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Genocide by Depleted Uranium in Gaza: the dossier
Published 14 January 2009
As we have said in the past, "we reject the logic of camps, since this regularly leads to wars (isn’t that its purpose?), to refugee camps, prison camps, concentration camps, sometimes even extermination camps."
We have only one camp, that of humanity.
We do not dispute Israel’s right to self-defense. Only its right to conduct an offensive with the weapons now being used. When a military attack has the appearance of genocide, we refuse to be silent. Genocide means the extermination of a human group. Depleted Uranium weapons are weapons of genocide. They strike indiscriminately an entire population, even striking its gene-pool. The human group they affect is the population that inhales or ingests the fallout. This group is not restricted by political affiliation, nationality, religion or ethnicity. Although reasons of geography and weather mean that one group is the priority victim, no frontier can prevent its neighbours from sharing its tragic fate.
For this reason the use in the Gaza Strip of Depleted uranium weapons, in particular GBU-39 bombs and probably other DU weapons too, certainly constitutes a crime against humanity: in two ways - against the humanity of the Gaza population and against humankind in general.
That is why all humanity, beginning with the people of Isrel, needs to mobilise to stop this crime immediately.
ACDN, 14 January 2009
On Sunday 4 January 2009, at 13h 16 GMT, the Iranian media agency Press TV broadcast a report entitled: "Depleted Uranium found in victims in Gaza”
The report adds that "Israel’s Minister of Defense, Ehud Barak, issued a warning on Sunday that the offensive would be “full of surprises”. Is the report suggesting that the use of Depleted Uranium (DU) could be one of these surprises?
In fact, the statement by the Norwegian doctors quoted by Press TV after some delay seems to correspond with the TV interview given by Dr Mads Gilbert and rebroadcast by Al-Jazeera in the night of 31 December. It is from that date that the Norwegian doctor mentions traces of radioactivity in the wounded, and therefore in victims of the first phase of the Israeli offensive, at the time of the very first aerial bombardments.
During that phase, the Israeli authorities revealed that they had made considerable use of GBU-39’s, which are US-made bombs recently delivered (1000 units) at the start of December, from the USA to Israel. The “miraculous” features of these avant-garde bombs have been vaunted widely in the Israeli press: they are supposed to be capable of even more “surgical” strikes than usual, even in the heart of the Gazan population. Although the Israelis are, for once, very talkative about their arsenal, they are not mentioning the key point, the only point that can explain the “performance” of these terror weapons: the fact that they must contain Depleted Uranium.
Several questions arise: How, given the difficult conditions they are working under, did Dr Gilbert and his colleagues detect “traces of radioactivity”? Did they have the necessary time to carry out the complex analyses? Were they able to sample the necessary tissues or organic fluids? That type of analysis usually takes some weeks in specialised laboratories. How could these emergency medical staff carry them out? Nobody knows.
So, to verify Dr Gilbert’s accusation, we must take another approach, and study the weapons that wounded these people in Gaza. But to show that a GBU-39 contains Depleted Uranium, to penetrate the secret of their fabrication, we must deal with “classified” military data and “defense secrecy”. That is what we have done, reasoning from scattered pointers in order to fill in the gaps of the technical dossiers. And since the logical conclusion to which all these presumptions led has proved positive, we have the duty to make it public immediately, without waiting for approval from the US Department of Defense (DoD) or a written confirmation from the Israeli Minister of Defense - even though we might soon face a scathing denial and a bloodthirsty outcry from the partisans and allies (conscious or unwitting) of the international military-industrial complex.
We are taking this risk, deeming it preferable to the sight of the Gazans (and the region’s wider population, including Israelis) being subjected unknowingly to a “slow-acting genocide”, while the military chiefs, the political leaders and the military-industrial complex’s tame scientists maintain their silent complicity.
