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America's Depleted Uranium Weapons Have Devastated Iraq

America's Depleted Uranium Weapons Have Devastated Iraq
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America's Depleted Uranium Weapons Have Devastated Iraq

Severe radioactive pollution and disease have been inflicted on Iraq through the use of weapons hardened with depleted uranium, and Iraqi authorities must seek redress from the occupying powers.

March 22, 2005


The discovery of Iraqi sites with depleted uranium is garnering little attention in the Iraqi media, despite the fact that the Environment Ministry from time to time reports evidence of uranium pollution in Baghdad and Basra, and in other regions of the country. These reports point to the many damaged military vehicles left in areas scarred by battle in 2003. Much of this wreckage remains polluted by uranium, and is collected and sold in surrounding areas as junk. The Environment Ministry has also pointed to the presence of uranium in tree trunks. This is not the first time that the issue of pollution from depleted uranium has been a problem here. The previous regime appealed to international organizations for help in addressing the dangers of these pollutants, and accused the World Health Organization of procrastination, after American forces attacked Iraq during the First Gulf War in 1991 with over 94,000 missiles coated with depleted uranium.


Depleted uranium has become a permanent fixture in the Iraqi environment, and the question today is what are the consequences of radioactive contamination to public health in Iraq, and why isn't this issue being raised by the authorities?


Since their occupation of the country in 2003, the Americans have brought with them more than just the "fruits of democracy and freedom." What the purpose of the American project in Iraq and the region is, only Allah knows, but local and international authorities are behaving as though Iraqis and their environment are immune from the harm that results from the use of these types of weapons.


THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION


Isn't it strange that American reports point to the use of such missiles, but fail to recognize that they are forbidden internationally? Because of the war and the use of such large numbers of weapons containing depleted uranium, cancer has spread with abundance through the population, especially in the Basra governorate, and we notice that leukemia in children has increased by 24% since the war began.


World Health Organization experts that examined the damage resulting from depleted uranium missiles noted that the victim of these weapons were the entire Iraqi nation. According to the first chapter of a report issued in 2000, experts confirmed from soil samples taken from areas that were targeted with bomb and missile attack, that cancer rates increased along with the pollution that resulted after the use of these between the first Gulf War in 1991 and the occupation in 2003.


The WHO once again sent a team of experts in 2002 to study the facts on the ground, and spent more than two months surveying the Iraqi environment. The WHO never released their findings, which brought accusations that they were buckling under American pressure.


Depleted uranium is especially dangerous when radioactive molecules, carried in dust, travel hundreds of kilometers and enter the body when people breath, or when it lands of food and people eat it. This can cause cancer. Cancer rates over the last few years have risen not only in Iraq, but also in countries bordering Iraq.


It is worth mentioning that German experts that participated in seminars in Iraq confirmed that the ratio of pollution in the Iraqi environment exceeds the naturally occurring rate by a wide margin, and that present levels of radiation make it dangerous for all organisms. Previous Iraqi Ministry of Health reports pointed to the spread of different types of cancer and congenital deformities, and called for an international campaign to clean up the Iraqi environment.


THE UNITED NATIONS ATTITUDE


Observers have pointed to the fact that U.S. forces once again utilized weapons containing depleted uranium when they began their invasion at the port of Umm Qasr on March 18, 2003.


The United Nations has sent experts and researchers to verify cancers that are known to result from the use of the banned weapons, and hold investigations for international organizations, so that work on the provision of medicines and other systems may proceed. Scientific reports of these delegations confirm that cancer is a prevalent phenomenon in Iraq, and the reason for this prevalence is the use of depleted uranium.


Press report from the United Nations Environment Program, issued in Geneva on April 24, 2003, describe a strategy to protect the citizens and environment in Iraq after the war, and refers to "the new reality of environmental circumstances in Iraq." UNEP also confirms the necessity of acting quickly to prevent matters from getting worse, include repairing water supply and purification systems, and cleaning up badly polluted areas and former battle zones, to limit the danger of epidemics.


AMERICA IS PRIMARILY RESPONSIBLE


The spread of nuclear pollutants in Iraq began when Israel, with American support, attacked the Tamuz high-energy reactor in 1981. This attack dispersed the water used to cool the reactor directly into the streets. This water contained very dangerous levels of radioactive material, and caused a dramatic increase in sickness and cancer of all kinds.


In spite of the danger, the previous regime hid the facts and failed to carry out a campaign to protect citizens of the afflicted region from the damage.


Then in 1991, American forces struck Iraq with more than 94,000 missiles coated with depleted uranium, which led to the pollution of Iraq and surrounding countries.


Concerning the last war on Iraq, launched by the Americans in 2003, the use of weapons containing depleted uranium occurred as seasonal temperatures rose in Baghdad, which has the highest temperatures in the world. This led to the wide dispersal of radioactive dust.


America is also responsible for permitting looting at the Tuweitha Nuclear Facility, because it was in control of the facility in April 2003, and failed to protect the site.


The radiation resulting from the use of depleted uranium in weapons, used by invading U.S. forces in the bombardment of Baghdad and the rest of Iraqi, especially in Basra in the south, has resulted in the sabotage of the environment and the humans, plants and animals within it, and has spread a swath of injury, congenital disease, deformity and involuntary abortion throughout Iraq.


We notice many cases of strange births and early deaths in our children's hospitals.


Our study of the region surrounding the Al-Tuwaitha site shows the extent of the environmental damage to this area, including to plant life and to the Tigris River, which is now devoid of life. Livestock that drank from the river also perished, and we saw the appearance of new diseases never seen in Iraq.


To add to the difficulty, Iraq lacks the advanced systems to treat the conditions resulting from this radiation. For example, depleted uranium remains in the atmosphere and maintains its radioactivity for hundreds of years. This is the size of the nuclear disaster American forces have visited upon the Iraqi environment.


THE RIGHT TO COMPENSATION


The data demonstrates the reality of the human and environmental disaster that Iraqi society must grapple with, and shows that it will suffer the effects of pollution and radioactivity for many years to come. Iraq's government, its civil society and individuals, who were harmed or may be harmed in the future, have a right to expect compensation.


International law is designed to protect the Iraqi environment from the damage, killing and destruction that resulted from the American attacks, and from the use of such a huge number of banned weapons that inflicted such devastation upon the Iraqi environment, and consequently upon the Iraqi people.


The Iraqi authorities, through the ministries of health, environment and interior, are responsible for collecting the data and completing a survey defining the extent of the environmental devastation inflicted by the occupation forces, and for asking the occupying countries to pay compensation to match the incredible damage that has befallen Iraq.
 
 


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