January 9, 2001-- The breaking news in Europe of troops from Italy, Belgium, Spain and Portugal who served in the Balkans dying of leukemia has reawakened interest in the dangers posed by depleted-uranium weapons.

In April 1999, the International Action Center published the second  edition of a book of essays and lectures on depleted uranium. Its title is Metal of Dishonor: Depleted Uranium. The first edition had been published in 1997.

The Peoples Video Network, in collaboration with the IAC, produced a 50-minute-long video with the same title, Metal of Dishonor, that was favorably reviewed at film festivals in Italy.

Both the book and the video can be ordered online at: http://www.leftbooks.com/online-store/scstore/c-Depleted_Uranium.html

In addition to exposing the deadly duplicity of the Department of  Defense, the book documents the genocide of Native Americans and  Iraqis by military radiation, the connection between depleted uranium and Gulf War Syndrome, the underestimated dangers from low-level radiation, the legal ramifications of DU Production and Use, and the growing movement against DU.  (Table of Contents)

The Pentagon used DU weapons in Iraq in 1991, in Bosnia in 1995 and  in Yugoslavia-especially in Kosovo-in 1999 in large enough amounts to have a significant impact on the environment. Besides endangering occupation troops it of course is a major environmental threat to the population of those regions.

Of the 697,000 US troops who served in the Gulf, some 130,000 have  reported medical problems ranging from respiratory, liver and kidney dysfunction, memory loss, headaches, fever, low blood pressure, and birth defects among their newborn children.  

During the Gulf War, munitions and armor made with Depleted Uranium  were used for the first time in combat history. Over 940,000 30- millimeter uranium tipped bullets and "more than 14,000 large caliber DU rounds were consumed during Operation Desert Storm/Desert Shield." (U.S. AEPI Report 1994) These largely untested weapons were used indiscriminately throughout the siege of Iraq with no concern for the health and environmental consequences of their use. Between 300 and 800 tons of DU bullets are now scattered on the ground in Iraq and Kuwait.  

The Pentagon now admits to having fired over 18,000 DU shells in  Bosnia and over 31,000 such shells in Kosovo.

Up to 70% of the depleted uranium within these weapons aerosolizes  on impact and as radioactive dust it is easily ingested. As a result, hundreds of thousands of people, both victims of war and combat soldiers, have suffered the effects of exposure to these highly toxic, radioactive weapons.  


DU is a waste product of the process that produces enriched uranium  for use in atomic weapons and nuclear power plants. Much like natural uranium, it is both toxic and radioactive. Over a billion pounds of DU exists in the United States and must be safely stored or disposed of by the Department of Energy. With its half-life of 4.5 billion years, DU's radioactivity effectively lasts forever.  

DU is so abundant the government gives it away to arms  manufacturers. Because it is extremely dense--1.7 times as dense as  lead--when turned into a metal DU can be used to make a shell that  easily penetrates steel. In addition it is pyrophoric--that is, when it strikes steel, heat from the friction causes it to burn.  

When DU burns, it spews tiny particles of poisonous and radioactive  uranium oxide in aerosol form, which can then travel for miles in the wind. Humans can ingest or inhale the small particles. Even one particle, when lodged in a vital organ--which is most likely to happen from inhalation-- can cause illnesses from headaches to cancer.  

The Pentagon tested DU shells at various sites around the U.S. and  used it in combat for the first time against Iraq during the 1991 Gulf War. It was very effective in destroying Iraqi tanks, as well as their occupants and anyone in the area. At least 600,000 pounds of DU and uranium dust was left around Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia by U.S. and British forces during that war.  

Although the U.S. government and military continue to minimize the  environmental and health dangers from depleted- uranium weapons,  even they have to admit these dangers exist.  

DU is also considered at least a contributing cause to the 130,000  reported cases of "Gulf War Syndrome." The chronic symptoms of this  ailment range from sharp increases in cancers to memory loss,  chronic pain, fatigue and birth defects in veterans' children.  

Dr. Mona Kammas is a professor of pathology at Baghdad University  and director of a study of the environmental impact of U.S. aggression against Iraq. At the Gijon symposium, she reported on a paper that showed an almost five-fold increase in cancers, a more than three-fold increase in spontaneous abortions, and a nearly three-fold increase in congenital anomalies in a study group of those exposed to combat.  

The paper also reported on environmental damage due to the  Pentagon's destruction of the water-supply and sanitation systems and the destruction of oil refineries and factories that used toxic chemicals in the production process.  

Iraqi researchers believe that the different relative frequency of various types of cancer now as compared with before 1990 in the Basra region was a significant indication of a major change, and that this pattern continuing long after the war indicated that DU's impact was long- lasting.  

Besides the contents listed below, the second edition of Metal of  Dishonor has chapters reporting on a study from Iraq and from Bosnia, and a new chapter by Dr. Asaf Durakovic, a physicist and medical doctor who examined U.S. troops hit by DU "friendly fire."

Both the book and the video can be ordered online at: http://www.leftbooks.com/online-store/scstore/c-Depleted_Uranium.html


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