On the following day, January 5, Press TV published another interview, in which Dr Gilbert was asked: "What can you say about what you have found concerning uranium?" He replied cautiously: "I cannot say much about our finds concerning uranium, but I can say this: it is proven that the Israelis are using a newtype of weapon with a powerful explosive called ’Dense Inert Metal Explosive’ (DIME) made of a tungsten alloy." Some people may interpret this, it seems wrongly, as a disavowal of what he said previously.
Ten days after we published, in French and English, our first article sounding the alert on this matter "In Gaza, the Genocide by Depleted Uranium has begun" - an article picked up by numerous websites in French and English (but not even one word by the French medias...) - we are still waiting to hear the official denial from the authorities. There is a reason why it has not come: what we were saying was true. Meanwhile we observe with horror that despite UN Security Council resolution 1860 on January 10 demanding an immediate ceasefire, the massacre in Gaza continues. So does the genocide.
There is Uranium. There is Genocide. To enable journalists and intellectuals to be convinced of this, or at least to take the matter seriously enough to make their own inquiries (which would only be doing their job), we shall lay out the elements of our documentation dossier.
Public opinion in Europe and internationally needs to take hold of this, run with it, and force the politicians to take their responsibilities and the urgent decisions that must not avoided.
Our main sources lie in the public domain. They are on the Internet and accessible to everyone. For example the sites that specialise in defense questions, like GlobalSecurity.com or Defensetech.com, mondialisation.ca, the Federation of American Scientists, etc. There are also agency reports and press articles.
Admittedly, the deciphering of public data is easier if you are familiar with questions surorunding weapons, nuclear tehnology and Depleted Uranium, if you know of the concealment practices of the military-industrial complex and the nuclear lobbies, and if you have the habit of identifying the disinformation or outright lies that often enter the discourses of power (any kind, or whatever nationality).
We are also in touch with eminent specialists on DU (Depleted Uranium). For the present article we have shared our knowledge and benefited especially from the valuable help of one of the best specialists in DU pollution. We thank him. We’ll say no more about him, and will call him “Jim”.
Jim describes this perfectly. Here are his words.
“The problems of depleted uranium lie in the competence of scientists (nuclear research scientists) and military figures.
“The scientists are physicists and chemists who have generally had long professional experience and considerable prominence. For many lay-people, these are Men of Science who have gained Knowledge. For this reason they are seen as men of responsibility who cannot lie, all the more so because the use analyses that are a priori objective and approved by experts linked to international agencies. Well, what do these scientists say? That Depleted Urnium is not really a danger for the environment or for human beings, except in rare exceptional cases with some points of contamination. For all (or almost all) of this scientific community, DU is "40% less contaminating than natural uranium”.
“The military figures (users but also arms researchers) rest their knowledge on the scientists’ research reports (aforementioned), whose affirmations they use for their own purposes. Furthermore, during the all the development phases of these weapons, no specific precaution is used (no protective mask, special suit, decontamination by showering...), and even less during actual battles. So the men are handling with no precautions all the material to be loaded (artillery shells, gear to attach the missiles under aircraft wings, transfer of missile heads into the weapons holds of tanks, loading the machine-guns on board the planes...) as if they were handling conventional materials.
“These attitudes and gestures, relayed by the media, can only reinforce the sense of safety which civilian populations and their leaders feel with regard to public opinion in general and local populations in particular. It is a feeling very deeply anchored in the public’s mind, especially since the scientists’ discourse is deliberately reassuring whenever these problems are mentioned.
“Furthermore, the media themselves are present to ‘add a coat of paint’. When we see TV journalists standing by piles of smoking rubble after a bombardment, with no protection, how can we get civilian populations to understand the dangers they face - dangers that are invisible, with neither smell nor taste? Besides, the results of these dangers are not always visible at once and do not show direct physical damage... The contaminations resulting from DU are not as spectacular as those of napalm (the photo of a Vietnamese girl walking naked with her skin peeling off after a US napalm bombing was a shock image that stirred the world’s conscience and sped up the peace process in Vietnam).
