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Old 02-24-2003, 11:15 AM   #1
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Uranium 238 & Desert Storm

I was watching a documentary on Operation Desert Storm called "Hidden Wars of Desert Storm". In it they discussed the use of Uranium 238, depleted Uranium, in anti-tank shells and munitions. They stated the soldiers were not informed in the hazards of this product and the illnesses it causes as it is a radioactive waste that lasts 4.5 billion years. It was also used in Koscovo & Bosnia.
Some statistics 696,628 troops in Desert Storm, 183,629 have filed for disability, 9592 have died as of 1/1/2000.
I did a google search and came up with 35000 responses. Here is one:

NEW YORK -- As the Bush administration prepares to make war on the Iraqi people -- for it is the civilian population of that country and not Saddam Hussein who will bear the brunt of the hostilities -- it is important that we recall the medical consequences of the last Persian Gulf war. It was, in effect, a nuclear war.

By the end of that 1991 conflict, the United States left between 300 and 800 tons of depleted uranium 238 in anti-tank shells and other explosives on the battlefields of Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

The term "depleted" refers to the removal of the fissionable element uranium 235 through a process that ironically is called "enrichment." What remains, uranium 238, is 1.7 times more dense than lead. When incorporated into an anti-tank shell and fired, it achieves great momentum, cutting through tank armor like a hot knife through butter.

What other properties does uranium 238 possess?

First, it is pyrophoric. When it hits a tank at high speed, it bursts into flames, producing aerosolized particles less than 5 microns in diameter, making them easy to inhale into the terminal air passages of the lung.

Second, it is a potent radioactive carcinogen, emitting a relatively heavy alpha particle composed of two protons and two neutrons. Once inside the body -- either in the lung if it has been inhaled, in a wound if it penetrates flesh, or ingested since it concentrates in the food chain and contaminates water -- it can produce cancer in the lungs, bones, blood or kidneys.

Third, it has a half-life of 4.5 billion years, meaning the areas in which this ammunition was used in Iraq and Kuwait will remain effectively radioactive for the rest of time.

Children are 10 to 20 times more sensitive to the effects of radiation than adults. My fellow pediatricians in the Iraqi city of Basra, for example, report an increase of six to 12 times in the incidence of childhood leukemia and cancer. Yet because of the sanctions imposed on Iraq by the United States and the United Nations, they have no access to antibiotics, chemotherapeutic drugs or effective radiation machines to treat their patients.

The incidence of congenital malformations has doubled in the exposed populations in Iraq where these weapons were used. Among them are babies being born with only one eye and with an encephaly -- the absence of a brain.

However, the medical consequences of the use of uranium 238 almost certainly did not affect only Iraqis. Some American veterans exposed to it are reported, by at least one medical researcher, to be excreting uranium in their urine a decade later. Other reports indicate it is being excreted in their semen.

That nearly one-third of the American tanks used in Desert Storm were made of uranium 238 is another story, for their crews were exposed to whole body gamma radiation. What might be the long-term consequences of such exposure has not, apparently, been studied.

Would these effects have surprised U.S. authorities? No, for incredible as it may seem, the American military's own studies prior to Desert Storm warned that aerosol uranium exposure under battlefield conditions could lead to cancers of the lung and bone, kidney damage, non-malignant lung disease, eurocognitive disorders, chromosomal damage and birth defects.

Do President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld understand the medical consequences of the 1991 war and the likely health effects of the next one they are planning?

If they don't, their ignorance is breathtaking. Even more incredible, though, and much more likely, is that they do understand but don't care.

by Helen Caldicott, MD, founder and president of the Nuclear Policy Research Institute

That last statement may be a little inflammatory, but I couldn't find one site that disputed the effects of Uranium 238, but the Pentagon still refuses to admit it may be one of the causes of Desert Storm Syndrome. Very much like they did with Agent Orange. I know we have veterans here, I'm appalled that we would put our own men & women in such harms way.

