The Cancer of War: US Used Depleted Uranium in Syria

Despite vowing not to use depleted uranium (DU) weapons in its military action in Syria, the US government has now admitted that it has fired thousands of the deadly rounds into Syrian territory. As Foreign Policy Magazine reports:

US Central Command (CENTCOM) spokesman Maj. Josh Jacques told Airwars and Foreign Policy that 5,265 armor-piercing 30 mm rounds containing depleted uranium (DU) were shot from Air Force A-10 fixed-wing aircraft on Nov. 16 and Nov. 22, 2015, destroying about 350 vehicles in the country’s eastern desert.

Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman John Moore said in 2015 that:

US and coalition aircraft have not been and will not be using depleted uranium munitions in Iraq or Syria during Operation Inherent Resolve.

Now we know that is not true.

Numerous studies have found that depleted uranium is particularly harmful when the dust is inhaled by the victim. A University of Southern Maine study discovered that:

…DU damages DNA in human lung cells. The team, led by John Pierce Wise, exposed cultures of the cells to uranium compounds at different concentrations.

The compounds caused breaks in the chromosomes within cells and stopped them from growing and dividing healthily. ‘These data suggest that exposure to particulate DU may pose a significant [DNA damage] risk and could possibly result in lung cancer,’ the team wrote in the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology.

We should remember that the United States is engaged in military activities in Syria in violation of international and US law. There is no Congressional authorization for US military action against ISIS in Syria and the United Nations has not authorized military force in violation of Syria’s sovereignty either.

The innocent citizens of Syria will be forced to endure increased risks of cancer, birth defects, and other disease related to exposure to radioactive materials. Depleted uranium is the byproduct of the enrichment of uranium to fuel nuclear power plants and has a half-life in the hundreds of millions of years. Damage to Syrian territory will thus continue long after anyone involved in current hostilities is dead.

Daniel McAdams is director of the The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity. Reprinted from The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity.

  • Don

    A good and honest cause by those who condemn DU. But not to sound defeatist but first nearly half of Americans would have to be convinced that DNA acutally exists in living things and is what it’s claimed to be. It’s inconsistent with Christianity. How sad.
    And unfortunately, in Canada, my country, there are probably nearly a third of the people who are of the same opinion.

    Certain things must change before DU is condemned and it’s use is stopped.

  • Don

    Proposing a new topic:
    And so what are we here at antiwar.com to make of this?
    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/02/classified-memo-tells-intelligence-analysts-keep-trumps-daily-brief-short

    Is this the deep state wresting away control from a duly elected president in a criminal way that is being supported by his detractors?

    Or is it something that we should feel safer upon hearingt? Is it a necessary step to protect vital secrets? And does it perhaps bode well for humanity in that it could be an indication that sane minds are watching Trump very closely now? And even—–Trump’s “access” to the red button for nuclear war has been acted upon and perhaps diminished.

    Especially interesting will be the libertarian view? It seems to me to represent a battle between big government and a president?

  • Rhotel1

    Don, do you actually know what DU is? It is not a byproduct of uranium enrichment as cited in the article. It is naturally occurring Uranium-238. It is concentrated in uranium enrichment – concentrated from 99.3% to about 99.8% as the .7% of U-235 is increased to 3 to 5%. Now, for the shocker. Uranium is found everywhere on Earth and every single human being from protohuman to the ones who eventually push off to the stars inhales, ingests and drinks in a fraction of a microgram of U-238 every single day of their life. You only stop taking in U-238 when you breathe your last breath. DU has been alleged by professional propagandists and sympathetic peace activists who believe them to cause cancers and birth defects. That simply is not true. Ask those who know the UN Environmental Programme that made three field studies of the Balkans and trained Iraqis to make a similar field study near Basra and also did work in Lebanon that proved false claims made by Palestinians about DU being used there, and the World Health Organization that assisted the Iraqi Ministry of Health in making a first ever study of birth defects in Iraq, showing that there was no major increase in birth defects, let alone one caused by DU. The Syrian airstrikes were probably a mistake since it is fairly useless to fire DU penetrators at oil tankers – they punch at most a 30mm hole in the tank – they do not explode or set the oil on fire. Combat Mix is 4 rounds of DU penetrators and 1 round of HEI (High Explosive Incendiary) which blows a large hole in the tank with the explosive charge and ignites the oil with the incendiary charge. HEI actually is put in the mix as a tracer bullet. It would have been far better all around to have used pure HEI which is a viable option that has most often been used to arm the A-10 Warthog. Look forward to some of you learning the facts first before just buying in to 25 years of carefully crafted lies.