“So there’s no shock image for Depleted Uranium... Anyway, we are dealing with the concept of a ‘clean war’, presented in the media through careful orchestration by the PR services of the US forces... This makes it easy to imagine how hard it is for an ordinary citizen to contradict and merely doubt the words of experts, scientists and high officers, or of other levels in the hierarchy. What weight can one person’s words have when, officially, the expert statements declare peremptorily that their weapons are virtually innocuous...?”
The Effects of DU
Despite this, in August 1996 the UN’s sub-commission for Human Rights classed DU weapons among the weapons thought to produce “excessively traumatic effects” to strike “civilian populations indiscriminately” and to cause “serious and lasting damage to the environment” in the terms of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCCW, known as the Convention on Inhumane Weapons) adopted by the UN in 1980 and in force since December 1983. This places them alongside fragmentation weapons, incendiary and blinding weapons, and anti-personnel mines... However, for lack of a “specific additional protocol” to that Convention, the sub-commission’s Resolution N° 96-16 had no concrete effect. Besides, this type of arm is not mentioned in any international protocol for declaration, limitation or banning of strategic nuclear weapons because, although uranium is used, the fact that this uranium is depleted of U-235 (the key isotope for nuclear weapons) enables it to escape the restrictions. Thus, the only concrete effect of that 1996 classification was that Depleted Uranium disappeared from the military’s vocabulary, and the manufacturers’ catalogues and advertisements - but not from the weapons being made or being developed.
Although never cited as such, DU is one of the main causes of “Gulf War Syndrome” (one of several). This syndrome is now officially recognised, at least in the USA. Among the US veterans alone (not counting French and other allied personnel) DU has caused thousands of post-conflict deaths (at least 18 000) and some 200 000 illnesses (more than one soldier in every four), according to the Official Report of the
It goes without saying that the Iraqi population has also taken a heavy blow. According to Dr Jawad Al-Ali, of the Bassora Oncology Centre, cancer deaths in the Bassora region went from about 25 in 1988 to over 600 in 1998. Deformities in newborn babies have increased hugely and have taken monstrous forms.
According to Dan Bishop, PhD in chemistry and Chair of the International Depleted Uranium Study Team (Colorado, USA), “studies of some Gulf War veterans have indicated an initial 1991 body burden of as much as 0.34 grams of DU that became permanently absorbed in lung tissue. This amounts to 4.3 million particles having a 2.5 micron diameter. The ALPHA activity for 0.34 grams of DU is 5.2 Bq (5.2 ALPHA disintegrations per second, 160 million alpha disintegrations per year), making total activity (alpha, beta and gamma) equal to 26 disintegrations per second, or 800 million radiation events per year.”
The damage caused to the cells, the splitting of chromosomes, the alterations to DNA - all demonstrated in the lab - these become irreversible. So do their consequences (cancers, leukemias, lymphomas, diabetes, sterility, foetal malformations...), which cannot all be “repaired”.
What is at stake
To acknowledge the extraordinary toxicity of DU weapons would have enormous consequences, chiefly economic and financial. What would such acknowledgement require?
Such acknowledgement would require the states responsible for using the weapons to pay compensation to the victims affected - if those effects can ever be compensated - or to the families of deceased victims.
It would require the ongoing care for the victims still living, civilians as well as soldiers, which would cost a huge sum. No wonder the chiefs prefer to have them die slowly with the causes of their misery being denied. For how could one prove to a military pension committee, months or years after exposure to DU, that one’s renal or lung cancer, or one’s child’s congenital deformity is due to that exposure? Numerous other phenomena could play a role. Only those soldiers with physical wounds (usually from “friendly fire”) who carry DU fragments in their bodies have much hope of being recognised as victims.
