Wednesday, November 30, 2005

"DU shells, known as depleted uranium penetrators, were developed by the Pentagon in the late 1970s as anti-tank, armour-piercing projectiles. DU, which makes up the shell’s core, is a radioactive byproduct of the enrichment process used to make atomic bombs and nuclear fuel rods. The material is extremely hard and abundant, and provided free to weapons manufacturers by the nuclear industry.

When fired, the core bursts into a searing flame that helps it pierce the armour of tanks and other military targets. Diesel vapors inside the tank are ignited, and the crew is burned alive.

Most doctors and scientists agree that even mild radiation is dangerous and increases the risk of cancer. The health risk becomes much greater once the projectile has been fired. After they have been fired, the broken shells release uranium particles. The airborne partciles enter the body easily. The uranium then deposits itself in bones, organs and cells. Children are especially vulnerable because their cells divide rapidly as they grow. In pregnant women, absorbed uranium can cross the placenta into the bloodstream of the foetus.

In addition to its radioactive dangers, uranium is chemically toxic, like lead, and can damage the kidneys and lungs."

Report by:
College of Medicine at Basra University

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