portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article coverage global


Guilty of Crimes Against Humanity

This article is from the Omahaimc.org:

by Cary Vigneri

Depleted Uranium keeps on killing. Is it nuclear warfare or just death by radiological toxin?
Depleted Uranium (DU) sounds harmless. After all, it's depleted.
In fact, it is a component of weapons that are horribly devastating. Yet it's use in war and how it harms people, plants, animals and the planet are discussed in public rarely. Depleted uranium is used to harden munitions, and optimize their ability to penetrate targets. It becomes aerosolized when it explodes, that is, the metal breaks up into radioactive particles that are easily inhaled by humans and that readily contaminate the ecosystem through ground water absorption and the poison's subsequent entry into the food chain.

DU is suspected of causing increased levels of cancer in people and animals, general weakening of the immune system, and perhaps, most worrisome, genetic mutations. Dr. Chris Busby, author of Wings of Death wrote about the effects of depleted uranium. He has said, "of all the dangers facing humanity the most insidious and frightening is the silent and invisible damage being done to genes by induced mutation. The human race is defined by its genetic structure, and alteration of this is the most pervasive and serious attack that can be imagined." Dr. Chris Busby, Wings of Death, ISBN: 1-897761-03-1

A German professor, Dr. Siegwart-Horst Gunther, first uncovered the use of depleted uranium armor-piercing shells by U.S. forces in the 1991 Gulf War. A survivor of world war and internment in a Nazi concentration camp, Dr. Gunther is a tireless campaigner in the struggle to highlight the under-reported and continuing human devastation caused by the first Gulf War. As early as November 1995, Gunther stated publicly that the breakdown of the immune system in humans and animals seemed to be the most long lasting and pernicious result of contact with expended depleted uranium weapons. "Herpes infections, Zoster infections and AIDS-like symptoms are dramatically on the increase, all of them possibly related to the breakdown of the immune system; premature births are numerous. Congenital malformations of the newborn show a high postwar percentage (26.8% according to Dept. of Pathology, College of Medicine, University of Baghdad). In the countryside, children die in great numbers and are buried without possibility of diagnosis. During the lambing season in 1993 a high percentage (10% according to IPA Agricultural Research Center) of abnormal newborn lambs have been observed. Most of them died a few days after birth."

Professor Doug Rokke, ex-director of the Pentagon's depleted uranium project, was tasked by the US department of defense with post-war (first Gulf War, 1991) depleted uranium clean up. His job was to lead a team in the work of establishing protocols for decontaminating equipment, personnel and sites after their exposure to DU contamination

Rokke, who believes his health is severely compromised as a result of DU exposure, has said of the current Iraqi war: "There is a moral point to be made here. This war was about Iraq([search]) possessing illegal weapons of mass destruction -- yet we are using weapons of mass destruction ourselves. Such double standards are repellent."

Rokke is a former professor of environmental science at Jacksonville University and onetime US army colonel. Most of the men under his command who worked on the decontamination project have died. His opinion is that use of DU is a 'war crime'.

According to an August 2002 report by the UN, the laws breached by the use of DU shells include:

? the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
? the Charter of the United Nations; the Genocide Convention;
? the Convention Against Torture;
? the four Geneva Conventions of 1949;
? the Conventional Weapons Convention of 1980; and
? The Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907.

What all that means is that the laws and treaties to which the US is a signatory bind us according to our Constitution, to use no poison or poisoned weapons. We have agreed to use no weapons that do severe, long-term damage to the environment. We are also enjoined from using weapons that cannot distinguish between civilians and soldiers, or materials or devices that are similar to gas.

It is a crime in America to plan or prepare for wars that would violate other binding treaties, that is, depleted uranium weapons manufacture is in itself a crime, by definition. And the orders to deploy those kinds of weapons are criminal; as are those who are personally responsible for their participation in these crimes. All of these laws are designed to spare civilians from unwarranted suffering in armed conflicts.

