Depleted uranium — weapon of mass destruction

Below is an excellent compilation on depleted uranium. Several articles in the list are about the use of DU in the ocean including

References below state the U.S. Navy has tested depleted uranium munitions in the ocean and on Vieques Island. It was also used heavily in Iraq.
(all links below have not been checked to see if they are still active)

Uranium Munitions = Depleted Uranium

half life of 4.5 billion years *

What is depleted uranium?  Natural uranium ore from the mine goes through an enrichment process designed to separate uranium 235 (U-235), the isotope used for nuclear weapons and nuclear reactors, from uranium 238 (U-238), a low-level radioactive by-product. The highly radioactive isotope U-235 accounts for less than 1% of mined uranium; nearly all the rest is U-238.

The vast quantity of highly toxic metal (U-238) generated by this process is called “depleted uranium” or “DU.”  DU emits primarily alpha radiation, and its half-life is thought to be about the age of the Earth, or 4.5 billion years. DU is approximately 2.5 times denser than iron and 1.7 times denser than lead. This high specific gravity means that, as a projectile fired from a tank or aircraft, it carries enough kinetic energy to blast through the tough armor of a tank. Furthermore, the impact of this penetration generates extreme heat. DU is pyrophoric, meaning that it burns on impact and can set the target on fire. DU is easy to process and endless quantities can be obtained free from the Department of Energy (DOE), which controls DU and considers its use in munitions to be “utilization of waste material.”   Retrieved 08/11/04

As U-238 breaks down, an ongoing process, it creates protactinium-234, which radiates potent beta particles that may cause cancer as well as mutations in body cells that could lead to birth defects.

When a depleted uranium round hits a hard target, as much as 70 percent of the projectile can burn on impact, creating a firestorm of depleted uranium particles. The toxic residue of this firestorm is an extremely fine insoluble uranium dust that can be spread by the wind, inhaled and absorbed into the human body and absorbed by plants and animals, becoming part of the food chain. Once in the soil, it can pollute the environment and create up to a hundredfold increase in uranium levels in ground water, according to the U.N. Environmental Program.  Retrieved 08/12/04

The United States military has never confronted an opponent that used depleted uranium. Most exposure to American military personnel has been a result of fire from their own forces. MATTHEW L. WALD The New York Times Oct 19, 2004

Vets Exposed to Radiation Lose Ruling August 29, 2006 In a quiet ruling that nonetheless resonates nationwide, a federal appellate court rejected efforts by Broudy and others seeking claims on behalf of “atomic veterans.” The same court simultaneously rejected bids by other veterans exposed to biological and chemical agents.

Victory in Washington State: Washington State’s DU Bill in the Final Budget

House Passes McDermott Deleted Uranium Study Amendment The House passed legislation that includes an amendment by Rep. Jim McDermott ordering a comprehensive study on possible health effects from exposure to depleted uranium on U.S. soldiers and their children. 5/11/2006

Possible Depleted Uranium Health Effects on Soldiers Will Be Studied

After years of relentless and unwavering efforts, including speeches, interviews, news conferences, working with groups like Physicians for Social Responsibility, and even appearing on a punk rock album by AntiFlag, Rep. Jim McDermott (WA–D) ordered a comprehensive study on possible health effects from exposure to depleted uranium on U.S. soldiers and their children. The House of Representative passed McDermott’s amendment on May 11, 2006.

Watch this floor speech.
[ Click here to get Windows Media Player]

“As long and winding as the road has been to get where we are today, this is only the beginning­but this is a great day because we have taken the first step to defend the U.S. soldiers who protect and defend us,” McDermott said.

Shortly after passage, Rep. McDermott received a letter from James King, the national executive director of AMVETS, the American Veterans organization:

“This is a very important issue for AMVETS and its membership. Our ultimate goal is to provide atomic veterans with the tools necessary to file a claim and be considered for due compensation. Your amendment will help begin this process.

Again, thank you for your amendment and your support of veterans and their families.”

Rep. McDermott has spent several years working to get the House to study DU. He explained the reason behind his passionate advocacy for the issue in this way:

“For me, this is a personal, not political, quest. My professional life turned from medicine to politics after my service in the U.S. Navy during the 1960s, when I treated combat soldiers returning from Vietnam.

“Back then, the Pentagon denied that Agent Orange posed any danger to U.S. soldiers who were exposed. Decades later, the truth finally emerged. Agent Orange harmed our soldiers. It made thousands sick and some died. During all those years of denial, we stood by and did nothing while soldiers suffered. No more Agent Orange!

“If DU poses no danger, we need to prove it with statistically valid, and independent scientific studies. If DU harms our soldiers, we all need to know it, and act quickly as any doctor would, to use all of our power to heal the sick. We owe our soldiers a full measure of the truth, wherever that leads us.”

