Russia Does Not Exaggerate Ecological Aftermath of Iraqi War

According to Russian military experts, ecological aftermath of the Iraqi war will be notably minimized in comparison with the first military operation in the region, the so-called Persian Gulf War, said Alevtin Yunak, the defence ministry's ecological security chief, at a press-conference Tuesday.

It is for economic reasons that the coalition troops are conducting their operations so as to cut to the minimum all the negative consequences for the ecological system of Iraq, he said. But Alevtin Yunak could not fail to mention that the mideastern region witnessed the sharply deteriorated environment.

The Persian Gulf ecology is particularly endangered by fires set to oil wells and tanks threatening to eject into the atmosphere a huge amount of highly-toxic cancerogenic substances whose content in the air can be exceeded in the countries bordering on Iraq.

Up to 50 oil wells and storages are now ablaze on the territory of Iraq, says the head of the military ecological service. To be compared, the six months of the first war in Iraq saw 700 oil wells ablaze and the daily ejection into the air of 20,000 tons of sulphur oxide and 12,000 tons of soot.

The destroyed oil-mains in 1991-1992 charged into the Persian Gulf about 11 barrels of oil, making that ecological disaster unparalleled in its effect upon the environment.

The defence ministry's spokesman forecast another Persian Gulf oil pollution this time.

One more menace to regional ecology is, in his opinion, the use of warheads with depleted uranium cores. It was specified that when this kind of weapon is employed, up to 80 percent of uranium evaporates, turning into an aerosol which spreads within the radius of five kilometres and, together with the dust, sets on the surrounding surfaces.

With uranium's half-life being five years, one can speak about a long-time radiation contamination of the region, he said.

About 800 such warheads containing 200 kilos of uranium were launched during the first Iraq war.

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