    • soren turesson

      I confess my ignorance

      • Don

        That’s what he wanted. It was meant to be intimidating to most people but it didn’t work with everybody. He doesn’t have the personal expertise in my opinion because if he did he wouldn’t have opened the door to his smackdown he’s going to get.

      • Rhotel1

        What do you want to know? How prevalent U-238 is in environnment? What DU penetrator is made from? Why DU penetrator was selected in 1970s? How DU penetrator kills a tank? I do not see post I made on Saturday afternoon, so I have repeated the English Garden calculation which provides a reasonable estimate of the amount of U-238 found in the top 1 meter of soil in a 1/10 acre (.274105 Hectare).

    • Don

      First of all, why you are going off at me is a mystery to me! I didn’t say a word one way or the other about DU. And my link wasn’t on the topic.

      However, first I have to ask you if that post is your own expertise or is it taken from another source. I’ll assume for now that you have accessed another source with priorities of minimizing the impact of DU. Bear in mind though, that is not my position on DU. I haven’t stated that yet.

      When you talk of ingesting small quantities of U-238, you are correct. What you don’t mention is that background level of U-238 is a carcinogen and does cause Cancer in some people. Fact! Do you have the personal expertise to argue that with me?

      If that is established to be true then it’s also likely to be true that increased levels of U-238 in the air would increase the Cancer incidence. Exploded US munitions would seem to do just that.

      I doubt your information you have presented from studies that were apparently made by various orgs. But let’s deal with the first question which is my submission that background levels of U-238 cause Cancers in some portion of the population. That will give me an indication of your sincerity. Or lack of sincerity for propaganda purposes.

      Or, in other words Rhotel1, you can’t pick somebody at random to fu-k with. You could end up getting yourself in hot water!

      • Rhotel1

        The last sentence of your initial comment triggered it and I really would like to see the medical evidence of your alleged claim that U-238 causes cancer. Given the fact that it has been here forever and always will be, the human race would not have survived. You clearly have made no effort to look for any references. I have not got time this afternoon and won’t be back on line for some hours, but the references are readily discernable. Everything I write is a result of my own research so I really resent that I am supposed to represent someone. I don’t.

        By the way, background level refers to radiation, not content of a element or isotope in the earth’s crust, atmosphere and waters.

        Further, the half-life of U-238 is 4.5 billion years, not hundreds of thousands as mentioned in the article. Uranium-238 is as old as the Earth and it will be present as long as there is an Earth or Solar System.

        • Don

          If what you say is based on your own research then you must have narrowed it down to trying to prove your point in order to further your agenda.

          I say that because you are unaware of the fact that some Cancers are caused by the environment in which a person lives. A good example you may have heard of (should have heard of) is Radon in dwellings. That is an example which destroys your notion that natural background radiation is harmless.

          So now I’m beginning to suspect that you are of the opinion of nothing that is natural is harmful, is based on your religious faith. How sad! Why would anybody say that natural radiation would have killed off humanity before it got it’s start millions of years ago, if it wasn’t based on religious superstition?

          If you wish to pursue this and challege me further then I would suggest that you bone up on the facts about Radon contamination.

          In reality, I don’t think you are up to it and you are an example of a little knowledge being dangerous. Had you not approached the topic of U-238 from the POV of disproving negative claims on the US’s use of it, you would have learned the real facts.

