Monday, July 23, 2007

Iraq Minister of Environment blames U.S. depleted uranium for surge in cancer

Herbert Reed, 54, says he has required a massive assorment of medicine since being exposed to radioactive depleted uranium (DU) while serving in Iraq with the 442nd Military Police. The military uses DU for defensive armor plate and armor-piercing munitions. Depleted uranium (U-238) is known from studies to be toxic, especially to the reproductive system and fetus development. Photos widely available on the internet show terrifying birth defects in war-zone babies alleged to be caused by the use of DU munitions.

Iraq's environment minister blamed Monday the use of depleted uranium weapons by U.S. forces during the 2003 Operation Shock and Awe for the current surge in cancer cases across the country.

As a result of "at least 350 sites in Iraq being contaminated during bombing" with depleted uranium (DU) weapons, Nermin Othman said, the nation is facing about 140,000 cases of cancer, with 7,000 to 8,000 new ones registered each year.

Speaking at a ministerial meeting of the Arab League, she also complained that many chemical plants and oil facilities had been destroyed during the two military campaigns since the 1990s, but the ecological consequences remain unclear.

"Our ministry is fledgling, and we need international support; notably, we need laboratories to better monitor air and water contamination," she said.

The first major UN research on the consequences of the use of DU on the battlefield was conducted in 2003 in the wake of NATO operations in Kosovo, Bosnia, and Montenegro. The UN Environment Program (UNEP) said in its report after the research that DU poses little threat if spent munitions are cleared from the ground.

"Health risks primarily depend on the awareness of people coming into contact with DU," UNEP writes in its 2004 brochure "Depleted Uranium Awareness."

No major clean-up or public awareness campaigns have been reported in Iraq.

Read the rest at Novosti

Related Link:
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Study: Inhaled dust from depleted uranium munitions increase risk of gene damage, cancer

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Mystery illness blamed on depleted uranium