Another reason to solve the Iraq crisis diplomatically.
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Old 02-24-2003, 11:18 AM   #2
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Old 02-24-2003, 11:46 AM   #3
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It's not only the tanks either. A-10 Avenger II anti-tank attack planes use depleted Uranium shells in their primary weapon as well. The fact that it's a 30mm gattling action cannon with an insanely high rate of fire can't improve the aerosol effect either.
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Old 02-24-2003, 11:57 AM   #4
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Thanks for posting that info. I think it's really frightening that those weapons were used in the Gulf War, even though those using them knew what impact they'd have on both the Iraqi people and their own service men and women. What's really horrifying about DU weapons is that they keep killing people and causing horrible disabilities long after war has ended. There are still babies being born in Iraq with terrible birth deformaties because of the effects of DU weapons. And as you mentioned, many of the men and women who were sent to the Gulf have suffered devastating effects too.

I just don't understand why any government would advocate the use of these weapons, knowing what a horrible impact they have on both the people using the weapons and the people being hit by them
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Old 02-24-2003, 03:24 PM   #5
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It is not an indisputable fact that Depleted Uranium has caused any health effects. If Depleted Uranium, widely used on US military cannons from 25 mm up to 120 mm were as dangerous as these reports say, there would be an unbelievable number of people sick in Maryland. The US Army tank training and ballistic tests for new weapons and Armor is in Aberdeen Maryland. Soldiers and Scientist have been studing the effects of Depleted Uranium shells and Armor there since the 1970s. I've not heard of any problems.

In addition, where are all the problems in Kuwait today? The US military never entered Basra and most tanks and other Iraqi vehicles that were destroyed were located in Kuwait during Desert Storm. If it is indeed such a problem why don't we hear more about Kuwait civilians being sick? Add to that list Somalia, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo and Serbia and any area in the USA where US soldiers perform live fire training and test weapon systems in addition to testing grounds at Aberdeen Maryland.

US Main Battle Tanks are not made of Depleted Uranium, they have Depleted Uranium Armor inserts on the frontal armor plates that greatly increases the protection. All US tanks in Desert Storm had or were fitted with Depleted Uranium Armor inserts. The US Army began fitting its Tanks with Depleted Uranium Armor inserts back in January of 1988. This was first started at the tank factory that builds the M1 tank in Detroit and then kits have been shipped out all around the world so tanks anywhere can take out the old Armor inserts in put in the new Depleted Uranium ones.

Another problem with Gulf War Syndrome in US soldiers is that the cases are not specific to any area where soldiers were stationed in Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Typically if the problems are due to exposure to some substance, the numbers of soldiers sick from that exposure would increase as you got closer to where the exposure took place. Studies done have shown that there is no pattern or groupings that would indicate exposure to a substance. The Gulf War Syndrome rates of sickness are perfectly distributed even for sailors on ships in the Gulf that never stepped a foot on land. Why are there dozens of people who were hundreds of miles away in the Saudi Capital of Riyadh sick while there are thousands of soldiers who were in Kuwait and Iraq who have never been sick? It is a mystery. Based on the fact that there is no geographic center or grouping when soldiers who are sick and the area's they are in are put on a map, I think the problem may be more of something to do with drugs that were taken prior to the conflict to combat the effects of Biological and Chemical weapons. I think it must be something that everyone experienced, either stress or drugs that had to be taken or experienced by everyone. If there was a problem in that case, most likely only a certain number of people would have reactions to it like this, which seems to be what has happened.

Regardless, why many Gulf War veterans are sick must be found so they can be properly treated and hopefully cured. So far unfortunately there is nothing that has conclusively proved why many Gulf War Veterans have become sick. There are hundreds of theories, but based on what I have seen and read, I do not believe Depleted Uranium is the problem.

