Depleted Uranium Haunts Kosovo and Iraq

Iraq and Kosovo may be thousands of miles apart, but they share the dubious distinction of contamination with radioactive residue from depleted uranium (DU) bullets used in American air strikes. After several years of silence, US officials finally admitted that 340 tons of DU were fired during the Gulf war. In Kosovo, American delays in providing details of quantities and target points have frustrated international efforts to assess health risks. Despite repeated requests, NATO waited almost a full year after the start of bombing in March 1999 to say that 31,000 DU bullets–a fraction of the number fired in Iraq–were fired by A-10 “tankbuster” aircraft over Kosovo. A Belgrade report published this April estimates that about 50,000 DU bullets had been used in parts of Serbia and Montenegro as well as Kosovo. Evidence is plentiful on the ground that DU was used in heavily populated areas, and that civilians and returning refugees were never warned of the danger.

The high-density bullet is made of low-level radioactive waste left over from manufacturing nuclear fuel and bombs. DU bullets were designed in the 1970s to defeat top-line Soviet tanks. Some 20 nations now keep the world’s best armor-piercing rounds in their arsenals. First used in combat during the Gulf war, they proved to be unmatched tank slayers. (A Pentagon official points to one other benefit: the US can give away its 1.2 billion pound stockpile of radioactive waste to weapons manufacturers.) When DU smashes into a hard target, it pulverizes into breathable dust that remains radioactive for 4.5 billion years. American nuclear scientists have found that DU dust can travel at least 26 miles. Scientists of the National Institute for Health Protection in Macedonia detected eight times higher than normal levels of alpha radiation–the primary type emitted by DU–in the air during the air war. Yugoslav soldiers have found DU rounds in Bujanovic in the south, and a Swiss-led international team found “serious radioactivity” when it dug up many rounds at a radio tower near Vranje.

Despite predicting that “every future battlefield will be contaminated” with DU, the Pentagon asserts that DU risk is minimal. But training materials developed in the 1990s require full protective gear and masks in contaminated areas, in line with Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) rules. The US military requires an NRC license to handle the smallest amount of the restricted material. A US Army-commissioned health report issued just days before the Gulf war noted that radiation is linked with cancer and said that “no dose [of DU] is so low that the probability of effect is zero.” Still, the Pentagon argues that “residual DU from battlefields in Kosovo does not pose a significant risk to human health.”

US soldiers partly ascribe Gulf war syndrome to DU exposure. British troops deployed in Kosovo are suing their defense ministry for ailments they attribute to DU. The UN refugee agency in Kosovo now includes papers in personnel files to note work in potentially DU-contaminated areas. In Kosovo, Western de-mining groups were told by NATO to “exercise caution” and not to climb on destroyed armored vehicles. Last October Col. Eric Daxon, the US Army’s top radiological expert, said: “The best thing I can tell anybody about entering a contaminated vehicle or damaged vehicle is: ‘Don’t do it. It is a dangerous place to be.’”

But that message never got through to hundreds of thousands of Kosovar Albanians, in whose name the Kosovo campaign was fought, and whose DU exposure could be highest. Rexh Himaj, a mechanic who lost most of his tools during the conflict, didn’t think twice about salvaging parts from destroyed Serbian vehicles. Like thousands of returning refugees, he was just glad to get back to work.

But the concrete surface of a Serbian military base on the west side of Djakovica where I found him working was pockmarked with DU hits, as was the nearby road. The ground was littered with spent aluminum shell casings that are unique to 30 mm DU bullets. A boy climbed on a burned-out armored vehicle, then jumped off and kicked at a shell casing.

“Now I know it’s dangerous, but that is a risk I’ve got to take,” said Himaj, when the telltale casings are explained. His hands were greasy-black with work. “If [the Americans] didn’t use this stuff, then we might still have Serbs here. On the other hand…I hope they clean it up.” But cleanup is virtually impossible. One US Defense Department report lists eight soil decontamination techniques, including multiple nitric acid washes, but “in no case did the achieved separation suffice to allow unrestricted disposal.”

A confidential preliminary UN report leaked in May 1999, as the bombing continued, did not mince words: “This type of ammunition is nuclear waste, and its use is very dangerous and harmful,” it said. After NATO released its figures, the UN recommended that “measures should be taken to prevent access.” For Kosovars, like Iraqis, such warnings may be too late.


