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Ecocide in Yugoslavia
Prof. Ph.D. Goran Belojevic - 7 Jun 1999
With the application of ecocide, that is, massive and organized environment degradation in a war conflict, the world was faced for the first time during the Vietnam War. Between 1962 and 1970, the US armed forces threw 50, 000 tons of herbicides onto the territory of Vietnam and those were: 2,4-D, 2,4,5-T, cacodyl acid and pichlorame, commonly known as orange, purple, blue and white gasses. The consequence was destruction of 10% of the Vietnamese territory, out of which around 1,9 million hectares are under forests (90,5%), and around 200, 000 hectares are under crops (9,5%). These surfaces are deserted marshes now, swarming with insects and rats, and it will take a long while to rear some cultures there again.
For the second time in the twentieth century, and again by the US armed forces as the major and incontestible "master" of NATO, ecocide is being applied, this time in war against Yugoslavia. For the first time in the history of wars, chemical and petrochemical plants, oil tanks, power transformer stations and thermal power plants are being targeted, and depleted uranium ammunition is being massively used.
Yugoslav air, water and soil have been contaminated in the long run by toxical, denaturing and carcinogen agents and radioactive isotopes, products of uranium fission. Among the toxical agents, the prevalent are amoniac, hydrogen chloride acid, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, arsenic, cadmium, lead, and nytric oxides. Among the carcinogen and denaturing substances the most important are benzol, polychloride bifenyls and trifenyls and perylene oils. Only with the devastation of mineral fertilizers and plastics plants in Pancevo, 3, 000 tons of amoniac, 200 tons of vinyl chloride monomers, 800 tons of concentrated hydrogen chloride, ethylene chloride, elementary chloride and elementary mercury were emitted into the air. Out of these substances fosgene was formed, lethal choking poison, which was last used in 1917. Radioactive 235 uranium with low fissionable cores' density, the so-called "depleted uranium" , is a nuclear power plant waste not economical for further usage. However, its incorporation into missiles and artillery grains increases their efficiency by high temperature boost at the explosion. After the explosion, the 235 debris contaminate air, soil and water, and contribute to the increase of environment radioactivity with dissolution semi-period of 700 million years. Since the majority of war operations took place in Kosovo, this part of Serbia will remain a radioactively contaminated region, with a high health threat to the population. Particularly threatened are pregnant women, fetuses, and small children. This is absolutely contradictory to NATO's officially declared objective to safeguard the return of refugees, because repopulation must not take place in a radioactively contaminated zone, as long as the radioactivity level has been rendered within acceptable limits bya thorough radiologic monitoring and decontamination measures.
Judging by the so far heedlessness of the International Martial Law infringing, it is likely that NATO, i.e., the US armed forces, will not hesitate to apply in Yugoslavia the abundant experience of forest and crop destruction, as done with herbicides in Vietnam.
Ecocide means an introduction into genocide, because by preemption of life conditions and a manifold increase of health risks in one people's environment, the people itself is being destroyed. Ecocide is a heavy war crime. This crime was committed with impunity in Vietnam. It is up to the mankind conscience, that is, the United Nations Organization, to decide upon whether to let the same thing happen to the ecocide in Yugoslavia.
Prof. Ph.D. Goran Belojevic
Link to the main page on the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia and its aftermath