          Have I even told you that I suspect that evidence shows that US use of DU has caused an elevated Cancer rate among the Iraqi people? If not then I am now.

          • Rhotel1

            Don, I believe in science – my degree is in Geology so when people claim that Grand Canyon is 5000 years old and sell their book in the National Park bookstore as they did under former President George W Bush, I am concerned. Your assertion is completely without basis and you owe me an apology. I have obtained substantial information on Radon since you raised your comment and I expect that you were not particularly well informed on that either. With regards to human precursors, I hope you were not thinking of PreCambrian amoeba, but the oldest prehominid was about 4.4 million years old as shown below

            PS – Lucy used to be the oldest known prehominid at about 3.2 million years old as determined by

            ” argon-argon dating in the geochronology laboratory of the Institute of Human Origins at 3.22 and 3.18 million years.”

            but now we go back even further

            “International scientists have assembled the partial skeleton of a pre-human who lived 4.4 million years ago during one of the earliest known periods of human evolution.

            The scientists, led by UC Berkeley anthropologist Tim D. White, named their hominid creature Ardipithecus ramidus, and nicknamed her “Ardi” after the first of her bones were unearthed in the remote Afar desert of the Ethiopia and analyzed in 1992. Since then, they have learned increasingly more about Ardi whose legs, arms and skull shows features that are part ape and part human.”

  • BrotherJonah

    My cousin, Sgt T Hank Brown, was in the Desert Storm and contracted DU poisoning. He’s 6′ 5″ and before the Army finally admitted it was their fault, and started treatment on him For Uranium Poisoning which by the way is what happens when super-concentrations of DU and isn’t really so much about radiation as it is Heavy Metal Poisoning. Like what you get when you ingest lead or mercury…. but he weighed about 75 pounds. That’s two meters of height and about 32 kilos of body mass. We almost lost him. The VA and not the rest of the Pentagon Umbrella organizations made the determination.

    They probably don’t want to make notice of the concentrations of Mercury and DU in coal-fired generators like what we have in Colorado Springs. That’s the “clean coal” that assholes like Donald Black, notable racist commentator, Donald Blankenship who got 29 miners killed by ignoring safety regulations, and Donald Trump keep saying that it could never harm us and we are supposed to say it’s necessary. The Army also has a little bit of influence on the additive quantities of Mercury and DU in the soil and water in southern Colorado, as we were warned more a decade ago in Colorado Springs by the commander at Fort Carton that “the U.S. Army has to use the same rounds in practice fire that would be used in “defending Freedom” and it was none of our f-ing business how much mercury and DU they were putting into our water and soil.

    There’s also gold mining waste right across Fountain Creek from my house, it’s about 200 meters away, which Real Estate promoters have tried o get grass to grow on what looks like a sand dune but is tailings of a long-defunct damn, I forget how to say it but for copper and iron it would be called a “smelter”. There’s an unusual amount of rare cancers connected to heavy
    metals here, which the mining-oriented government of Colorado ignores.

    For the same reasons they defend the Army from any lawsuits, no matter how many Americans, civilian and military alike, die from their pollution, it’s supposedly “strategic” and necessary for “OUR” Freedom.

    They taught me in Basic Training that the Military don’t have any kind of idealism or political focus, we were to do exactly what we were told to do and our mission was NOT “freedom” but Do What You’re Ordered To Do.

    Apparently the Corporate Government has the same message for all citizens

    It’s Fascism on the hoof

    • Rhotel1

      I would like to see more about your relative Sgt T Hank Brown. What unit did he serve in? What were his duties? I do not think that he died from DU poisoning, but am willing to learn. I have corresponded with the doctors in Baltimore that do research for VA in this area and have never seen anything about this. You can contact me directly at DUStory dash owner at yahoo groups dot com

      • BrotherJonah

        Cavalry, out of Fort Sill, tanker truck driver, commendation from immediate superiors for duty under fire.

        I believe that’s the Second Cavalry.

