From: Dr. Rosalie Bertell <>

 Depleted Uranium (DU): an Agent of Chemical and Radiological Warfare 
 ---------------------  Used Extensively in the Gulf War

 As tensions again heat up in the Gulf, there is a broad international 
 consensus that biological, chemical and nuclear weapons kill 
 indiscriminately, continue to kill and injure after a war is over, and 
 ought to be outlawed. Because of this, the United Nations  inspection of 
 Iraq is supported in so far as it claims to be uncovering, with the purpose 
 of destroying and preventing further production  of, such warfare materials. 
 Clearly, there is  also some universal discomfort at the length of time 
 this is taking and the fact that sanctions against the Iraqi People, 
 including restrictions on food and medicine, continue during this search 
 process. Another important factor in public perception  is the taunting 
 way Saddam Hussein deals with the United States and the United Nations, 
 and the Iraqi controlled news media portrayal of the crisis to the Iraqi 
 People. This provokes anger and a desire to force compliance and to
 proclaim moral authority in the battle for perception and public opinion.

 The missing factor in the sabre rattling is the fact that even though it 
 is almost seven years since the cessation of hostility, there are at 
 least 80,000 Gulf War service men and women with an unknown illness.  
 The Gulf War syndrome, as it is known,  still has no generally accepted 
 etiology, diagnosis, or treatment. There are a number of factors which 
 may be implicated in this sickness,  at  least  of some proportion of 
 the cases, and it is important to assess the impact of each of these 
 factors, should  hostility be resumed in the Gulf. After all, the Iraqi 
 people, children, women and men civilians,  also appear to be suffering 
 from Gulf War syndrome, according to Dr. Siegwart-Horst Gunther, an 
 Austrian physician who has been working there. Making civilians sick does 
 not demonstrate high moral action. There are grave questions about 
 restrictions on food and medicine destined for Iraq, but deliberately 
 causing chronic debilitating illness and deformed offspring among 
 civilians constitutes direct biological, chemical and/or radiological 
 warfare and is totally unacceptable.

 Many probable cause of Gulf War syndrome have been proposed.  First, 
 there were the vaccines  intended as protection against nerve and 
 biological warfare agents.  Use of these can be stopped.  There was also 
 the intense smoke and chemical pollutants released by the continuous oil 
 well fires.  Hopefully, with "precision" bombing and no fleeing army, 
 this danger would mitigated.  The Old World Leishmaniasis, a parasitic 
 disease transmitted by the bite of sand flies indigenous to the region 
 also is not now a problem  with no troops on the ground.  The widespread 
 use of pesticides and insecticides by the ground troops during the war 
 is also not likely to be repeated.  None of these potential causes would 
 fully  account  for Gulf  War syndrome,  including severely deformed 
 children in Iraq. None would be expected to be involved in military 
 "punishment" of Saddam Hussein.

 However, two of the likely causes of Gulf War illness are still serious 
 problems, and they  continue to threaten UN military, and  civilians in 
 Iraq should hostilities break out again.  These hazards include the 
 bombing of Iraqi chemical or biological stockpiles, creating clouds of 
 toxic materials,  and  the use of depleted uranium ordnance and armor by 
 the United States.

 If the places where the suspected Iraqi arsenals are kept is unknown to 
 the United Nations, then the bombing of such a site cannot be easily 
 ruled out. This outcome is in the realm of "possible".  However, the use 
 of depleted uranium ordnance by the United States appears to be certain 
 and such use is very problematic.  History is likely to judge this 
 military use of depleted uranium (DU)  as the use of chemical and 
 radiological warfare agents nominally to prevent Iraq from using them.

 Depleted uranium is chemically the same as natural uranium, which is 
 chemically toxic as well as being radioactive.  Uranium occurs naturally 
 in soil and is present in trace quantities in food, and is not considered 
 under these circumstances to be unusually hazardous.  Depleted uranium 
 is so called because it is the waste from uranium processing, which is
 designed to concentrate the more fissionable U 235, so that the residue 
 from the natural uranium is mostly the more weakly radioactive U 238.
 Depleted uranium also contains traces of radioactive thorium, protoactinium, 
 and other radionuclides, like natural uranium.

 The military use of depleted uranium capitalizes on its pyrophoric 
 property.  When heated in air at 500 degrees Centigrade it oxidizes 
 slowly, sustaining combustion and  forming respirable aerosols.  
 These aerosols of uranium are very light  and can travel more than 
 42 kilometers (26 miles) from the release point.   This was discovered 
 in 1979 by workers at the Knolls Atomic Laboratory  north of Albany, 
 New York.  While investigating the National Lead  Industries (NL), 
 reportedly fabricating DU penetrators for 30 mm canon  rounds  and 
 airplane counter weights, they found DU contamination on  their own 
 air filters 42 km from the factory.  According to Dr. Leonard  Deitz, 
 of Knolls, "this is by no means the maximum fallout distance for DU 
 aerosol particles".  The NL was closed down, decontaminated and 
 dismantled in 1983 for emitting more than 150 microcurie (387 grams) of 
 DU. The aerosol is much more hazardous than naturally occurring uranium  
 particles in soil or food.  One GAU-8/A penetrator in an aircraft 30 mm 
 canon round contains 272 grams of DU.