Such acknowledgement would require every weapon containing DU - all kinds of munitions: shells, bullets, bombs, missiles, mines and even armoured tanks like France’s Leclerc tanks (which are so expensive they are not exported) or the Abrams tanks of the US and Israeli forces, etc - to be withdrawn from service, and to be replaced (since an army hates a vacuum). That would cost a fortune. Furthermore, the “retired” uranium would then have to be made harmless, which is impossible, or stockpiled and monitored in secure dumps, which could cost even more.
Such acknowledgement would also require an interruption in the production of these weapons, and so would cost the jobs of numerous “arms industry” workers and therefore worsen the crisis of advanced capitalism. Of course these workers could be recycled into making "ecological weapons". But ecology costs more, as everyone knows, and has less destructive effects, which is not at all what the arms industry seeks. Furthermore, some Greenies might claim that the concept of “ecological weapons” is a contradiction in terms. And that might endanger government policy.
Such acknowledgement would require the decontamination of affected sites, which would cost another fortune. For example, during the 2003 war in Iraq 88 submunition bombs weighing 417kg (type CBU-105 WCMD-SWF) were dropped by B-1B bombers and dispersed uranium over a total area of 44 km2. And that is only a fraction of the total DU spread over Iraqi territory.
Lastly, such acknowledgement would require that those responsible for DU crimes committed be brought to justice.
It would also set in question the whole of the nuclear industry, military and non-military as a purveyor of DU, a metal which people don’t know what to do with and which is “recycled” in the military sector. This is the "Darwinian nightmare" of the world’s nuclear technocrats.
Under these circumstances, one can see why some leaders prefer to lead the world’s population insidiously to their deaths. Do you have a cancer? It may be your own fault (too much smoking or stress, bad food, too many pills, genetic predisposition...) or just sheer bad luck. And if you live in Gaza, you had it coming. You should never have voted Hamas. Or you should have resisted better, in June 2007, when Hamas eliminated its Fatah competitors. (And if you’re Israeli, you ought not to have tolerated the launching of “Operation Cast Lead”... a point we will return to.)
Made by Boeing, the GBU-39 (Guided Bomb Unit-39) is a bomb - it has no real autonomy of flight, unlike a self-propelled missile. The GBU-39 is also designated as SDB1, meaning the first Small Diameter Bomb: it is conceived as a cheap bomb which gives reduced collateral damage but is excellent at penetrating steel and reinforced concrete. Despite its small size, it is a “bunker-buster” bomb and is sold as such to Israel.
On the public web there are two information sources: one signed by Boeing’s research offices, the other on the website of GlobalSecurity (GS), which merely repeats some of Boeing’s data. The two overlap only partly, but they are in contradiction on one point: the bomb’s total weight, which according to GlobalSecurity is 113 kg (250lb) and according to Boeing is 130 kg (285 lb). We
This explosive is none other than DIME (Dense Inert Metal Explosive), an explosive known for some years but not used in a massive way until this Gaza offensive (it may be that there were some experiments earlier... in Gaza and perhaps Lebanon). Dr Mads Gilbert, among others, has described its horrible effects on the bodies of victims (notably in an interview which Le Monde has just published). Besides its immediate effects, this explosive is deemed to be highly carcinogenic, with the result that victims who survive are very likely to come down with cancer. Such characteristics should led to DIME being simply banned by the UN’s CCCW.
The GBU-39 is as thin as a pencil. According to Boeing, it is 1.8 m long (70.8 inches) and only 19 cm (7.5 inches) in diameter. It has an advanced laser guiding system and GPS positioning system that is resistant to interference. It is “smart”: once dropped from the plane, it locks onto the pre-set target and corrects its trajectory (rather like a glider) through its fins and wings which open out just after launching.