DU weapons have been used in at least four recent wars. Both the British and Americans are known to have used them, and the US manufactures and sells DU munitions to 16 other countries. The US' criminal activity has not gone unnoticed by the international community. Largely unreported in American press, the International Criminal Tribunal for Afghanistan was convened in Tokyo in December, 2002 and tried G.W. Bush([search]) for crimes against humanity. The ICTA convened as a Peoples Tribunal Movement. Its steering committee was made up of members of the international peace movement, including Americans, Sarah Flounders and Ramsey Clark. After international fact-findings and public hearings, the people's court found G. W. Bush guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity:

Judge Niloufer Bhagwat. who presided over the ICTA, wrote on March 10, 2004, in the matter of the PEOPLE versus GEORGE WALKER BUSH. President of the United States of America:

"I find the Defendant, George Walker Bush, President of the United States and Commander-in-Chief of United States Armed Forces guilty... under Article 2 of the Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for Afghanistan and under International Criminal Law, for waging a war of aggression against Afghanistan and the Afghan people... in respect of War Crimes committed against the people of Afghanistan by the use of weapons prohibited by the laws of warfare causing death and destruction to the Afghan people; maiming men , women and children... "

The weapons to which she referred are DU munitions: "The evidence presented before the Tribunal, which has shocked the conscience of the judges of this Tribunal, is ... thoroughly researched evidence on the genocidal and omnicidal nature of Depleted Uranium weapons used in Afghanistan... "

There were numerous other facts that corroborated the guilty verdict handed down by this court, and it was noted that the verdict was not limited to Bush alone, nor did it protect others, who were involved, from prosecution.

While the US government publicly maintains that depleted uranium is not a source of danger for civilians or combatants, training manuals and other government documents belie that stance. Some of the other long-term effects of using DU are described in a U.S. Army Chemical School-training manual:

"DU's mobility in water is due to how easily it dissolves. Soluble compounds of DU will readily dissolve and migrate with surface or ground water. Drinking or washing or other contact with contaminated water will spread the contamination... The end result of air and water contamination is that DU is deposited in the soil. Once in the soil, it stays there unless moved. This means that the area remains contaminated, and will not decontaminate itself."

This, from the above-cited text of Judge Niloufer Bhagwat's legal opinion, further illustrates the point that the US government remains disingenuous:

"A memorandum dated 30th October 1943, received by General Groves in charge of the Manhattan Project... from three physicians working under him... recommends that radiological materials be developed for use as a military weapon on the battlefield .It was a blueprint for depleted uranium weaponry. The memorandum describing the property of DU weapons states that, "The material... ground into particles of microscopic size... would be distributed in the form of dust and smoke by ground fired projectiles, land vehicles and bombs... inhaled by personnel ... it is estimated that one millionth of a gram accumulating in a person's body would be fatal. There are no known methods of treatment for such casualty... areas so contaminated by radioactive dusts and smokes would be dangerous as long as high concentration of metal was maintained. ... reservoirs or wells would be contaminated... food poisoned ... .particles larger than I micron would be deposited in the nose ,trachea and bronchi... ... ..particles smaller than 1 micron are more likely to be deposited in alveoli where they will remain... .or be absorbed into the lymphatics or blood... ... .Beta and gamma emitting fission products ... ... may be absorbed by the blood and distributed to the whole body."

Despite the absence of conclusive scientific evidence, common sense and common decency dictate that releasing ionizing radiation in the form of highly refined, breathable, and ingestible uranium oxides is a consummately horrible idea. The immorality, illegality and repugnance of using DU; its connection as the probable cause of Gulf War Syndrome, its property as a genetic mutagen; and the US government's attempts to minimize the problems are all potent indicators of an urgent need to act against their use.

There are a number of advocacy groups who vigorously support the banning of uranium weapons:

See:  http://www.bandepleteduranium.org/index.php

For more general information and opinion on depleted uranium, please see:

The WISE Uranium Project, www.antenna.nl/wise/uranium/
The National Gulf War Resource Center,www.ngwrc.org
Veterans for Common Sense, www.veteransforcommonsense.org

www.wagingpeace.org/articles/ 2004/08/06_bollyn_real-dirty-bombs.htm -
www.xs4all.nl/~stgvisie/VISIE/ud_main.html - Feb 16, 2005
www.inthesetimes.com/site/ main/article/depleted_morality/

add a comment on this article