Depleted Uranium Weapons – an investigation
Angus Stickler, BBC
A BBC investigation can reveal that the US and UK military have continued to use depleted uranium weapons despite warnings from scientists that it poses a potential long-term cancer risk to civilians.
A former senior scientist with the United Nations has told the BBC that studies showing that it was carcinogenic were suppressed from a seminal World Health Organisation report. The US has refused to fund major research and has been criticised for failing to cooperate with UN attempts to conduct a post conflict assessment in Iraq.
Angus Stickler reports:
When depleted uranium bullets are fired, the rounds can rip through the tank armour. And once inside – on contact with air they combust exploding into a 10,000 degrees centigrade ball of fire.
Both the US and UK used depleted uranium in Iraq. The US fired 320 tons in Gulf War I – and possibly as much as 2,000 tonnes in Gulf War II. But its use is highly controversial – blamed as one of the possible causes of cancer and birth defects. It’s this that prompted the United Nations’ World Health Organisation to conduct a major assessment of the post conflict hazards. The findings were published in 2001. Dr Mike Repacholi retired as the Coordinator of the W.H.O. Radiation and Environmental Health Unit in June of this year. He oversaw the project.
Dr. Keith Baverstock – now retired – was a senior radiation advisor with 12 years experience at the W.H.O – part of Dr Repacholi’s editorial team at the time. He came across research indicating that depleted uranium is a potentially dangerous carcinogen:
“When you breathe in the dust the deeper it goes into the lung the more difficult it is to clear. The particles that dissolve pose a risk – part radioactive – and part from the chemical toxicity in the lung – and then later as that material diffuses into the rest of the body, and into the blood stream a potential risk at sites like the bone marrow for leukaemia, the lymphatic system and the kidney” according to Dr. Baverstock.