Uranium For Dummies
By Irving Wesley
23 March, 2006
the direction of Secretary of Defense Cheney, the 1991 Gulf War began
with a "shock and awe" bombing campaign that destroyed large
biological laboratories, chemical plants, and nuclear enrichment facilities,
most of them around Baghdad. Many sites were illegally supplied by the
Reagan-Bush administration, in which both Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld
served, so the United States government knew their locations.
Biological, chemical and
nuclear weapons damage the bodies of soldiers in distinct ways. The
first employs deadly bacteria and viruses to cause known illnesses.
The second uses poisonous, or toxic, substances to attack the body's
chemistry. Nuclear weapons, such as depleted uranium (D.U.), were unimaginable
before World War II. They attack the body with invisible radioactive
energy that, as you will soon read, produces a wider variety of symptoms
that develop over a longer period of time. Radioactive heavy metal particles
embedded in the body are both radioactive and toxic.
Biological, chemical and
nuclear weapons can potentially "blow back." Once they are
released, they can kill and maim civilians as well as enemy soldiers.
Hence all three have been banned by international treaties which the
United States signed.
They also blow back on the
army that uses them. The practical danger to America's own troops prevented
the widespread use of WMD's until the atomic bombs in World War II and
the chemical herbicide Agent Orange in Vietnam. Hundreds of thousands
of American troops suffered and died because of the testing and use
of these weapons.
When George Bush Sr., Cheney,
and Rumsfeld supplied brutal tyrant Saddam Hussein with these substances
in the 1980's they showed disregard for the lives of folks living in
the Middle East. When they ordered the 1991 aerial destruction of stockpiles
of these weapons, they showed a deadly contempt for their own citizen-soldiers.
Those early bombing attacks
sent clouds of miniscule toxic and radioactive particles into the air
that floated over the future battlefield and bivouac camps where hundreds
of thousands of American troops were awaiting the invasion.
Bush Sr.'s February 1991
ground war was even shorter than Bush Jr.'s 2003 "Mission Accomplished"
operation. The former lasted only 100 hours. Afterwards 105 sites stockpiling
dangerous chemical and biological weapons were destroyed, contaminating
everything around them. In March, a huge weapons storage dump in Khamisiyah
was blown up by American engineers, sending a second huge toxic cloud
over troops preparing to depart for home.
Sgt. Dan Topolski, of the
87th Engineer Battalion, participated in the Khamisiyah demolition.
He speculates in the excellent DVD Beyond Treason that the hasty action,
without prior inspection, inventory, or proper safety precautions, was
political. Topolski suggests this stupid order was motivated by Bush
Sr.'s desperate desire to hide the United States origin of that weaponry
from United Nations inspectors and the American people.
Dr. Doug Rokke states, "General
Powell, General Schwarzkopf, General Horner, and Secretary Cheney. .
.made a conscience decision. . . to blow up Iraq’s chemical-biological
stockpiles in place. [They] also decided to blow up their nuclear reactors
in place. This is all confirmed in Schwarzkopf’s autobiography.
. .We warned everybody that these exposures – downwind exposures
– were going to have a disastrous effect on U.S. military personnel,
on coalition personnel, on Iraqi personnel, and on the civilians and
non-combatants in the region. That warning was ignored."
Years later, ailing vets
would force the government to admit that CIA satellites had tracked
the movement of the mass of Khamisiyah contaminants in real time. The
size and path of the cloud explains the otherwise inexplicable incidences
of Gulf War illness among Navy personnel and pilots on battleships in
the Persian Gulf downwind.
During the early aerial
bombardment and later tank war, President Bush and Secretary Cheney
authorized the use of massive amounts of depleted uranium armaments
for the first time in the history of warfare. This material is produced
only by the United States and had been used experimentally in Vietnam
and the 1973 Israel-Arab War. Internal Department of Defense reports
had warned since 1943 about its use, and accurately predicted its poison
gas effects on our troops.
In his article, "The
Gulf War Was The Most Toxic Battle In Western Military History,"
Dr. Malcolm Hooper, emeritus professor of medicinal chemistry at the
University of Sunderland UK, attributes the symptoms of mysterious "Gulf
War Illness" among American and coalition troops to a combination
of toxic substances to which they were subjected.