About the author:

Scott Peterson covers the Middle East for the Christian Science Monitor.

For comprehensive coverage of depleted uranium, visit <http://www.csmonitor.com/durable/1999/04/29/p1.htm>

READ MORE!
George Szamuely, “Bombs For Peace: NATO’s Humanitarian War On Yugoslavia”, 2013
George Szamuely.  Bombs for Peace: NATO’s Humanitarian War on Yugoslavia.  Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2013 (Distributed in the U.S. and Canada by the University of Chicago Press).  Paper.  Pp. 611.In Bombs for Peace, George Szamuely, a senior research fellow at the Global Policy Institute at London Metropolitan University, has produced a revealing and sharply argued analysis of Western intervention in the Balkan wars of the 1990s.  The primary focus of the book is on Western diplomatic and military interventions, which played a crucial role in the breakup of Yugoslavia and the plunge into conflict.  Continued intervention fueled deeper conflict, as ...
READ MORE
Kosovo and Ukraine: US-NATO operations. Compare and contrast
There have been at least two countries in Europe in recent history that undertook ‘anti-terrorist’ military operations against ‘separatists’, but got two very different reactions from the Western elite.The government of European country A launches what it calls an‘anti-terrorist’ military operation against ‘separatists’ in one part of the country. We see pictures on Western television of people’s homes being shelled and lots of people fleeing. The US and UK and other NATO powers fiercely condemn the actions of the government of country A and accuse it of carrying out ‘genocide’ and ’ethnic cleansing’ and say that there is an urgent ...
READ MORE
Kosovo Albanian “Skanderbeg SS Division”
The historical and political precedents for the creation of a greater Sqiperia or Greater Albania was set during World War II when the Kosovo and Metohija regions along with territory Southwest of lake Skutari from Montenegro and the western region of Southern Serbia, or Juzna Srbija (now part of Macedonija), were annexed to Albania by the Axis powers led by Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, under a plan devised by Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler to dismember and to destroy the Serbian Nation and people, which the Germans and Italians perceived as the main threat to the axis powers and ...
READ MORE
Israelis – Not Muslims – Cheered in Jersey City on 9/11
The corporate media don’t like Donald Trump. They used to like him a lot; in fact, Big Business Media are responsible for making this minor multi-millionaire into a household name. But Trump is on their hit list, nowadays, because the Republican presidential candidate insists on telling his own lies, rather than sticking to the list of official lies parroted by corporate media every minute of every day.Donald Trump told a really “HUGE” – as he would put it – lie when he claimed to have watched thousands of Muslims cheering in Jersey City, New Jersey, as the World Trade Center ...
READ MORE
German Documentary Film On NATO’s War Against Yugoslavia In 1999 (English Subtitle)
 VIDEO: German documentary film about the false pretext and German propaganda used to exert and sustain public support for illegal NATO aggression against Serbia and MontenegroJoin the debate on our Twitter Timeline!
READ MORE
Who was US Special Representative to Kosovo Frank G. Wisner?
On December 19, 2005, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced the appointment of Ambassador Frank G. Wisner as the Special Representative of the US Secretary of State to the Kosovo Status Talks.Who is Frank G. Wisner, Jr.?If his name sounds familiar that is because he is the son of Frank Gardiner Wisner, Sr., the CIA agent most responsible for the recruitment of Nazis by the US government after World War II. A former member of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the World War II precursor to the CIA, Frank G. Wisner, Sr., was one of the most infamous ...
READ MORE
The Real Reasons Why FBI Director James Comey Reopened the Hillary Email Investigation
This last Friday it became public record that FBI Director James Comey reopened the Hillary Clinton email server investigation after repeatedly testifying before Congress and the world up to last July that he’d closed the case, after in his words not finding sufficient evidence of “any criminal wrongdoing” to indict her in spite of her four years as Secretary of State egregiously breaching our national security:’ -committing obstruction of justice and willful tampering with evidence, -deleting 30,000 emails after receiving a court subpoena constituting destruction of evidence, -not to mention repeatedly engaging in perjury before Congress and the FBI.But obviously a federal investigation still in process in late June never stopped Bill Clinton’s illegal ...
READ MORE
American Unlimited Imperialism: Syria
