Campaign Against Depleted Uranium


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CADU NEWS 8
Summer 2001

Contents
- Anti DU Actions In UK
- The Royal Society - a royal whitewash?
- People in Solidarity with Vieques -  march on the Belly of the Beast
- Chief War Crimes Prosecutor is asked to prosecute NATO for DU
- Proposed New Radioactive Waste Smelter in South Africa
- Russian Government finds DU dangerous
- Too many babies without eyes
- WHO to assess DU in Iraq
- War veterans hail news on radiation tests
- US/UK Defeated On DU Vote At  The UN Subcommision
- New DU Book

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Anti DU Actions In UK

CADU Action at Armed Forces  Recruitment Centre
Many  bemused passers- by took  one look  at the front of the leaflet we gave  out in front of the Manchester Armed Forces Recruitment office on July 29th  and immediately turned it over to see what it was all about.  They obviously  didn’t see the connection between the picture of  the wheelchair and the  military.  (They can’t have been reading our newletters!) .

We hope that those young  men, perhaps “persuaded” by their benefits offices  into visiting the recruitment centre, will think twice about joining up after reading  our leaflet.  We noticed that the soldiers staffing the centre were very keen that  potential recruits avoid  contact with us and these were ushered  in  very  speedily when we engaged them in conversation!   This was a useful exercise in giving out information that has been denied to  British soldiers in the past and that even now is  not welcomed  by the  authorities.  It is something a very small group of people can  do in any town that  has an army recruitment office.  It would also be useful to leaflet any  recruitment or military  information stand at a summer  fair or  agricultural show.   Please contact the office if you would like some leaflets or if you would  like to  borrow the excellent posters that DAAMDU have produced.  You can use  your own props, such as an empty wheelchair or a zimmer frame!    We have  a right to demonstrate peacefully. Let's use it as often as we can.   

Protesters swim across moat in action at MoD Procurement  Centre, Bristol DAAMDU ( Direct Action Against Militarism and Depleted Uranium)  held a successful early morning demonstration at the new 50  million M.o.D Procurement Centre in Bristol on June 18th .The  Centre is a very beautiful modern building surrounded by  curvaceous moat  and ornamental gardens.  The perimeter fence which faced a busy roundabout was soon decorated  by various banners including the CADU one. Peace activists picketed  the entrance and hundreds of civil servants  were leafleted as they  arrived for work.  At about 8.00a.m. four brave protesters, Ray Davies(CND Cymru),  Margaret Jones( Bristol Trident Ploughshares), Dave Rolstone (peace  activist  from Pembrokeshire and Jim Kinnaird ( Bristol Peace and Justice  Group)  entered the icy  cold water and swam across the moat . They  managed to attach a large waterproof banner with, ‘MoD, Purchaser for  Nuclear Crime ‘ written on it to a bridge support where it remained for the  rest of the day.  Ray Davies said that during the action all he had in mind were Iraqi  children lying in ill equipped hospitals, dying with various radiation- related cancers, Iraqi mothers weeping and wailing for their loved ones:  all of them screaming at me ‘Why me?’

More information from daamdu@c4.com, 0117 954 0564

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The Royal Society - a royal whitewash?

The Royal Society published its report into Depleted Uranium in May this year. In the  absence of a public enquiry on the issue of Depleted Uranium which the government has  refused to set up, concerned groups and individuals were led to believe that the so-called  independent Royal Society would produce an acceptable alternative. Indeed, it has made several important recommendations and suggestions for further  action.

However, CADU  has serious criticisms of the report which can be summarised as  follows :-  Given the Royal Society’s own remarks about the paucity of information in this area it  seems incredible and deplorable that such definite conclusions, ( e.g. “ but the risks of  leukaemias and other cancers from depleted uranium radiation are likely to be very low for  all possible battlefield situations”) have been drawn. This is particularly lamentable since  civilians and veterans exposed to depleted uranium and suffering ill-health could be  receiving treatment to alleviate some of the effects. (see note a.)  The IRCP model used to estimate radiation exposure is not appropriate in relation to those  people exposed to battleground ‘Depleted’ Uranium and, therefore, invalidates any  conclusions drawn. (see note b.) The Royal Society report, like the Rand Report, has relied heavily on research conducted  on uranium workers and miners. Again, this research has limited application to those  exposed to battleground ‘Depleted’ Uranium. (see note c.)

