Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day -Nuclear War in real time

Our military is currently using and exporting nuclear weapons.The United States has been using depleted uranium, a by-product of nuclear power plants, for shells, bullets and protective armor of tanks. The uranium is composed mainly of isotope U-238. It also contains U-235, but in a lower than normal content, hence the term 'depleted'. Depleted uranium has several horrifying qualities. For one thing, it spontaneously burns on impact, creating aerosolized particles less than five microns in diameter, that travel airborne for long distances. U-238 emits both alpha and gamma radiation and its by products emit both beta and gamma radiation. DU is roughly 60% as radioactive as naturally occurring uranium and has a half life of 4.5 billion years, the age of the earth. In the United States we now have in excess of 1.1 billion pounds of DU waste. Since the 1970s this waste has been given away free to arms manufacturers as a way of getting rid of it. During the current Iraq War the U.S. use of radioactive DU weapons increased from 375 tons used in 1991 to 2200 tons.
After microscopic and submicroscopic insoluble Uranium oxide particles are formed on the battlefield from the use of the weapons, the particles remain suspended in air and travel around the earth as a radioactive component of atmospheric dust, contaminating the environment, indiscriminately killing, maiming and causing disease in all living things where rain, snow and moisture remove it from the atmosphere. It is believed that the radiation from DU particularly affects the lungs, the kidneys, and bone marrow where uranium compounds from DU can remain for years. A surge in birth defects has been noted in Iraq. In 1989 there were 11 per 100,000 births; in 2001 there were 116 per 100,000 births with no doubt even higher rates after the second Gulf War. As the U-238 decays into daughter radioactive products, in four steps before turning into lead, it continues to release more radiation at each step. There is no way to turn it off, and there is no way to clean it up. It meets the US Government’s own definition of Weapons of Mass Destruction.
International Human Rights and humanitarian lawyer, Karen Parker, determined that depleted uranium weaponry fails the four tests for legal weapons under international law, and that it is also illegal under the definition of a ‘poison’ weapon. Through Karen Parker’s continued efforts, a sub-commission of the UN Human Rights Commission determined in 1996 that depleted uranium is a weapon of mass destruction that should not be used.
Citizens should be aware of this global problem and demand and end to such destructive practices. We must join together to clean up contaminated sites in the US and the Middle East and ban the development and use of such weapons.
I was dimly aware of the issue but I learned a lot more from a book I got at the Greenbelt Labor Day book sale, Metal of Dishonor, Depleted uranium, How the Pentagon Radiates soldiers & civilians with DU Weapons.

4 comments:

Piri Jenkins said...

Scary.

Gordon said...

I don't think it is scary at all unless you happen to be in a tank shot at by DU.

DU has a low radioactivity. Additionally, natural uranium is ubiquitous in the environment. It is in clay, hence it is in house bricks. It is abundant in granite. Granite top counters are used in many kitchens with no adverse result.

What is bad about DU, is that it is chemically toxic if you happen to be near enough to it in the battlefield. Battlefields are dangerous places by design. Bullets of any type are a far greater threat.

I do not agree that it is a weapon of mass destruction. The UN commission is well known to be a bunch of hysterical types who are willing to toss around any "politically correct" term they please. Screw them. Yeah for real human rights. Like the right to drinking water, the right to dignity, and freedom from torture that really is torture. Hysterical claims about DU are torture to me.

Lynnis said...

Brian says Gordon sounds like Ann Coulter.

Brian said...

That's not what I said at all. I said that I thought that Gordon had really found his medium in your Blog, and that he could go head to head AGAINST Ann Coulter.