The Uranium Munitions Pledge of Resistance
by John Lewallen, April 04, 2004
The Uranium Munitions
Pledge of Resistance An Action Proposal With Footnoted Analysis
I believe the strategy of person-by-person nonviolent resistance is the best way to speed the end of uranium munition use on Earth. It's something each of us can do now to start out. Organized, it could be a powerful way of encouraging nonviolent noncooperation with war itself. Many other strategies--legal, political, ecucational--are urgently needed to counter the Big Institutional Lie that uranium munitions are no big problem. With Major Doug Rokke, I IMPLORE YOU TO ACT1
Below I have tried to summarize the amazing set of factors that today have made uranium the state-of-the-art deep-penetration munition metal for U.S. armed forces worldwide, dooming U.S. troops using it to a highly toxic and mutagenic battlefield environment filled with uranium vapor, which has been known as a chemical and radiological warfare agent since 1943. This means that, based on what happened to Gulf War 1991 vets, at least one out of three soldiers sent to Iraq today will be disabled by the toxins encountered there within ten years.
The strategy of nonviolent resistance is required because the fastest conceivable effective ban on uranium munitions is several years away at best. The absolute Pentagon commitment to a weapon that is creating millions of human casualties worldwide by poisoning the environment with uranium oxide particles has created a Big Institutional Lie with tentacles everywhere, all focused on one thing: keep using uranium munitions!
Stop Using Uranium Munitions Now!
I begin my report on the health effects of uranium munitions with a heartfelt personal appeal: stop using uranium munitions now! If you are the President of the United States, or under the President's command, you are commiting a war crime by using, or ordering the use, of uranium munitions.
If you are a soldier about to use a uranium bullet, missile or bomb, don't do it. The uranium oxide vapors unleashed when you pull the trigger put both you and your target in a battlefield gas environment of tiny, deadly, mutagenic uranium oxide particles. These tiny uranium oxide particles made when up to seventy per cent of the uranium projectile you shoot burns on friction and impact will stay in the environment as long as the Earth exists, bringing death, a host of diseases, and mutation to many living creatures.
Uranium is the leading deep-penetration metal used today in United States military munitions worldwide. Uranium combines superior density with the tendency to sharpen and burn on impact. The first wartime use of uranium munitions was in 1991, when United Nations forces used an estimated 320 tons of uranium munitions in Iraq, primarily in anti-tank munitions in desert warfare. 2. These munitions contributed to the complete neutralization of the Iraqi tank forces, so much so that during the 2003 U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, many Iraqi tanks were abandoned unused.
All commentary on uranium munitions is colored by the fact that U.S. armed forces worldwide are fully committed to the use of uranium munitions. The official U.S. military position is that uranium munitions pose no toxic or radioactive health danger to anyone. 3. In fact, as has been known by the U.S. military since 1943, when the inventors of the atomic bomb described uranium vapor as an agent of chemical and radiological warfare, breathable uranium is a horrific weapon with both chemical and radiological toxicity. 4. Extensive testing of uranium munitions show that from ten to seventy per cent of the uranium vaporizes on impact, in particle sizes ranging down to the microscopic. 5.
Today in 2004, thirteen years after the first massive use of uranium munitions, countless thousands or millions of its victims cry in vain for relief as the United States and other military forces continue to use uranium munitions. Anyone seeking to end this suicidal chemical and radiological gas warfare is confronting one of the biggest institutional lies in history, the lie that uranium munitions pose no long-term or widespread health hazard. This lie is so huge, and has so many tentacles and subtleties, that it has become institutional orthodoxy in the United States.
The truth, as it is being pieced together by dedicated, disciplined, peer-reviewed scientists worldwide, is too horrifying for most people to contemplate. The vaporized, ceramic uranium oxides which billow as smoke from an impacting uranium munition have poisoned the human environment with minute, undetectable uranium oxide particles which will remain radioactive and toxic for the lifetime of Earth. Unlike natural uranium, which is soluble, breathed uranium oxide particles are insoluble, and become lodged in the human body if breathed, remaining there for many years, causing a host of diseases. Uranium oxides are mutagenic, attacking the genetic code which allows the human race to reproduce without crippling mutation. 6.