If the Pentagon had any doubt that Depleted Uranium was the problem, it would be easy enough to switch to Tungsten which was used prior to Depleted Uranium. Depleted Uranium increases the penetrative power of the shell by 50%. But the USA has yet to fight a foreign military where such penetrative power was needed to pierce the frontal armor of an enemy tank. Using Depleted Uranium is basically overkill when it comes to destroying Iraqi tanks which are Soviet made tanks from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. But if your a tanker in Combat, you want to use the most powerful round to insure destruction of the target that will soon be shooting at you if its not already. But if using such rounds are such a danger health wise, there would be absolutely no justification for their use. Iraqi T-72s tanks can be destroyed from long range nearly just as easy with Tungsten rather than Depleted Uranium. Its the kinetic energy that supplies most of the penatrative power with these shells. They are fired at velocities of 1,600-1,800 meters a second. Whether the Core of the shell is made up of Tungsten or Depleted Uranium probably will not be much of a factor when engaging Soviet made tanks from the 1950s to the 1970s.

If my analysis is wrong and there is a problem with Depleted Uranium, then I would hope that the US military has switched to a shell core using Tungsten again rather than Depleted Uranium. I have no doubt that they would since if there was really a problem, Tungsten while not as strong will still get the job done against the type of equipment Iraq has.
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Old 02-24-2003, 05:16 PM   #6
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I respectfully disagree. Here is another article about the effects of DU.

http://www.viequeslibre.addr.com/articles/u238.html

I believe the Pentagon minimizes the effects because it is cheap and it helps reduce the need for waste sights. I read several reports of the effects in Kuwait. Increased cancers and birth defects.
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Old 02-24-2003, 05:47 PM   #7
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What about Aberdeen Maryland testing and proving grounds? Its just north Of Baltimore.

In any event, if Depleted Uranium is indeed a health hazard its rather simple to just use Tungsten instead which was used before Depleted Uranium shells were introduced in the 1980s. Tungsten will do just fine. In addition, tanks also have HEAT(High Explosive Anti-Tank) rounds that can be used. Bottom line, if Depleted Uranium is a health risk, thats an arguement for using Tungsten or HEAT rounds instead, and not one for postponing or stopping military action to disarm Saddam.
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Old 02-24-2003, 06:29 PM   #8
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Sting2,

Here is an article by a UK paper. It makes a big deal out of finding DU at a Osama Bin Ladin sight and that it can make a dirty bomb. So what do we call it when we put it on weaponry?

Uranium and cyanide found in drums at bin Laden base
By Barbie Dutter in Kandahar and Ben Fenton
(Filed: 24/12/2001)

URANIUM has been found in an al-Qa'eda base outside Kandahar - the first evidence that Osama bin Laden had obtained materials for a nuclear arsenal, it was revealed yesterday.

The discovery gives some credibility to the fear that he could unleash a weapon of mass destruction as his dying act.

Anti-Taliban leaders in Kandahar revealed that the uranium and other materials, including cyanide, had been discovered in a tunnel complex beneath the former base near the city's airport. The find was confirmed by American officials.

It was also revealed that when tribal forces took the al-Qa'eda complex earlier this month they found hundreds of jars, drums and metal cases in an underground labyrinth at the desert compound where Arab fighters staged a bloody last stand before Kandahar was surrendered by the Taliban.

The cache included low-grade uranium 238, which could be used to make a so-called "dirty bomb" if wrapped around a conventional explosive. It would spread radiation over a large area.

Specialised equipment and facilities would be needed to turn uranium 238 into a fissile device like the Hiroshima bomb, and so it would not be suitable for building such a weapon.

American intelligence officials told Newsweek magazine that al-Qa'eda had enough of the material to make a "dirty bomb" and it seems certain that their knowledge is based on the discovery at Kandahar airport.

Haji Gullalai, now the interim intelligence chief for Kandahar province, told The Telegraph that immediately after capturing the airport area, his men had entered one tunnel and discovered the materials in a vast underground workshop.

The find was reported the same day to "international military personnel", thought to be American special forces, who sent experts wearing masks and protective clothing to examine the substances, Mr Gullalai said.

He added: "We knew we were not well equipped to deal with these things so we called in foreign experts who told us it was uranium.

