PORTUGAL: ARMED FORCES HEADQUARTERS REFUTES CLAIM BY NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL

An official source from the Portuguese Armed Forces Headquarters stated categorically that NATO did not issue a copy of the document of July 1999 to Portugal’s military representative at NATO at the time. This document warned NATO countries participating in Kosovo against the toxic threat to the health from Depleted Uranium (DU) weapons. Lord Robertson stated last Tuesday that this document was distributed to all the NATO countries involved in Kosovo “without exception”. This statement started a furious quest for the document by the Portuguese Armed Forces, because it did not appear in the military archives. Unless the Armed Forces had “lost” the document, Lord Robertson’s declaration did not make sense. The conclusion now is that NATO did not distribute the document to the Portuguese Armed Forces and that the Portuguese contingent in Kosovo was never officially warned against the dangers of DU weapons, even though they were placed in one of the worst affected areas. Meanwhile, a 23-year-old Bosnian interpreter working for the Italian military force in Kosovo has died. Of cancer. A NATO special commission is being set up to gather information on the effect of using DU weapons. We hope that this will indeed be the case, and that NATO will not confuse the word “gather” with “disguise, manipulate…hide”. NATO continues to deny the existence of any scientific proof between DU and serious health problems suffered by hundreds of soldiers (and now the first cases among civilians) in the last decade where DU weapons were deployed. Their cassette has been used so many times that the sound is wearing thin and the tape will break one day.

TIMOTHY BANCROFT-HINCHEY Pravda.Ru Lisbon