 Society’s DU investigation. These state that troops are unlikely to be affected unless they are exposed under‘extreme circumstances’, e.g. being in
a vehicle hit by a DU round (DU inhalation will be the least of their worries).

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.

Health Studies

To give them their due though, in one response they assured us that the MoD has been exchanging information with‘many humanitarian and commercial organisations operating in Iraq’ with a view to helping out with epidemiological studies.

They also claim to be supporting the WHO’s 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 stuff? Maybe.

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 can’t be too far
behind... Can it?

Chromosomal Damage

‘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 replying
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 Down’s Syndrome or Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia. Well, they have now.

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 MoD’s replies. Keep them coming.

Dear 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 MoD’s 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,
7th Floor,
Zone H,
Main Building,

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National News


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 if you would like to know what your local authority is investing in on your behalf and what you can do about it.

International Petition

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:


CADU t-shirts coming soon. A variety of sizes and colours will be available - big boys to skinny ladies all catered for.

International News


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 in his

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 over‘enemy’ 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 first place.


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 of ‘unacceptable
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
to Afghanistan.

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 ‘it’s 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 fatal.
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.

New Campaign Worker

Since mid-January we have had a new worker at CADU. Doug Weir will be following on from Camille’s excellent work, or at least he will be once he has got his head round several years’ worth of propaganda, claim and counter claim. Doug’s
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 Camille’s 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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