Friday, January 25, 2013

Depleted Uranium: Radioactive poison of the future war.


Pakistan may use it against India in future.

 By
Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi






Recently I got the chance to see a film on uranium disaster. Film was based on the effect of depleted uranium used in the wars of Iraq and Bosnia. Still today many people in the world are unaware of the effects of the radioactive radiation. Information on children dying due to cancer after the war were reported and published.
                                    
Thousands and thousands of people, including many children, died after the war in Bosnia from the use of depleted uranium projectiles. Completely healthy people who have lived or are still living in locations were targeted missiles out of the blue they got cancer or leukemia and after a longer or shorter disease died. For the first time this scientific report on poisoning was confirmed in the movie “Deadly Dust” by German author Frider Wagner.

According to Wagner, one-third or half of the particles that remain in the affected area are tiny, "fine" dust. Inhalation it stays in the lungs person who happened to be at the scene of the explosion and the continuously radiates lethal radiation. The consequence is a range of diseases, most cancer and leukemia, miscarriages in women, dry blood vessels and, subsequently, a number of genetic deformities. Children were born deformed or dead, no limbs, ears, nose, eyes, and even the head.

Increased rates of immune system disorders and other wide-ranging symptoms, including chronic pain, fatigue and memory loss, have been reported in over one quarter of combat veterans of the 1991 Gulf War. Combustion products from depleted uranium munitions are being considered as one of the potential causes by the Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses, as DU was used in 30 mm and smaller caliber machine-gun bullets on a large scale for the first time in the Gulf War. Veterans of the conflicts in the Persian Gulf, Bosnia and Kosovo have been found to have up to 14 times the usual level of chromosome abnormalities in their genes. Increased rates of immune system disorders and other wide-ranging symptoms, including chronic pain, fatigue and memory loss, have been reported in over one quarter of combat veterans of the 1991 Gulf War. Combustion products from depleted uranium munitions are being considered as one of the potential causes by the Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses, as DU was used in 30 mm and smaller caliber machine-gun bullets on a large scale for the first time in the Gulf War. Veterans of the conflicts in the Persian Gulf, Bosnia and Kosovo have been found to have up to 14 times the usual level of chromosome abnormalities in their genes.

U.N. experts said that they found three radioactive hot spots in Bosnia resulting from ammunition containing depleted uranium used during NATO air strikes in 1995.

The tests found radiation at two sites in the Sarajevo suburb of Hadzici and one in Han Pijesak, in the Bosnian Serb republic, according to preliminary results released by the United Nations Environmental Program.

During its 1995 bombings of Serb positions around Sarajevo, NATO used munitions containing depleted uranium, a slightly radioactive heavy metal that is used to pierce armor. The Bosnian government said about 10,800 rounds with the material were fired in its territory.

Once lodged in the soil, the munitions can pollute the environment and create an up to 100-fold increase in uranium levels in groundwater, according to the U.N. Environmental Program.

Depleted uranium (DU) was widely used in tank kinetic energy penetrator and auto cannon rounds for the first time in the Gulf War and has been suggested as a possible cause of Gulf War syndrome.

Troops responsible for cleaning up Iraqi ammunition dumps may have been exposed to depleted uranium, a form of uranium used in munitions because of its density and metallurgical properties.

Depleted uranium has been used in at least the last four wars by the United States and its allies: Gulf War 1, Bosnia and Kosovo in the Balkans, Afghanistan and Gulf War 2. The last two of the four wars, took place in 2001 (Afghanistan) and 2003 (Iraq). Effects of the contamination can manifest from within a few hours to five years.

Increases in the rate of birth defects for children born to Gulf War veterans have been reported. A 2001 survey of 15,000 U.S. Gulf War combat veterans and 15,000 control veterans found that the Gulf War veterans were 1.8 (fathers) to 2.8 (mothers) times as likely to report having children with birth defects. After examination of children's medical records two years later, the birth defect rate increased by more than 20%.
Tests of 5 Gulf War Veterans in 2007 and analyzed by Wayne State University Medical staff revealed the 5 Veterans studied have severe chromosome damage. The damage uncovered is 10 times the level found in the normal population. The chromosome damage is similar to that seen when exposed to Alpha radiation and could be related to Depleted Uranium munitions exposure. Further, more widespread tests need to be conducted before conclusions can be drawn from this research.

Since 2001, medical personnel at the Basra hospital in southern Iraq have reported a sharp increase in the incidence of child leukemia and genetic malformation among babies born in the decade following the Gulf War. Iraqi doctors attributed these malformations to possible long-term effects of DU, an opinion which was echoed by several newspapers.

Hospital statistics in Basra document that cancer rates are indeed on the rise. In 1988, there were 11 cases of cancer per 100,000 people in the city. By 2001, that number had increased to 116 per 100,000.

Iraq's 1999 National Cancer Registry in Baghdad, also noted an alarming increase in leukemia cases, particularly near Basra. Countrywide, the number of overall cancer cases has grown steadily since the Gulf War, with 7,481 cases in 1989 and 8,592 in 1997, according to registry statistics.