We question how far the Report can be said to be impartial when the foreword by  Professor Spratt describes ‘Depleted’ Uranium as being “weakly radioactive”. Certainly,  an inert piece of DU can be so described but this enquiry was to focus on  battleground  DU which behaves quite differently and so the statement is misleading. The foreword by  Sir Robert May, President of the Royal Society, repeats the assertion that DU is weakly  radioactive which makes us wonder whether there is a deliberate attempt to mislead. (see   note d) Additionally, Professor Spratt commented in an interview on the ‘Today’  programme on January 9th 2001 that DU weapons are “ here to stay because they are very  successful.” 

Significantly, DU is practically given away by the nuclear industry because there is so  much lying around at nuclear facilities and safe storage has yet to be managed. Is his  statement more evidence of the outcome of the working group having been pre-judged?  In a further interview on Radio 5 Professor Spratt stated that “ the aim [of the working  group] was to reassure Gulf War veterans that they are not at risk [from DU]” This is a  highly unscientific statement to make before the results of the working group were known.  The veterans and civilians don’t want false re-assurances. They deserve treatment and  compensation. No veterans have yet been tested by the Ministry of Defence for ‘Depleted ‘ Uranium  contamination. This means that there is a serious gap in crucial information. Neither have  any epidemiological studies been undertaken.

Epidemiological studies referred to in  paragraph 3 of Professor Spratt’s foreword are of nuclear miners and workers. This is  not made clear and it is, therefore, misleading to say that lessons have been learned,  particularly given point (iii) above. (see note e) The Report addresses only the radiological effects which may or may not lead to cancer  and does not look at other possible effects, for example, on the immune system, or on the  development of a foetus. (See note f)

The working group should have considered evidence emanating from areas where DU  weapons have been tested. In Vieques, for example, which the US navy has used as  bombing range, including the test firing of DU weapons, figures compiled in 1990-94 show  that the 9,300 islanders are 27% more likely to get cancer than those inhabitants of  mainland Puerto Rica. Dr. Rafael Rivera-Castao, who lives on the island says that the rate  has risen since then to 52% more than the Puerto Rican average. ( see note g) 

The remit of the working group specifies that an estimate should be made of“the  exposure, doses and possible health effects for the general population“and {of} the  longer term consequences for health of environmental contamination.”It is our opinion  that these areas have been inadequately addressed, particularly considering the dramatic increases in childhood cancers and leukaemias, and birth deformities in Iraq.  In fact, civilians have been largely overlooked by the working group.

More recently, similar  evidence is emanating from the Balkans. Moreover, the air-borne potential of aerolised ceramic particles of ‘Depleted’Uranium has  not been acknowledged.
Notes Note a) The Royal Society’s Report states:- (I) most of these uncertainties ( re estimates of DU intakes that could occur in different situations on the battlefield arise as a consequence of the paucity of good experimental data on the amounts of DU that may  be inhaled within and close to tanks struck by a DU  penetrator and almost complete lack of any measurements of DU in urine samples taken  soon after exposure to a DU impact aerosol” page vii  (emphases added) (2) Appendix 3 states:- “ It is unclear how relevant the exposure of uranium nuclear  workers are for DU exposed soldiers, although it is noteworthy that some nuclear industry   workers would also have been exposed to DU, albeit in a different form.” Page 77  (emphases added) ( 3 ) Appendix 3 also states:- “ Many people who work in uranium processing plants or  similar places do not actually handle uranium themselves- for example security officers,  builders, administrators, clerical workers and cooks would have minimal exposure. Thus  the mortality experience of workers who actually handles uranium may be diluted by the  experience of people with little or no direct exposure. ”page 77 (emphases added) Note ( b ) 

We would draw your attention to studies produced by  Dr.Chris Busby of the  Low Level radiation Unit and, in particular , his evidence submitted to the Royal Society  Working Group 2000- available  at www.llrc.org/  Also to the work of Dr. Rosalie Bertell.No Immediate Danger”1985 printed by the Women’s Press and her contribution to The  Metal of Dishonor 1999. ISBN: 0-9655569916-0-8 Note ( c )  We would draw your attention  to points (a) 2 and 3 above and to the work of  Rosalie Bertell. Note ( d ) See Rosalie Bertell’s work to understand how dangerous inhaled aerosolised  ceramic particles of  DU can be, emitting as they do radiation to localised tissue over a long  period

Conclusion 
Given the inadequacy of the Royal Society Report, we believe that the Ministry of  Defence should apply the precautionary principle and stop the use of Depleted Uranium  weapons until they can prove that it is not a weapon of indiscriminate destruction. The  Report asserts without hesitation that the smoking of tobacco leads to cancer. Thirty  years ago this would have been a contentious statement to make. We have heard  scientists and government ministers assert that BSE posed no risk to humans. For how much longer will the military endanger the health and lives of its own personnel  and the even greater numbers of civilians?   

