Iraq Planning to Sue U.S. and U.K. Over Depleted Uranium Munitions

By Greg Hunter’s USAWatchdog.com    

According to Middle East news sources, Iraq will sue the U.S. over the residue from Depleted Uranium munitions. These types of munitions are also commonly referred to as DU.  This may sound like the story of an ungrateful nation, but Iraq has a legitimate beef.  You will, most likely, not hear about this from mainstream media here in America. Press TV, an Iranian news outlet, reports the possible legal action this way: “Iraq‘s Ministry for Human Rights will file a lawsuit against Britain and the US over their use of depleted uranium bombs in Iraq, an Iraqi minister says.  Iraq’s Minister of Human Rights, Wijdan Mikhail Salim, told Assabah newspaper that the lawsuit will be launched based on reports from the Iraqi ministries of science and the environment.  According to the reports, during the first year of the US and British invasion of Iraq, both countries had repeatedly used bombs containing depleted uranium.  According to Iraqi military experts, the US and Britain bombed the country with nearly 2,000 tons of depleted uranium bombs during the early years of the Iraq war.  Atomic radiation has increased the number of babies born with defects in the southern provinces of Iraq.  Iraqi doctors say they’ have been struggling to cope with the rise in the number of cancer cases —especially in cities subjected to heavy U-S and British bombardment.”  (Click here to read the full story)   

The scientific facts in this story are legitimate.  I know this because, while at CNN, I did an investigative series on the dangers of the radioactive dust left behind after one of these shells hits a target.  My reporting in 2007 stated that an estimated 2,000 tons were used in the Second Persian Gulf War in 2003.  Once Depleted Uranium munitions hits a target, it can spray a cloud of radioactive dust for 50 meters.  This DU dust is a heavy metal, a known carcinogen, can cause birth defects and has a half-life of 4.5 billion years.  Practically speaking, any area hit by DU munitions is contaminated forever.  These are all indisputable scientific facts.  Our own soldiers have been complaining that they were contaminated since the First Gulf War in 1993.  The most common form of contamination is to inhale it into the lungs where it is trapped forever.  It was used to a lesser extent in the First Gulf War, but its use was widespread in the Second Gulf War.  Soldiers I talked to say they have been largely ignored by the Army.  This is why I did the story in the first place.  The Army denies there are any ill health effects from this weapon.

DU munitions are magnificent weapons because nothing can stop them.   One round can penetrate a foot of armor.  DU munitions will go in one side and out the other of ANY standard tank.  When you think of DU munitions, think of a flaming rod of molten metal that is about twice as heavy as lead.  A round is propelled through the air at a very high speed while burning at a temperature of 4,000 degrees.  Again, nothing can stop DU munitions!   

It is depleted only in the sense that you cannot use it for nuclear fuel.  DU is roughly depleted by 40% of its original fuel capacity.  It is a waste material from the nuclear industry.  In short, the “good stuff” has been taken out.  Another way to look at it would be to take a gallon of gasoline and drain 40% of it away.  If you replace it with water, then I guess you could call it a gallon of “depleted gasoline.”  You could no longer use that gasoline as fuel; but if you poured it on the ground, it would contaminate the soil and water.  If you drank some of that gallon of “depleted gasoline,” you could die.  Depleted Uranium dust left behind after munitions hits a target is the same thing, only much worse.  Simply put, using DU is radiological warfare.  If America is sued by Iraq for using DU, it will be both embarrassing and costly.  Here is the story I did in 2007 while at CNN:

 

Comments
  1. Brad Thrasher

    Greg, are DU munitions part of the family of weapons called “tactical nukes?” If so, isn’t there a ban on the use of DU’s?