Doctors in Basra say that they have no explanation other than depleted uranium for the rise in cancer cases, even factoring in the growing population and greater awareness of cancer symptoms. 'The only factor that has changed here since the '91 war is radiation.

The water, soil and air in large areas of Iraq, including Baghdad, are contaminated with depleted uranium that has a radioactive half-life of 4.5 billion years.

Accounts of children being born with cancer and birth defects have been highlighted in German newspaper Der Spiegel, where Iraqis who were interviewed were not sure of the explanation behind so many dead and deformed newborn babies in the Iraqi city of Basra.

"Some had only one eye in the forehead. Or two heads,” Askar Bin Said, an Iraqi graveyard owner, told the newspaper, describing some of the dead newborn babies that are buried in his cemetery.

“One had a tail like a skinned lamb. Another one looked like a perfectly normal child, but with a monkey's face. Or the girl whose legs had grown together, half fish, half human," he added.

The report cites a study published in the Germany-based Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology saying there was a “sevenfold increase in the number of birth defects in Basra between 1994 and 2003. Of 1,000 live births, 23 had birth defects,” adding that similar high numbers were reported from the city of Fallujah.

War of Iraq (Gulf War):

Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein ordered the invasion and occupation of neighboring Kuwait in early August 1990. Alarmed by these actions, fellow Arab powers such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt called on the United States and other Western nations to intervene. Hussein defied United Nations Security Council demands to withdraw from Kuwait by mid-January 1991, and the Persian Gulf War began with a massive U.S.-led air offensive known as Operation Desert Storm. After 42 days of relentless attacks by the allied coalition in the air and on the ground, U.S. President George H.W. Bush declared a cease-fire on February 28; by that time, most Iraqi forces in Kuwait had either surrendered or fled.

Gulf War II:

The 2003 Invasion of Iraq (19 March – 1 May 2003), was the start of the conflict known as the Iraq War, or Operation Iraqi Freedom, in which a combined force of troops from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq and toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein in 21 days of major combat operations. The invasion phase consisted of a conventionally fought war which concluded with the capture of the Iraq capital Baghdad by United States forces.

War of Bosnia:

The war in Bosnia and Herzegovina came about as a result of the breakup of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Crisis emerged in Yugoslavia with the weakening of the Communist system at the end of the Cold War. The Bosnian War or the War in Bosnia and Herzegovina was an international armed conflict that took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina between 1 March 1992 and 14 December 1995. Bosnia's war, which witnessed the worst atrocities Europe, has seen since the Second World War.
The internecine conflict between the Serb, Croat and Muslim communities is remembered worldwide for the horrific scenes of ethnic cleansing, concentration camps and mass graves.
By the end of the war in 1995, more than 100,000 people had been killed and almost a million more injured and displaced.

What is Gulf War syndrome?

In the early 1990s, about 700,000 US troops were deployed to the Middle East to take part in a 5-week air bombing campaign and a 5-day ground operation that involved almost no traditional combat. Of these soldiers, about 150,000 subsequently became ill, almost all had to leave the service, and many remain unemployable.

Gulf War syndrome (GWS), affecting a number of men and women who served in the Persian Gulf War, represents a group of medical and psychological complaints, including fatigue, respiratory illness, muscular pain, spasms, skin rash, memory loss, dizziness, peripheral numbness, and sleep disturbances.
The postulations being most scrutinized are exposure to toxins in the environment (such as oil fires), chemical and biological weapons, low-level uranium exposure, an immune reaction to a drug administered to protect against attacks of Soman (a nerve gas), dust, and even the immunizations (specifically, the anthrax vaccine and polio booster) given to the troops prior to deployment.

A total of 24 soldiers from Europe have died of cancer since their 1994 and '95 service in Bosnia. In response, Portugal's Prime Minister Antonio Guterres wrote to NATO's Robertson demanding an explanation of where and why DU munitions were used in Europe.

Between 300 and 800 tons of DU munitions were blasted into Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait by U.S. forces in 1991. The Pentagon says the U.S. fired about 10,800 DU rounds -- close to three tons -- into Bosnia in 1994 and 1995. More than 31,000 rounds, about 10 tons, were shot into Kosovo in 1999 according to NATO.

Toxic, radioactive uranium-238 so-called depleted uranium -- used in munitions, missiles and tank armor may be responsible for deadly health consequences among U.S. and allied troops and populations in bombed areas, and has probably caused permanent radioactive contamination of large parts of Iraq, Bosnia, Kosovo and perhaps Afghanistan. Depleted uranium "penetrators" as they are called burn on impact and up to 70 percent of the DU is released (aerosolized) as toxic and radioactive dust that can be inhaled and ingested and later trapped in the lungs or kidneys.

The primary radiation danger from depleted uranium is due to alpha particles, which do not travel far through air, and do not penetrate clothing. Thus, the primary concern is internal exposure, due to inhalation, ingestion or shrapnel contamination.

