2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 18 Apr 2003 16:36:12 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Scientists Urge DU Clean-Up To Protect Civilians
Scientists Urge DU Clean-Up To Protect Civilians
Paul Brown
The Guardian
Thursday 17 April 2003
Royal Society spells out dangers of depleted uranium

Hundreds of tonnes of depleted uranium used by Britain and the United
States in Iraq should be removed to protect the civilian population, the
Royal Society said yesterday, contradicting Pentagon claims it was not

The society's statement fuels the controversy over the use of depleted
uranium (DU), which is an effective tank destroyer and bunker buster but
is believed by many scientists to cause cancers and other severe

The society, Britain's premier scientific institution, was incensed
because the Pentagon had claimed it had the backing of the society in
saying DU was not dangerous.

In fact, the society said, both soldiers and civilians were in short and
long term danger. Children playing at contaminated sites were
particularly at risk.

DU is left over after uranium is enriched for use in nuclear reactors
and is also recovered after reprocessing spent nuclear fuel. There are
thousands of tonnes of it in stores in the US and UK.

Because it is effectively free and 20% heavier than steel, the military
experimented with it and discovered it could penetrate steel and
concrete much more easily than convential weapons. It burns at 10,000C,
incinerating everything as it turns to dust.

As it proved so effective, it was adopted as a standard weapon in the
first Gulf war despite its slight radioactive content and toxic effects.
It was used again in the Balkans and Afghanistan by the US.

DU has been suspected by many campaigners of causing the unexplained
cancers among Iraqi civilians, particularly children, since the previous
Gulf war. Chemicals released in the atmosphere during bombing could
equally be to blame.

Among those against the use of DU is Professor Doug Rokke, a one time US
army colonel who is also a former director of the Pentagon's depleted
uranium project, and a former professor of environmental science at
Jacksonville University. He has said a nation's military personnel
cannot wilfully contaminate any other nation, cause harm to persons and
the environment and then ignore the consequences of their actions. He
has called on the US and UK to "recognise the immoral consequences of
their actions and
assume responsibility for medical care and thorough environmental

This article can be viewed at:

Royal society Report on DU:

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