Iraqis and former GIs to sue in US over depleted uranium

Jay Moore research at
Mon Nov 13 20:47:42 MST 2000

Iraqis and former GIs to sue in US over depleted uranium
By Kim Sengupta in Baghdad
The Independent (UK)
14 November 2000

Iraqi victims of cancer and former American soldiers suffering from Gulf war
syndrome are joining forces to sue the US government over use of de-pleted
uranium (DU) missiles.

Meetings have been held between US-based families of the Iraqis, former
American service personnel and lawyers over legal action in America. Former
British personnel who say they have been affected by DU will be invited to
join the multi-million-dollar claims.

A decade after Operation Desert Storm, lawyers believe there is enough
evidence to link the massive rise in cancer in Iraq and the effect on
British and American soldiers to almost 950,000 DU missiles and shells
fired. A conference will be held in Spain this month, to be attended by
international medical experts, Gulf war veterans and lawyers, including
Ramsay Clark, a former American attorney general. The impending legal action
is likely to dominate the agenda.

Among the veterans to address the conference, in Gijon, will be two Gulf war
syndrome sufferers, Ray Bristol, a Briton, and the former US sergeant Carol
Picou, who gave evidence to a congressional commission on DU munitions.

Their lawyers are expected to say the American government "recklessly" used
DU, a bi-product of nuclear energy, knowing its devastating effect.
DU-hardened missiles have a high penetration rate. When a projectile hits a
target, 70 per cent of the DU coating burns and oxidises, bursting into
toxic radioactive particles. One of the main arguments expected to be put
forward is that American soldiers were not given protective clothing when
sent to inspect damage caused by shells coated with DU.

In Iraq, campaigners say, almost 250,000 civilians have been affected by DU
and there has been a sevenfold leap in cancer, especially among children,
and deformities in birth. Unicef, the UN children's organisation, says 4,000
children under five die every month.

Professor Ashraf Elbayoumi, a former professor of chemistry at Michigan
State University, said yesterday: "There is ample evidence to link the
pattern of cancer to DU."

At the Saddam Children's Hospital in Baghdad there is a continuous stream of
children diagnosed with cancer. And the international ban on trade is
biting. Mohammed Firas, the 29-year-old chief resident doctor, shrugged
hopelessly at the end of a 19-hour shift.

"The number of children we are getting with cancer has gone up 400 per
cent," he said. "But we lack the most basic medication. You see these
children bleed and die in front of you. I just wish there was more we could
do ..."

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