The GBU-39 belongs to the new generations of weapons that use “very special” steel of a composition which manufacturers nor officials are tight-lipped about. But it is obvious that to achieve limited price-tags and impressive performance, Depleted Uranium holds the trump cards. The penetration capacity of a projectile into a target depends on four factors: it is proportional to its mass, its speed and its hardness, and inversely proportional to its section surface (thus a sewing needle pierces a cloth better than thimble does; and a heavy javelin with a thin hard tip, launched at top speed, can penetrate the earth while a rubber ball cannot). DU fills all the criteria: it is very heavy and hard - much more than lead - and its density produces a maximum mass in a minimal volume, and therefore an impact surface reduced to the minimum.
Boeing states that GBU has a penetration capacity of “ >3 feet of steel reinforced concrete”. GS gives us two quotations to choose from: « more than three feet of steel-reinforced concrete » (the same as Boeing) and “six feet of reinforced concrete”. Contrary to appearances, these figures where one is double the other may not be contradictory. They may correspond to two kinds of concrete: High Performance and Extra High Performance.
If we look at French experience, the BFUP concretes (fibred concrete with ultra-high performance) - so-called by the AFGC (French civil enginerring association) - appeared in the 1990s with impetus from both Électricité de France and the Bouygues & Eiffage consortium, both subcontracted to rebuild the cooling towers of the CATTENOM and CIVAUX nuclear plants. Produced by scientific research, these concretes have the peculiarities of very high resistance ( 8-10 times conventional concrete), of not requiring the passive armatures, usually sources of corrosion, to be watertight, and of having exceptional durability. There is today a range of formulae, developed and patented by leading construction companies. The BTHP concretes (concretes of very high performance) and the BFUPs result from a synthesis of progress over the last 30 years in optimising the skeleton, adding auxiliary elements and using fibre reinforcement. As for resistance to compression, the BFUPs exceed 150 megapascals (following the AFGC’s definitions) and the BTHP performance is defined as lying between the BFUP and the BHP (high performance concrete), thus having mechanical resistance between 100 and 150 megapascals
So Israel has been buying up GBU-39s... Let us quote IsraelValley, the official website of the France/Israel Chamber of Commerce. Referring to the press review by the Israeli Embassy in Paris, it announced these purchases on 16 September 2008 in these terms: “The US Ministry of Defense has approved the sale to Israel of 1000 penetrating bombs of the GBU-39 type built by Boeing and considered the most modern in the world, so Maariv reports. These bombs are capable of penetrating a 90-centimeter layer of reinforced concrete with great precision (a perimeter of 3 meters). The newspaper notes that before ratification this sale must still be approved by the US Congress. According to an Israeli military source quoted by the paper, the combination of these bombs with the defense force’s forthcoming fighter planes, the FS-35s, will considerably strengthen the capacities of the Israeli air force.”
Reading all their technical characteristics, one sees that these weapons are based on metallic DU. Steel, even exceptional steel, would not achieve what is claimed. It follows that the word “steel”, not present in Boeing technical description, is quite incongruous when added by GS to describe the casing of the warhead - a “steel case for penetration”. It might conceivably have been added in order to mask the word’s absence from the Boeing text.
It is true that metallic DU could have a serious competitor: tungsten. But DU has two advantages. It is much cheaper, and is available in large quantities that one doesn’t know what to do with (50’000 tonnes of DU are produced annually in the world, as a by-product of the nuclear industry, whereas tungsten is still a rare metal). Secondly and above all, DU is pyrophoric, whereas tungsten is not. This means DU ignites on impact. So, a bomb tipped with DU will not only fly apart from the explosives but it will itself burn up inside the target. Thus this pyrophoric nature enables the “DU penetrator” to burst into flames simply by scraping the “perforation hole” it makes, even before the ignition systems of the explosive are activated. Thus, the first effect of these weapons is to unleash “a hellish fire” of nearly 1200°C. The occupants of a tank hit by a DU shell are not torn to bits but burnt to a cinder. This is confirmed by expert witnesses (of Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Gulf War 2, ...) and also by the publicity photos and videos for the GBU.
