Campaign Against Depleted Uranium

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CADU NEWS 24
October 2006

Contents

Laka Finds No Evidence of DU in Lebanon
UK Government Spent £375m Developing DU Munitions
ICBUW 3rd International Conference Report
Campaign News

Laka Finds No Evidence of DU in Lebanon

During and after the 33-day war in Lebanon it was rumoured that the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) were using DU anti-tank shells or other DU munitions. Much attention was focused on an article by Mohammed Zaatari in the Daily Star (August 21, 2006) in which nuclear physicist Dr. Ali Kobeissi, a member of the Lebanese National Council for Scientific Research said that a crater caused by an Israeli munition in Khiam contained “a high degree of unidentified radioactive materials.”

Many people within the movement against uranium weapons considered Kobeissi’s statements as evidence for the alleged use of DU by the IDF. CADU had also been convinced by photos of IDF members loading anti-tank shells in early July.

In order to test the claims that DU had been used, Henk Van Der Keur from the Laka Foundation visited Lebanon as part of a delegation from the Amsterdam based organisation Dromen, Denk, Durven, Doen (Dreaming, Thinking, to Dare, to Do), who work on human rights issues in the Middle East.

On September 25th he visited Dr. Kobeissi in Nabatiyeh. He said that he had tested some deep pits made by Israeli weapons with a geiger counter from a local scrap dealer and that his results indicated the presence of uranium. He measured 50 nanosievert (nSv) per hour in the outside rim of the pits and 300 nSv in the heart of most pits with the exception of one which measured 800 nsV/h. He also declared that these dose rates in the pits decreased considerably day by day. Henk suggested that the higher rates could be due to the concentration of uranium in the ash (concentrated background radiation from the materials burnt in the impact) he agreed that this possibility is highly likely.

Dr Kobeissi had collected tens of samples from shrapnel and soil from more than 50 different sites. None of these samples measured a higher radiation dose rate than the background radiation rate. The samples were measured with a calibrated geiger counter from Laka Foundation.

Finally there is no reason to assume that the IDF has used DU anti-tank shells. Firstly there were no armoured targets in Lebanon and secondly mine clearance teams - present in many places in the south of Lebanon - because of the enormous numbers of cluster bombs – haven’t found any spent DU anti-tank shells.

Extra:

After CADU News had gone to press, researchers Dai Williams and Chris Busby released a paper suggesting that traces of low enriched uranium (LEU) had been found in the Khiam crater. This is a surprising find and there will be further analysis of the paper in the next issue. CADU are awaiting suggestions from Williams and Busby as to the likely source of the find.

A few days after their findings were published (making headline news in the Independent newspaper) the United Nations Environment Programme announced that they too had found no evidence of DU or radioactive materials in Lebanon.

UK Government Spent More Than £375 MILLION Developing DU Munitions

A Freedom of Information request from a CADU supporter has revealed the cost to the taxpayer of the UK’s development of depleted uranium munitions.

The inquiry found that the development of the 120mm ‘CHARM 1’ and ‘CHARM 3’ weapon system cost £375m. CHARM 3 is currently in use by the UK’s armed forces. The first generation CHARM 1 weapon system cost £213m while CHARM 3 cost £161.5m.
Both anti-tank systems were developed at the following locations: Royal Ordance facilities at Birtley and Featherstone, AWE Aldermaston; the former AWE Cardiff, and tested at the MOD ranges at Eskmeals (Cumbria) and Kirkcudbright (Dundrennan, Dumfries & Galloway).


ICBUW 3rd International Conference Report

The 3rd ICBUW International Conference was held in Hiroshima, between August 3rd-6th. More than 300 participants, including more than 40 people from 12 different countries and many more from all over Japan, attended the proceedings.

The conference was financially supported by more than 600 individual donors and 70 groups in an incredible display of grassroots solidarity; CADU would like to thank all those who supported the event financially and all the staff and volunteers of the NO DU Hiroshima Project for their tireless hard work and effort in ensuring the smooth running of the event. In particular our special thanks go to Professor Nobuo Kazashi and Ms Haruko Moritaki, Director and Executive Director respectively, of the Hiroshima Organising Committee, for their dedication and spirit.