Historically, this latest eruption of American militarism at the start of the 21st Century is akin to that of America opening the 20th Century by means of the U.S.-instigated Spanish-American War in 1898. Then the Republican administration of President William McKinley stole their colonial empire from Spain in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines; inflicted a near genocidal war against the Filipino people; while at the same time illegally annexing the Kingdom of Hawaii and subjecting the Native Hawaiian people (who call themselves the Kanaka Maoli) to near genocidal conditions. Additionally, McKinley’s military and colonial expansion into the Pacific ...
READ MORE
Genocidal Corporate Media
Genocidal corporate media presstitutes follow the all-too-familiar script of blaming the victim for the crimes perpetrated by aggressor nations.NATO terrorists, for example, are invading and occupying Syria, and the Syria government is blamed for the ensuing disasters, but the presstitutes omit this this from their narratives and instead find creative ways to blame the al Assad government whose duty it is to protect Syria, its sovereignty, and its territorial integrity. When terrorists are occupying cities, as they do in Syria, innocent people will always be victimized, including during government operations to clear out the terrorist infestations, but the presstitutes blame ...
READ MORE
Nightmare by Design: NATO’s Takeover of the Kosovo Town of Orahovac
IntroductionBelow are TENC's October 1999 interviews with three Serbian women from the Kosovo town of Orahovac. They recount how, prior to the June 1999 NATO-UN takeover of Kosovo, they believed NATO's promise that it would institute multi-ethnic harmony. They discovered too late that for NATO multi-ethnic meant rule by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).In September, TENC had published its first interview with an eye-witness to the NATO-UN Kosovo takeover: Cedomir Prlincevic, President of the Jewish community and Chief Archivist in Pristina, capital of Kosovo.Mr. Prlincevic described how he and the rest of the small Jewish  community were driven from their ...
READ MORE
Since 9/11, The U.S. Has Been Involved In More Than 5 Wars … And They Have All Been Disaster
Why Does America Keep “Losing” Its Wars?Below, we demonstrate that the U.S. keeps “losing” war after war.There are 3 potential reasons this might be happening: Is this chaos an intentional way to implement regime change and grab resources? Or is this a sign of the decline of the American empire … and we just can’t win a war anymore? Or do those in charge just not really give a damn about winning … and are they just focusing on one short-term goal after another?We’ll let you decide why you think this keeps happening. But if you don’t believe that the ...
READ MORE
The “World’s Policeman” Retires on Disability
Ever since the end of World War II, the United States, rightly or wrongly, but most of the time, wrongly, has fancied itself as the «world’s policeman». Even a disastrous and costly military intervention in Southeast Asia did not deter the United States from acting as the chief arbiter of what governments were «in» and which were «out» as evidenced by Central Intelligence Agency interloping in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Angola, Haiti, and Colombia. Two military interventions in Iraq and a U.S.-led military campaign directed against Yugoslavia were not enough to pry the United States from its self-appointed role as the ...
READ MORE
The Contradictory Statement of Riyadh on Syria Talks
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir currently stated that the Syrian talks in Astana would lead to ceasefire in the country.However, in this context, the minister’s statement sounds a little bit strange as throughout the Syrian conflict, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states have been providing comprehensive assistance to Islamic State terrorists, supplying weapons, equipment and mercenaries to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. There are undeniable proofs of these “acts of good will” on behalf of Saudi Arabia.Large chemical reserves seized by the Syrian army last week in eastern Aleppo destined for the manufacture of explosives can be characterized as striking ...
READ MORE
Netanyahu, Palestine and Ethnic Cleansing
Well, once again, Israeli Prime Murderer Benjamin Netanyahu astounds. One would think that there must be some limit to the bizarre statements that issue from his mouth, but no, we learn again and again that he is willing to push the bizarreness envelope to places where, like the crew of Star Trek’s Enterprise, no one has ever before ventured.His latest flight of fancy even seems to have astonished his worshipful U.S. government, which characterized his statements as ‘inappropriate and unhelpful’, harsh criticism indeed from that bastion of Israeli love. And what is it that Mr. Netanyahu has said? This writer ...
READ MORE
America and the Great Abdication: Don’t Mistake Donald Trump’s Withdrawal from the World for Isolationism
When great powers fade, as they inevitably must, it’s normally for one of two reasons. Some powers exhaust themselves through overreach abroad, underinvestment at home, or a mixture of the two. This was the case for the Soviet Union. Other powers lose their privileged position with the emergence of new, stronger powers. This describes what happened with France and Great Britain in the case of Germany’s emergence after World War I and, more benignly, with the European powers and the rise of the United States during and after World War II.To some extent America is facing a version of this—amid ...