To summarise, when one asks for bombs with:
Today, we are now in a position to affirm that:
This means that in total each bomb contains nearly 30kg of uranium.
Other uranium weapons deployed in Gaza
If there is no reason why this little newcomer should not contain DU like its “big sister bombs” of the previous generation, there is no reason why Israel’s leaders and military chiefs should have renounced the use of other radioactive weapons, for example artillery munitions, tanks, machine-guns, let alone more powerful “bunker-busters” like the GBU-28 which altogether weighs over 2 tonnes. Although Israel does not officially possess these, it is easy to imagine their use against the tunnels between Gaza and Egypt. In any case, some sources have been saying so since January 1st “dozens of underground pasages destroyed by GBU-28s weighing 5000lb”
As we have spelt out, all these bombs contain uranium. They explode and ignite, spreading around them a cloud of smoke comprising billions of radioctive nanoparticles which oxidise and either fall to rest nearby after contamining the exploded rubble and earth or else mingle with the dust which the wind carries off and thus become part of the air we breathe.
The billions of particles created by the "bunker buster bombs" remain radioactive for thousands of years. Some of the nanoparticles rise high in the air and end up in the lungs of the local populations first and the rest of the world later. By bombing Gaza with DU devices, Israel is inevitably contaminating its own food production, its own exports, its own soldiers and its own population.
All atomic devices have direct and “collateral” effects, which are limited by the power of the explosion; but they also have “contaminating” collateral effects which are unlimited in space and time.
Today the burden of proof no longer lies with ordinary citizens or civilian observers. The onus is on the armies of Israel, the USA, France, Russia and others to prove that none of the weapons they use is radioactive. Let us repeat: radioactive weapons are triply criminal: they are weapons of war; they are weapons of genocide: they are weapons of ecocide.
Journalists, scientists, and international institutions must investigate on the spot to shed light on this problem. They must go to Gasa, once “peace” returns, to look for U238 (which 98 % of DU is made of) and also for other actinides (including plutonium), since it is likely that the DU which the US army uses in its weapons contains some plutonium. Then, if our hypotheses are confirmed, operation “Cast Lead” will be proven as what already seems very likely: an operation using radioactive and genocidal weapons.
The very name of the operation is an enigma. Why “Cast Lead”? Why not « Stop Hamas », « Gaza Freedom » or « Peace for Ever »? And what exactly is the “Cast Lead” in question? Something as heavy, or heavier, and harder?
Edgar Allan Poe wrote of a “stolen letter” which was invisible because it was on the mantelpiece under the investigators’ very eyes. Sometimes, like that, the crime’s signature is given at the same time as the crime.
Sometimes the military strategists play games. Their cynicism is boundless.
13 January 2009, the correspondent of Le Temps in Tel-Aviv says that « the Israeli Army claims to the destroyed 225 underground tunnels, out of the 1000 believed to exist on the corridor between Gaza and Egypt”. Were the 1000 GBU-39Bs intended for that purposes? If so, at least 225 GBU-39s have been dropped already, releasing 6.7 tonnes of uranium (nearly 30 kg per bomb). It is not known how many GBU-39Bs fell on Gaza City and the rest of the territory, but when the stock is all used there will be 30 tonnes of DU in the environment. It is not known how many other « bunker-busters » and other types of uranium weapons will have been used. One third of gramme, of inhaled DU can be enough, as we saw, to slowly kill a US soldier. So it can also do in Gaza with man, woman or child.
Sometimes the military strategists play games. Their cynicism is boundless.
14 January 2009
- ACDN (Action des Citoyens pour le Désarmement Nucléaire)
Jean-Marie Matagne, President
- A.I.P.R.I. (Association pour la Protection contre les Radiations Ionisantes)
Paolo Scampa, President
"Genocide by Depleted Uranium In Gaza: the dossier" ⓒACDN, 14 January 2009.
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