Today the United States military forces are fully committed to a munition metal which, based on U.S. Veterans Affairs disability statistics on veterans of the 1991 Gulf War, will, along with the effects of other toxins in Iraq, disable one out of three battlefield troops who use uranium munitions within a decade of their exposure. To repeat: ONE-THIRD OF THE VETERANS OF THE 1991 GULF WAR ARE DISABLED TEN YEARS AFTER THE WAR. 7.
THE AGES-OLD CLASH OF SPEAR AND SHIELD
"Briefing on Depleted Uranium," Colonel James Naughton, U.S. Army Materiel Command, March 14, 2003: (Image of burned, blackened, and shattered Iraqi tank on screen) "Why do we use it (depleted uranium)? This is the result. What we want to be able to do is strike the target from farther away than we can be hit back, and we want the target to be destroyed when we shoot at it. We don't want to see rounds bouncing off. We don't want to put our soldiers in the position that you see, if you watch 'Kelly's Heroes,' where they load tank rounds with paint in order to blind the target. And I'm sure everybody in here has probably seen 'Kelly's Heroes' once, because in World War II we faced a problem of not having the overreach we have today. "We don't ever want to go back to that. And we don't want to fight even. Nobody goes into a war and wants to be even with the enemy. We want to be ahead, and depleted uranium gives us that advantage. We can hit, and they can't hit us." 8.
The story of how
uranium munitions, and uranium armoring, became today's state-of-the-art
metal of war worldwide begins with the ages-old desire of military forces
to have superior spears and shields: spears that will fly farther than
the enemy's and penetrate the opponent's best armor, and armor that will
stop any spear the enemy can throw.
The Groves Memo: Gas Warfare With Uranium Vapor
In 1943, the Manhattan Project scientists, racing to beat Hitler in inventing the atomic bomb, realized the Germans might use vaporized uranium as a gas warfare agent, or that U.S. forces might want to use it. Here is a quote from the "Groves Memo" written by Drs. James B. Conant, A.H. Compton, and H.C. Urey to General L.R. Groves on October 30, 1943 (the "material" referred to is uranium):
"As a gas warfare
instrument the material would be ground into particles of microscopic
size to form dust and smoke and distributed by a ground-fired projectile,
land vehicles, or aerial bombs. In this form it would be inhaled by personnel.
The amount necessary to cause death to a person inhaling the material
is extremely small. It is estimated that one millionth of a gram accumulating
in a person's body would be fatal. There are no known methods of treatment
for such a casualty. "Two factors appear to increase the effectiveness
of radioactive dust or smoke as a weapon. These are: 1) It cannot be detected
by the senses; 2) It can be distributed in a dust or smoke form so finely
powdered that it will permeate a standard gas mask filter in quantities
large enough to be extremely damaging. An off-setting factor in its effectiveness
as a weapon is that in a dust or smoke form the material is so finely
pulverized that it takes on the characteristic of a quickly dissipating
gas and is therefore subject to all the factors (such as wind) working
against maintenance of high concentrations for more than a few minutes
over a given area....
The Clouds of Hell: Baghdad, October 1, 2003
The Uranium Medical Research Centre, a nonprofit research group, sent a bold team of sample-collectors into Baghdad in the fall of 2003 to collect soil, water and urine samples for uranium contamination testing. Here is part of their report on the U.S. battlefield cleanup effort in Baghdad, October, 2003:
"The most disturbing
circumstance was observed in the U.S. occupied base in south-western Baghdad
in the Auweirj district. It is close to the International Airport and
hosts one of the largest Coalition bases around Baghdad....The area was
subject to considerable aerial bombing and rocket fire prior to the Coalition
ground forces' arrival followed by several ground skirmishes along the
main routes to the International Airport and western entrances to the
A Deadly Pack of Pentagon Lies: Michael Kirkpatrick, Ph.D. (Econ.)
Representing the U.S. Department of Defense Iraq Deployment Health Support Directorate, Dr. Michael Kirkpatrick made the following statements on March 14, 2003:
is 40 percent less radioactive than natural uranium around us. And so
when it's outside the body it's just not an issue. It's only when it's
internalized--either by inhaling the dust, the oxide, as Colonel Naughton
said when there is penetration of armor, it does self-sharpen and it does
create an oxide dust. And there are people who were in or on the vehicles
that were struck in friendly fire, who did inhale that oxide, and we have
not seen any medical consequence from that....