READ MORE
The President Needs Congressional Authorization for Military Action as Required by the Constitution
“While we all condemn the atrocities in Syria, the United States was not attacked. The President needs congressional authorization for military action as required by the Constitution, and I call on him to come to Congress for a proper debate. Our prior interventions in this region have done nothing to make us safer, and Syria will be no different.” Senator Rand Paul, (R-Kentucky), 7 April 2017.A central concern of the Founding generation, when writing the Constitution, was to ensure that no one man, or one man and his clique, could take the republic to war. To that end, the Constitution ...
READ MORE
The Painful Truth: War is a Racket on Behalf of Wall Street and the Bankers
“We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth…For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it might cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.” —Patrick Henry, Virginia Convention, 23 March, 1775“The completeness of the victory is established by this fact: that of the six hundred Moros (Muslims living in the southern Philippines at the beginning of the 20th century) not one was left alive. The brilliancy of the victory is established by this other fact, to wit: that of our six hundred heroes only fifteen lost their ...
READ MORE
Thank You, Edward S. Herman (1925-2017) – Tireless Champion of Peace
Edward S. Herman died on November 11, 2017, at the age of 92. Fortunately, it was a peaceful death for a supremely peaceful man. In all he did, Ed Herman was a tireless champion of peace.Ed Herman could be considered the godfather of antiwar media critique, both because of his own contributions and because of the many writers he encouraged to pursue that work. Thanks to his logical mind and sense of justice, he sharply grasped the crucial role and diverse techniques of media propaganda in promoting war. He immediately saw through lies, including those so insidious that few dare ...
READ MORE
2791603 02/15/2016 Old Town destruction in Aleppo. This 12th-16th-century set of buildings was included into the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1986. Michael Alaeddin/Sputnik via AP
Recently, the West and the Middle East pundits and analysts have been trying to analyze the provisions of the new draft constitution proposed by the Russian side as a solution to the Syrian conflict.Naturally, analyzing the provisions, any of the sides involved in the conflict is trying to present itself as the legitimate government. That raises the question of whether to adopt such a draft or not, because a newly appointed government would have to comply with a new constitution. Not surprisingly, not only the moderate opposition and illegal armed groups, but the official Syrian authorities as well subject the ...
READ MORE
Neoconservatives, Machiavelli and The Prince
Tyrants and despots have never required justification for their actions. In the 17th century, as political philosophers began to reject the classic Catholic doctrines of politics and ethics, The Prince was viewed as more relevant: truths are more important than ideals.It is probably not an accident that The Prince has been misinterpreted for 300 years. Taken literally, there is no better justification for tyranny, whether political or economic, than the universal misinterpretation of The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli. This small pamphlet, written in 1513–1514, addressed to the new Medici prince, if taken literally, outlines the best practices to attain and ...
READ MORE
George Szamuely, “Bombs For Peace: NATO’s Humanitarian War On Yugoslavia”, 2013
Kosovo and Ukraine: US-NATO operations. Compare and contrast
Kosovo Albanian “Skanderbeg SS Division”
Israelis – Not Muslims – Cheered in Jersey City on 9/11
German Documentary Film On NATO’s War Against Yugoslavia In 1999 (English Subtitle)
Who was US Special Representative to Kosovo Frank G. Wisner?
The Real Reasons Why FBI Director James Comey Reopened the Hillary Email Investigation
American Unlimited Imperialism: Syria
Genocidal Corporate Media
Nightmare by Design: NATO’s Takeover of the Kosovo Town of Orahovac
Since 9/11, The U.S. Has Been Involved In More Than 5 Wars … And They Have All Been Disaster
The “World’s Policeman” Retires on Disability
The Contradictory Statement of Riyadh on Syria Talks
Netanyahu, Palestine and Ethnic Cleansing
America and the Great Abdication: Don’t Mistake Donald Trump’s Withdrawal from the World for Isolationism
The President Needs Congressional Authorization for Military Action as Required by the Constitution
The Painful Truth: War is a Racket on Behalf of Wall Street and the Bankers
Thank You, Edward S. Herman (1925-2017) – Tireless Champion of Peace
The future of Syria is in your hands
Neoconservatives, Machiavelli and The Prince