Dr Malcom Hooper’s Response can be seen by clicking here

The Royal Society report - ‘The Health Hazards of Depleted  Uranium Munitions. Part 1.’ costs 17.50 and is available from The  Royal Society, 6 Carleton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AG, email: depleteduranium@royalsoc.ac.uk.

According to the Royal  Society, the first part addresses the likely levels of exposure to  DU, the resulting radiological risks, and the lessons to be learned  from epidemiological studies. Part 2, to be published later this year  will address the toxicological risks and environmental issues.

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People in Solidarity with Vieques -  march on the Belly of the Beast

The Committee for the Rescue and Development of Vieques (CRDV), the leading Vieques- based civic organization, called the March for Peace in Vieques in Washington, DC "an  admirable showing of the broad-based support that this peaceful and just movement has  gained." Robert Rabin, spokesman for the CRDV in Vieques, said: "We in Vieques wish to express  our gratitude to those brothers and sisters who marched today in Washington, DC to tell  President Bush and the public at large that the Navy must stop bombing and must leave  Vieques, not a year from now, not two years from now, but immediately.  60 years of  suffering is too much." Rabin added: "We thank the various labor, civic, community and religious leaders, as well  as the Members of Congress and many others, who walked the streets of DC today in  order to raise awareness of the injustice suffered by the people of Vieques at the hands of  the Navy, and of the inhumane treatment and excessive punishment suffered by those  who have peacefully defended our land and our people against further destruction. This  showing of love, peace and unity transcends race, color or nationality and is our strongest  weapon in the struggle for peace against the military might that has been imposed on the  people of Vieques."

Flavio Cumpiano, attorney and Washington Representative for the CRDV, stated: "The  Navy's damage and destruction to human health, to the environment, to the flora and  fauna, and to the economy of Vieques and its people, must cease immediately and  permanently. Since the demand has always been that one more day of bombing is  unacceptable, allowing for one or two more years of bombing with other organizations- for  the people of Vieques to vote for option #2 (the immediate and permanent cease and  desist of all military activities in Vieques; the immediate withdrawal of the Navy, and the  decontamination and return of the land to Vieques) in the July 29 referendum called for by  the Government of Puerto Rico. At the same time, Rabin said that the CRDV and others  are preparing themselves to participate in civil disobedience in order to stop further  bombing in Vieques should the Navy decide to try to bomb Vieques again. "We will  defeat the Navy in the referendum and we will continue to defend our land if the Navy fails  to respect our democratic will", Rabin added.

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Chief War Crimes Prosecutor is asked to prosecute NATO for DU

The head of the Athens Bar Association and two human rights groups  asked the chief war crimes prosecutor for Yugoslavia to charge NATO  officials for allowing the use of depleted uranium ammunition in the  Balkans. In a request filed with Carla del Ponte, the threeasked for the  prosecution of any NATO political or military official who authorized the  use of the armor-piercing ammunition. They claim use of the  ammunition violated international agreements barring the use of toxic or  "other" materials during a war, and the 1949 Geneva Convention  intended to protect civilians in areas of conflict. No NATO officials are  named in their request. 

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Proposed New Radioactive Waste  Smelter in South Africa

There are plans for a smelter in South Africa that will emmit 360 grams  of Uranium and 5 kilpgrams of uranium containing dust into the  atmosphere per year. The purose of the plant will be to release cleared  scrap for sale. It is believed that the plant will import its waste from  abroad. For further information see http://www.earthlife.org.za

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Russian Government finds DU  dangerous

According to a statement in early June by Lieutenant General Boris Alexeyev, the Russian  Defence Ministry have found DU dangerous for human life and health, but only in  combination with other substances.  A commission from the International Atomic Energy  Authority carried out complex research into the effects of DU on the environment in  Yugoslavia.   NATO’s destruction of many chemical and pharmaceutical companies released into the  environment many substances which became very dangerous once they combined with  DU.  The laboratories which analysed these products claim that 36 of them are lethal for  animals and 11 for people.  Leukaemia was singled out as the most significant danger. For CADU, this report raises questions.  We do not question that DU may well be even  more dangerous when in combination with other substances, which may produce a  synergistic effect quite different from exposure to DU alone.   But we question their finding that DU was not dangerous per se.    What tests were carried out?  Who was tested and what was their  exposure route?

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Too many babies without eyes

extracted from the Dutch Journal of Medical Science, May 2001

Mohammed A. Salman, an eye surgeon from Baghdad has reported via the internet on  the phenomenon of anophtalmos: babies who have been born with only one eye or who  are missing both eyes. This is a rare anomaly, which normally exists in 1 out of 50 million  births.The Iraqi eye doctor however, has reported 9 cases in 2 years; 8 babies missing  both eyes. The Flemish eye doctor, Edward De Sutter from the Groeninghe Hospital in Kortrijk picked  up the message from the internet and started a scientific discussion with Salman by email. 

