Campaign Against Depleted Uranium

Introduction | News | Information | Resources | Affiliate | Action | Links | Contact

August 2005

Researchers Claim Birth Defects Rising Across Southern & Central Iraq
Wallace Would Have Been Proud: Genuine Democracy Greets The G8
Brussels Conference Report:For A Ban On Uranium Weapons
International News
We Need Your Help - New Research Projects Planned

Researchers Claim Birth Defects Rising Across Southern & Central Iraq

In the wake of the 2003 attacks on Iraq, the anticipated rise in birth defects has begun, according to IRIN News. After analysing records from public hospitals around the country, researchers from Baghdad University have shown that the long-documented rise in deformities in the southern region of the country has spread to the capital, Baghdad.

According to Dr Nawar Ali, at the University of Baghdad, who works in the newborn babies research department: “There have been 650 cases in total since August 2003 reported in government hospitals - that is a 20 percent increase from the previous regime. Private hospitals were not included in the study, so the number could be higher,” he said.

Dr Ali blamed the rise on polluted groundwater, contaminated with radiation from depleted uranium used in the two Gulf Wars. Other health professionals in Iraq share Ali’s opinion. “In my experiments we have found some cases where the mother or father were suffering from pollution from weapons used in the south and we believe that it is affecting newborn babies in the country,” said Dr Ibraheem al-Jabouri, a scientist at Baghdad University.

The type of deformities found in newborn babies are characterised by multiple fingers, unusually large heads, unilateral lips or no arms or legs. High levels of birth malformations have been reported from the southern region of Iraq since the mid-Nineties, but this is the first report of similar conditions spreading to the capital. Following the first Gulf War, Basra was particularly badly hit; now the phenomenon is moving north from Najaf to Baghdad.

Other contributory factors have been looked at. Dr Lamia’a Amran, a paediatrician at the Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS) hospital in the capital, told IRIN that inter-marriages were also to blame and that some cases of deformed babies were from poor families in the southern region. “Most of the women who have deformed babies in our hospital are married to relatives and have no idea that a common blood factor can also cause such problems,” said Amran. The IRCS hospital sees at least four cases of deformities every week. During April, 15 cases were reported, according to the hospital spokesman, a number considered high for a short period of time.

However, Amran added that 60 percent of the cases were not related to blood factors, but due to other causes. She explained that after studying family history of couples with deformed babies, they concluded that radiation and pollution were the main causes of the deformity.

But most of the cases reported do not survive for more than a week, doctors said. Nearly 90 percent of such cases at the Central Teaching Hospital for Paediatrics in Baghdad do not survive, according to Wathiq Ibrahim, director of the hospital.

Fatima Hussein, a 34-year-old patient at the hospital, told reporters: “My two children were born with deformities and today I had my third one with the same problem. The doctors say pollution is the cause and now my husband wants to divorce me claiming that I am not capable of bringing healthy children into the world,”

Health officials have asked the Iraqi Government to begin an urgent study into the problem.

Wallace Would Have Been Proud: Genuine Democracy Greets The G8

In the shadow of Stirling’s Wallace monument, a hugely diverse crowd of activists, anarchists, anti-capitalists, children and clowns had assembled to show the leaders of the G8 that people are no longer content to swallow their neoliberal agendas, backed up with cavalier militarism.

CADU’s week had started with an appearance at Faslane naval base, home to the UK’s Trident missile arsenal. Early on Monday morning 1500 protestors encircled the base, blocking all five gates. Activists locked-on, spread their picnic blankets and got comfortable for a day in the sunshine. The 2000 overdressed police officers resigned themselves to a somewhat more uncomfortable and sweaty day as the sun broke through the clouds.

The atmosphere remained unashamedly joyous all day, thanks in no small part to the heroic efforts of several soundsystems including the Brighton Cyclists and Rinkydink, although Mungo’s Hifi from Edinburgh won a special place in people’s hearts thanks to their day-long dub reggae soundtrack at the South Gate. They were the perfect soundtrack for the carnival atmosphere.

Only four arrests were made, and all for the enterprising souls who attempted to sneak over the perimeter fence. Of particular note was the gentleman who spent all day perched on top of the razor wire, refusing to come down into the arms of Her Majesty’s finest.

Shortly after 4pm, a consensus was reached that our work was completed and we had no wish to further antagonise the ‘polis’, the music was switched off, everybody unlocked, the music came on again, and everybody had a dance in the afternoon sunshine before drifting off to the coaches.

