Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Dangers of Depleted Uranium

My mother, Dr. June Ross, writes in to say:

On Sunday, 15th April, on TV1 at 10.00 am, I saw a German documentary called The Doctor, the Depleted Uranium and the Dying Children, made in 2004. It features Dr Siegwart-Horst Gunther and Canadian Tedd Weyman of the Uranium Medical Research Center, who travelled to Iraq to assess uranium contamination; and also some British veterans, who describe their exposure to depleted uranium and the resultant congenital abnormalities in their children.

I had no idea until seeing this how devastating this substance is. It causes the dust and water of the areas where it has been used, and of course any battle debris like damaged tanks, to be highly radioactive. It is shocking to see children playing, and life going on in total ignorance of the dangers, in these areas, with no attempt made to clear it up. The effects are just as bad as Chernobyl, if not worse, but no-one is being warned of any danger.

The military of Western countries are very keen to keep using these weapons because they are so effective, and also provide a use for some of the by-products of nuclear power generation. They deny that the stuff is radioactive or causes problems, shutting their eyes to the overwhelming truth and taking refuge behind carefully designed lying ‘investigations’ which purport to prove that its use is safe. The shells are very heavy and cut through a tank like paper and penetrate through many storeys of reinforced buildings, destroying them completely – no wonder the military will not give them up.

I saw many pictures of horrendously malformed babies, such as are never seen under normal circumstances but are distressingly common in Iraq. Similar effects are found in Kosovo, where NATO used depleted uranium shells. The British veterans were in damaged health themselves, as well as having the effects show up in their children. The denial on the part of governments and military shocked me most of all.

I guess, to me, the point of blogging (or one of the points, at any rate) is that one can use this easy access to the world wide web to promote awareness of such grotesque abuses. Western governments must be aware that this is a scandal on the scale, potentially, of Agent Orange in Vietnam. Once again, it isn't just foreign children who are being affected, but their own service personnel. One can almost hear the rumble of distant lawsuits in the air.

The real damage will have been done by then, though. It appears that this genetic damage can stay in affected populations for generations. "Gulf War Syndrome" (so-called) appears to have been caused by it also. Anyway, check it out for yourselves - this might be a good starting-place - and whatever you do, don't go poking round any recent battlefields in Iraq or Yugoslavia. Landmines are not the only perils we've left behind.


Richard said...

Jack - to add to what you are saying here -

John Pilger writes about this in his book "The New Rulers of the World" and also on the illegal embargo of Iraq (it contravenes the UN laws) which mean that Hospitals in Iraq couldn't work at all well (in fact they went from very advanced to primitive becasue of a lack of medical and other supplies) - in fact it caused many deaths - during the period bewteen the two Gulf Wars. Meanwhile the British, the US, and the Turks bombed Iraq . The Turks especially targetted Kurds - this is a part of what has contributed to the myth that the Iraqis killed many Kurds - apart from facilitating such "targetting", the US and British military etc have always targetted civilians - e.g. in Korea. I have read a book on this, but not only that, by a circumstance (and a chance conversation I overheard) I can explain - I have corroborating evidence from a British citizen with whom I worked once (who was in Navy on an aircraft carrier during the Korean War)* that the description of the US bombing hositals and repeatedly targetting civilians in Korea was quite true.

It would be remarkable if that policy had changed one jot in a few years. This corruption and coercion and invasion of Iraq since the 1980s is a war crime or crimes on a huge scale.

*BTW he is or was not a "left winger" - quite the opposite.

Anonymous said...

And the world is silent! There are many people who believe in justice and what is right. Many people in positions of power who believe that these things ought not happen. But if they (and we) continue to shake our heads in sadness and do nothing, evil will continue. Those who believe in what is Right have a duty to act upon it. May Thoreau rest in Peace. How few are the Thoreau's of this world!
Thalia Arawi

Dr Jack Ross said...


Your words shame me (as I guess they're meant to do ...) Yes, we talk on and do nothing. Where are our Thoreaus, ready to go to prison to fight monstrous injustice -- slavery in his day, poisoning the earth in ours?

I have to commend the activists who called attention to the the dubious presence of the American tracking station on our soil, at Waihopai, the other day: I'm talking about Brother Peter Murnane and his collaborators. I've met him, and know him to be a gentle man of principle. I'm delighted to see that he's such a man of courage as well.