U.S. Guilty of Banned Weapons, War Crimes
Six years after AFP first warned of the dangers of depleted uranium (DU), the administration persists in claiming there is no conclusive evidence that it is a silent weapon of mass destruction that may harm U.S. troops and the alleged enemy.
However, the British government has long since attributed birth defect claims from a 1991 combat veteran to DU poisoning, and studies using cultured cells and laboratory rodents continue to confirm the likelihood of leukemia resulting from chronic exposure as well as the possibility of genetic, reproductive and neurological effects.
Vietnam veterans of a generation ago remember the similar symptoms that affected so many of them from their contact with Agent Orange. Some of their offspring carry daily reminders of what their future fathers inadvertently brought home with them and the eventual birth defects that were passed on.
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A study by the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Long Island University in New York found that uranium dust may do permanent damage to the lungs, resulting in chronic respiratory problems, and that uranium exposure also affects neurological function. Rats exposed to uranium had impaired nerve cell function, and 1991 Gulf War I veterans who were excreting high levels of uranium in their urine showed impairment in cognitive function.
More minor health effects from lesser exposure may also include skin rashes, headaches, blurred vision, sensitivity to light and sound, localized numbness and urinary symptoms, such as kidney stones, increased urine volume and blood in the urine.
Nothing has changed, and until such issues are resolved with further research, the controversial use of DU by the military will continue. Citing the effectiveness of DU in penetrating enemy armor and protecting U.S. forces, the military has rejected calls to ban its use. In fact, some critics have even accused the Pentagon of working to limit the scope of testing for exposure to DU.
In 2004, AFP reported, “The U.S. government has knowingly violated conventions on war by subjecting our own troops and foreign civilians and soldiers to this weapon of mass destruction. The U.S. military should immediately stop using shells and armor made with DU, and a thorough and independent probe of DU’s environmental impact should be set up. Moreover, a comprehensive study should be funded to test civilians in Iraq.”
It was at that time that AFP reported that Doug Rokke, a retired Army officer and Ph.D. dedicated to exposing this coverup, demanded “the end to the use of DU munitions.”
Rokke again publicly deplored the government’s inaction more than a year ago and pointed out that the DU situation had worsened and demanded that President Bush do something, but to no avail.
In early 2007, Rokke said, “The use of uranium weapons is absolutely unacceptable and a crime against humanity. Consequently the citizens of the world and all governments must force cessation of uranium weapons use. I must demand that Israel now provide medical care to all DU casualties in Lebanon and clean up all DU contamination. U.S. and British officials have arrogantly refused to comply with their own regulations, orders and directives that require U.S. Department of Defense officials to provide prompt and effective medical care to all exposed individuals. Israel must do so now.”
Dr. Rokke was quoted earlier as saying, “while U.S. and British military personnel continue using DU munitions, the ‘dirty bombs’ in the coalition arsenal, officials from the Army, Department of Energy and Department of Defense are using agents and hired guns to attack patriotic critics of DU weapons.”
Rokke claimed then, and has seen no change, that his detractors continue to attempt to disrupt his efforts to ensure compliance with mandated medical care and environmental remediation requirements, because the Pentagon wants to be able to use the deadly DU munitions.
His complaints continue to fall on deaf ears—mainly because the corporate-controlled media continues to ignore the illegal use of DU and its long-lasting effects on the health of veterans and the public.
According to humanitarian law, the illegality of DU weapons is based on four criteria:
• The “territorial” test. Weapons of war may only be used in the legal field of battle. Weapons may not have an adverse effect off the legal field of battle.
• The “temporal” test, meaning that weapons may only be used for the duration of an armed conflict. A weapon that continues to act after the war violates this criterion. The territorial and temporal criteria are meant to prevent weapons from being “indiscriminate” in their effect.
• A weapon cannot be unduly inhumane. The Hague Convention of 1907 prohibits “poison or poisoned weapons.” Because DU weapons are radioactive and chemically toxic, as the military knows, they fit the definition of poisonous weapons banned under the Hague Convention.
• The “environmental” test says that weapons cannot have an unduly negative effect on the natural environment. Depleted uranium does not meet the requirements of any of the four.
This outrageous treatment of humanity by an elite few war profiteers has not changed. The extent of adverse health and environmental effects of uranium weapons contamination is not limited to combat zones, but includes domestic facilities and sites where uranium weapons have been manufactured or tested including: the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico; Colonie, N.Y.; and the Jefferson Proving Grounds, Ind.
Medical care must be provided by the Department of Defense for all individuals affected by the manufacturing, testing or use of uranium munitions. Thorough environmental remediation should be completed without further delay.
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