Following critical and unbelieving questions from De Sutter, Salman proposed that De  Sutter should go and look for himself. De Sutter accepted the invitation and went to Iraq  together with two other colleagues, also eye doctors. What he saw in Iraq was horrible as  he wrote in the Flemish Daily ‘De Standaard’ (5 May 2001). De Sutter examined a number  of children for himself who had been born without eyes, but also saw pictures of children  with grotesque anomalies, such as the start of one eye in the middle of the face - the so- called cyclops.

His colleague Roland Bonneux examined children with a missing crown to  the skull who were being kept alive in an incubator. It is not so much the presence of  anomalies per se that is so bewildering, but the sheer number of them, says De Sutter. Out  of every 4000 births there are 20 with such anomalies. “Iraq seems to be a scientific  curiosity”.  The cause is evident according to Salman:  Seven of the eight babies missing both eyes  had fathers who were exposed to US anti tank weapons during the US attack on Iraq in  1991, where depleted uranium was used.  According to the US official point of view, the  radioactive particles released by the use of such weapons, pose no danger to health, but  various groups, amongst them participants of conflicts in Kosov@ in 1999 - dispute this. Leaving all political sensitivities aside, it was clear to De Sutter that Salman needs help. Not  only concrete aid in the form of medicines and materials, but also in the field of scientific  knowledge and support. Taken from a web page of the Association of Eye Doctors in  Flanders - http://www.vov.be/

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WHO to assess DU in Iraq

A team from the World Health Organisation arrived in Baghdad on 28th August to lay the  groundwork for research on a possible link between cancer and depleted uranium used  by U.S.-led forces in the 1991 Gulf War. “The visit is a follow-up of the meeting which was held in Geneva  between Iraqi and  WHO experts,” Abdelaziz Saleh, the deputy head of    WHO’s regional office in Cairo, told  reporters. He said the seven-member team would meet officials from the health and  foreign  ministries as well as experts in other U.N. agencies based in Iraq. WHO and Iraqi officials  met last April in Geneva, where they agreed to cooperate more in technical and scientific  fields. The team will launch WHO’s first comprehensive attempt to assess the state of public  health 11 years after a U.S.-led coalition bombed Iraq   over its invasion of Kuwait.  Baghdad has repeatedly accused Western powers of inflicting a creeping environmental  disaster on the country’s southern provinces by firing shells made with depleted uranium.  Official Iraqi figures show an increase in cancer cases from 6,555 in 1989 to 10,931 in  1997, mostly in areas bombed by U.S. led forces  during the war.

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War veterans hail news on radiation  tests

Campaigning war veterans have received a breakthrough thanks to new research which  shows exposure to depleted uranium has damaged their genetic make-up. Eight veterans  were tested at the World Depleted Uranium Centre in Berlin, where experts found they  had damaged chromosomes which could be a result of exposure to ionising radiation from  DU weapons. The study is a breakthrough in the veteran’s long fight to gain official  recognition from the Government and the Ministry of Defence of the health problems  they have suffered since serving in the Gulf War and the Balkans. Gulf War veteran Ray Bristow, from Hull, was among several tested during the  independent research. It shows that Mr Bristow and two others have significantly raised  levels of abnormal chromosomes and recommends that further studies are undertaken. The veterans have suffered from numerous health problems and Mr Bristow has recently  been diagnosed with monoclonal gammopathy, which can lead to a rare form of cancer  that is linked with exposure to nuclear bombs. But Mr Bristow, who believes he was  contaminated while handling medical casualties, said: “I now have significant proven fact  that radiation has caused us damage. We have all the facilities available to do these tests  in the UK. I feel it is an absolute disgrace that veterans have got to go all the way to  Canada and Germany to get these tests.” Mr Bristow plans to present the research to the International Court of Human Rights.

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US/UK Defeated On DU Vote At  The UN Sub-Commission

Efforts by the US/UK to keep depleted uranium off the agenda of the UN Sub- Commission on Protection and Promotion of Human Rights failed this August  as the Sub-Commission clearly decided that depleted uranium weaponry qualify  as weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and authorized a prominent member,  Justice Y. Sik Yuen (Mauritius) to prepare a study on the topic.