In response to ICBUW’s conference call: ‘Raising Our Voices with the Victims for the Abolition of Depleted Uranium Weapons,’ DU victims, activists, scientists, legal specialists and journalists came to Hiroshima from all over the world. Many Japanese citizens from across the country, who have been involved in anti-DU, anti-war, anti-nuclear, environmental protection, human rights and victim support groups, joined the international delegates. More than 50 different presentations covered the entire DU issue, from the latest scientific research to new perspectives in the global DU debate.

The conference opened with a warm welcome from Mr Tadatoshi Akiba, Mayor of Hiroshima City and President of Mayors for Peace; he was followed by keynote speaker Dr Rosalie Bertell, biometrician, and founder of the International Institute of Concern for Public Health-IICPH. Dr Bertell’s speech on ‘DU and Gulf War Syndrome’ clearly and concretely covered the health threats posed by the DU aerosols produced by the impact of uranium weapons on hard targets. She observed that once a DU aerosol is inhaled, and reaches the tissues and organs, it might damage DNA and cellular proteins, leading to some of the health problems associated with Gulf War Syndrome.

ICBUW also welcomed a speech by Ms Mizuho Fukushima, President of Japan’s Social Democratic Party, and member of the Japanese House of Councillors. Ms Fukushima expressed solidarity with our cause and promised to question the Japanese government on the DU issue. We also welcomed Ms Nassrine Azimi, Director of the Hiroshima Office for Asia and Pacific of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR). Ms Azimi was presented with a copy of some of the 200,000 signatories of ICBUW’s International Petition to Ban Uranium Weapons at the closing session after a moving speech.

The conference attracted many messages of support from people unable to attend. These included one from Mr Dirk Van der Maelen, the Socialist Leader in the Belgian Federal Parliament, who introduced a Belgian law proposal to ban uranium weapons earlier this year, and one from Dr Caroline Lucas, UK Green Party Member of the European Parliament. ICBUW also received messages of support and solidarity from NGOs across the world; including the International Peace Bureau (IPB), International DU Study Team (IDUST), Women for Peace, No More Nuclear Power Movement, the Finnish Peace Committee and environmental NGO the Iraqi Green Land Association.

The Appeal From DU’s Victims

During Thursday’s opening session, Mr Khajak Vartanian, an environmental radiation measurement specialist from Basrah in southern Iraq, reported that the local population continue to be exposed to military DU pollution. His mapping of contaminated sites clearly showed their proximity to urban areas around the city.

Dr Jawad Al-Ali, the Head of the Department of Medicine at Al-Sadr Teaching Hospital, and Director of its Cancer Treatment Centre presented their latest epidemiological data, which showed a 1.4 times increase in the solid cancer incidence rate during the past eight years, an increase in the incidence rate from 44.7 to 61.5 per 100,000. He suggested that this increase could be attributed to the serious environmental destruction, of which DU pollution is a part, caused by conflicts in the region since 1991. Dr Al-Ali described the incredibly difficult conditions under which Iraqi physicians work because of a lack of basic equipment and medicines and called for international support in helping them undertake independent and environmental and epidemiological research.

Other presentations featured military veterans from the US, UK and Europe. US veterans Herbert Reed and Dennis Kyne, and trustee of the UK National Gulf, Afghan and Iraq War Veterans’ Charity Ray Bristow, gave moving speeches describing how their health had suffered following their return from active duty in Iraq. Their experiences struck many parallels with those of Filippo Montaperto from the Italian group Osservatorio Militare. He and Italian journalist Stefania Divertito described the sudden rise in cancers seen in Italian veterans returning from the Balkans, and detailed the legal assistance their group has been offering to other sufferers of Balkan Syndrome.

Each of the veterans told similar stories of denial, cover-ups and a lack of concern amongst a military that had left them to fight for compensation, testing and recognition of their illnesses. One positive note was a determination to work more closely with each other and with veterans from other countries to campaign for a ban on DU.

In the US, Gulf War and Iraqi War veterans’ calls for testing, medical care and compensation are growing. Connecticut, New York and Louisiana have passed bills that require DU exposure testing for National Guardsmen and for health registries to be set up. It remains to be seen whether such testing regimes will attract the level of state funding that they require to make a meaningful impact.

Herbert Reed, who independent testing has shown to be contaminated, and eight other veterans are now preparing a lawsuit against the US Department of Defence for concealing the facts about the health hazards of DU.

Meanwhile in Italy, independent military and veterans’ associations like Osservatorio Militare have been helping veterans fight for compensation in the courts following exposure to DU in the Balkans. So far two cases have been won, with many more pending, but the Italian Defence Ministry is still trying to blame the illnesses on stress and bad diet with no mention of DU.