Mystery of Depleted Uranium:

After more than 50 years producing atomic weapons and nuclear energy, the  USA has 500,000 tonnes of depleted uranium stored, according to official data. Depleted uranium is radioactive also and has an average lifetime of 4.5 thousand million years. This is why such waste has to be stored safely for an indefinite period of time, an extremely costly procedure. In order to save money and empty their tanks, the Department of Defence and Energy assigns depleted uranium free of charge to national and foreign armament companies. Apart from the USA, countries like the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Russia, Greece, Turkey, Israel, the Gulf monarchies, Taiwan, South Korea, Pakistan or Japan purchase or manufacture weapons with depleted uranium.

The use of DU in munitions is controversial because of questions about potential long-term health effects. Normal functioning of the kidney, brain, liver, heart, and numerous other systems can be affected by uranium exposure, because uranium is a toxic metal. It is weakly radioactive and remains so because of its long radioactive half-life (4.468 billion years for uranium-238, 700 million years for uranium-235). The biological half-life (the average time it takes for the human body to eliminate half the amount in the body) for uranium is about 15 days. The aerosol or palliation frangible powder produced during impact and combustion of depleted uranium munitions can potentially contaminate wide areas around the impact sites, leading to possible inhalation by human beings.

Natural uranium metal contains about 0.71% U-235, 99.28% U-238, and about 0.0054% U-234. In order to produce enriched uranium, the process of isotope separation removes a substantial portion of the U-235 for use in nuclear power, weapons, or other uses. The remainder, depleted uranium, contains only 0.2% to 0.4% U-235. Because natural uranium begins with such a low percentage of U-235, enrichment produces large quantities of depleted uranium. For example, producing 1 kg of 5% enriched uranium requires 11.8 kg of natural uranium, and leaves about 10.8 kg of depleted uranium with only 0.3% U-235 remaining. Natural uranium metal contains about 0.71% U-235, 99.28% U-238, and about 0.0054% U-234. In order to produce enriched uranium, the process of isotope separation removes a substantial portion of the U-235 for use in nuclear power, weapons, or other uses. The remainder, depleted uranium, contains only 0.2% to 0.4% U-235. Because natural uranium begins with such a low percentage of U-235, enrichment produces large quantities of depleted uranium. For example, producing 1 kg of 5% enriched uranium requires 11.8 kg of natural uranium, and leaves about 10.8 kg of depleted uranium with only 0.3% U-235 remaining.

Depleted Uranium is also produced by recycling 'spent' nuclear fuel, in which case it contains traces of Pu and Np  and has therefore been called 'dirty DU'.

A 1995 technical report issued by the American Army indicates that "if depleted uranium enters the body, it has the potentiality of causing serious medical consequences. The associated risk is both chemical and radiological". Deposited in the lungs or kidneys, uranium 238 and products from its decay (thorium 234, protactinium and  other uranium isotopes) give off alpha and beta radiations which cause cell  death and genetic mutations causing cancer in exposed individuals and  genetic abnormalities in their descendents over the years.  In its 110,000 air raids against Iraq, the US A-10 Warthog aircraft launched 940,000 depleted uranium projectiles, and in the land  offensive, its M60, M1 and M1A1 tanks fired a further 4,000 larger caliber also uranium projectiles.

It is estimated that there are 300 tonnes of radioactive waste in the area which might have already affected 250,000 Iraqis.

More widespread tests need to be conducted before conclusions can be drawn from this research

Threat of Depleted Uranium use in future war between India and Pakistan:

Seeing the tension mounting between India and Pakistan, use of depleted uranium from Pakistan cannot be ruled out if war starts between two countries. Pakistan is increasing its capacity to produce nuclear bomb. According to a report Pakistan may be using depleted uranium in manufacturing war weapons.
Pakistan Ordnance Factories is the biggest defence industrial complex in Pakistan meeting almost one hundred percent of the ordnance needs of its armed forces, mainly the army.

In 2001 Pakistan developed a 125mm armour-piercing fin-stabilized discarding sabot (APFSDS) projectile with a depleted uranium (DU) long-rod penetrator. It was made for use with Chinese-made T-80UD tanks. The Pakistani defence industry works closely with China, sharing research and development - this is largely done as a strategic counter-balance to Russia's close links with India's arms industry.

Depleted Uranium is used by a variety of countries – about 17 at this point. These countries are currently using/stockpiling DU weaponry: U.S., Great Britain, France, Russia, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, Korea, Bahrain, Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Pakistan, Japan, Thailand, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Greece, Turkey, and Kuwait. So it is not a small thing.

In 1996 the UN passed a resolution specifically about DU, that DU weapons are Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). They are illegal under all international laws and treaties, and the European Parliament in 2001 passed a resolution against DU, and that resolution was actually the result of the use of DU by NATO in Bosnia.

The Issue of Depleted Uranium (DU) is extraordinarily important. It represents a clear threat to the health of all humanity, and all life forms on planet Earth. Scientists, medical professionals, war veterans, active duty personnel, international lawyers and the global human community are calling for an awareness of this crisis and simply to stop the use of Depleted Uranium, in order to preserve life on the planet.

Reference:

The Nation, May 26, 1997.
New York Times, Feb. 14 & Jan. 29, 2001.
Susan Taylor Martin (2003-05-25). "How harmful is depleted uranium?". St. Petersburg Times.
http://www.i-amperfectlyhealthy.com/DepletedUranium.html



Post a Comment