        He didn’t die from it, because he was in the first wave of soldiers who actually were treated, and that was in 2003. They were treated using medical protocols used for heavy metal poisons, one intense therapy was chelation. Kind of like dialysis with extra steps.

        I initiated conversations with soldiers from the Mountain Post at Ft Carson, who informed me they were scheduled for uranium testing, every week. Of course that’s against protocol, asking or revealing information with civilians.

        At the time there was some mention in the press, where the official story was ‘don’t worry about your in-service loved ones, we give them a screening for DU once a month’. It’s easy to talk to soldiers. Their duties and lives are really damned boring for about oh I’ll toss a stat that’s really not substantiated, 90%+ of your time is preparedness drills. Guard Duty, CQ duties, stuff like that. Even in a free-fire zone that only goes down by about a couple of percentage points. And that only for directly Combat Specialists.

        I take shameless advantage of that for peace movement reasons. eh.

        It’s better than selling them dope or other destructive commodities. Or buying or selling military hardware.

        For a quick reminder of who and what faces us when we criticize Pentagon propaganda, there’s one near to me, US Air Force Staff Sergeant Howard Lanning who died from Agent Orange, one of his jobs during VietNam was loading it onto aircraft for dispersal. He wasn’t one of those who had to burn the detritus, that was usually punishment detail, but those guys died quick.

        That got revealed by the DEA, confirmed by them really, with their announcement that they were spraying Mexican marijuana crops with a related chemical, Paraquat.

        The Pentagon was in steady denial that AO could kill or even sicken a mammal, only plants. The DEA quoted a Pentagon study which was buried by 1978, which noted that igniting the contaminated plant matter and breathing or skin/mucus contact with the burning detritus could cause, immediately, organ damage and bleeding from the lungs.

        Those who died more slowly, like from transdermal adsorbed of the chemical itself, have a much higher standard of proof they must produce. Or the Air Force and Army simply let them die, painfully and expensively. And it’s complicated because two similar chemicals, Paraquat and Round-Up, also herbicides, practically unregulated, the only regulation is that end-use packaging warns you not to spray it on yourself.

        They spray it all over military bases, because tall vegetation, well, if you’re going to invade a presumably hostile base it’s really helpful if they have tall grass and bushes to crawl through. They also poison birds mammals and reptiles on base, and they don’t actually tell the soldiers/sailors/airmen/marines nor their dependents or civilian workers that it’s happening.

        Now, the Pentagon DID issue a sort of statement, in a tirade against Saddam, that Children who were impoverished by the blockade (water and sewage pipe could be McGyvered into high-tech artillery devices, don’t you know)
        were making a few extra coins for their family by recovering the shards of American DU shells for use in ‘dirty bombs’ and were dying of cancers because of that instead of the shell shards being in their water supply and that their little digestive pulmonary cardiac immune and nervous systems were weakened, which the US also denied was happening due to the economic sanctions, because looking like baby-killing savage barbarians would not be convenient to the Pentagon and their corporate masters.

        And it goes hand in hand with the concurrent claim that Saddam had quite a few perhaps hundreds of kilos of yellow cake uranium. Which was conveniently never found, much like the supposed 500 metric tonnes of varieties of Nerve Gas.

        Supposedly the very young as in some were preteen soldiers who were supposedly shuffling those more than a million pounds of nerve gas, hours ahead of the Inspectors, the ones the US government propaganda called Malnourished and untrained, without one single incidence of accidental exposure or release into the population centers, where of course military bases are positioned. See, that’s the kind of mindset you’ll encounter trying to get even non-classified straight story information from the Pentagon. I think i wrote about 800 words in this post, the Pentagon will bury such a puny little note as this with 800 pages a day, triplicate that, for years, of “their side of the story”

        • Brother Jonah Thanks for taking the time to type all that. Rhotel1-Time to just shut up. All one need do is look at the state of vets affairs in the US, and do a bit of digging into the history of US imperialism and resource acquisition by force, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to deduce that the US government is, and has been for decades, run by complete psychopaths.