Uranium Weapons Poisoning Iraq

Nukewatch Pathfinder, Winter 2003-2004
by John LaForge

How many of the toxic, radioactive uranium munitions known as “depleted uranium” were shot into Iraq during the recent takeover? While the question has not been definitively answered, Nukewatch has compiled some noteworthy estimates:

* Scott Peterson reported in The Christian Science Monitor on May 15, 2003, that a U.S. Central Command spokesman told him the A-10 Thunderbolt aircraft — the same planes that shot at the Iraqi Planning Ministry buildings — fired 300,000 bullets. The normal combat mix for these 30-mm rounds is five DU bullets to one, a mix that would have left about 75 tons of DU in Iraq. This estimate does not include DU fired from helicopters, Abrams tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles.

* Larry Johnson, in the Aug. 4, 2003 Seattle Post Intelligencer, says that Pentagon and UN estimates show that U.S. and British forces used between 1,100 and 2,200 tons of uranium shells during attacks on Iraq in March and April, far more than the official government estimate of 375 tons used in the 1991 Gulf War.

* Gulf War vet and DU researcher Dan Fahey says in an Oct. 2, 2003, Rolling Stone article by Hillary Johnson that 167 tons of DU was used in the U.S. takeover of Iraq. Johnson also reported that the DU was exploded, “not only in uninhabited deserts but in urban centers such as Baghdad — a city the size of Detroit. The weapons contained traces of plutonium and americium, which are far more radioactive than depleted uranium.”

* Jay Shaft of the Coalition For Free Thought In Media reported in May 2003 that 500 tons of DU were shot into Iraq. Shaft published an interview with a U.S. Special Operations Command Colonel who spoke on condition of anonymity. The Colonel said, “I am aware of at least 500 tons of DU munitions that were used by combined coalition forces. I also know that many cities were heavily bombarded with DU munitions.”

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