All of the victims called for a total ban on the use of uranium weapons, to ensure that no more civilians and soldiers need to needlessly suffer as they have done.

There was an urgent call for the international community to support both civilian and military victims. We heard from Japanese NGOs the Japan Iraq Medical Network and Iraq Hope Net, who have been working to help support Iraqi people, including medical staff, and held wide ranging discussions on the need to help DU victims elsewhere in the world, through both research and direct medical aid.

Regional Campaign Reports

ICBUW members, activists and journalists from across the world, including the US, Europe, Japan, South Korea and Australia, reported on the domestic status of their anti-DU campaigns.

Perhaps the most significant European news was the European Parliament’s vote on a moratorium leading to a ban last November. This was the third vote on DU since 2003 but the first time that they have called for a ban in addition to a moratorium. The Byzantine nature of European Union politics means however that this will not become law unless backed by the European Council of Ministers. The UK government held the rotating EU Presidency at the time and it is unlikely that they welcomed the vote. However the EP represents more than 400 million people and their recognition of the problems associated with DU is a great step forward.

In Belgium, law proposals covering uranium weapons have been introduced both at the Senate and the Chamber of Representatives. ICBUW member Belgium Coalition Stop Uranium Wapens played a very important role in lobbying for the law proposals and cooperated closely with senators and representatives. A hearing in the Belgian Parliament is scheduled for this autumn. Experts from different disciplines will be invited, amongst them ICBUW advisors. The Belgian model of domestic coalition building, while not suitable in all countries, has shown to be a valuable model for effecting political change.

In Italy, PeaceLink, an Italian ICBUW member, has been supporting veterans’ compensation claims and legal battles. They have also accused the US government of stockpiling DU weapons at US bases on Italian territory and keeping a close eye on Sardinia’s testing ranges. High levels of leukaemia and other cancers have been reported in villages surrounding these ranges and researchers suspect there may be a link between the release of toxic nanoparticles and these illnesses.

The UK government and military have been content to continue to hide behind the findings of the 2002 Royal Society Report into DU – in spite of its shortcomings – and claim that DU only becomes a health hazard in ‘extreme’ cases. The continued use of DU by UK forces in wartime remains at odds with public opinion. They still refuse to recognise Gulf War Syndrome as a verifiable disease or set of symptoms and, given the history of other UK public health scandals where compensation is an issue such as asbestos exposure, are unlikely to do so in the near future.

Interestingly BAE Syetems the owner of Royal Ordnance have ceased production of DU weapons on ‘environmental grounds but recent claims by defence ministers that they are still undertaking trials with tungsten alloys and are keeping an open mind can be construed as little more than platitudes.

The voluntary DU testing regime for returning UK veterans – the Depleted Uranium Oversight Board – succeeded in not finding any wide scale evidence of DU contamination. They found no positive results from the 378 veterans tested, although caveats remain because the scheme was voluntary, poorly advertised and there was little trust in the MoD from veterans. In addition, the study was not representative because it relied on personal reporting, rather than a statistically correct cross section of veterans.

In recognition of the need for more independent research into DU, CADU is collecting international donations for the Iraqi Children’s Tooth Project, which seeks to assess the geographical extent of DU contamination in Iraq.

In Germany, it has been decided that German ICBUW members should follow the Belgian model and build up an anti-DU domestic coalition. Of particular importance is cooperation with other post-conflict and disarmament NGOs such as the German Cluster Munitions Campaign.

In the US, radioactive contamination through all the process including uranium mining, production of uranium weapons and testing, has been a great concern. In Concord, Massachusetts, where the Starmet Corporation. manufactured DU shells for 25 years, Citizens’ Research and Environmental Watch (CREW) and Grassroots Actions for Peace were active in pushing for Superfund status. Superfund Status is granted to hazardous waste sites requiring cleanup owing to their being a risk to human health or the environment. Since 2001 Starmet has been a Superfund site and over 3,000 drums of depleted uranium were removed from the Starmet Corporation. site in March 2006. Both grassroots groups are now working for cleanup of the site to residential levels.

As mentioned previously intense lobbying and legal actions are also underway in the US, aimed at supporting veterans returning from Iraq.