    • Greg

      Brad, (corrected)
      (I meant to say not considered sorry)
      DU munitions are not considered tactical nukes. Think of a bullet but instead of lead it is Depleted Uranium. DU is twice as heavy as lead and turns pyrophoric (meaning it ignites) when fired. It is not banned to my knowledge.
      Greg

  2. George

    Greg, I think you overstated your reply a little. DU is not a tactical nuke. There is not nuclear mass going critical. It’s not an atomic bomb. Natural uranium contains less that ¾% of U-235. During the depletion process, it is reduced to around .2% to .4%; my sources say the lower number is the standard to high here. Depleted Uranium is over 1.6 times as dense as lead and is almost as dense as gold. When formed into a projectile you get better ballistic properties; it goes farther with a flatter trajectory delivering more energy to the target. And Depleted Uranium has several neat properties; its self sharpening and it’s pyrophoric or incendiary after it enters the tank and breaks up.
    Yes, Uranium is a toxic heavy metal but then so is lead and gold for that matter.
    Let the Iraqis sue us, it will not go any where. Sovereign Immunity.

    • Greg

      George,
      You are correct. I meant to say NOT a tactical nuke. Thanks man.
      Greg

  3. George

    PS: A tactical nuclear weapon or tactical nuke is a nuclear weapon which is designed to be used on a battlefield as opposed to strategic nukes like ICBMs and Trident missiles. Think artillery shells, bunker busters in the 5 kiloton range, depth charges and torpedoes like the Russian Squall.

  4. Mark Mudgett

    Greg,

    You wrote: “DU munitions are condidered tactical nukes.”

    I believe you wrote this incorrectly; however, I may be mistaken.

    Depleted Uranium projectiles do not have fisionable material within them, and they don’t have a triggering device that can create a nuclear chain reaction. Tactical nukes are not dirty bombs; they are true nuclear weapons that create vast amounts of energy by splitting or fusing atoms.

    DU is safe to handle as long as the metal does not become a powder mixed with ambient air. It SEEMS the heavy metal aspect is more of a concern than the radioactive aspect.

    Wikipedia is NOT a RELIABLE source; however, below is a link to its DU page. The info seems OK as a primer. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depleted_uranium

    This next website may be suspect. Please use this info as a primer only. http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/land/du.htm

    I believe that Greg’s analogy with gasoline was lacking. The “radiological” term for DU may not be accurate either; but, for now, science needs to perform lots of work to figure out what the dangerous aspect is from DU, or if their is another environmental factor involved with the birth defects and other health issues.

    The US and other nations that use DU munitions should fund studies to provide answers.

    markm

    • Greg

      Mark,
      I meant to say NOT considered…thank you for the catch and comment.

  5. Brad Thrasher

    I don’t see much difference in what is termed a “dirty nuke” and DU munitions. 4.5 billion years is a long time to be producing birth defects and increased cancer rates.

    When Bush launched his “War on Terrorism” I scoffed and renamed it the “War Among Terrorists.”

    If and when a nuke goes off in NY or Washington I won’t feel so much moral outrage as I will recognize blowback. My only hope would be they detonate on K Street.

    • Mark Mudgett

      Hello Brad,

      I was handling DU when I was a kid. We had a chunk of it in our garage. It was stolen from an aircraft accident. The DU was used as a counterweight for a stabilator. The material was very, very heavy. I have not suffered any radiation poisening as DU does not emit much harmful radiation. The heavy metal aspect is more dangerous to life than the radioactive aspect.

      Here is an opinion:

      “Depleted uranium is a heavy metal that is also slightly radioactive. Heavy metals (uranium, lead, tungsten, etc.) have chemical toxicity properties that, in high doses, can cause adverse health effects. Depleted uranium that remains outside the body can not harm you.

      “A common misconception is that radiation is depleted uranium’s primary hazard. This is not the case under most battlefield exposure scenarios. Depleted uranium is approximately 40 percent less radioactive than natural uranium. Depleted uranium emits alpha and beta particles, and gamma rays. Alpha particles, the primary radiation type produced by depleted uranium, are blocked by skin, while beta particles are blocked by the boots and battle dress utility uniform (BDUs) typically worn by Service members. While gamma rays are a form of highly-penetrating energy , the amount of gamma radiation emitted by depleted uranium is very low. Thus, depleted uranium does not significantly add to the background radiation that we encounter every day.”