The amendment to undertake a comprehensive study of possible health effects to soldiers from exposure to depleted uranium was contained in the Department of Defense Authorization Bill, which passed the House on Thursday evening.

Depleted uranium is a by-product of the uranium enrichment process. Because it is very dense, the U.S. military uses DU for munitions like armor-piercing bullets and tank shells, and as a protective shield around tanks. When used in munitions, DU pulverizes into a fine dust upon impact; it can hang in the air, be inhaled, or seep into the soil.

During the Gulf War, the U.S. military used approximately 300 metric tons of DU as munitions. To date in the Iraq War, approximately 150 metric tons have been used. During conflicts in Bosnia, Kosovo, Serbia, and Montenegro, about 12 metric tons were used. (A metric ton is slightly more than 2,200 pounds.)

In addition to its own use, the United States has provided or sold DU and DU munitions to several other nations.

Revision date: May 16, 2006

Depleted Uranium  ‘Depleted’ Uranium and Health Glen Lawrence, Ph.D.

* This means that it will go releasing ionizing radiation into the environment, essentially forever. After the Gulf War DU remained suspended in the air above Kuwait City for two years.

“The Doctors, the Depleted Uranium and the Dying Children”

A stunning new video made for German television shows the use and impact of radioactive uranium weapons during the current Iraq War. Veterans, military families, activists and interested individuals can now order this documentary with English narration for non-commercial use, through the website for Traprock Peace Center, a not-for-profit peace education center, at  . This documentary, written by Freider Wagner and Valentin Thurn, provides commentary by British veterans about the harm uranium exposure has caused in their off-spring. Canadian, German and Iraqi physicians and researchers discuss their findings, including samples gathered at an Iraqi TV station that indicate the US probably has used uranium and nuclear reactor wastes in bunker-busting bombs, since U236 was detected in debris gathered there.

To purchase “The Doctors, the Depleted Uranium, and the Dying Children” (VHS NTSC format) go to
The purchase price is $25.00 for non-commercial, non-institutional use and includes first class mail within the US.
(If you require expedited shipping, please call Traprock at 413-773-7427 as the shipping rates will vary.)

October 18, 2003 Interview (mp3) with Professors Gunther, back from visits to Iraq hospitals, and Schott (on chromosomal damage.)

World Uranium Weapons Conference
Oct 16-19 – University of Hamburg, Germany

NEW International conference reader is now available for free downloads as pdf files. Many thanks to conference organizers for making this amazing resource available for download. It sold as a book during 2004. (see photo at left).

Download reader sections:

Introduction: Dedication to Yalim Yacoub; Editor’s Notes; Index; Forward; Conference Schedule; Opening Remarks by organizers David Kraft, Nuclear Engergy Information Service; Marion Küpker, Conference Coordinator; and Dai Williams, independent weapons researcher. (pages 1-18 – pdf)

Science Panel: Presentations or papers by: Professor Yagasaki Katsuma, Japan; Chris Busby, Ph.D., UK; Dr. Souad Al-Azzawi, Iraq; Dr. Jawad Al-Ali, Iraq; Dr. Jenan Hassan, Iraq; Heike Schröder, molecular biologist, FRG; Professor Siegwart-Horst Günther, FRG; Dr. Eisuke Matsui, Japan; Professor Al-Aboudi Kadhum, Algeria; Professor Yuri Bandashevsky (article on his imprisonment in Belarus); Professor Huda Ammash, Iraq; Professor Alim Yacoub, Iraq. (pages 19-83 – pdf)

Depleted Uranium Video by Dennis Kyne 12 minutes free video by Dennis Kyne.

Poison Dust Poison DUst tells the story of three young men from New York who could not get answers for their mysterious ailments after their National Guard unit’s 2003 tour of duty in Iraq. A mother reveals her fears about the extent of her child’s birth defects and the growing disability of her young husband – a vet. © 2005, DVD 84 min. (with modular chapters): $20; 28 and 57 min. versions: $20; 10 min. versions: $10 — Call  212-633-6646 or order online at

States with DU Bills Pending   Connecticut Bill No. 7502 DU Bill Louisiana DU Bill passed

Not everyone believes that DU exposure is harmful to humans. Certainly the Administration that claimed there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, wants us to believe that DU is harmless. Below is the beginning of articles that express differing opinions from those above.

Sons of the earth. Man did not weave the web of life: he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web he does to himself. All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. All things are connected. Contaminate your bed, and you will one night suffocate in your own waste.” — Chief Seattle (1786 – 1866, leader of the Suquamish and Duwamish peoples, Washington State) Chief Seattle, “This Earth is Precious,” produced by Van Brink and Associates, 1989.