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CADU NEWS 24
No Evidence of DU in Lebanon
UK Government Spent £375m Developing DU Munitions
ICBUW 3rd International Conference Report
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
Many people within the movement against uranium weapons considered Kobeissis
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 havent
found any spent DU anti-tank shells.
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
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 UKs
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 UKs
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).
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 ICBUWs
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 Bertells 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 Japans 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 ICBUWs 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 DUs
During Thursdays 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
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
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
Perhaps the most significant
European news was the European Parliaments 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 Sardinias 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 Childrens 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
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 DUs 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 DUs 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
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
Its 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 Israels 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 Israels 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 Scotlands 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
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 ICBUWs
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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