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Reports emerge the UK used depleted uranium weapons in Iraq

Russia Today


July 29, 2010

Reports have emerged that the UK used depleted uranium weapons during the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. A UK defense official has reportedly admitted using highly controversial ammunition.

"UK forces used about 1.9 metric tons of depleted uranium ammunition in the Iraq war in 2003," UK Defense Secretary Liam Fox said in a written reply to the House of Commons Thursday, Iranian Press TV reported, citing the Kuwait News Agency.

It is alleged that a joint inquiry by Iraqís environment, health and science ministries uncovered more than 40 sites across the war-torn country contaminated with high levels of radiation.

The use of uranium ammunition is widely controversial because of potential long-term health effects. The US and UK have allegedly used up to 2,000 tons of such ammunition during the war.

British Labor Party MP Paul Flynn says the depleted uranium still causes serious health problems.

"We know that in the first Iraq war depleted uranium was used in shells. Itís very likely it was used again," Flynn said. "Itís used as ballast because of its density in shells. Itís not as radioactive as it might be, itís uranium 238 where the gamma-radiation has been reduced and itís not the weapon of mass destruction, but sadly itís a weapon of eternal destruction because it turns into dust and gets into the water supply, into the air and it can of course give children cancer, it can cause birth defects."

Findings of the recent study conducted by a group of researchers in London suggest the same.

"The study that we have conducted does actually prove that there are massive increases in cancer, a 38-fold increase in leukemia, 10-fold increase in breast cancer and infant mortalities are also staggering," one of the authors of the report, British-Iraqi scientist Malak Hamdan told RT.

However, the World Health Organization claims the depleted uranium has not that that large an effect on new-born infants. But science is changing every minute, says another author of the study, Professor Christopher Busby, scientific secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risks.

"There is an enormous amount of new science that is being completely ignored by the World Health Organization and by the scientists who work for the governments who are associated with use of these weapons," Prof. Busby said.

House of Commons Written Answers 22 July 2010

Depleted Uranium

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he will make it his policy to support international efforts to ensure transparency in the use of depleted uranium munitions in the 1991 Gulf War and 2003 Iraq War in order to reduce the potential risks to civilians and to facilitate safe management; and if he will make a statement; [8801]

(2) if he will publish the locations and quantity of depleted uranium munitions used by UK forces during the Iraq War; and what steps he has taken to monitor the effectiveness of depleted uranium clearance programmes in Iraq; [8809]

(3) if he will publish the geographical and quantitative data on the UK's use of depleted uranium munitions in the 1991 Gulf War and 2003 Iraq War held by his Department; if he will make representations to his NATO counterparts to release equivalent information held in their countries; and if he will make a statement. [8810]

Dr Fox: The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has previously published information about the extremely limited use of depleted uranium (DU) munitions by UK forces during the 1991 Gulf War: less than one metric tonne of DU was expended in these munitions.

Approximately 1.9 metric tonnes of DU ammunition was expended in the 2003 Iraq War by UK forces. The MOD provided the coordinates of targets attacked using DU ammunition in 2003 to the United Nations (UN) Environmental Programme. The MOD also shared with the UN and the Government of Iraq the results of a scientific assessment carried out in June 2003 that indicated very low levels of DU even in the vicinity of vehicles struck by DU munitions.

Responsibility for clean-up after an armed conflict falls to the countryís civilian administration with assistance from the international community. The World Health Organisation and the International Atomic Energy Agency state that the risks of DU can be controlled with simple countermeasures conducted by national authorities.

In Iraq, UK forces carried out ordnance disposal activities and removed surface-lying DU fragments as they were discovered. They also exchanged information with humanitarian and other organizations, and warned Iraqis through signs and leaflets that they should not go near or touch any debris they find on the former battlefield. The UK has also provided UN and Iraqi scientists with the results of our DU contamination monitoring in Iraq and offered to provide advice on carrying out risk assessments and on long-term monitoring of DU in the environment, including water.

The MOD has made it clear that we take seriously concerns about the effects of the use of DU munitions. However, the scientific literature and UN report of 24 July 2008 indicate that DU has not been shown to have, and indeed is very unlikely to have, any significant impact on the local population or on veterans.

Other nationsí choices to share or not to share information are a matter for them alone.

:: Article nr. 68405 sent on 30-jul-2010 02:21 ECT


Link: rt.com/Top_News/2010-07-24/uk-iraq-depleted-uranium.html

:: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website.

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