DU From U.S. Munitions: A Stealthy Killer with Long Term Effects

U.S. munitions containing Depleted Uranium (DU) — a  stealthy killer with long term effects — that will kill Iraqi’s and U.S. servicemen and women stationed in Iraq — are reportedly causing an alarming rise in cancers, deformed babies and other health problems in Iraq.

Using DU in munitions is a war crime and there is plenty of well documented evidence of munitions containing DU being used by the U.S. and some of their allies against Iraq in 1991 and 2003. Radiation from those munitions and unchecked pollution are being blamed for causing the rising incidences of health problems Iraqi’s are dealing with today.

Despite the well documented use of DU in U.S. and coalition weaponry, officials say establishing a link between the radioactive metal and health problems among Iraqi’s and American service men and women is hard.

New, previously unseen kinds of cancer that were not recorded in Iraq before 2003 are being blamed on radiation from munitions that contained DU. A spike in the number of stillborn births, deformed and paralyzed babies has alarmed doctors in the western Iraq city of Falluja, which was the scene of two of the fiercest battles after the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Keeping Accurate Health Statistics in Iraq’s Limited Medical Facilities is Impossible

Years of sectarian slaughter resulting from the illegal occupation has made keeping accurate health statistics in Iraq’s limited medical facilities impossible. It’s particularly difficult for doctors to isolate specific causes of cancer in Basra which has been pummeled by years of war and is littered with industrial and agricultural pollution.

People in Basra have been living among mounds of war debris and scrap metal full of flaking brown rust that gets blown into peoples homes, food and lungs by the wind. There are more than 200 square kilometers of land south of Basra littered with war debris that is contaminated with depleted uranium.

Contrary to a 2007 Basra University medical journal report that found ‘no major rise’ in cancer death rates, the proportion of children dying from cancer in Basra jumped 65 percent in 1997 and 60 percent in 2005 compared to 1989.

According to a recent Washington Post article, doctors in Falluja are recording unusual numbers of babies that are being born with congenital heart disease and neural tube defects, involving abnormal spinal cord or brain development, which can cause paralysis and death. One doctor, a neural pediatric specialist, sees on average three or four newborns that are born with neural tube defects a week in Falluja and its surrounding areas.

Babies Born to American Soldiers Deployed in Iraq Showing Similar Defects

Thousands of infants are reportedly being born with deformities. Al Jazeera English reported that the cancer rate in the province of Babil, south of Baghdad has risen from 500 diagnosed cases in 2004 to 9,082 diagnosed cases in 2009.

Afghan infants being born in areas that were bombarded with DU are also showing similar patterns of birth defects. There is plenty of evidence linking DU to infants born in eastern and south-eastern Afghanistan. There are many children being born with no eyes, no limbs. Some infants have tumors protruding from their mouths and eyes as well as numerous other deformities.

Iraqi’s and Afghans aren’t the only ones being affected by DU. Babies being born to American soldiers that were deployed in Iraq are showing similar defects. Many U.S. soldiers are reportedly referring to Gulf War Syndrome #2, alleging that they developed cancer because of being exposed to DU in Iraq. While U.S. soldiers can end their exposure to DU once their deployment in Iraq ends, Iraqi civilians have no where else to go. Water and soil in large parts of Iraq, including Baghdad, are contaminated by DU.

DU has a radioactive half-life of 4.5 billion years. That the Pentagon knowingly and willingly used weapons that keep on killing with total disregard for the safety of our troops or civilians in other countries says a lot. Our troops are being used as disposable pawns in the illegal occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. How many more lies will our troops put up with before they realize the truth?

Despite the fact that we’ve illegally occupied Iraq and Afghanistan for too many years and American oil companies are getting ready to plunder Iraq’s oil, more than 1 million Iraqi’s have been slaughtered, more than 4 million Iraqi’s have been displaced, President Obama said: “For unlike the great powers of old, we have not sought world domination. Our union was founded in resistance to oppression. We do not seek to occupy other nations. We will not claim another nation’s resources or target other peoples because their faith or ethnicity is different from ours…” President Obama lied. More information on the use of DU in U.S. munitions can be found from The World Socialist Web Site, Gulf War Vets, The Atlantic Free Press and The Centre for Research on Globalization.

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