US Fired Depleted Uranium on Civilian Areas in Iraq: Report

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Common Dreams

US Fired Depleted Uranium on Civilian Areas in Iraq: Report

'Iraqi civilians have been forced to live and work in a contaminated environment,' finds Dutch peace organization Pax.

by
Common Dreams staff

U.S. Soldiers follow an Iraqi man to a water treatment facility in Shamiyah, Iraq, Feb. 11, 2009 (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons)

The United States fired depleted uranium weapons in Iraq during the 1991 and 2003 wars and failed to fully disclose information about contamination to Iraqi civilians or clean up the dangerous mess, a report released Friday by Dutch peace organization Pax reveals.

The information was obtained from the Dutch Ministry of Defense through a Freedom of Information Act request, and it shows the coordinates of where the UU.S. military forces fired DU weapons.

The report notes that the UK also had a hand in DU deployments. "Conservative estimates suggest that more than 440,000kg of DU was fired in both Gulf Wars in 1991 and 2003 by the United States (US) and the United Kingdom (UK) armed forces," writes report author Wim Zwijnenburg.

The report reveals that a "considerable number" of DU rounds were fired "in or near" areas populated with civilians, including Samawah, Nasiriyah, and Basrah.

Zwijnenburg notes:

Coalition Forces were reluctant to extend their clean-up operations beyond their own bases, or to share information on DU with the Iraqi government. Together with the Iraqi government’s limited technical capacity and low prioritization of the problem, this has led to the ineffective management of DU contaminated scrap. These factors have significantly increased the likelihood of civilian exposure to DU; they have led to contaminated scrap being exported to neighboring countries; the improper management and monitoring of scrap metal collection sites; and to DU destroyed tanks and other military wreckage being left in city centers, towns and villages, with local people stripping them for valuable parts and children using them as playground.

Furthermore, there is no long-term strategy for removing the highly toxic and radioactive material.

"Iraqi civilians have been forced to live and work in a contaminated environment. Communities and medical professionals have reported an increase in health problems, problems readily associated with exposure to conflict pollutants," states the report. "What then, has been the impact of the use and inadequate management of DU on both the health and psycho-social well-being of Iraqi civilians?"

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