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CADU Calls for Blair to Commit to no Future Use of Depleted Uranium Weapons in Iraq in Face of Unresolved Gulf War Deaths and Illnesses
16 October 2002
As Whitehall sources disclosed Tony Blair's plans to prepare British Armed forces for an attack on Iraq, CADU, the internationally recognised Campaign Against Depleted Uranium is calling for the Government to agree to a commitment not to use any weaponry containing depleted uranium in any forthcoming attacks. Given the continuing emergence of evidence that potentially links Gulf War Illness to the use of depleted uranium (DU) weapons and the massively increased rates of childhood cancer and birth deformities in Iraq it would be completely inhumane and irresponsible to for Britain to use these weapons again.
CADU finds it particularly alarming that the Whitehall sources have made clear that defence plans include the use of Challenger II battle tanks, which are known to only use DU ammunition and were also used in the 1991 Gulf War. Only this month a report by the Uranium Medical Research Centre in Washington DC found that 11 years on over half the Gulf Veterans in the study tested positive for DU. Another study, also out this month by German biochemist, Professor Albrecht Schott, found that British veterans who fought in the Gulf and Balkan wars (where DU was also used) had up to 14 times the usual level of chromosome abnormalities as would be found in civilian populations. Yet Britain is one of the few countries in NATO that still refuses to recognise Gulf war Syndrome and compensate its soldiers. In a reply to a letter from CADU earlier this month the MoD's Gulf Veterans' Illnesses Unit still claimed that criticism of DU is 'groundless' and without "medical evidence to link DU with ill health".
There is mounting evidence that exposure to low level radiation can lead to cancer and birth malformations. Reports from the UNICEF have documented the rising tide of childhood cancers and, in particular, leukaemia in Iraq. Extremely disturbing birth deformities have also increased dramatically with Basrah maternity Hospital treating 11 congenital anomalies from 1991-4 and 60 in 2000 alone. Yet the MoD argues it is under "no legal obligation to return to the region post-conflict to clear up any DU that remains." And they have made no effort to examine the effects of DU weaponry on returning post-conflict civilian populations. This is despite reports released this year from both UNEP and the British Royal Society that recommended that areas contaminated by depleted uranium should be cordoned off and local food and water supplies monitored for decades to come.
On 13 March this year the MOD published its own programme of research in depleted uranium and admitted that far more research needed to be conducted in this area. With mounting evidence of DU's harmful effects CADU calls for the British government to refrain from all further use of these deadly dangerous radiological weapons.
The Campaign Against Depleted Uranium, Media release