      “When fired, or after “cooking off” in fires or explosions, the exposed depleted uranium rod poses an extremely low radiological threat as long as it remains outside the body. Taken into the body via metal fragments or dust-like particles, depleted uranium may pose a long-term health hazard to personnel if the amount is large. However, the amount which remains in the body depends on a number of factors, including the amount inhaled or ingested, the particle size and the ability of the particles to dissolve in body fluids.”

      http://www.gulflink.osd.mil/faq/faq_du.jsp

      As for the rest of your post, and please take this next line with the humor that was intended, you have a tendency to ricochet of the walls like a bullet fired in a room lined in plate steel!

      I do enjoy reading your posts!

      markm

  6. Brad Thrasher

    Mark, I’m absolutely certain you would mock the WHO because they don’t agree with you either. Notwithstanding the fact that WHO scientists rely on a tad more than personal, anecdotal evidence:

    WHO Recommendations

    * Following conflict, levels of DU contamination in food and drinking water might be detected in affected areas even after a few years. This should be monitored where it is considered there is a reasonable possibility of significant quantities of DU entering the ground water or food chain.
    * Where justified and possible, clean-up operations in impact zones should be undertaken if there are substantial numbers of radioactive projectiles remaining and where qualified experts deem contamination levels to be unacceptable. If high concentrations of DU dust or metal fragments are present, then areas may need to be cordoned off until removal can be accomplished. Such impact sites are likely to contain a variety of hazardous materials, in particular unexploded ordnance. Due consideration needs to be given to all hazards, and the potential hazard from DU kept in perspective.
    * Small children could receive greater exposure to DU when playing in or near DU impact sites. Their typical hand-to-mouth activity could lead to high DU ingestion from contaminated soil. Necessary preventative measures should be taken.
    * Disposal of DU should follow appropriate national or international recommendations.

    http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs257/en/

    I would suggest that more than 2000 tons of DU ordinance is likely to have produced “…a reasonable possibility of significant quantities of DU entering the ground water or food chain.”

    • Mark Mudgett

      Hey Brad,

      The recommendations that you listed from WHO are RIGHT-ON! Considering the fact that scientists don’t know if the DU health hazard is heavy-metal, radiological, or both does not mitigate the issue; recommendations in your post should be followed, regardless.

      Brad, I do not hold any organization or individual to messiah or religous status; therefore, I do not revert to union-mode and start blame-throwing and name calling. That was one irritating thing that I learned when dealing with union members. They always raised their voices and started to use ad hominem attacks that did not further their argument.

      The UN does some really good things, and they do some really corrupt and stupid things. Unions are necessary but somewhat corrupt and have a union-centric view (blinders). The democrat party brings compassion and tolerance to debate; however, they go way to far with redistribution schemes. Republicans have been BETTER (neither good or great) on fiscal policy; however, they are inept.

      I must clarify: We did not steal the DU. A friend of mine wondered into a restricted area on base and found it. He got scared when I told him his dad could lose his retirement because of the theft and left it at my house. The material was returned to the proper authorities. The friend and I were about 10. During the Gulf War, my dad explained to me what my friend had found as it related to munitions being used in the Gulf War.

      markm

  7. Brad Thrasher

    Mark,

    Could the reason for legal action be that Iraq has given up on the USA voluntarily following WHO guidelines? In the words of Colin Powell, “You break it. You own it.”

    I do recommend you keep the personal stuff out of your posts. I care not that you find my posts “enjoyable.” I especially fail to understand why you seem compelled to volunteer that you didn’t “steal” the DU ordinance.

    As a civil Law & Motion clerk in the real world I’m always a tad skeptical when people deny an allegation that hasn’t been raised. Technically, from your own admission, you were in possession of stolen property and aided and abetted a thief in the concealment of stolen property.

    I hope your Dad grounded you. Yer very lucky I’m not your Dad. I would have made you read some Noam Chomsky;)

    All the Best,
    Thrash

  8. David Howard

    pure fission bombs …

    Google “9/11 Nukes – Radiation-induced cancers”

  9. Ed Stratford

    By now you guys are full of barium/aluminium/nanotechnology and surrounded by mobile phone towers. Don’t worry. Just because you are all antennae doesn’t mean the govt is going to broadcast frequencies to affect you. It just means they can if they want to.These entities are waging an undeclared war on humanity and have succeeded in psychologically disabling us. We are running out of time as they move to prosecute their end game. Good luck recognizing your own thoughts and surviving your own government.

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