Thanks to everyone at the peace camp for their friendliness and spirit – and keep up the good work.

On Tuesday, CADU headed off to Stirling to the Hori-Zone Eco-Camp. The Dissent Network had done a brilliant job of throwing together a temporary camp for 3000 plus people.

Despite the reports in the media about ‘a gathering of dangerous anarchists’ the vast majority of people present were committed to peacefully exercising their democratic rights. Indeed as the week progressed, the most successful actions were those that fought fire with fluff. The Kids Blockade being a case in point. Never before have riot police looked quite as ridiculous as they did that day, suited and booted against the dangerously unpredictable under-fives.

And of course, no G8 report would be complete without a mention of CIRCA - the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army, they truly are the new darlings of the activist community. They were incredibly effective in defusing difficult situations with good-natured mockery and foolishness.

So why were CADU present? We believe that the link between ‘high seas’ capitalism and militarism is as fundamental as the link between civilian nuclear power generation and DU. Without the use of, or threat of force, G8 nations would find it much harder to force open markets in the majority world. Would Iraq have been invaded if it had no oil reserves? Unlikely. Proving once again that there is no such thing as a ‘single issue’ pressure group.

And then came 7/7. Shocking as the events were, what became more shocking as the days went on was the perceived value of human life in the media. Where 50 dead in London are worth hundreds of column inches, yet the tedious day-to-day carnage in Iraq barely elicits a whimper. That is not to belittle the horror inflicted on innocent commuters in London, but if we are ever to have global equality, all lives must be equally valued and all deaths equally mourned.

Brussels Conference Report: For A Ban On Uranium Weapons

The June conference was the first annual meeting of ICBUW. They called on EU states not only to implement their 2003 moratorium on the use of DU weapons, but also to seek a global ban on them.

It was sponsored by the Intergroup for Peace Initiatives of the European Parliament and attended by MEPs and NGO representatives from Japan, the US, Canada and many EU countries.

Several speakers discussed the health effects that follow the use of DU weapons. Dr Jawad Kadhim Hassan Al-Ali, Head of the Sadr Teaching Hospital in Basra, Iraq, gave compelling new evidence of the devastating increases in the incidence of cancers, other virulent diseases and birth malformations in areas where DU had been used. No full epidemiological survey has been done in Iraq yet, though all the evidence indicates a direct link with DU. Dr. Al-Ali issued a moving appeal for funding to enable him to conduct one.

The former Head of the Radiation Protection Division of the World Health Organisation, Dr. Keith Baverstock, discussed the way DU was able to cause genetic damage to the body. The damage was due not only to the radiation that DU particles emit when lodged in tissue but also to the chemically toxic nature of DU, with a potential for synergy between the two. A third route to health risk comes from the ‘bystander’ effect, when cells contiguous to one hit by radiation behave as if they too had been irradiated.

He accused the International Commission on Radiation Protection (ICRP) and the IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Agency, of deliberately ignoring the scientifically proven health effects of DU and called on them to use the precautionary principle. He made an impassioned plea for truly independent scientific research, which had been sacrificed for political expediency.

Dr Toshi Inoshita from the Japan Medical Network, Gretel Munroe from Grassroots Actions for Peace and Dr Katsumi Furitsu of the Campaign Against Radiation Exposure gave reports into the evidence they had amassed on damage to both Iraqi civilians and US veterans exposed to DU dust. Their activities are not limited to research however, and the groups are variously active in campaigning on the issue, educating people about the dangers of DU, political lobbying and seeking to provide medical aid for Iraqis.

Avril McDonald from the Asser Institute gave an excellent paper on why, with the wealth of international humanitarian law (IHL) that would seem to make DU already illegal, we should be seeking a treaty to ban uranium weapons. The body of international humanitarian law is only relevant whilst conflict is on-going and therefore cannot be used in a pre- or post- conflict situation. There were existing laws that could provide some redress but their usefulness was often undermined by the clause of ‘military necessity’.

Some principles of IHL, such as the obligation to discriminate between civil and military targets, could never be justified by ‘military necessity’, but this principle concerns only the primary effects of a weapon whereas DU weapons are not designed to have chemical or radiological toxicity as their prime purpose.

There was a range of other excellent interventions. These included a report on the campaign to stop banks investing in DU arms manufacturers, a call to include the chemical toxicity of DU in our campaigning, a call to make links with low level radiation and nuclear power campaigners and calls to question our politicians on whether they have the right to contaminate a country forever.