Mr Lee Si-woo, a photojournalist and peace-activist from South Korea who attended the conference, highlighted the dangers associated with the storage of DU munitions in US bases in Asia. Days before the conference began, Mainichi, a Japanese national newspaper reported that 400,000 depleted uranium bullets were stored at the U.S. Kadena base in Okinawa in 2001. This is the equivalent to half the total number of rounds used by the US in the 1991 Gulf War. This report was based on declassified information from a Freedom of Information request submitted by a friend of Mr Lee Si-Woo based in Hawaii. During his presentation he reported that: “Huge amounts of DU munitions are stored in the US bases in Korea and Okinawa. The amount of munitions stored in the bases is different from the volumes described in the documents. They are missing somewhere. This situation indicates serious problems with the storage and management of DU munitions.”

This is a critical issue for the Asian regional campaign. Following the conference, it was suggested that activists in the region should demand clear information on the storage of DU munitions in US bases in Japan, South Korea and other Asian countries, and the subsequent removal of all such munitions from the region.

It is hoped that the conference encouraged closer ties between south and east Asian campaigns and highlighted the need for solidarity between them.

Unsurprisingly there were powerful and numerous submissions from the Japanese groups present. Between them the groups had been involved in: citizens investigations into DU contamination in Iraq and inviting Iraqi medics for training in Japan (NO DU Hiroshima Project); negotiations with the Foreign Ministry and the Defence Agency and actions against the Japan Atomic Energy Relations Organization (NO DU Citizens’ Network); the observation of the removal of the removal of DU penetrators and contaminated soil by the Serbian government (Stop DU Campaign); and, from UWBAN, additional proposals to the draft convention that were approved by the ICBUW legal team.

The Science Panel

The conference attracted scientists from a wide variety of disciplines and backgrounds. In addition to Dr Rosalie Bertell, ICBUW warmly welcomed Dr Keith Baverstock (former WHO Regional Adviser for Radiation and Public Health, now Docent, School of Environmental Sciences University of Kuopio, Finland), Heike Schroder (a specialist in biological dosimetry using chromosome analysis, University of Bremen, Germany), Dr Thomas Fasy (Clinical Associate Professor of Pathology at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, US), Dr Souad N.Al-Azzawi (Associate Professor in Environmental Geological Engineering, Iraq), Dr Antonietta Gatti (a nanopathology specialist, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy) and Dr Stefano Montanari (Scientific and Technical Director Nanodiagnostics, Italy) and many Japanese scientists and commentators.

In spite of their different backgrounds, each of them stated, using concrete data from their own research, that DU is chemically toxic and radioactive, and that internal exposure from DU aerosols, especially in their non-natural form, represents a public and environmental health hazard.

However it is clear that many questions still remain over certain areas of research and that further study is necessary. Some of the main discussion areas included the size of particles produced by DU weapons and their range and distribution in the environment, the dynamics of DU in the body, a detailed mechanism for biological damage and a causal relationship for the illnesses observed in exposed populations.

There was widespread agreement that we know enough to pressurise governments into applying the precautionary principle. This was particularly true of DU’s chemical toxicity, which is beyond dispute. In addition the burden of proof should be placed on the military and governments to prove that DU is safe, not on affected civilians and soldiers, NGOs or independent scientists.

All of the scientists who took part in the conference pledged their continued support to our campaign and agreed to promote further research into the hazardous effects of DU.

Meeting the Hibakusha

The decision to hold the conference in Hiroshima was no coincidence. Although uranium weapons and nuclear weapons are fundamentally different, both in their physical destructive power, mechanics and subsequent impact on health, both of them lead to radioactive contamination and radiation exposure.

On the 4th of August, halfway through the conference, the Hiroshima regional court ruled that the Japanese government had wrongfully denied Hiroshima atomic bomb survivors recognition as sufferers of radiation sickness, but rejected the plaintiffs’ demands for damages. One of the key points in the case was the extent of the damage caused by internal radiation.

In the special session of the conference entitled “Interaction with Hibakusha”, Mr Rikito Watanabe from the organisation that supports the Hibakusha in their legal fight described how, even in the case of the Nagasaki and Hiroshima survivors, uncertainties still surround the effects of both internal and residual radiation. He then stressed that, in the case of uranium weapons, using the excuse of uncertainty in order to deny suspected health effects is far from scientifically justified.

The International Campaign

The use of uranium weapons remains illegal under international humanitarian, human rights and environmental law; and the conference again confirmed that we should strengthen our campaign to demand the swift implementation of the Convention to Ban Uranium Weapons. Its scope is far wider than a simple ban, as it aims to also outlaw the production, transport, storage, testing and trading of uranium weapons and to give support and compensation to the victims.

