2|Ban Depleted Uranium Weapons (excerpt)

Is it acceptable by any human standard that we would permit one shell of depleted uranium to be manufactured, to be stored, to be used? No! Stop it now!

Ramsey Clark

On December 4, 1990, the General Assembly of the United Nations, meeting just a few hundred yards from here and apparently having decided that the United States was determined to attack Iraq and that it was powerless to prevent the attack, resolved that no attack should be made on any nuclear reactor—an inherently dangerous facility. The vote on this resolution was 144 to 1; only the U.S. voted against.

The resolution should not have been necessary—such attacks have been war crimes since Protocol 1 Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1977. Article 56 of the Protocol prohibits what would obviously be catastrophic to life, any "attack (that) may cause the release of dangerous forces... and consequent severe losses among the civilian population." The article protects works and installations from an attack which can endanger thousands and thousands of people in the immediate vicinity and beyond and perhaps in ways we don't know.

On January 23 of 1991—the end of the first week of the assault on Iraq—General Colin Powell announced—and the international media were all there—that Iraq's "two operating reactors... are both gone. They're down. They're finished." (New York Times, January 24, 1991, p. A11.) He said it proudly and no member nation of the UN, no member of the U.S. Congress, no international leader, none of the media said a mumbling word in protest.

(Developed from a talk given September 12, 1996 at the UN Church Center in New York.)

The full text of this chapter is available in the book, Metal of Dishonor. Link here for order information.




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