At the ICBUW board meeting, two main priorities were agreed: the submission of the Draft treaty to the appropriate UN bodies and, later this year, the support for an epidemiological study in Iraq. The study is to be conducted by Dr Al-Ali, consultant at the Basra Teaching Hospital.

A complete report will soon be available on the ICBUW website. It was good to have the support of the European Parliament to air this issue and the welcome motivating contributions of several MEPs.

The organisers should be congratulated on the quality of all the interventions made: they provided both food for thought and inspiration for action.

International News


Over five days, separate juries found two groups of anti-war activists “not-guilty” of trespass last December. This is the fourth time that Minnesota juries have agreed with peace activists in the state. Activists who had refused to leave the premises of one of the world’s largest arms manufacturers - Alliant Techsystems Inc.

Senior staff, denying the protesters a meeting, had the activists arrested after they refused to leave the site of the $2.4Bn weapons giant. ATK, as it is known to its friends, is one of the US’s foremost producers of DU weapons. But wait, not content with manufacturing radiologically and chemically toxic shells, ATK is also famed for its land mines, cluster bombs and rocket motors – just like momma used to make no doubt. As such, it has been the target of relentless protests for more than nine years.

Along with an identical acquittal in October 2003, and a similar one in 1997, the politically charged trials have vindicated a total of 106 people. The 1997 group - 79 protesters in all - won a “not guilty” verdict after showing that the outlaw status of landmines excused what otherwise appears to be trespassing.

Last January and May, three other groups of alleged trespassers had their charges dropped just prior to trial. Another group of 34 civil resistors arrested on March 14th had charges dismissed on a technicality. The December acquittals turned the tables on ordinary “trespass” allegations and put ATK (a Honeywell Corporation spin-off) in the hot seat.

Three of the defendants in the Dec. 14 acquittal had visited Iraq themselves and had seen firsthand the consequences of using nuclear waste as a weapon of war. They testified as eye witnesses to the documented increases in cancer and leukaemia in southern Iraq that have occurred since 1991. The six-person jury in the most recent case, and in similar trials on the 10th December 2004, and 18th October 2003, decided that the defendants’ argument is reasonable even if technically “mistaken.” As the judge told the jury, “If the defendants acted in good faith under claim of right, even if reasonably mistaken as to this right, you must find the defendants not guilty.”

They testified that weapons being made with radioactive waste are illegal and that international law provided them with a legitimate “claim of right” in acting to prevent war crimes.

As the group explained in their closing argument at trial, “In a nutshell, the law says: It is forbidden to use poison or poisoned weapons; to use weapons that do severe, long-term damage to the environment; to use weapons that cannot distinguish between civilians and soldiers, or to use materials or devices that are similar to gas; the planning or preparation of wars that would violate binding treaties is itself a crime; individuals are personally responsible for their participation in these crimes – which is to say that we must all avoid such participation,” said John LaForge of Nukewatch. ‘’To date, four ordinary juries have recognized the citizen’s right to nonviolent obstinacy in the face of official wrongdoing. In the case of refusing to leave ATK’s “dirty bomb” headquarters until we were granted a meeting, we merely attempted an act of crime prevention.’’


CADU’s Rae Street was in Hiroshima for the World Conference Against the A and H Bombs, it was a useful opportunity for her to meet with our Japanese ICBUW members.

‘’The NODU Hiroshima Project met on the afternoon of the 6th August with about 80 people in the audience from different regions throughout Japan. But at all the meetings I attended, there were questions about DU munitions and strong support for working on a ban. Radiological weapons have a strong resonance in a country where so many suffered so deeply from those fateful explosions 60 years ago. At the international meetings, anti-nuclear activists were keen to link up with, for example, uranium mining areas in Australia and with those who have suffered from the affects of uranium mining in the past. For example, native Americans such as the Navajo from New Mexico.’’


U.S. Navy contract documents, detailing U.S. Government payments of $1,699,830.00 to a public relations firm known as The Rendon Group have been uncovered by Judicial Watch. Their purpose? Influencing the outcome of a public referendum held on Puerto Rico.

The 2001 referendum concerned the proposed closure of the Vieques Bombing Range. The U.S. Navy sought to continue using the range for live-fire combat training. Tasks for The Rendon Group included: ‘...organise local leaders to build grassroots communications support...ensure the integrity of the voting process...and develop methods and tracking procedures to increase support among citizens’. 

Opponents of the Navy garnered 68 percent of the vote, which drew 80.6 percent of the island’s 5,893 registered voters. The Navy spent approximately $358 per referendum voter in their failed

bid to continue using the range. In February 2003 the Navy ceased operations at the Vieques range and moved operations to Florida and elsewhere in the United States.