These included, in addition
to weapons of mass destruction, experimental vaccines, anti-nerve gas
tablets, aerosolized pesticides, and smoke from hundreds of burning
oil wells. Some of the vaccines were not approved by the FDA and had
never been used on human subjects. No one had studied the interactive
effects of as many as seventeen vaccines administered at the same time.
Many soldiers became violently ill immediately after receiving the battery
of shots and others developed a variety of symptoms later. Strangely,
the normally bureaucratic military kept no records of who received what
shots and when.
However, most researchers
cite radioactive poisoning from depleted uranium shells as the deadliest
element in the Gulf War Illness "cocktail." In the 1991 war
the Pentagon fired more than 340 tons of D.U. projectiles at targets
in Iraq and Kuwait. More than a half million Gulf era veterans are on
At last count, more than
1,000 tons have been used in Afghanistan and more than 3,000 tons in
Iraq. Significantly, most Gulf War tours of duty were short. Three quarters
of today's troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have served multiple tours:
26% are on their first tour of duty, 45% are on their second tour, and
29% are in Iraq for a third time or more. Some are now being ordered
to a fourth tour of duty.
Simple math suggests that
depleted uranium may eventually prove a hundred times more deadly to
our forces than all the Iraqi resistance fighters' improvised explosive
devices (I.E.D.s) and rocket propelled grenades (R.P.G.'s) combined.
Leonard Dietz is a retired
physicist from the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory in upstate New York.
Dietz, who pioneered the technology to measure uranium isotopes, is
quoted as saying, "Anybody, civilian or soldier, who breathes these
particles has a permanent dose, and it's not going to decrease very
much over time. . .In the long run. . .veterans exposed to ceramic uranium
oxide have a major problem."
A D.U shell bursts into
flames as soon as it leaves the delivery device. When it hits a target,
as much as 70 percent burns on impact at a high temperature, releasing
into the air billions of invisible radioactive particles. This infinitesimally
fine dust of aerosolized uranium oxide consists of metallic micro-particles
that are smaller than viruses or bacteria.
All of our bodies contain
tiny amounts of natural uranium because it is found in water and in
the food supply. But natural uranium is quickly and harmlessly excreted
by the body. However the velocity and heat of the impact of D.U munitions
convert the poisonous uranium oxide from a heavy metal into a ceramic
heavy metal that makes it insoluble and therefore difficult to excrete.
Where does depleted uranium
come from? It doesn't occur in nature. Natural uranium has to be “processed'
to remove less than one half of one percent of a special kind of uranium
called U-235. Bomb makers use U-235 to make thermonuclear bombs that
can explode with a force equivalent to 100 million tons of TNT.
U-235 is also used to make
fuel rods for nuclear reactors. Used fuel rods are extremely radioactive
for many years and will kill any person near them in ten seconds. No
one on earth knows what to do with used fuel rods. Tons of deadly, radioactive
used fuel rods have been in temporary storage for more than 50 years.
D.U. is "depleted"
only in the sense that more highly radioactive forms of uranium have
been partially removed. What's left, depleted uranium, mainly U-238,
is still highly radioactive and dangerous. It is used to make military
bullets, shells, land mines, armor plating, missiles and bombs.
As we are all taught in elementary
school, radioactivity is dangerous because it causes cancer. That's
why your dentist covers your body with a lead apron before your X-ray.
According to a June 2002
National Radiological Protection Board report,
"All uranium, whether
natural, depleted or enriched, is a toxic radiological element. Each
differs from the other in atomic structure by less than one percent.
D.U. emits three types of ionizing radiation: alpha and beta particles
and photons. Alpha particles are blocked by objects as light as a sheet
of paper and humans exposed to them are naturally protected by their
skin. Beta particles (high speed electrons) can penetrate human skin
to a depth of one centimeter while photons (x-rays and gamma rays) are
more penetrating and can pass completely through a human body."
Although blocked by the skin,
alpha radiation can be inhaled, ingested, and absorbed into the blood
stream through scratches and wounds. It is highly dangerous internally.
In addition to being physically radioactive it is also chemically toxic.
This explains the "double whammy" effect. Soldiers who are
exposed can become immediately ill from the toxicity, recover, and then
suffer severe additional symptoms from the radioactivity years or decades
A study in the April 2003
New Scientist magazine suggested that D.U. toxicity combines synergistically
with its radioactivity to produce more serious effects.
