by Dr. Doug Rokke (Major, USAR, Ret.) –
Gulf War I was the first significant use of DU in combat with at least 320 tons of DU munitions contamination left on the battlefield. During 1995 and 1996, the US Marines fired DU munitions in Okinawa then did not tell the Japanese Government for over one year.
During 1995, the US military fired at least 10,000 rounds of DU munitions in Serbia followed by at least 31,000 rounds of DU munitions into Kosovo and Serbia during 1999. Astonishingly, the US Navy fired DU on Vieques, Puerto Rico to prepare for Kosovo attacks in willful violation of US and international law and have ignored adverse health effects and environmental contamination to avoid liability.
Verified DU exposure adverse health effects include:
(a) Reactive airway disease,
(b) neurological abnormalities,
(c) kidney stones and chronic kidney pain,
(e) vision degradation, night vision losses, and cataracts
(f) gum tissue problems,
(h) various forms of skin and organ cancer,
(i) neuro-psychological disorders,
(j) uranium in semen,
(k) sexual dysfunction, and
(l) birth defects in offspring.
Since the Gulf War, the cover-up of adverse health and environmental consequences has been the objective of US Department of Defense officials so that they can always use DU in combat. The cover-up started with the infamous Los Alamos memorandum sent to our team in Saudi Arabia during March 1991. This memo told us to be sure that we should only report our findings so DU munitions could always be used. IN OTHER WORDS: LIE!
A letter sent to General Leslie Groves during 1943 is even more disturbing. In that memorandum dated October 30, 1943, senior scientists assigned to the Manhattan Project suggested that uranium could be used as an air, water, and terrain contaminant. According to the letter sent by the Subcommittee of the S-1 Executive Committee on the “Use of Radioactive Materials as a Military Weapon,” inhalation of uranium would result in “bronchial irritation coming on in a few hours to a few days.” This is exactly what happened to those of us who inhaled DU dust during Operation Desert Storm and in US soldiers in the Balkans.
The subcommittee went on further to state that “Beta emitting products could get into the gastrointestinal tract from polluted water, or food, or air. From the air, they would get on the mucus of the nose, throat, bronchi, etc. and be swallowed. The effects would be local irritation just as in the bronchi and exposures of the same amount would be required. The stomach, caecum and rectum, where contents remain for longer periods than elsewhere would be most likely affected. It is conceivable that ulcers and perforations of the gut followed by death could be produced, even without an general effects from radiation.”
Today, while medical problems increase medical care is denied or delayed for all uranium exposed casualties while United States Department of Defense and British Ministry of Defense officials continue to deny any correlation between uranium exposure and adverse health and environmental effects. They contend that they can spread radioactive waste (uranium 238) in anyone’s backyard without cleaning it up and providing medical care. Their arrogance is astonishing!
As the Army’s DU expert (1991- 1995), my conclusions and recommendations were that:
(1) All DU contamination must be removed and disposed of to prevent future exposures.
(2) Specialized radiation detection devices that detect and measure alpha particles, beta articles, x-rays, and gamma rays emissions must be acquired and distributed because standard radiation detection equipment will not detect DU contamination.
(3) Medical care must be provided to all DU casualties.
(4) All individuals who enter, climb on, or work within 25 meters of any DU contaminated equipment or terrain must wear respiratory and skin protection.
(5) DU contaminated and damaged equipment or materials should not be recycled to manufacture new materials or equipment.
(6) All individuals who may encounter DU must complete specialized education and training.
Even though Department of Defense directives have required medical care, education and training, and environmental remediation for years:
(1) Medical care has not been provided to all DU casualties.
(2) Environmental remediation has not been completed.
(3) Contaminated and damaged equipment and materials have been recycled to manufacture new products.
(4) Training and education has only been partially implemented.
(5) Contamination management procedures have not been distributed and implemented.
Today, all citizens of the world must raise a unified voice to ban the future use of depleted uranium munitions and force the leaders of those nations that have used depleted uranium munitions to recognize the immoral consequences of their actions, provide medical care to “all” DU casualties, and complete environmental remediation.
To cite a famous quotation: “AND A CHILD SHALL LEAD THEM.” But if the children are sick or dead and the citizens of the world permit this to continue, then there will not be a child who can fulfill the prophecy and lead us to peace.
USAR Major (Ret.) Doug Rokke is a former Gulf War I DU team health physicist. He is now the director of the DU Project.
The report on Afghanistan uranium measurements can be read at: