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Mon Jan 15 22:47:49 MST 2001

URL for this article is http://emperors-clothes.com/articles/choss/dep.htm

www.tenc.net [Emperor's Clothes]


By Michel Chossudovsky [1-16-2001]
Professor of Economics, University of Ottawa, author of "The Globalization of
Poverty", second enlarged edition, Common Courage Press, 2001.


The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Health
Organization (WHO) are attempting to convey the illusion, contrary to
scientific evidence, that the health risks of depleted uranium in Kosovo can
easily be dealt with by cordoning off and "cleaning up" the "targeted areas".

What they fail to mention is that the radioactive dust has already spread
beyond the 72 "identified target sites" in Kosovo. Most villages and cities,
including Pristina, Prizren and Pec, lie within less than 20 km. of these
sites, confirming that the whole province is contaminated, putting not only
"peacekeepers" but the entire civilian population at risk.

The nature and dangers of Depleted Uranium were well known to NATO leaders
prior to the 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia. Therefore this bombing is best
described as a "low intensity nuclear war" using toxic radioactive shells and
missiles. Amply documented, the radioactive fall-out potentially puts
millions of people at risk throughout the Balkans.

UN/NATO Statement: "The effects of DU are mainly localized in the places DU
has been used and the affected areas are likely to be small". 15 (From
preliminary UN study on effects of DU contamination in Kosovo. Staff carrying
out study is linked to NATO).

Independent Expert's Statement: "When used in war, the depleted uranium (DU)
bursts into flame [and] releasing a deadly radioactive aerosol of uranium,
unlike anything seen before. It can kill everyone in a tank. This ceramic
aerosol is much lighter than uranium dust. It can travel in air tens of
kilometres from the point of release, or be stirred up in dust and
re-suspended in air with wind or human movement. It is very small and can be
breathed in by anyone: a baby, pregnant woman, the elderly, the sick. This
radioactive ceramic can stay deep in the lungs for years, irradiating the
tissue with powerful alpha particles within about a 30 micron sphere, causing
emphysema and/or fibrosis. The ceramic can also be swallowed and do damage to
the gastrointestinal tract. In time, it penetrates the lung tissue and enters
into the blood stream. It can also initiate cancer or promote cancers which
have been initiated by other carcinogens". 25 (World renowned radiologist Dr.
Rosalie Bertell)

- MC, January 16, 2001

LOW INTENSITY NUCLEAR WAR - by Michel Chossudovsky

The death from leukemia of eight Italian peacekeepers stationed in Bosnia and
Kosovo sparked an uproar in the Italian Parliament, following the leaking of
a secret military document to the Italian newspaper La Republicca. In
Portugal, the Defense Ministry was also involved in what amounted to a
deliberate camouflage of the cause of death of Portuguese peacekeeper
Corporal Hugo Paulino. "Citing 'herpes of the brain', the army refused to
allow his family to commission a postmortem examination."1 Amidst mounting
political pressure, Defense Minister Julio Castro Caldas advised NATO
Headquarters in November that he was withdrawing Portuguese troops from
Kosovo: "They were not, he said, going to become uranium meat". 2

As the number of cancer cases among Balkans "peacekeepers" rises, NATO's
cover-up has started to fracture. Several European governments have been
obliged to publicly acknowledge the "alleged health risks" of depleted
uranium (DU) shells used by the US Air Force in NATO's 78-day war against

The Western media points to an apparent split within the military alliance.
In fact there was no division or disagreement between Washington and its
European allies until the scandal broke through the gilded surface.

Italy, Portugal, France and Belgium were fully aware that DU weapons were
being used. The health impacts -- including mountains of scientific reports
-- were known and available to European governments. Italy participated in
the scheduling the flights of A-10 anti-tank attack planes, also known as
Warthogs, carrying DU shells, out of its Aviano and Gioia del Colle air force
bases. The Italian Defense Ministry knew what was happening at military bases
under its jurisdiction.

Washington's European partners in NATO including Britain, France, Turkey,
Greece have DU weapons in their arsenals. Canada is one of the main suppliers
of depleted uranium. NATO countries share full responsibility for the use of
weapons banned by the Geneva and Hague conventions and the 1945 Nuremberg
Charter on war crimes. 3

Since the Gulf War, Washington launched a cover-up of the health impacts of
DU toxic radiation known as the "Gulf War Syndrome", with the tacit
endorsement of its NATO partners.

