Killing our own with depleted uranium

The United States has no business employing such weapons.

Imagine a weapon equivalent to Agent Orange combined with a nuclear bomb. Such weapons exists – and are in regular use. They are depleted-uranium weapons, made from the waste products of nuclear power plants and weapons facilities. U.S. forces are using them in Iraq, even after horrific side effects of their use surfaced during the 1991 Gulf war. The United States has no business employing such cruel weapons.

The United Nations classifies depleted-uranium ammunition as an illegal weapons of mass destruction because of their long-term impacts on the land over which they explode and the long-term health problems they cause when people are exposed to them. Apparently, the United States is hypocritical enough to disregard a plea not to use weapons of mass destruction.

Hundreds of thousands of U.S. soldiers suffer from Gulf war syndrome and have had children with severe birth defects after being exposed to depleted uranium; other health risks include cancer and radiation sickness-like syndromes. Enough studies have confirmed these harmful effects of radiation and heavy metal toxicity. It is not just U.S. soldiers who will feel the effects this time. While much of the depleted uranium use in the Gulf war occurred over desert, in Iraq the weapons are exploding over heavily populated civilian areas. Iraqis will feel the effects of the radiation and uranium years after the United States leaves the scene – U.S. forces are poisoning the very population they are supposedly seeking to liberate. And while U.S. citizens and Iraqis are dying, the Pentagon insists depleted uranium is “safe” for U.S. troops. This blatant disregard for scientific, medical proof that these weapons are damaging is a crime against humanity – some justifiably label it a war crime.

Just as Agent Orange still affects Vietnam veterans and radiation sickness remains in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, depleted uranium-related illnesses will haunt thousands of soldiers and civilians for years to come. And the number of those affected will steadily increase the longer these weapons remain in use in Iraq. The U.S. armed forces must cease their use and regain an iota of compassion for human suffering.