Dr Keith Baverstock, a senior
radiation advisor to the World Health Organization, is quoted as saying,
“The radiation and the chemical toxicity of D.U. could also act
together to create a ‘cocktail effect’ that further increases
the risk of cancer.”
Hence Gulf War vets were
served a cocktail inside a cocktail.
More troubling still is
another study of the materials inside the D.U. weapons used in Iraq
and Afghanistan. That report found that in addition to U-238, today's
munitions contain plutonium, neptunium, and the highly radioactive uranium
isotope U-236. An isotope is one of several slightly different atomic
structures within the same element, in this case uranium. According
to a 1991 study by the UK Atomic Energy Authority, these elements are
100,000 times more dangerous than the U-238 in so-called depleted uranium.
U-236 is another man-made
metal. It is created inside operating nuclear reactors and is intensely
radioactive. U-236 has been found in the urine of sick Afghan and Iraqi
villagers and on the ground next to bomb craters.
Geologist Leuren Moret is
an independent scientist and internationally recognized expert on radiation,
D.U., and public health. She estimates that "one millionth of a
gram [of depleted uranium] accumulating in a person's body would be
fatal. There are no known methods of treatment."
Why the wide variety of illnesses?
Depleted uranium contamination
causes virtually every known illness from acute skin rashes, severe
headaches, muscle and joint pain, and general fatigue, to major birth
defects, infection, depression, cardiovascular disease, brain tumors,
and every other type of cancer. Uranium replaces calcium, destroying
teeth and bones.
D.U. is causing permanent
disability and death for hundreds of thousands of American veterans
who served in the Middle East.
For more information, every
military family should watch Beyond Treason, and every high school should
play the DVD for students subjected to military recruitment. According
to experts interviewed on the DVD, some soldiers return home contaminated
with billions of radioactive ceramic particles.
Leuren Moret states, "In
a cubic meter of air there are one billion particles a tenth of a micron
in diameter. An ordinary man breathes twenty-eight cubic meters of air
a day and for that reason our soldiers internally contaminated to depleted
uranium have billions of particles of depleted uranium distributed throughout
Let's follow the journey
of these microscopic invaders after they are inhaled. They attach first
to the trachea and stick to lung tissue. The heavy metal ceramic specks
are practically insoluble; so they so don’t easily dissolve into
the bloodstream. They cling to the respiratory system for years, even
decades, and irradiate the surrounding tissues, damaging neighboring
organs. Gradually they pass through the lung-blood membranes into the
bloodstream and lymphatic system, causing illnesses and damage to the
entire body. Radiation mutates cells, causing cancers, leukemia, lymphoma,
congenital disorders, and birth defects.
Here's what happens when
these microscopic radioactive particles are ingested through the mouth
or penetrate the body through buried D.U. shrapnel or open wounds. They
enter the bloodstream and circulate freely throughout the body, emitting
radiation as they travel. Some concentrate in the lymph nodes and cause
lymphatic cancer. D.U. also damages the immune system by hastening the
death of white blood cells, and impairing their ability to attack bacteria.
Other ceramic particles
cause "low-level" cell irradiation in the bone marrow and
the stem cells that the body creates there. Stem cells are the progenitors
of all the other cells that the body manufactures in order to renew
Dr. Asaf Durakovic, formerly
in charge of Nuclear Medicine Service at the Department of Veterans
Affairs Medical Center, was ailing veteran Terry Riordan's doctor whom
we cite in "Dick and Hillary's Dirty Little Secret," on www.notinkansas.us.
Dr. Durakovic is now the Director of the Uranium Medical Research Institute.
"Stem cells are very
vulnerable," he says. "Bombarded with alpha particles, their
DNA will fall apart, potentially affecting every organ."
The process is similar to
building a house with defective materials or cooking a meal with spoiled
ingredients. If malfunctioning stem cells become new liver cells, then
the liver will malfunction. Hence defective stem cells cause many veterans
to suffer kidney failure, brain damage, and poorly functioning joints
D.U. may transform semen
into a caustic alkali, which explains Terry and Susan Reardon's experiences
during lovemaking that we described on March 8. This explains the severe
urinary problems among veterans just back from Iraq to be described
in the April 4 installment of We're Not in Kansas Anymore. Dr. Malcolm
Hooper, at the University of Sunderland, is familiar with 4,000 such
cases among UK Gulf War veterans.