While NATO had until recently denied using DU shells in the 1999 war against
Yugoslavia, it now admits that although it did use DU ammunition, the shells
"have negligible radioactivityand [a]ny resulting debris posing any
significant risk dissipates soon after the impact." 4 While casually denying
"any connection between illness and exposure to depleted uranium", the
Pentagon nonetheless concedes -- in an ambiguous statement -- that "the main
danger posed by depleted uranium occurs if it is inhaled." 5

And who inhales the radioactive dust, which has spread across the land?

The shrouded statements from European governments convey the uncomfortable
illusion that only peacekeepers "might be at risk", i.e. that radioactive
particles are only inhaled by military personnel and expatriate civilians, as
if nobody else in the Balkans was affected. The impacts on local civilians
are not mentioned.

In docile complicity, a new media consensus has unfolded: the mainstream
press concurs without further scrutiny that only "peace-keepers" breathe the
air. "But what about everybody else?"6 In Kosovo some 2 million civilian men,
women and children have been exposed to this radioactive fallout since the
beginning of the bombing in March 1999. In the Balkans, more than 20 million
people are potentially at risk:

"The risk in Kosovo and elsewhere in the Balkans is augmented by the
uncertainty of where DU was dropped in whatever form and what winds and
surface water movements spread it further. Working the fields, walking about,
just being there, touching objects, breathing and drinking water are all
risky. A British expert predicted that thousands of people in the Balkans
will get sick of DU. The radioactive and toxic DU-oxides don't disintegrate.
They are practically permanent." 7

Keep in mind that the heavily armed "peacekeepers" together with United
Nations staff and civilian personnel of "humanitarian" organisations entered
Kosovo in June 1999. The spread of radioactive dust from DU, however, started
on day one of the 78 day bombing of Yugoslavia. With the exception of NATO
Special Forces -- who were assisting the KLA on the ground -- NATO military
personnel was not present on the battlefield. In other words, there was no
radioactive exposure to NATO troops during a push-button air war, which
Alliance forces waged from the high skies. Yugoslav civilians are, therefore,
at much greater risk because they were exposed to radioactive fallout
throughout the bombings as well in the wake of the war. Yet the official
communiqués suggest that only KFOR troops and expatriate civilians "might be
at risk" implying that local civilians simply do not matter. Only servicemen
and expatriate personnel have been screened for radiation levels.


The first signs of the effects of radiation poisoning on children, including
herpes on the mouth and skin rashes on the back and ankles, have been
observed in Kosovo.8 In Northern Kosovo -- the area least affected by DU
shells (see Map at http://balkans.unep.ch/du/targetmap.html ) -- 160 people
are being treated for cancer, especially cancer of the uterus.9 The number of
leukemia cases in Northern Kosovo has increased by 200 percent since NATO's
air campaign with a similar increase in children born with deformities.10
This information regarding civilian victims -- which the United Nations
Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) has been careful not to reveal -- refutes NATO's
main "assumption" that radioactive dust does not spread beyond the target
sites, most of which are in the Southwestern and Southern regions close to
the Albanian and Macedonian borders.

These findings are consistent with those from Iraq, where the use of depleted
uranium weapons during the 1991 Gulf War resulted in "increases in childhood
cancers and leukemia, Hodgkin's disease, lymphomas, and increases in
congenital diseases and deformities in fetuses, along with limb reductional
abnormalities and increases in genetic abnormalities throughout Iraq."11
Pedriatic examinations on Iraqi children confirm that:

"Childhood leukemia has risen 600% in the areas [of Iraq] where DU was used.
Stillbirths, births or abortion of fetuses with monstrous abnormalities, and
other cancers in children born since [the Gulf War in] 1991 have also been
found." 12


The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Health
Organization (WHO) have tacitly accepted NATO-Pentagon assumptions concerning
the health impacts of depleted uranium. When UNEP conducted its first
assessment of DU radiation in Kosovo in 1999, NATO refused to provide the
mission with maps indicating the locations of "affected areas" (points of
impact where DU shells had fallen).

On the pretext that "there was insufficient data available to comprehensively
address the issue of the impacts of depleted uranium ordnance," UNEP produced
an inconclusive and noncommittal "desk study" which was appended to the 1999
Balkans Task Force Report (BTF) on the environmental impacts of the War. 13
UNEP's desk study pointed to the "possible use of DU" thereby implying that
it was still unsure as to whether DU shells had actually been used.