The Vanishing Urine
Samples In 1991 the victorious Gulf War veterans returned outwardly unscathed
from the Iraqi battlefields, having taken only small numbers of visible
casualties. However, they had been exposed to a staggering array of toxins,
including rushed vaccinations and breathable vapors from uranium munitions.
That same year Dr. Asaf Durakovic, who at the time was also a Colonel
in the U.S. Army, became aware that Major Doug Rokke, who had been doing
cleanup work to remove U.S. military vehicles destroyed by "friendly
fire" in Kuwait and Iraq, was seeking medical treatment for several
U.S. and British soldiers who were showing a wide array of symptoms which
suggested the possibility of poisoning by inhaled uranium vapors.
The Disappearing Medical Records
In 1995, Congressman
Christopher Shays (R-CT), contacted his friend Robert Newman, a retired
journalist, to help him investigate a strange new disease, or diseases,
sweeing through Gulf War veterans. "The Congressman was receiving
a disturbing number of letters and e-mails from sick veterans in his district
complaining that, when trying to get treatment at veterans hospitals,
they were told, 'It's all in your head.' They weren't getting any help,"
Mr. Newman recalled in a 2001 interview. 16. Congressman Shays held fifteen
hearings on what came to be called "Gulf War Syndrome" for the
committe he chaired, the Subcommittee on Security, Veterans Issues, and
International Relations, beginning March, 1996. After interviewing veterans
and experts in various fields, the subcommittee concluded that Gulf War
Syndrome was caused by radiation and/or chemical substances they encountered
during their military service in Iraq, such as PB and untested vaccines
they were forced to take.
Without Investigating Cause In October, 1998, Congress passed two laws
based on the findings of the 14 bipartisan members of Congressman Shay's
subcommittee. "The gist of those laws," Robert Newman explained,
"is this. One stipulates that even without medical records, the illneses
of Gulf War veterans must be recognized as due to their service in the
Middle East, and the Defense Department and the Veterans Administration
are required to offer prompt and appropriate treatment and compensation.
The other one...prohibits the administration of any experimental drugs
to soldiers without their consent."
Toxic Forever, Radioactive
for The Expected Lifetime of Earth As the armies of the United States
range across the Earth showering bullets, artillery rounds, bombs and
missiles, it is known only to insiders what type of uranium is being used,
how much, or where. Quoting the Rand report, "The material generally
used by the U.S. Department of Defense is 40 percent less radioactive
than natural uranium." 20. However, Uranium Medical Research Center
field investigations found that natural uranium bombs and munitions had
been used by the United States in Afghanistan during 2002, heavily contaminating
the population and environment. 21. Even the March, 2003 Pentagon briefing
on uranium munitions noted that some reactor-generated "transuranics"
are used in uranium munitions, indicating that nuclear reactor waste is
used in uranium munitions. 22.
The Big Lie is Institutional Truth, The Truth is Heresy: Dan Fahey and Dr. Robert Gould
Anyone seeking to
rescue the human race from this ongoing suicide mission to permeate the
biosphere with breathable uranium oxide particles is confronting one of
the most elaborately constructed institutional lies in history.
Mr. Fahey's vigorous
critique of the Big Pentagon Lie that uranium munitions pose no major
hazard to human or environmental health is followed by an equally vigorous
assertion of that lie. Mr. Fahey does not want to see uranium munitions
banned, or use of uranium munitions stopped. Dan Fahey's policy recommendations
are limited to better informing U.S. troops about uranium munitions, bioassays
of U.S. troops with extreme battlefield exposure, revelation of when and
where uranium munitions have been used, cleanup of "DU sites,"
and more studies of the problem. Mr.Fahey urges a health assessment of
all the troops who, in his estimate, were extremely exposed to uranium
munitions in 1991, who, he wrote, are just 900 in number. 28.
Is The United States Military Using Uranium in Bombs and Missiles?
The full scope of
U.S. military use of uranium munitions is secret. So how the hell does
Dan Fahey, an independent researcher like me, know that it is an unsubstantiated
"myth" that uranium is used by the U.S. in bombs and missiles?
A Call to Action: Stop Using Uranium Munitions Now!