The conference gave the movement a huge boost by reinforcing our solidarity with an incredibly diverse range of activists. From the victims of DU exposure, to the grassroots anti-DU groups across the world to the specialists from dozens of countries who are researching DU’s hazardous effects, there was widespread support for both the Draft Treaty and the movement as a whole.

This sense of solidarity expressed itself via our closing appeal (see final page), which called on scientists, NGOs, the media and governments to support our work.

Before and after the conference, many Japanese peace and anti-nuclear groups such as Gensuikin (Japanese Congress Against A and H-Bombs) took advantage of the presence of our delegates to organise meetings and workshops to discuss the DU issue further. In Tokyo, Osaka, Kobe, Hiroshima, Fukuoka and Nagasaki concerned citizens had the chance to hear about the latest research and personal experiences of our guests, while the conference itself generated a significant amount of both local and national media coverage.

The most powerful message to come out of the event, a message shared by all our delegates, was that we must move forward in solidarity to promote the campaign for a ban on uranium weapons through regional activities and through international lobbying, for the sake of all the victims of uranium weapons and for future generations.

For more information on the conference, video footage is available online at: www.nodu-hiroshima.org/en/

A full compendium of collected conference papers will be published at the beginning of 2007. For further information: info@nodu-hiroshima.org

Campaign News

It’s been a busy summer for CADU, preparing for and attending the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons conference in Hiroshima took up a great deal of time but, as you may be able to tell from the coverage, it was extremely worthwhile. Although much campaiging and research may be done online these days, meeting activists and specialists face to face remains incredibly valuable. The conference achieved its main aim of boosting solidarity among the anti-DU community and has left us all energised and filled with renewed vigour for what continues to be a difficult fight.

Two major and connected issues were highlighted during our time in Japan. The first was Israel’s possible use of DU and the second was the continuing debate over so-called Bunker Busters. CADU was one of the first anti-DU organisations worldwide to release evidence of Israel’s possible use of DU during its botched invasion of Lebanon. Photos taken by Getty Images photographer David Silverman on the 14th July showed Israeli Defence Force members loading tanks with armour-piercing shells. However, while this was useful evidence, it was just as likely that the shells were made of tungsten as it is impossible to tell the difference from a photo.

Meanwhile, newspapers in the UK were publishing reports of US bunker busters being flown to Israel via Scotland’s Prestwick Airport. Most of the articles quoted US sources and claimed that the 4000lb GBU-28 bombs contained DU. However, try as we might we have been unable to find solid proof that they do. While patents exist for a bunker buster with a ‘dense metal’ inside them it is still unclear whether deployed munitions of this class contain DU. If they do, it would dramatically increase the volume of DU being used in warzones, but until we get hard evidence to support the theory it remains just that - a theory.

As you probably read on the front page, the respected Laka Foundation found no evidence of DU use in Lebanon. Interestingly Human Rights Watch claimed that there was little evidence for bunker buster use either. Targets had been serial bombed instead, including
mosque that was hit by 20 tonnes of explosives.

A Word From Our Coordinator

Dear Friends,
You will know from the newsletter that the CADU office in Manchester is now also home to the office and administration for the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons. While this is recognition and appreciation of the hard, balanced work of our development workers, particularly Doug Weir, and the supporting volunteer team here, it is also a huge extra burden of work.

In the past year, both CADU and ICBUW have gone from strength to strength. as you can see from the current letter. The culmination of ICBUW’s recent international team building was undoubtedly the conference in Japan. However, none of us will be resting on our laurels; new ideas are bubbling everywhere for further campaigning, education and outreach work.

I have been myself somewhat out of the activity, and frustratingly had to cancel trips to Japan and Finland, because in summer I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I have had the most caring and supportive treatment and am progressing well. However, whatever shortcomings there are in the NHS (and these are mainly shortage of money for staff and equipment), I know that compared to the cancer treatment available to the average woman or child in Iraq, for example, I am fortunate.

At CADU we are planning a winter and spring of activity including a parliamentary lobby in February. ICBUW similarly will be lobbying globally and making links with sympathetic government representatives as well as supporting research projects to help victims.
We have the energy and ideas, but we do need funds to sustain the work. If you can help in any way, do get in touch. Also if you require any ‘gifts’ for fund raising events, do also let us know.

Thanking you in advance,

Rae Street, October, 2006



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