 During the Gulf War an estimated 300 metric tons of DU were fired.  The 
 friction on reaching target causes it to aerosolize.  Using a conservative 
 estimate that only 1% aerosolized, this would have produced 3 million to 
 6 million grams of DU aerosol.  The Doha fire alone, which the US has 
 blamed for much of the Gulf War illness, included the burning of significant 
 amounts of DU. Although the aerosol problem was known, the cleanup crew  
 was not provided respirators or other protections provided for in the 
 military manual (See Department of the Army Technical Bulletin TB 9-1300-278, "Guidelines for Safe Response to Handling, Storage and Transportation Accidents Involving Army Tank Munitions or Armor which Contain Depleted Uranium", September 1990).  The Do
 a fire involved 6 hours of violent explosions, and 18 additional hours of 
 residual fires.  More than 9000 pounds (4.1 million grams) of depleted 
 uranium were lost in this fire.   This had the potential of producing up 
 to 4.1 million aerosol particles.  No service men or women were protected 
 from inhaling and ingesting these aerosol particles along with the other 
 hazardous smoke and fumes of the war, and these deadly aerosols, 
 undetectable to the senses, spread far and wide over the battlefield.   

 According to a survey of 10,051 Gulf War Veterans conducted by Victor 
 Sylvester of the Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm Association 
 between 1991 and 1995, 82% of the Gulf War veteran handled DU, or 
 entered captured Iraqi vehicles which had been contaminated with DU.  
 Many took DU fragments home as souvenirs.  Some  of the service 
 personnel, assigned to unload battle damaged tanks destroyed by armor 
 piercing DU shells from friendly fire, reported that such tanks were 
 later declared by a Battle Damage Assessment Team to be "hot", giving off 
 between 2.6 and 10 mSv/hour  radiation dose inside.  The maximum 
 permissible radiation dose to members of the public is 1 mSv per year.  
 Service men and women received this in less than an hour.  The service 
 personnel had not been forewarned and had taken no protective actions.

 The expected health effects of chronic lung burdens of depleted uranium 
 include fibrosis of the irradiated lung tissue, lung cancer, eventual 
 entry of the DU into blood over the subsequent years, with effects on 
 liver and kidney, together with incorporation of DU into bone.  When in 
 bone, the uranium can irradiation the  sensitive stem cells which form 
 the white blood cells, especially the monocytes.  Clinical manifestations 
 of this toxicity and irradiation include  kidney and liver damage, anemia, 
 depressed cellular immune system and general heavy metal poisoning.  
 Uranium can pass the placenta, causing congenital malformations, and can 
 be carried to the infant in Mother's milk.  It can damage the ovum and 
 sperm, causing genetic damage to offspring. 

 Only 24 of the US Gulf War Syndrome patients have been examined for uranium 
 lung burden.  The DU aerosol is insoluble and expected to stay in the lungs 
 for a very long time, delivering a radiation dose to the tissue.  Using 
 old equipment, admittedly not very sensitive, Dr. Belton Burroughs and 
 Dr. David Slingerland of the Veterans Administration Medical Center in 
 Boston, were able to identify fourteen of the 24 as having measurable 
 lung burdens of DU.  The testing was terminated, and all records have
 subsequently been "lost".  Some urine samples were sent to the US Army 
 Radiochemistry Laboratory in Aberdeen, Maryland, for testing.  Some 
 samples never reached the laboratory, and the results of those that did 
 were supposedly "lost".  The Medical Doctor who  gave this testimony to 
 the U.S. Congress, Dr. Asaf Durakovic, an internationally recognized 
 expert in internal contamination with radioactivity, has lost his job 
 with the Veterans Administration.  The Canadian program of testing does 
 not include DU contamination assessment.

