From: Rosalie Bertell
Subject: Kosovo: Use of depleted uranium
Date: 31 March 31 1999 20:56PM

Dear Catherine and others,

I am an Epidemiologist, not a physicist (although I have taught college 
level physics). My specialty is in higher mathematics, with applications in 
the radiobiology and the biomedical sciences.

You can quote me on the following comment on the crisis in Kosovo:

Depleted (DU) uranium is one of the largest categories of radioactive waste 
produced for the nuclear weapons and nuclear reactor industry. It is highly 
toxic to humans, both chemically as a heavy metal and radiologically as an 
alpha particle emitter which is very dangerous when taken internally.

Recently it has been substitute for lead in bullets and missiles by the US 
and UK, and was first used extensively by the West in the Gulf War.

It is most likely a major contributor to the Gulf War Syndrome experienced 
both by the veterans and the people of Iraq.

When used in war, the DU bursts into flame from the impact when it hits a 
target. It can pierce tanks and armoured cars, releasing inside of them a 
deadly radioactive aerosol of uranium, unlike anything seen before. It can 
kill everyone in a tank. This ceramic aerosol is much lighter than uranium 
dust. It can travel in air tens of kilometres from the point of release, or 
be stirred up in dust and resuspended in air with wind or human movement. It
is very small and can be breathed in by anyone: a baby, pregnant woman, the 
elderly, the sick. This radioactive ceramic can stay deep in the lungs for 
years, irradiating the tissue with powerful alpha particles within about a 
30 micron sphere, causing emphysema and/or fibrosis. The ceramic can also be
swallowed and do damage to the gastro-intestinal tract. In time, it 
penetrates the lung tissue and enters into the blood stream. It can be 
stored in liver, kidney, bone or other tissues, again for years, irradiating
all of the delicate tissues located near its storage place. It can effect the
blood, which is the basis of our immune system, and do damage to the renal 
system as it is eventually excreted in the urine. It can also initiate 
cancer or promote cancers which have been initiated by other cancinogens.

In October 1998 the WHO undertook a two year study of the increasing cancer 
rates, especially leukemia in young children, which have been note in 
southern Iraq where most of the war took place. The WHO report is not yet 
out, but newer data from Iraq tells the story of even more dramatic 
increases in cancer rates, especially among the Iraqi veterans who 
participated in the war. In the West, thousands of veterans are recognized 
as seriously ill with an unknown syndrome, and we have been able to document
DU in their urine as late as 7 or 8 years after the war. There is no natural 
source of DU to explain this phenomena!

It is imperitive that we all denouce this radiation and toxic chemical 
warfare! It has now been used by the US and Britain against Iraq and in 
Bosnia. It is now being used in Kosovo (NATO announcement in Europe, 30 
March 1999). It has been condemned by the United Nations Human Rights 
Tribunal (August 1996 Session of the UN Commission on Human Rights, 
Sub-Commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of 
Minorities). The Human Rights Commission has requested that the Secretary 
General prepare a written report on DU and certain other weapons of mass 
destruction (Resolution 1997/36, which also established a UN Rapporteur to 
take over the study of DU and other weapons of mass destruction on behalf of
the UN). The damage being done will not only cause incredible and unending 
suffering to today's victims, but the genetic damage it may cause can be 
passed on to their offspring. Such weapons and war itself need to be 
condemned as utter barbarianism!

This is certainly not to be interpreted as condoning so called ethnic 
cleasing or any of the nationalistic actions of the Yugoslave government. 
However, as one of the Professors at the University of Toronto said, "I can 
offer a different and more effective policy, but I would not start from here
". This Kosovo action is resulting from deep seated conflicting ideas of "
World Order" - that proposed by NATO's vision of itself as a world police 
force, and that of the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in 
Europe) which sees security rising out of honest cooperation and legal 
resolution of conflicting opinions.

Rosalie Bertell, Ph. D., GNSH

"Among the vanquished the poor people went hungry,
among the victors the poor people went hungry." -- Bertold Brecht