Radiation expert Leuren
Moret calls D.U, "The Trojan Horse of nuclear war. . .There's no
way to clean it up, and no way to turn it off because it continues to
decay into other radioactive isotopes. . ."
As far back as 1979, Leonard
Dietz, the retired New York State physicist, discovered that aerosolized
D.U. particles less than a millionth of a meter in diameter can travel
long distances. Some months ago, Leuren Moret told Dr. Elias Akleh,
an Arab-American writer, “D.U. dust is now everywhere. A minimum
of 500 – 600 tons now litter Afghanistan, and several times that
amount are spread across Iraq." As you will read on April 4, a
serious level of depleted uranium particles reached the UK nine hours
after the United States 2003 "Shock and Awe" bombing of Iraq.
It's likely that I am inhaling them as I peck on my keyboard, and so
are you as you read my words.
Compare the latest tonnage
to the 340 tons used in the Gulf War. Dr. Doug Rokke, the health physicist
for the US Army, who oversaw the partial clean up of depleted uranium
bomb fragments in Kuwait in 1991, reminded Alliance of Atomic Veterans
writer Vincent L. Guarisco that, in Bush and Cheney's new war, the massive
radioactive arsenal has been used mainly in Iraqi urban centers and
civilian neighborhoods, rather than in desert battlefields.
Over time, the health of
all foreign troops will be affected. The health effects on the natives
of Iraq and Afghanistan will be catastrophic. Based on the increase
in cancer rates in the aftermath of the Chernobyl and Three Mile Island
nuclear meltdowns, many Iranians, Saudis, Syrians, Lebanese, Palestinians,
and Israelis will die prematurely thanks to our government's unprovoked
nuclear attack on Iraq.
As you will read on April
18, because of their more rapid cellular development, children are the
most vulnerable to depleted uranium poisoning.
In Iraq’s arid climate,
sandstorms blow tiny particles of D.U. away from the blast epicenter,
impacting the surrounding environment without geographical limitations.
It enters the soil, polluting the water table, the Tigris and Euphrates
rivers, and infecting the food chain. Fertile, D.U.-contaminated grasslands
west of Basra in southern Iraq produce vegetables and grains for livestock
that are consumed by American troops as well as Iraqis.
The New York State National
Guard Rainbow Division just returned from six months stationed in Camp
Forward Danger on the Tigris River near Tikrit, north of Baghdad. Saddam
Hussein's rebellious hometown was the site of major combat using D.U.
munitions during the initial invasion and for months afterward.
An official June 2005 United
States Central Command communiqué reported that soldiers of the
62nd Quartermaster Company from Fort Hood, Texas were supplying Camp
Forward Danger's water from the Tigris River. The engineers ran it through
a reverse osmosis water purification unit that dissolved the solids.
The water is purified again and chlorinated. However it seems that it
is not tested for radioactivity.
I have attempted to verify
the degree of radioactive poisoning to which the New York National Guard
members were subjected. I had contacts with officers at the base before
this series went on line. However, Pentagon public relations officers,
Capt. Bill Roberts and 1st Lt. Tawny M. Dotson, have ignored several
requests for email access to Camp Forward Danger. I've appealed to Maj.
Richard J. McNorton, the CENTCOM's special officer in charge of helping
bloggers obtain accurate information, but he hasn't responded either.
We'll keep you posted on We're Not in Kansas Anymore.
Even if the water were monitored,
there is no way, outside a sophisticated nuclear laboratory, to remove
carcinogenic depleted uranium from water, air or food—as you can
understand from the discussion above.
According to a recent interview
with Dr, Doug Rokke, formerly the military's top expert in this field,
the only way to monitor bacteria-sized D.U. particles would be to send
samples to a specialized laboratory.
Depleted uranium is nasty
stuff. Think about this as you read news reports of the current massive
aerial bombing campaign the U.S. is waging around Samarra, north of
Baghdad. You might have thought "insurgents" would be the
only casualties before you read "Depleted Uranium For Dummies."
But you're not a "dummie" anymore.
Our men and women of the
New York State National Guard have just spent six months taking radioactive
showers and washing small open wounds in a depleted uranium broth. They've
eaten over 500 meals with food, plates and silverware washed with hot
water, in two senses of the word. Thanks to George Bush Sr. and Dick
Cheney's decision to use depleted uranium munitions in 1991, the Tigris
river, the Bible's Edenic river of life, has become a modern river of
death. And our brothers and sisters are drinking the forbidden water,
with knowing it—despite informational videotapes produced for
them by Major Doug Rokke and his team. The tapes, pamphlets, and bulletin
board posters are mandatory, but how many of our men and woman serving
in radioactive areas have seen them?
