Lawrence Smallman – 2004-08-28 10:49:41
BAGHDAD (March 17, 2004) — There are weapons of mass destruction all over Iraq and they were used this past year. Iraqi children continue to find them every day. They have ruined the lives of just under 300,000 people during the last decade — and numbers will increase.
The reason is simple. Two hundred tonnes of radioactive material were fired by invading US forces into buildings, homes, streets and gardens all over Baghdad.
The material in question is depleted uranium (DU). Left over after natural uranium has been enriched, DU is 1.7 times denser than lead – effective in penetrating armoured objects such as tanks. After a DU-coated shell strikes, it goes straight through before exploding into a burning vapour which turns to dust.
“Depleted uranium has a half life of 4.7 billion years — that means thousands upon thousands of Iraqi children will suffer for tens of thousands of years to come. This is what I call terrorism,” says Dr Ahmad Hardan.
As a special scientific adviser to the World Health Organisation, the United Nations and the Iraqi Ministry of Health, Dr Hardan is the man who documented the effects of depleted uranium in Iraq between 1991 and 2002. But the war and occupation has doubled his workload.
Terrible History Repeated
“American forces admit to using over 300 tonnes of depleted uranium weapons in 1991. The actual figure is closer to 800. This has caused a health crisis that has affected almost a third of a million people. As if that was not enough, America went on and used 200 tonnes more in Baghdad alone (last) April. I don’t know about other parts of Iraq, it will take me years to document that.”
Hardan is particularly angry because he says there is no need for this type of weapon — US conventional weapons are quite capable of destroying tanks and buildings. “In Basra, it took us two years to obtain conclusive proof of what DU does, but we now know what to look for and the results are terrifying.”
Leukaemia has already become the most common type of cancer in Iraq among all age groups, but is most prevalent in the under-15 category. It has increased way above the percentage of population growth in every single province of Iraq without exception.
Women as young as 35 are developing breast cancer. Sterility among men has increased tenfold.
But by far the most devastating effect is on unborn children. Nothing can prepare anyone for the sight of hundreds of preserved foetuses – barely human in appearance. There is no doubt that DU is to blame.
“All children with congenital anomalies are subjected to karyotyping and chromosomal studies with complete genetic back-grounding and clinical assessment. Family and obstetrical histories are taken too. These international studies have produced ample evidence to show that DU has disastrous consequences.”
Not only are there 200 tonnes of uranium lying around in Baghdad, the containers which carried the ammunition were discarded. For months afterwards, many used them to carry water – others used them to sell milk publicly. It is already too late to reverse the effects.
After his experience in Basra, Hardan says within the next two years he expects to see significant rises in congenital cataracts, anopthalmia, microphthalmia, corneal opacities and coloboma of the iris – and that is just in people’s eyes.
Add to this foetal deformities, sterility in both sexes, an increase in miscarriages and premature births, congenital malformations, additional abnormal organs, hydrocephaly, anencephaly and delayed growth.
Soaring Cancer Rates
“I had hoped the lessons of using DU would have been learnt – especially as it is affecting American and British troops stationed in Iraq as we speak, they are not immune to its effects either.”
If the experience of Basra is played out in the rest of the country, Iraq is looking at an increase of more than 300% in all types of cancer over the next decade.
The signs are already here in Baghdad — the effects are starting to be seen. Every form of cancer has jumped up at least 10% with the exception of bone tumours and skin cancer, which have only risen 2.6% and 9.3% respectively.
Another tragic outcome is the delayed growth of children. Skeletal age comparisons between boys from southern Iraq and boys from Michigan show Iraqi males are 26 months behind in their development by the time they are 12-years-old and girls are almost half a year behind.
“The effects of ionising radiation on growth and development are especially significant in the prenatal child”, adds Dr Hardan. “Embryonic development is especially affected.”
Those who have seen the effects of DU hope the US and its allies will never use these weapons again – but it seems no such decision is likely in the foreseeable future.
