"US used us as laboratory rats, and the whole country as a dump to throw their nuclear waste in!"
By Tanja Djurovic
(junge Welt, 18.1.2001)
Even if World health organization and NATO officials supported the statement of Madeleine Albright that "there is absolutely no evidence" of connection between depleted uranium (DU) weapons and leukemia, in Europe the panic still increases because of possible consequences of use of such weapons in wars in Bosnia and Kosovo.
However, the lack of concern of Western officials and media for inhabitants of potentially risky areas is notable, and the whole attention is given to risk for soldiers who are in UN peace-keeping missions in the Balkans.
Present somewhat hypocritical and belated concern of Europe is, and reasonably so, not shared entirely by Yugoslav citizens, their primary concern being not NATO soldiers but inner Serbia.
According to high military expert Milan Zaric, DU ammunition was not used only in Kosovo and Metohija, especially along the border with Albania, but also on 4 locations in South Serbia and one in Montenegro.
"DU ammo won't be banned, and this is how it will be I'm afraid, as long as rich countries consider this a way to get rid of their nuclear waste" Zaric says for Beta.
Colonel Milenko Rilak is being even more precise, quoting VJ General Command data, saying that 2,5 hectares of ground in Serbia is polluted by uranium 238.
"On territory of Yugoslavia, not including Kosovo, 1,5 ton of DU has been thrown" Rilak stated for radio B2-92, and added that by soil analysis the existence of 4 contaminated regions had been determined around Vranje, south of Bujanovac, northeast and east of Presevo and one region north of Vranje.
"On these locations radioactivity was 9 to 1 000 times higher than normal" Rilak claims.
While NATO and its high officials and entire world public stayed deaf and dumb for over a year to all the official warnings of Yugoslav government and VJ, army and its direction for ABC warfare have decontaminated and marked clearly areas in inner Serbia, especially in Bujanovac, where between 3 - 5 000 DU bullets fell. Radioactivity in these areas is now within normal limits.
Institute of nuclear sciences "Vinca" has confirmed also the contamination of 4 locations in inner Serbia. Vinca official Srba Markovic states for Beta agency that institute did the research on all locations where NATO bombing was identified. "There are no proofs, except on those 4 places, that inner Serbia is contaminated".
"Population of Federal Republic Yugoslavia at the moment is not exposed to increased radiation or chemical poisons as the consequence of depleted uranium ammunition use during NATO bombing 1999". This is the general conclusion of experts from different scientific areas, at the meeting held in Belgrade on Wednesday, states Gordana Brun, Ministry of Health official.
But in spite of various reassurances, worries of ordinary Serbian citizens are seemingly not alleviated, and their anger and indignation as well are running high.
"Frankly I am appalled at what NATO officials, especially US and British, are saying. How could there be any doubt in anyone's mind about highly toxical substances such as uranium, depleted or not?" asks Tanja Knezevic. Accountant from Belgrade, now 26, states further that even though she believes there is no immediate danger for her health, there is no way she can be equally sure about the health of her future children. "I don't think I'll have the courage to have a baby in the next 5 years. I am terrified." Knezevic concludes.
Marko Brezancic is first of all angry: "US used us as laboratory rats, and the whole country as a dump to throw their nuclear waste in! And the grotesque of it all is that the whole world knew about it over one year, and what the consequences might be, they just chose to be silent!" 27 year old medicine student is enraged about the way Western public is viewing the whole affair: "It is only their soldiers' lives that they're worrying about! Lives of Serbs or even Albanians are no concern of theirs, or the land pollution, as long as it is not their land. And as long as they don't have to pay for decontamination from their own pockets".
Even in the land of Serbia, some are not unfamiliar with this attitude. Soon to be prime minister of Serbia, Zoran Djindjic, is seriously announcing the degrading of Ministry of Ecology into Secretariat. To cut down the unnecessary expenses, he says.
Tanja Djurovic, Belgrad
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