US use of DU: A war crime

4 Jan, 2011

Syed Mujahid Kamran

While the American scientists and scholars have played a key role in the intellectual evolution of mankind, its wealthy elite and agents - the rulers of the US - have committed the greatest crimes against humanity. These horrific crimes continue unabated with silent intensity. With some exceptions, the “free” US media has maintained complete silence on these crimes. The reason for this silence has to do with the vested interests of media owners - their interests lie in suppressing humanity. Many conscientious and aware Americans do raise their voice against these crimes, but the torment and agony of these American citizens does not seem to have any effect on the pet journalists of media owners. This insensitivity is drowning the United States of America and with it the rest of the world.

One of the most diabolical advances in weaponry is the use of uranium that can no longer be used in reactors. This is known as depleted uranium. It is radioactive. After a certain processing, it can be converted into the hardest material on earth. A steel bullet will not penetrate a steel tank. However, a bullet made of depleted uranium will penetrate through the steel body of the tank and explode inside the tank. Uranium has the property that when heated it burns intensely. In powder form, uranium automatically catches fire when heated.

Nuha al-Radi, an artist and author of Baghdad Diaries, shortly before her death due to leukaemia wrote in 2004: “Everyone seems to be dying of cancer. Every day one hears about another acquaintance or friend of a friend dying. How many more die in hospitals that one does not know? Apparently, over 30 percent of Iraqis have cancer, and there are lots of kids with leukaemia. The depleted uranium left by the US bombing campaign has turned Iraq into a cancer-infested country. For hundreds of years to come, the effects of the uranium will continue to wreak havoc on Iraq and its surrounding areas.”

The US has used depleted uranium in Yugoslavia, Iraq and Afghanistan. Wherever depleted uranium is used in warfare, it generates radioactivity. Burnt uranium will keep radiating for billions of years. Radiations emitted from uranium do not travel far from the source. But if, perchance, these radioactive particles happen to enter your body either through inhalation or through contaminated water intake, then till your dying day and afterwards, they will keep on disrupting basic structures in your body such as DNA, etc. Their effect is to produce deadly disorders such as cancer, which eventually leads the exposed individual to his grave. The US authorities have spread this radioactive debris in various parts of the world and concealed this fact from its people.

According to various estimates, about 500 to 600 tons of radioactive debris lies scattered in various parts of Afghanistan whereas the radioactive debris in Iraq exceeds 2,000 tons. Not only does this radioactive debris kill people, it leads to defective births. According to one report, defective babies are being born in Iraq and Afghanistan in the affected areas - some are without eyes, some have missing limbs, some have faces distorted by flesh that hangs, some have highly deformed reproductive organs and so on. A study of the city of Fallujah, Iraq, covering the period 2005 to 2009, indicates that cancer rates in Fallujah are higher than in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The study has been published in the International Journal of Environmental Studies and Public Health under the title Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth-Sex Ratio in Fallujah, Iraq 2005-2009. The city of Fallujah is experiencing a higher rate of cancer, leukaemia, sexual mutations and infant mortality compared to the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Fallujah was punished collectively on a scale beyond imagination for its heroic resistance.

Congressman Dennis Kucinich was one of the few politicians to raise his voice against the use of depleted uranium weapons. He stated: “One of the most serious abuses of human rights has come through the Pentagon’s development of, production of, and use of, depleted uranium munitions. These munitions have created an unending toll of casualties wherever they’ve been used, and they have created for the United States a great moral dilemma about when we are ready to recognise that the mere use of such munitions constitutes an offence against humanity. And when are we going to recognise our responsibility to not just stop making these munitions, but to help create the cleanup wherever they’ve been used, to help provide medical care for any person who’s been adversely affected by it, and to do the long range studies that must be done in order to calculate the human health effects and to ameliorate those effects in the long-term?”

But the problem is that the US has neither the desire, nor the capability to clean such debris. Where radioactive debris is dispatching people of other countries to death, nature has exacted its revenge and 11,000 American soldiers have died due to such exposure. In addition, according to one estimate, 325,000 US military personnel had been rendered permanently disabled until 2000. In 2006, an estimated 519,000 former US soldiers were in need of constant medical attention and had been rendered useless for the military service and 500,000 were homeless. All these unfortunate men and women were victims of the two Gulf wars. Ordinary Americans are, as usual, unaware of this shattering reality. The corporate cabal, however, does not give a damn - for it, the US people exist only to be used for the wars of corporate profit and conquest of global resources. It uses them and disposes them off.

Evidence presented before an international tribunal on the US war crimes, convened in Tokyo in 2004, is heartrending. Sayed Gharib at Tora Bora testified: “What else do the Americans want? They killed us, they turned our newborns into horrific deformations, and they turned our farmlands into graveyards and destroyed our homes. On top of all this, their planes fly over and spray us with bullets - we have nothing to lose, we will fight them the same way we fought the previous invaders.” The Tokyo Tribunal has declared the US leadership guilty of war crimes.

The writer is the vice chancellor of the University of the Punjab, and his book titled ‘The Grand Deception’ is in press.

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