18 November 2004: For immediate release
The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament today welcomed the findings of a ground breaking independent inquiry into Gulf War Syndrome. Lord Lloyd not only recognised and named the syndrome; he acknowledged that one of the likely causes was the use of Depleted Uranium (DU). CND repeated its call for a ban on DU calling its use ‘nuclear war by the back door’.
NATO dropped 340 tons of DU in the first Gulf War in 1991 and even more has been used in the latest war on Iraq. Its effects have been disputed but evidence is mounting that the effects of radiation from inhaled and ingested particles can have devastating effects on health and is linked to deformity in babies. DU is a radioactive by-product of the process that produces enriched uranium for use in atomic weapons and nuclear power plants. It is known to be used in anti-tank, armour piercing munitions (30 and 120mm) and in enhanced armour for some Abrams tanks.
Kate Hudson, Chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament said,
“The findings of Lord Lloyd’s inquiry are a huge step towards justice for the 6000 British veterans estimated to be suffering from Gulf War Syndrome. This inquiry is further evidence of the horror of the use of depleted uranium. Evidence is mounting that this radioactive arsenal does not discriminate between soldiers and civilians and the effects are felt for decades and generations. This is nuclear war by the back door and must be banned.”
Notes to editor:
1. For further information, please contact Ruth Tanner CND’s Press & Communications Officer on 07968 420859#
2. The effects of depleted uranium on human health are also highly contested. All sides tend to agree that the main threat to health comes from uranium oxide particles released into the atmosphere as the shell burns up. On contact with its target around 20% of the shell’s DU mass burns spontaneously and can disperse widely. The dust dispersed can be inhaled or ingested. Contamination of food and water supplies adds to the risk of ingestion. The WHO notes that this sort of contamination is sometimes a result of use of DU weapons .
3. Dr. Alim Yacoub et al of Basra University conducted an epidemiological study into incidences of malignancies in children under fifteen years old, in the Basra area (an area bombed with DU during the first Gulf War). They found that in the years 1990 to 1997 there was a 120% rise in the number of general malignancies, while over the 1990 to 1999 period, there was a 242% rise. Leukaemia was seen to rise 100% in the 1990 to 1999 period with a similar steeper increase in the last 2 years.
4. In 2003 The Christian Science Monitor measured radiation levels in Baghdad 1,000 to 1,900 times higher than normal adding that “in this years war on Iraq, the Pentagon used its radioactive arsenal mainly in the urban centres, rather than in desert battlefields as in “91” .