The Rendon Group is a self-described “global strategic communications consultancy” that has been paid more than $40 million by the U.S. Defense Department since 9/11.  Media reports have also tied The Rendon Group to a Pentagon funded Internet site called “Empower Peace,” targeting American school age children, teachers and schools in what purports to be a “grassroots” peace movement. 

Judicial Watch was forced to file a FOIA lawsuit against the Defense Department on February 25, 2005, following 11 months of stonewalling by the Government over a lawful open records request concerning The Rendon Group’s involvement in U.S. Government funded “information operations” and “perception management” activities.


A uranium rush is triggering the reactivation of dozens of uranium mines worldwide after China and India pledged to boost their nuclear power sectors in the face of global warming. In Australia, the federal government has wrested control of the Northern Territory’s US$9.2Bn deposits from the state’s Labour government, who had imposed a moratorium on uranium mining.

“This morning in our meeting with the NT resources minister it was made clear by the territory government that they were abdicating their part of decision-making on uranium mining,” MacFarlane told reporters in the northern capital, Darwin. ‘’The federal government would now assume responsibility for the approval of uranium mines,” he said.

MacFarlane said the government was taking control “for the good of the territory” and resources industry. “We can’t allow this confusion to continue. This no-uranium policy is a nonsensical policy. The Northern Territory is open for business on uranium mining.”

About a dozen companies are currently exploring for uranium in the resource-rich territory. Currently, the only operating mine is Rio Tinto’s Energy Resources of Australia mine at Ranger, which is surrounded by the Kakadu National Park. French nuclear power company Cogema is lobbying its aboriginal owners in a bid to mine the multi-million dollar, 14,000-tonne Koongarra deposit in the World Heritage-listed park.
Macfarlane said he shared the local government’s unease about the Koongarra deposit but would consider all applications. He said no mining would be approved unless it had “the full support of the indigenous owners of the area where the mine is proposed.”

Australia currently has just three working uranium mines — BHP Billiton’s Olympic Dam and Heathgate Resources’ Beverley mine in South Australia and the Ranger mine.

Uranium prices have been rising steadily in recent years, to around 29 dollars per pound from nearly 10 dollars a pound four years ago.

We Need Your Help - New Research Projects Planned

CADU are extremely pleased to report that we have two fundraising projects planned for the next few months. The first is a study into Iraqi children’s exposure to DU. This could give the movement some powerful and compelling scientific evidence to support a global ban on DU production and use. The second is an epidemiological project in southern Iraq, sponsored by the International Coalition, full details in the next issue...

The Iraqi Children's Tooth Project

Following the use of depleted uranium munitions in the Gulf Wars of 1991 and 2003, many populated areas of Iraq became contaminated with fine uranium oxide dusts that are readily respirable.

Despite continued reports of substantial increases in cancer and birth defects there are virtually no data on the extent to which Iraqi civilians have sustained internal contamination.

Everyone has trace levels of uranium in their body, the majority of which is stored in the bones and teeth. Consequently, the primary or deciduous teeth that children normally lose between ages six and 12 represent valuable biologic specimens that can be used to study a child’s uranium burden.

In total, 52 teeth from northern, central and southern Iraq have been collected. these will be analysed alongside 16 North American ‘archaeological’ teeth’ from the 1940s - prior to the nuclear age.

The analysis will be done in the British Geological Survey’s state-of-the-art laboratories in Nottingham, England. Professor of Geological Chemistry, Randall Parrish Ph.D from the BGS will use multi-collector, inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (MC ICP MS) to analyse the teeth for their content of four uranium isotopes. The varying proportions of these will indicate the type of uranium the children have been exposed to.

Professor Parrish will be working alongside Dr Thomas Fasy from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.

The project needs $87,000 to complete the study because each tooth costs $1000 to analyse. It is hoped that much of it can be raised in the US, but as co-sponsors of the project CADU will do its utmost to ensure that the figure is met. We are looking for groups that might want to sponsor a tooth. Think you could? Then get in touch.

Subscribe to CADU News - by affiliating to CADU
Affiliation rates (including a paper copy of CADU News four times a year) are £8 per year (unwaged/student) £10 per year (waged) and £30 (groups), but please consider donating more than this if possible.
Please send a cheque or a request for a standing order to:
CADU, Bridge 5 Mill, 22a Beswick St, Manchester M4 7HR