“I arranged for a delegation from Japan’s Hiroshima hospital to come and share their expertise in the radiological related diseases we are likely to face over time,” says Hardan. “The delegation told me the Americans had objected and they had decided not to come. Similarly, a world famous German cancer specialist agreed to come, only to be told later that he would not be given permission to enter Iraq.”
Moreover, Hardan believes the authorities need to produce precise information about what was used and where, and there needs to be a clean-up operation and centres for specialist cancer treatment and radiation-related illnesses.
Iraq only has two hospitals that specialise in DU-related illnesses, one in Basra and one in Mosul – this needs to change and soon.
“I’m fed up of delegations coming and weeping as I show them children dying before their eyes. I want action and not emotion. The crime has been committed and documented – but we must act now to save our children’s future.”
Cancer Spreads Like Wildfire in Iraq
BAGHDAD (July 28. 2004) — Depleted uranium (DU) used by the United States and its allies against Iraq has taken its toll on around 120,000 to 140,000 Iraqis, according to the latest estimates released by the Iraqi health ministry. With Iraq becoming an almost radioactive toxic wasteland, the number of birth defects and cancer-infected Iraqis is on the rise, the London-based Al-Quds Press news agency reported on July 27. The director of Baghdad’s only nuclear medicine hospital, said 7,500 Iraqis are infected with cancer ever year.
Iraqi Doctor Learns from Hiroshima’s Past
HIROSHIMA (August 4, 2004) — The number of child cancer cases jumped eightfold in the southern Iraqi city between 1988 and 2002. Iraqi doctors allege DU weapons cause leukemia and cancer while US authorities deny direct links between DU and the cancer on the rise in Iraq. The medical community in Japan, a US staunch ally, is also reluctant to admit a connection. Hussam Mahmood Salih, 34, a pediatrician from Basra, is now studying at Hiroshima University Hospital at the invitation of a Japanese civic group. Japanese doctors understand about these diseases,” said Salih. “I think we cold learn very much from Japan’s experiences,” said Salih.
Uranium Weapons Poisoned Iraqi Civilians and Coalition Troops
Tedd Weyman / Uranium Medical Research Centre
In September/October 2003, five months after the cessation of the Shock and Awe bombing campaign in Iraq, the Uranium Medical Research Centre (UMRC) sent in a team to collect biological and environmental samples, conduct a public health survey, and a field radiation survey. The goal: to determine the extent and nature of radiological contamination from the use of weapons containing uranium. Dr. M. Al Shaickly and Tedd Weyman traveled with Dr. Siegwart-Horst Guenther to survey battlefields in Baghdad and Al Basra. Dr. Guenther conducted an independent survey of Iraqi hospitals and patients, interviewing physicians and surveying the medical effects of Gulf War I and the 2003 Iraq War on civilians exposed to battlefield contaminants and the fallout of US and UK bombs and missiles. CLIP
FILM: ‘Doctors, Depleted Uranium and Dying Children’ (August 11, 2004)
A powerful new German documentary exposes radioactive warfare in Iraq. “The Doctors, the Depleted Uranium, and the Dying Children” surveys the impact of radioactive weapons in the war against Iraq. The film features two British veterans describing their exposure to radioactive, depleted‚ uranium (DU), weapons and the congenital abnormalities of their children. Dr. Siegwart-Horst Günther and Tedd Weyman of the Uranium Medical Research Center traveled to Iraq, from Germany and Canada respectively, to assess uranium contamination in Iraq. The film is now available for purchase from the Traprock Peace Center for $25.00 for non-commercial, non-institutional use.
MDs Fear Cancer Epidemic Linked to US WMDs
A growing number of US personnel who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan have become sick and disabled from a variety of symptoms commonly known as Gulf War Syndrome (GWS). “Gulf war vets are coming down with these symptoms at twice the rate of vets from previous conflicts,” said Barbara A. Goodno from the Department of Defense’s Deployment Health Support Directorate. Nearly half the soldiers in one returned unit have malignant growths, possibly the result of exposure to depleted uranium weapons (DU). According to GWS researcher Dr. András Korényi-Both, 27 percent to 28 percent of Gulf War vets have suffered chronic health problems — more than five times the rate of Vietnam vets and four times the rate of Korean War vets.