In today's competition
for attention to issues, the issue of uranium munitions is easily buried
and forgotten. Dr. Robert Gould, President of the Physicians for Social
Responsibility, advised me to worry about something more dangerous like
"high-level radioactive waste" in the email quoted above. In
order to cause effective change, groups such as Veterans for Peace and
Physicians for Social Responsibility will need to focus on uranium munitions,
and organize long-term, relentless campaigns to end the use of uranium
munitions. Is this going to happen? The only Congressional bill dealing
with the hazards of uranium munitions--the "Depleted Uranium Munitions
Study Act of 2003" (HR 1483, sponsored by Rep. McDermott)--is, in
my view, not worthy of support. In calling only for studies of the problem
and cleaup of US uranium munitions test sites, it deludes and defuses
the worldwide effort to halt the ongoing catastrophe of uranium munition
1.John Lewallen is a writer and peace activist focused in 2004 on uranium munitions and their health and environmental consequences. His published books include "Ecology of Devastation: Indochina" (Penguin Books, 1972), and "High-Altitude Nuclear War" (NuclearPress.com, 2002), an analysis of today's great-power nuclear weapons confrontation available from Amazon.com Books. He supports himself with income from his cottage industry, the Mendocino Sea Vegetable Company, and maintains the website http://www.NuclearPress.com
on Depleted Uranium," Colonel James Naughton, March 14, 2003 http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Mar2003/t03142003_t314depu.html
3."Briefing on Depleted Uranium," March 2003.
4. "Memorandum to:Brigadier General L.R. Groves, from Drs. Conant, Compton, and Urey," Oct. 30, 1943, declassified June 5, 1974, supplied by Major Doug Rokke http://www.mindfully.org/Nucs/Groves-Memo-Manhattan30oct43.htm, hereinafter referred to as the "Groves Memo."
5."RAND Report on Depleted Uranium," RAND, 1999, p.4, hereinafter referred to as the "RAND Report" http://www.gulflink.osd.mil/library/randrep/du/index.html
6. Durakovic, Asaf, "Undiagnosed Illnesses and Radioactive Warfare," Croatian Medical Journal, Vol.44, No.5, 2003, pps. 520-532.
7. See the National Gulf War Resource Center website for the latest Veterans Affairs disability statistics http://www.ngwrc.org
8. "Briefing on Depleted Uranium, 2003."
9. John Pike, http://www.GlobalSecurity.org, page on "Depleted Uranium," is my source for this thumbnail history of uranium munitions as a super-metal.
10. Groves Memo.
11. Weyman, Tedd, Iraq Field Team Lead, "Abu Khasib to Ah'qua: Iraq Gulf War II Field Investigation Report" http://www.umrc.net, p. 14.
12. "Briefing on Depleted Uranium, 2003."
13. Dr. Asaf Durakovic, audio interview, 2003 http://www.traprockpeace.org
14. Durakovic, Asaf, "Medical Effects of Internal Contamination With Uranium," Croatian Medical Journal, Vol. 40, No. 1, March, 1999; and "Undiagnosed Illnesses and Radioactive Warfare," Croatian Medical Journal, Vol.44, No.5, 2003, pps. 520-532.
15. Major Doug Rokke, Oct. 2,2003 speech for Veterans for Peace, Humboldt County, California, on video.
16. Tashiro, Akira, "Discounted Casualties: The Human Cost of Depleted Uranium," published 2001 in Hiroshima, Japan, by The Chugoku Shimbun, p. 34.
17. Ibid., p. 35.
19. Rand Report, Chapter 3, p. 1.
20. Rand Report, p. 2.
21. Durakovic, Asaf, "Undiagnosed Illnesses and Radioactive Warfare," section on "Afghanistan Uranium Studies."
22. "Briefing on Depleted Uranium," March, 2003.
23. Fahey, Dan, "The Use of Depleted Uranium in the 2003 Iraq War: An Initial Assessment of Information and Policies," June 24, 2003, available at http://www.GlobalSecurity.org
24. Durakovic, Asaf, "Undiagnosed Illnesses and Radioactive Warfare."
25. Fahey, Dan, op. cit., p.1.
26. Weyman, Tedd, op. cit., p.11.
27. Fahey, Dan, op. cit., p.2.
28. Ibid., pp.8-10.
29. Ibid., p.11.
30. Ibid., p.12.
31. Dr.Asaf Durakovic, audio interview, 2003, available at http://www.traprockpeace.org
32. Major Doug Rokke, October 2, 2003 speech.
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