As new evidence comes to light over NATO’s use of depleted uranium (DU) weapons, NATO continues to deny that there is any danger to soldiers or civilians living within the areas where DU was used. This continued denial raises suspicions of a massive, prolonged and determined cover-up as more and more firm proof is discovered and NATO’s answer is always the same. Depleted Uranium is cheap to obtain, since it is a residue from the nuclear power industry. The USA procured 130,000 tonnes of it in 1991 for “national defence reserves” and has unfortunately been busy spreading it around the globe since then. Fired at 1,200 metres/second, DU weapons can destroy heavily armoured vehicles or reinforced concrete bunkers up to 3 metres underground. The problem is that radioactive particles are released into the ground, the water supply and the air and these particles do not simple disappear. Radioactive material takes many years to lose concentration. While NATO affirms and reaffirms that these DU weapons are safe, the naked truth is that they are not and here is the evidence: A secret report written by the British Atomic Energy Authority in 1991, quoted by the newspaper “The Independent on Sunday”, states that more than 40 tonnes of DU was left in Iraq and Kuweit during the Gulf War and that was enough “to potentially cause 500,000 deaths”. Substantial numbers of US and British soldiers who fought in the Gulf War have since complained of “Gulf War Syndrome” which NATO sources dismiss as being a form of post-operational stress syndrome. However, on closer examination, the symptoms are identical to those of radiation sickness. Furthermore, the incidence of cancer and congenital malformation in babies has risen meteorically in the Gulf region since the war, as have also cases of leukaemia in children and still-born babies in Iraq. DU was also used in Bosnia-Herzegovina between 1992 and 1995 and in Kosovo last year. The Italian Defence Ministry has admitted two deaths among Italian soldiers stationed in the Balkans in DU areas, one through leukaemia and one through a tumour. However, the Italian media claim that there were four deaths, while there are 12 more cases of leukaemia or tumours among Italian soldiers stationed in areas where DU was used. Dutch soldiers, who were in Kosovo until July of this year, took special care during all operations in which they were involved, wearing protective clothing. The Dutch Army Press Office issued the following statement: “The soldiers always used special equipment and for now there are no cases of illness among them”. This is tantamount to an admission that DU was used and that it is dangerous. The European Council Parliamentary Committee issued a statement on Monday, admitting that the NATO bombings in Kosovo caused “dramatic” damage, which will have a long-term effect on the health and life-quality of future generations. In the report “Facts and Consequences of the use of DU in NATO’s aggression against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1999”, drawn up by the Yugoslav authorities, it is admitted that the contamination level reached 245,000 Becquerel/Kg. in areas where DU was used. This figure is 1,100 times higher than the maximum contamination level considered safe for the health. Zeljko Lazic, attachй at the Yugoslav Embassy in Lisbon, states that he has information proving that cases of illness, with symptoms identical to those of Gulf War Syndrome (Radiation Sickness) are appearing among soldiers and civilians alike who were in Kosovo in the contaminated areas. The Italian Observatory responsible for civilians and soldiers involved in Italian Armed Forces operations, issued a document which guarantees that Italian soldiers are dying from leukaemia, due to DU weapons. This question is particularly pertinent in Portugal, whose contingent in Kosovo is stationed in the Klina area, one of the main areas where DU was used. The Portuguese force is due to leave Kosovo soon. Questioned when this will take place, the Portuguese Defence Ministry Press Officer, Captain Caldas, said that Portugal was not the only international force planning to pull out: “A general withdrawal of all the countries is being studied by Kfor”. How much more evidence does NATO need to admit that it has caused a calamity with weapons that are illegal. DU violates four fundamental international rules on the use of weaponry: Its effects go beyond the battlefield; Weapons should only be used during a conflict and their effects must not have any effect after the conflict has finished; Unacceptable, prolonged suffering is caused by the munitions; The environment has been damaged by the weapons It is not enough to deny and to run away. It is necessary to speak out against the hypocritical tyranny of NATO as it travels the globe looking for new victims to use as showpieces for its weaponry so as to create new markets for its arms trade.

Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey Pravda.Ru Lisbon

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