Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)
16 Sept. 2007
Table of Contents
Depleted Uranium (DU) is the waste left after the isotope uranium-235 (used for bombs and nuclear reactors) has been removed. DU (mostly U-238) makes up the largest amount of radioactive waste other than uranium mining waste worldwide and has a half-life of 4.5 billion years. In the
An otherwise useless by-product of the uranium enrichment process, DU is attractive to military contractors because it is so cheap and often offered for free by the Government. (Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat, “Silent WMDs – Effects of Depleted Uranium,” International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), New Delhi, 29 Feb., 1-2 March 2004, downloaded from http://traprockpeace.org/bhagwat_du_29feb04.pdf, 12 Sept. 2007.)
Depleted uranium was used beginning in 1991 for three reasons:
To test the radiobiological effects of 4th generation nuclear weapons, which are still under development
To blur and break down the distinction between conventional and nuclear weapons
To make it easier to reintroduce nuclear weapons into the
(Leuren Moret, “Depleted Uranium: the Trojan Horse of Nuclear War,” World Affairs: The Journal of International Issues, 1 July 2004, downloaded from http://www.mindfully.org/Nucs/2004/DU-Trojan-Horse1jul04.htm, 26 Aug. 2007.)
The reason that we use depleted uranium is that it’s a very dense heavy metal and it’s able to penetrate the most armor of any type of material used. It is a very minor amount of radioactivity, but it’s not anything… as long as it’s in its bullet form it can be stored and it’s not any type of hazardous material. Once it hits a vehicle and vaporizes then it becomes more of a hazardous material that you have to have special handling of that type of thing… in its normal bullet form it’s not hazardous because of the depleted uranium.
It is highly effective against armor. (Lt. Col. John Karl Marks, 303rd Fighter Squadron, in Power Hour, Beyond Treason, video, 2005.)
DU, left over after natural uranium has been enriched, is 1.7 times denser than lead, and very effective for punching through armoured vehicles. (Alex Kirby, “US Rejects Iraq DU Clean-up,” BBC News, 14 April 2003, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/2946715.stm, downloaded 29 Aug. 2007.)
When a weapon with a DU tip or core strikes a solid object, like the side of a tank, it goes straight through before erupting in a burning cloud of vapour. This settles as chemically poisonous and radioactive dust. (Alex Kirby, “US Rejects Iraq DU Clean-up,” BBC News, 14 April 2003, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/2946715.stm, downloaded 29 Aug. 2007.)
How does a depleted uranium weapon work?
The use of depleted uranium in weapons has little to do with its hint of radioactivity, and everything to do with its high density. It is one of the more dense elements and that means a shell going at a particular speed carries an awful lot of momentum. It is that momentum which is useful.
Depleted uranium is nearly two-and-a-half times more dense than steel and more than one-and-a-half times more dense than lead. This means that a typical 2ft-long missile tipped with depleted uranium and weighing just under 5kg has enough momentum to break through the heavy armour of a tank. Once it has blasted through the armour, the uranium tip disintegrates. Because of the heat created, the particles of depleted uranium start burning.
What does it do to the soldiers under attack?
This is not pretty - the immediate effects of this weapon on a tank's crew will almost certainly be devastating. Aside from the shards of metal flying around, there is a danger of being burned or suffocating as the oxygen inside the vehicle is used up. (Alok Jha, “Depleted Uranium,” Guardian, 25 Apr. 2003, downloaded from http://www.guardian.co.uk/uranium/story/0,,943633,00.html, 12 Sept. 2007.)
This is an aluminum model of one D.U. tank round. This round would be fired by an Abrams tank. If it was actually uranium rather than aluminum it would be over ten pounds of solid uranium. What happens is it moves at extremely high velocity. The minute it leaves the bore of the gun it catches on fire. So this rod is a burning rod of uranium. It impacts – tremendous forces, unbelievable forces over this very small diameter and it’s like a blowtorch with tremendous forces that punches right through. (Dr. Doug Rokke, U.S. Army Health Physicist and Nuclear Medicine Sciences Officer in Power Hour, Beyond Treason, video, 2005.)