The UK  member of the Sub-Commisson tried to have depleted uranium weaponry  deleted from the study, which had been authorized earlier by the Sub- Commission, arguing that DU weaponry are not WMD,but her proposed  amendments and a substitute resolution were defeated, drawing only two votes  — hers and the vote of the member from Norway. The debate as well as the outcome reinforces the claim made by Karen Parker  and supported by a clear majority of international experts —including 23 of the  26 members of the Sub-Commission — that DU is already banned because it  is incompatible with existing humanitarian law and qualifies as WMD. 

The vote to study weapons of mass destruction including DU is the latest  success of UN non-governmental organizations (NGOs), who, beginning in  1996, started a campaign for a strong condemnation of both DU and sanctions.  Thanks to Karen Parker, Margarita Papendreou, Dr. Beatrice Boctor, Philippa  Winkler and Dr. Gorst Gunther (all representing International Educational  Development/ Humanitarian Law Project (IED/HLP)) Felicity Arbuthnot,  Damacio Lopez and others the United Nations Sub-Commission on Human  Rights adopted a resolution that listed DU among other ‘bad’ weapons. In 1997  the Sub-Commission appointed one of its members, Mme Forero Ucros  (Columbia), to prepare a working paper preparatory to a full study.  Unfortunately Mme Forero never returned to the Sub-Commission, with many  saying this was because of US pressure.

The same year, however, the Sub-Commission moved on the sanctions issue,  and adopted a resolution on economic sanctions — responding again to a  speech by Karen Parker.  Unfortunately, that resolution’s author, Marc  Bossuyt (Belgium) was ill the following year, and was unable to attend the Sub- Commisison’s session. When he returned in 1999, the Sub-Commission  authorized him to prepare a working paper on sanctions, issued as UN  Doc.E/CN.4/Sub.2/2000/33. Following the departure of Mme Forero, there were changes in the  membership of the Sub-Commission, and the “team” was uncertain whether it  was necessary or useful to go forward with a study on DU and the other listed  weapons, in part because (1) the Sub-Commission had already labeled DU as a  WMD, and (2) the Secretary-General’s report contained substantial portions of  both the Parker Memorandum on Weapons, the submission of the International  Indian Treaty Council and a number of countries, all essentially implying the  same thing — DU weaponry is  incompatible with existing international  humanitarian law and human rights norms.

However, during these three years,  the NGOs at the UN continued to present seminars, films and keep up the  pressure. In 1999, the video documentary “From Radioactive Mines to  Radioactive Weapons” was shown at the Commission. The documentary  linked the health impacts of uranium mining on Navajo miners to the impacts of  DU weapons, and described tests done by Dr Hari Sharma showing the  presence of DU in Gulf War veterans including Ray Bristow. The number of  UN NGOs presenting statements on DU continued to grow. At the 2001  session of the Sub-Commission, one of the most respected members of the Sub- Commission, Justice Y. Sik Yuen (Mauritius) agreed to go forward with the  study. By Thursday of the first week of the 2001 session, the draft resolution  was tabled (submitted) with 16 co-sponsors.  In the final debate on the draft the US and UK tried to urge that DU is a  ‘conventional’ weapon and therefore ‘legal.’

So the debate really shows that  these two countries are backed into a corner, and the rest of the world accepts  that DU is and always was illegal.”  In the meantime, Karen Parker will be assisting Justice Sik Yuen on this study,  and requests that people collect the latest relevant information to transmit to her at ied@igc.org if they are small enough. Larger documents may be sent by  mail. Funds to assist this effort may be made out to Karen Parker directly or to  the Association of Humanitarian Lawyers, and sent to The Law Offices of  Karen Parker, 154-5th Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA. Below is the relevent press release from the UN website 
http://www.unhchr.ch/huricane/huricane.nsf/
Contact: Philippa Winkler 928 774 1765 (USA)

Copies of Karen Parkers Report ‘Depleted Uranium at the UN’  (published by CADU) are still available from the CADU office (see  Resources)

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New DU Book

Akira Tashiro, a journalist from Chugoku Sinbun (Japanese local newspaper) has recently  published a book (in English) on depleted uranium -  ‘Discounted Casualities - The  Human Cost of Depleted Uranium’. Akira spent much time with CADU last year, and  toured the country interviewing scientists and activists. The book is a collation of the  fantastic articles he wrote from his extensive research on DU.  Details of how to obtain a  copy are on the following website - http://www.chugoku- np.co.jp/abom/uran/booksale_e.html

Unfortunately, his article isn’t published as a book in Japanese for the reason that  Chugoku Shinbun considered that the concern among Japanese on DU is very low, thus  publishing it in Japanese is not economical. Mr. Tashiro, and Kumiko of the Depleted  Uranium Center Japan are doing their best to get the book published in Japanese.

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Page last updated: 6th December 2002