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Radioactive pollution spread by DU weapons is a growing issue around the world. As METAL OF DISHONOR goes to the printer several examples have come to light.
SOUTH KOREA: PROTEST DU WEAPONS
Members of an environmental group held a rally March 21 in front of the U.S. military base in Yongsan, Seoul, calling on the U.S. to withdraw weapons containing depleted uranium from Korea.
Green Korea said many U.S. soldiers who had been deployed to the Gulf War are suffering from chronic diseases because of inhaling DU particles. DU, a waste product left over after the production of nuclear power and weapons, remains radioactive for thousands of years. It is now used widely by the U.S. military to harden the casings of bullets and armored vehicles.
Under a treaty stipulated by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the U.S. Army is permitted to manufacture, transport, store and use depleted uranium weapons in south Korea.
These weapons are used to threaten socialist north Korea, which was threatened with atomic annihilation by the U.S. many times during the 1950-53 Korean War.
Rising anger at the continuing US military occupation of Okinawa reached new levels with the belated admission by the U.S. government that 1,520 rounds of DU ammunition had been fired by U.S. Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier jets. The U.S. government did not notify the Japanese government for over a year. The news first broke in the February 10, 1997 Washington Times. The U.S. government response was to promise a clean-up but also to assure the Okinawan officials that DU weapons are not dangerous. Press reports made no mention of U.S. government reports that confirm the radioactive dangers of DU nor does it seem that U.S. officials have shared these reports with concerned Okinawans.
In the Netherlands, the Dutch newspaper, "Volkskrant", January 24, 1996, reported on the use of DU munitions in Bosnia. In reaction to this article the Dutch soldiers pressure group, ACOM asked the Minister of Defense whether Dutch soldiers were at risk. The Minister of Defense Gmelich Meijling confirmed the possible radiological and chemical risks of DU particles. He confirmed the presence of American tanks containing DU in the Netherlands. In December 1996 the Dutch soldiers group published an article in their magazine, entitled, "The Radioactive Bullet from the Pentagon". This generated Dutch media attention and discussion in Parliament.
There is a growing awareness of the use of weapons containing DU by U.S. and British NATO forces in Bosnia. There were over 4,000 bombing sorties by NATO forces against Bosnian Serb position in the summer and fall of 1995. Many of the attacks were launched by A-10 aircraft situated onboard US aircraft carriers stationed in the Adriatic Sea. The A-10 Warthog fires 4,200 30 mm rounds a minute. Each 30 mm round contains a 300 - gram DU core.
The armor and the ammunition of U.S./NATO tank units stationed through out Bosnia also contain DU, so do the landmines that have been extensively planted around NATO bases. This will have a devastating impact on the civilian population of all the nationalities in the Balkans for generations to come.