When used in war, the depleted uranium (DU) bursts into flame [and] releasing a deadly radioactive aerosol of uranium, unlike anything seen before. It can kill everyone in a tank. (25) (Michel Chossudovsky, “Low Intensity Nuclear War,” Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research, 2001, downloaded from http://www.jacksonprogressive.com/issues/kosovo/chossudovsky_lowintensity.html, 26 Aug. 2007.)
(25) Rosalie Bertell, Email Communication, May 1999.
Depleted uranium, a waste product of the uranium enrichment process, has been used by the
Because of its density, "it is the superior heavy metal for armor to protect tanks and to penetrate armor," Pentagon spokesman Michael Kilpatrick said. (Juan Gonzalez, “Poisoned? Shocking report reveals local troops
may be victims of
Just about all American bullets, tank shells, missiles, dumb bombs, smart bombs, 500 and 2,000 pound bombs, cruise missiles, and anything else engineered to help our side in the war of us against them has Uranium in it. Lots of Uranium. (Bob Nichols, “There are No Words. Radiation in Iraq Equals 250,000 Nagasaki Bombs,” Dissident Voice, 27 March 2004, downloaded from http://www.dissidentvoice.org/Mar04/Nichols0327.htm, 8 September 2007.)
The US Phalanx defense employs a six-barreled gun that fires 3,000 depleted-uranium rounds a minute, but the gun must have precise coordinates to destroy an intruder "just in time." (Mark Gaffney, “The Sunburn -
The US military forces with the Defendant as Commander-in-Chief, with full knowledge of the nature and impact of the weapons system, known to the Manhattan project as early as 1943, used DU ordnance by way of attack aircraft, AH-64 helicopter gun ships , advanced cruise missiles ,CALCM among others . PGU -14 API uranium piercing munitions fired by Vulcan Cannon installed on A10 Gun ships, and AH-64 Apache gun ships apart from the Bunker buster bombs (DU weapons) which were dropped from F-16 attack planes . (Judgement of Professor Ms Niloufer Bhagwat J, International Criminal Tribunal For Afghanistan at
Figure 2 - Hard target guided weapons in 2002: smart bombs & cruise missiles with "dense metal" warheads (updated September 2002)
(In the event that the warheads are not visible, please go to URL
given in the citation, below.)
Warhead weights include explosives (~20%) and casing. Dense metal ballast or liners (suspected to be DU) estimated to be 50-75% of warhead weight - necessary to double the density of previous versions. AUP = Advanced penetrators. S/CH = Shaped Charge. BR = BROACH Multiple Warhead System (S/CH+AUP). P = older 'heavy metal' penetrators. © Dai Williams 2002
source: Depleted Uranium weapons in 2001-2002: Occupational, public and environmental health issues - Mystery Metal Nightmare in
(Leuren Moret, formerly of Lawrence Livermore Laboratories, “Depleted Uranium: the Trojan Horse of Nuclear War,” World Affairs: The Journal of International Issues, 1 July 2004, downloaded from http://www.mindfully.org/Nucs/2004/DU-Trojan-Horse1jul04.htm, 26 Aug. 2007.)
DU ammunition is now possessed by more than 12 countries, and was used during the NATO led bombing of the former
These investigations question one of the best kept military secrets of the last decade. The facts about DU weapons are well known to military experts and arms manufacturers in the
But how much do politicians know about them? What have aid agencies been told? And why have the media stayed silent about new weapons in the Afghan war?
The conclusions have immediate implications for the health, safety and welfare of civilians, troops and aid workers in
They question the role of Governments, UN agencies and the validity of official research studies concerning Depleted Uranium (DU) to date.
They raise serious questions about the global proliferation of DU in military and civilian applications and its suspected widespread use in
They have fundamental implications for the classification of DU munitions as weapons of indiscriminate effect as defined in the 1st Protocal additional to the Geneva Conventions. Their use is a war crime. (Dai Williams, “Depleted Uranium weapons in 2001-2002. Occupational, public and environmental health issues: Mystery Metal Nightmare in
There are more than 77,000 Tons stored at the 103 nuclear waste plants and a stunning 1.5 billion pounds at the several Nuclear Weapons Labs and related facilities in the
Each nuke waste generating plant makes another 250 pounds of radioactive material a day for radioactive bullets, shells, bombs, and missiles. Not to put too fine a point on it; but, that is enough for 288 more gloriously successful campaigns like the 2003 Nuclear Radiation War in