Monday, April 05, 2004

the new york daily news has a feature about soldiers being exposed to depleted uranium.

if you haven't been following the news closely you might never have heard of depleted uranium.

Depleted uranium, a waste product of the uranium enrichment process, has been used by the U.S. and British military for more than 15 years in some artillery shells and as armor plating for tanks. It is twice as heavy as lead.


Depleted uranium, which does not occur in nature, is created as a waste product of uranium enrichment when some of the highly radioactive isotopes in natural uranium, U-235 and U-234, are extracted.

if the word "uranium" makes you think of dangerous radiation, your instincts are correct. depleted uranium (DU) is indeed radioactive, & many believe it is one of (if not the) cause of the mysterious "gulf war syndrome" that hit so many us soldiers the last time we went to iraq.

also note that while the nydn seems to be doing a good job tracking this story (or at least the story of these specific soldiers), it neglects to mention that depleted uranium is illegal and violates a slew of UN resolutions and international treaties. check out this commondreams article for a whole bunch of DU info, like this:

According to a August 2002 report by the UN subcommission, laws which are 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, which expressly forbid employing 'poison or poisoned weapons' and 'arms, projectiles or materials calculated to cause unnecessary suffering'. All of these laws are designed to spare civilians from unwarranted suffering in armed conflicts.

really, the most significant thing about the nydn article is that it's being printed in the mainstream press. but you aren't going to see words like "war crime" in those articles, printed as they are in a periodical that also prints bill o'reilly's column. commondreams ain't never skeered, though:

Professor Doug Rokke, ex-director of the Pentagon's depleted uranium project -- a former professor of environmental science at Jacksonville University and onetime US army colonel who was tasked by the US department of defense with the post-first Gulf war depleted uranium desert clean-up -- said use of DU was a 'war crime'.

Rokke said: 'There is a moral point to be made here. This war was about Iraq possessing illegal weapons of mass destruction -- yet we are using weapons of mass destruction ourselves.' He added: 'Such double-standards are repellent.'

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