 An important memorandum, dated 1 March 1991, on the Effectiveness of 
 Depleted Uranium Penetration, written by Lt. Col. M.V.Ziehmn, Los Alamos 
 National Laboratory,  sheds some light on the reluctance of the U.S. to 
 deal with this issue.  It states:
   "There is a relatively small amount of lethality data for uranium 
 penetrators, either the tank fired long version or the GAU-8 round fired 
 from A-10 close air support aircraft.  The recent war has likely multiplied 
 the number of DU rounds fired at targets by orders of magnitude.  It is 
 believed that DU penetrators were very effective against Iraqi armor; 
 however, assessments of such will have to be made.
   "There has been and continues to be concern regarding the impact of DU 
 on the environment.  Therefore if no one makes a case for the effectiveness 
 of DU on the battlefield, DU rounds may become politically unacceptable 
 and thus be deleted from the arsenal.
   "If DU penetrators proved their worth during our recent combat 
 activities, then we should assure their future existence (until something 
 better is developed) through Service/DoD proponency. If proponency is not 
 garnered, it is possible that we stand to lose a valuable combat capability.
   "I believe we should keep this sensitive issue at mind when after 
 action reports are written".

 In a 1974 US  military report entitled: "Medical and Environmental 
 Evaluation of Depleted Uranium",  it is rather boldly stated that although
 an uncontrolled release of depleted uranium  may have a  significant 
 impact locally:
   "...the problems from the use of DU on the battlefield or at sea are 
 insignificant when compared to other dangers of combat".

 On 16 August 1993, the Office of the Surgeon General, US Department of 
 the Army, issued its: "Depleted Uranium (DU) Safety Training" document.  
 In it they stated that the expected effects from exposure include possible 
 increase of cancer (lung and bone) and kidney damage.  It recommends:
   "That you convene a working group to define competing risks of combat 
 with DU weapons, to identify countermeasures against DU exposure and 
 finally to asses the risks associated with each potential countermeasure.
 The working group could then optimize the trade-off between DU risk and 
 battlefield countermeasures to maximize the survivability of the soldier."

 Note that the term "Survivability" means the ability to accomplish the 
 soldier's mission in combat, and does not extend to his or her post war life. 

 Clean up after such a dirty war, including medical care for all combat 
 and civilian personnel, friend and foe, as well as environmental cleanup 
 has proven to be enormous.  According to Ltc. Gregory K. Lyle, in an 
 internal memo, the civilian populations of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait as well 
 as those of Iraq, were coming increasingly into contact with DU Ordnance.  
 Toxic  war souvenirs, post conflict cleanup (by agreement with host nations), 
 uranium oxide dust, and beta particles from fragments and intact DU rounds 
 were all serious health threats.  According to this memo, the contact 
 exposure rate from these item might reach 2 mSv per hour.  In just 30 
 minutes, the individual would receive the maximum permissible dose of 
 radiation for one year.  Iraqi children  who are known to have played 
 with such discarded ordnance are now suffering from leukemia.

 Shall the global community, now clearly condemning land mines, ignore a 
 military assault on Iraq and on its own service personnel with more uses 
 of DU?  How many separate categories of horror need to be outlawed 
 before war itself is outlawed?

 It is time for new approaches to security, new implementation of conflict
 resolution methodology, and renewed pledge of responsibility to those who 
 have risked their lives in support of democracy and international order.  
 The abandonment of the Gulf War veterans in pursuit of military advantage 
 and arms sales, and the continued threat to civilians and ones own 
 troops posed by biological, chemical and radiological warfare, including 
 the use of depleted uranium, is disgraceful.  The United Nations in urged 
 to remove itself from its supportive position for this policy of 
 military force immediately!

 Dr. Rosalie Bertell
 President, International Institute of Concern for Public Health,
 Member of Science for Peace,
 Toronto, CANADA,
 27 November 1997  

 Partial Bibliography of Depleted Uranium in the Gulf War

 "Report of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veteran 
 Illness" Draft version reported in the New York Times 3 November 1997. 
 (Contains harsh criticism of the Defense Department)

 US House of Representatives subcommittee of government oversight, Chair: 
 Christopher Shay, Republican from Connecticut, Report on Gulf War Illness,
 approved by the full Committee. (Called the investigations by the Defense 
 Department and Veterans Affairs Department "irreperably flawed" and "plagued 
 by arrogant incuriosity and a preverse myopia that sees a lack of 
 evidence as proof.")

"Pentagon Bias on Gulf War Illness", EDITORIAL, The New York Times, 
 3 November 1997.

 "Metal of Dishonor: Depleted Uranium, the Pentagon's Secret Radioactive War", 
 Editors: S. Flounders and F. Alexander.  Includes selections by 
 Rosalie Bertell, Helen Caldicott, Ramsey Clark and Others.  Depleted 
 Uranium Education Project, 39 West 14 th Stree t, New York NY 10011.	

 "Pentagon Poison: The Great Radioactive Ammo Cover-Up", by Bill Mesler.  
 The Nation, 26 May 1997.