"For our own safety we did not touch the bottles but from a distance we saw there were hundreds of different kinds of containers - small jars and big jars, sealed with metal lids and containing powders and liquids, white and yellowish in colour.

"There were big drums the size of petrol drums and metal boxes with sides seven or eight inches thick. The bottles were labelled in four different languages - Chinese, Russian, Arabic and English."

American officials said that Russia, the states of the former Soviet Union, China and Pakistan were all possible sources for the uranium.

It has been estimated that several hundred Arab al-Qa'eda fighters were killed in the battle for the airport, led by Gul Agha - now Kandahar's new governor - with Mr Gullalai playing a senior commanding role.

The area where the tunnels were found is known locally as Turnak Farms. It is thought to have been the al-Qa'eda network's principal training and military base in southern Afghanistan and and held up to 1,800 people.

Kandahar airport has now been taken over by around 1,500 US marines and coalition forces
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Old 02-24-2003, 07:18 PM   #9
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Again, if it is indeed a health risk, don't use it. If in fact DU shell is the equalivant of a dirty bomb, most people in Kuwait and southern Iraq would probably be dead considering that tens of thousands of these DU tipped shells were fired. Where are all the sick people at Aberdeen Maryland? I'm not a scientist or a medical expert so I can't conslusively answer these questions. Bottom line though, there is no pressing need to use DU since other types of Shells can essentially do the same job. If DU is still being used its probably because its been found to be safe. It would be rather easy to switch to Tungsten and other munitutions if DU is not safe. But maybe they have gone back to Tungsten to be safe, but I don't know.
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Old 02-24-2003, 07:53 PM   #10
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STING2, if you feel it's not certain that depleted uranium is harmful, I'd urge you to head on over to PubMed and do a search of all the published biomedical research papers (from Nature, Lipids, PNAS, etc) from the biomedical and biochemical community leaders. You might be shocked by what you find.
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Old 02-24-2003, 08:12 PM   #11
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Thanks for the link anitram. My point to Sting2 is that the gov't hasn't quit using the stuff though they did admit that the DU used in Iraq had gotten contaminated be a pinch of bad Uranium
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Old 02-24-2003, 09:44 PM   #12
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In other words, Bush will use horrific weapons of mass destruction to pummel a country for its weapons that apparently could travel 30 miles further than they are supposed to.

Makes complete sense to me.



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Old 02-24-2003, 10:05 PM   #13
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Just some food for thought, this is what NATO says about the issue in Kosovo with Depleted Uranium:


"In January 2001, news media in many parts of the world carried reports that postulated links between NATO's use of Depleted Uranium ammunition in Kosovo and Bosnia with allegedly higher incidences of leukemia, other cancers, and other negative health effects said to be occuring among NATO troops who had served in those areas and among local civilian populations.
Although a very large body of existing scientific and medical research clearly established that such a link between Depleted Uranium ammunition and the reported illnesses was extremely unlikely, NATO Secretary General George Robertson immediately established an Ad Hoc Committee on Depleted Uranium to serve as a clearing house for information to be shared among interested nations.

To date, the scientific and medical research continues to disprove any link between Depleted Uranium and the reported negative health effects. Furthermore, the present evidence strongly suggests that NATO troops serving in the Balkans are not suffering negative health effects different from those suffered by their colleagues who have not served in the Balkans. Nevertheless, NATO is not complacent about this matter, and will continue to share information about this issue. The following web pages, which contain a large volume of material on this subject, represent part of NATO's effort in this regard."

This is the link to the above info:

http://www.nato.int/du/home.htm
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Old 02-25-2003, 05:24 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by STING2
It would be rather easy to switch to Tungsten and other munitutions if DU is not safe. But maybe they have gone back to Tungsten to be safe, but I don't know.
Tungsten is massively more expensive than Uranium - one of the reason DU weapons were developed in the first place
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Old 02-25-2003, 05:06 PM   #15
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I found the NATO website and sites linked to it to be very convincing.
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