UNEP's evasiveness -- claiming lack of sufficient data -- contributed, in the
wake of the bombings, to temporarily dissipating public concern. More
generally, the UNEP-UNCHS Balkans Task Force report tends to downplay the
seriousness of the environmental catastrophe triggered by NATO. Amply
documented, the catastrophe was the deliberate result of military planning.14

NATO maps (indicating where DU shells had been targeted) were not required
for UNEP and the WHO to conduct an investigation on the health impacts of
depleted uranium radiation. A study of this nature -- inevitably requiring a
team of medical specialists in pediatrics and cancer working in liaison with
experts on toxic radiation -- was never carried out. In fact, UNEP's stated
"scientific" assumption precluded from the outset a meaningful assessment of
the health impacts. According to UNEP:

"The effects of DU are mainly localized in the places DU has been used and
the affected areas are likely to be small". 15 See the 1999 desk study, op.

This proposition (which is presented without scientific proof) is shared by
UNEP's sister organization, the WHO:

"You would have to be very close to a damaged tank and be there within
seconds of it being hitThese soldiers were very unlikely to have been
exposed.'' 16

These statements by UN bodies (quoted by NATO and the Pentagon to justify the
use of DU weapons) are part and parcel of the camouflage. They convey the
illusion that the health risks to peacekeepers and local civilians can easily
be dealt with by cordoning off and "cleaning up" the "targeted areas."

The WHO has warned, in this regard, that depleted uranium could affect
children playing in these areas "because children tend to pick up pieces of
dirt or put their toys in their mouth."17 What the WHO fails to acknowledge
is that the radioactive dust has already spread beyond the affected areas,
suggesting that children throughout Kosovo are at risk.

This tacit complicity of specialized agencies of the UN is yet another
symptom of the deterioration of the United Nations system, which now plays an
underhand role in covering up NATO war crimes. Since the Gulf War, the WHO
has been instrumental in blocking a meaningful investigation of the health
impacts of depleted uranium radiation on Iraqi children, claiming "it had no
data to conduct an in-depth investigation" 18


Amidst the public outcry and mounting evidence of cancer among Balkans
military personnel, UNEP conducted a second assessment in November 2000 which
included field measurements of beta and gamma particle radiations in 11
so-called "affected areas" of Kosovo.19

Despite NATO's earlier refusal to collaborate with UNEP, the two
organizations are currently working hand in glove. The composition of the
mission was established in consultation with NATO. The representative from
Greenpeace (involved in the 1999 study) had been dumped. NATO maps were made
readily available; the investigation was to focus narrowly on the collection
of soil, water samples, etc. in 11 selected sites ("affected areas") out of a
total of some 72 sites within Kosovo (see NATO map at
http://balkans.unep.ch/du/targetmap.html ).

The broader health issues were not part of the mission's field of study. The
two medical researchers dispatched by the WHO in 1999 (as part of the desk
study mission) were now replaced with experts from the US Army Center for
Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine (see
http://chppm-www.apgea.army.mil/default.htm ) and AC Laboratorium Spiez
(ACLS), a division of the Swiss Defense Procurement Agency.

AC Laboratorium Spiez (ACLS) has actively collaborated in chemical weapons
inspections in Iraq. Under the disguise of Swiss neutrality, ACLS constitutes
an informal mouthpiece for NATO. ACLS has been on contract with NATO's
"Partnership for Peace" (PfP) financed by the Swiss government's contribution
to the PfP.20

Although the November mission was still under UNEP auspices, the Swiss
government funded most of the fieldwork with ACLS -- a division of the Swiss
military -- playing a central role. The mission -- integrated by
representatives linked to the Military establishment -- was working on the
premise (amply reviewed on ACLS's web page) that DU radioactive dust does not
(under any circumstances) travel beyond the "point of release." 21

The results of the report, to be published in March 2001, are a foregone
conclusion. They focus on radiation levels in the immediate vicinity of the
target sites . According to the mission's "back to office report" (January

" [A]lready at this stage the Team can conclude that at some of the DU
locations, the radiation level is slightly higher above normal at very
limited spots. It would therefore be an unnecessary risk to the population to
be in direct contact with any remnants of DU ammunition or with the spots
where these have been found." 22


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