 Hearing before the Subcommittee on Human Resources, Committee on Government 
 Reform and Oversight, US House of Representatives.  Thursday, June 26, 1997. 
 "Medical Implications of the Gulf War Exposures", by Dr. Asaf Durakovic;
 "Contamination of Persian Gulf War Veterans and Others by Depleted Uranium", 
 by Dr. Leonard A. Dietz, 19 July 1996; 
 "Statement of Michael J. Stacy", experience of a Gulf War Veteran with 
 Depleted Uranium. June 26, 1997.

 "Army Not Adequately Prepared to Deal with Depleted Uranium Contamination", 
 US General Accounting Office Report, January 1993. (GAO/NSIAD-93-90).

 "Depleted Uranium (DU) Safety Training", 16 August 1993.  Office of the 
  Surgeon General, US Department of the Army.

 "Review of Draft Report to Congress - Health and Environmental 
 Consequences of Depleted Uranium - ACTION MEMORANDUM" 19 August 1993, 
 from Brigadier General Eric K. Shinescki.

 International Exhibition of Weapons and Military Technology (IDEX-93) - 
 Advertisement for depleted uranium penetrators, spearheaded by the US 
 and Russian defense industries, included since 1993.

 "The Effectiveness of Depleted Uranium Penetrators", Los Alamos Memorandum, 
 1 March 1991, from the US Department of Defense GULFLink website.

 Minutes of the Army Environmental Policy Institute (AEPI), Alexandria,
 Virginia, 6 January 1993.

 US Army Accident Report, Case Number 910711001, 20 September 1991.  
 Details on the fire in the ammunition storage area and motor pool in 
 Doha.  The accident report make no mention of the depleted uranium, 
 however the estimated cost of the accident includes loss of 9,056 lbs 
 of depleted uranium penetrators.

 US Central Command Log, "11ACR Fire in Doha: Updates from CENTCOM 
 Forward", July 12, 1991.  Entry 3 note that: "Depleted uranium rounds 
 are going off."  Entry 10 states: "EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) POC 
 (Point of Contact) state "that burning depleted uranium puts off alpha 
 radiation.  Uranium Particles when breated can be hazardous.  11ACR (11th 
 Armored Cavalry Regiment) has been notified to treat the area as though 
 it were a chemical hazard area, i.e. stay upwind and wear protective 
 mask in the vicinity." Based on interviews with the personnel, this warning
 was not passed on to the soldiers by their commanders.

 "Potential Behaviour of Depleted Uranium Penetrators Under Shipping and 
 Bulk Storage Accident Conditions", February 1985, by J. Mishima et al, 
 Pacific Northwest Laboratory, PNL-5415.

 "The Effectiveness of Depleted Uranium Penetrators", Memorandum by Lt. Col. 
 M.V. Ziehmn. Los Alamos National Laboratory.  I March 1991.

 US Federally Sponsored Research on Persian Gulf Veterans' Illnesses 
 reports two projects on Depleted Uranium: (1) Studies of veterans with 
 DU fragments  imbedded due to friendly fire.  Preliminary reports note: 
 "Fibrous tissue adhere to DU but not Ta (Tantalum control) pellets in situ, 
 but capsule formation is not yet evident. Uranium levels are high and 
 dose-dependent in kidney, bone, and urine, and moderately high in muscle, 
 brain and spleen.  Estimated completion of this research is 1998.  (2) 
 rodent study to predict carcinogenic effects of long term exposure to 
 imbedded DU fragments in humans.  Preliminary results not available.  
 Completion 1998.  There are 89 other Federally funded studies, none of 
 which deal with the DU question. 

 "The Gulf War's New Casualties: Tales of Sickness from the Pentagon's 
 Own Weaponry, made of Depleted Uranium", Feature story in The Nation, 15 
 July 1997. (Available:

 "The Gulf War Syndrome - A Country Whose Integrity is in Question" by 
 Peter Hagglestein, formerly DOE-ORO National Security Programs.  In the 
 Environmentalist Newsletter, December 1996.  

 Friendly Fire: The Link Between Depleted Uranium Munitions and Human 
 Health Risks, by Damacio A. Lopez, Second Edition March 1995 Military 
 Toxics Project (

 Geneva Coordinator of Desert Concerns: Philippa Winkler, 
 +44-117-924-8586 (temporary), assisting with the UN process to ban DU 
 weaponry.  Attny: Karen Parker, San Francisco, CA.

 Individual Contacts: 
 Leonard Dietz, 1124 Mohegan Rd., Niskayuna NY 12309-1315. 
 Dr. Asaf Durakovic, 3430 Connecticut Ave. 11020, Washington DC 20008.
 Dr. Eric Hoskins, 99 Harbour Square, Apt.2408, Toronto. 
 Veteran (Doha fire): Michael Flores, 1039 Butterfly Lane, San Angelo, TX.
 Army Nurse in GW: Carol Picou, Mission Project PO Box 92574, Lafayette, LA.