Our troops inhale depleted
uranium with every single breath. Radioactive particles the size of
a virus cannot be filtered outside a laboratory. Even the 800,000 gas
masks provided Gulf War troops were useless because the charcoal filters
became inert within days. The only protection is airtight MOPP suits
connected to oxygen tanks.
No place in Iraq is free
from radioactive contamination, including today's supposedly "safe"
Green Zone in Baghdad where top military officers, civilian occupation
authorities, international journalists, and the Iraqi government leaders
live and work.
Saddam Hussein's former palace
is now the middle of the Green Zone. It was bombarded with D.U. munitions
before and during the invasion. So has greater Baghdad ever since. So
Green Zone residents inhale and ingest depleted uranium every day. Perhaps
that's why, during President Bush's Thanksgiving visit, he was served
a plastic turkey.
UPI reported last December
that Wilder Gutierrez Rubio, 38, had died a few hours after returning
home to Lima, Peru. He had been diagnosed by doctors at Ibn Sina Hospital
in Baghdad with severe leukemia, which they attributed to depleted uranium
exposure, even though he had served in Baghdad only a short time. Gutierrez
was part of a contingent of Latin Americans recruited by a U.S. company
to provide security for Baghdad's Green Zone.
Tragically, our celebrated
comrades of the New York State National Guard Rainbow Division are home
from Camp Forward Danger, but not home free from danger.
After Dick Cheney sprayed
the entire Army, Army Reserves, and National Guard with God-zillions
of time-release miniscule radioactive ceramic buckshot, why should he
feel guilty about shooting a few dozen ordinary pellets into one Texas
A majority of Americans,
recently polled agree that Bush and Cheney should be impeached if they
lied to Congress and the American people in order to launch this war.
According to the latest poll, a plurality of Americans say that it's
time for impeachment, period.
The troops want to come home.
Last month's Zogby poll of
troops on the ground in Iraq reported that 29% of the respondents, serving
in various branches of the armed forces, said the U.S. should leave
Iraq “immediately.” And 89% of the reserves and 82% of those
in the National Guard said the U.S. should leave Iraq within a year.
And most of these folks have
yet to read about the depleted uranium lodged throughout their bodies.
The 2006 election is nine
months away. Are you registered to vote? Have you called your congressperson,
senator, or local opposition candidates?
We did—earlier this
month. We emailed all five candidates for New York's 24th Congressional
district. We also reached both Democratic contenders for New York's
We urged that they check
out this website and our sources.
Four out of seven responded
promptly--with thanks. These were Michael A. Arcuri, Kirsten Gillibrand,
Leon Koziol, and Les Roberts, all Democrats. Like the overwhelming majority
of citizens, they were not fully informed about depleted uranium. Their
positions on eliminating D.U. and promptly withdrawing the troops will
be announced on www.notinkansas.us. Now that you understand D.U., you
can oppose the position of many "Bush-lite" Democrats who
want to withdraw some troops but to increase the tonnage of D.U. bombs
dropped in civilian areas. Only ignorance prevents them from realizing
this policy will kill more American troops than Iraqi resistance fighters.
Imagine the long-range effects on 26 million Iraqi civilians. Do you
want that on your conscience?
Contact your representative
about We're Not in Kansas Anymore. Let us know their responses. Call
your current representative in Washington, D.C. at 1-800-426-8073. It's
toll free. Warn them about the devastating effects on our troops, and
the residents of the Middle East if Bush and Cheney launch a nuclear
attack on Iran's nuclear facilities. Such an action is a death warrant
for most of our loved ones in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Please don’t just sit
in your chair while a million men and women--who volunteered to defend
your freedoms--are exposed to a triple whammy of deadly radiation and
condemned to a slow and agonizing death like a half million Gulf War
vets before them.
This is an abridged version
of the third in a comprehensive series on depleted uranium, Over the
Rainbow, dedicated to the New York National Guard to appear on the website
We're Not in Kansas Anymore, where you will find sources and a bibliography.
Copyright 2006 Irving Wesley