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CHAPTER 12

CHAPTER 12

 

GULF WAR AND KOSOVO WAR SYNDROME: THE STORY OF DEPLETED URANIUM

 

 

CONTENTS

DEPLETED URANIUM AND THE NAZI CONNECTION

GULF WAR SYNDROME

KOSOVO SYNDROME

 

DEPLETED URANIUM AND THE NAZI CONNECTION

 

Marco Saba of the Ethical Environmental Observatory traced the development of a uranium bomb by American scientists to World War II. He is a researcher who reported to the Italian Foreign Affairs Commission on January 18, 2000 on depleted uranium (DU). Saba pieced togther the following:

1945: Plans of DU kinetic penetrators passed by Nazi to U.S. at the very beginning of Operation Overcast with the deal of the submarine U-234 XB.

1966: First use to my (Saba's) knowledge in war of DU weapons (KKV-7 SMG Flechette), during Vietnam war.

1973: Israel use DU rounds (bought from South Africa) during Yom Kippur (FOIA released document by CIA).

1988: Accident in Germany: an aircraft A-10 fitted with DU rounds crash and burst in Remscheid, Germany. 24 houses set to fire, the following DU contamination has been keep secret by U.S. (Colonel Eric Daxon).

1988: Accident in Germany. 3 tanks M60 whith DU armor set to fire. The pieces recovered are returned in a C-5A military aircraft (who has, in turn, DU aileron counterweights ...). Waste disposed, buried, in the Nevada Atomic Testing Site. Contamination was covered up.

1991: DU rounds used in Iraq (akn. 340 Tonnes)

1993: DU rounds used in Somalia.

1994-1995: DU rounds used in Bosnia.

1996: Human Rights Watch release a FOIA about DU-ADAM "smart" land mines: 10 millions are stockpiled in U.S., few NATO countries bought those ADAM-mines (M692, M731): Greece, Netherlands but also Turkey, Pakistan, South Korea, and Taiwan.

1998: DU missiles used in the SUDAN-Karthoum bombing (akn 3,7 tonnes).

1999: DU rounds used in Yugoslavia (akn 10,5 tonnes).

Saba's research indicated that the search for the uranium bomb by American scientists dated back to only six days after V-E Day. He explained that on May 14, 1945 a deal was forged between the United States and Germany. Martin Bormann, Hitler's Dolphin, and SS chief Heinrich Mueller were released by the Allies in exchange for a German U- 234 XB submarine which carried 560 kilograms of enriched uranium and a Messerschmidt 262 Schwalbe as well as scientists with secret plans for depleted uranium (DU) kinetic penetrators. "

Saba unraveled the series of events which led to the acquisition of uranium technology in the United States in 1945. "The most important and secret item of cargo, the uranium oxide, which I (Saba) believe was radioactive, was loaded into one of the vertical steel tubes (of German U-boat U-234). ... Two Japanese officers ... (were) ... painting a description in black characters on the brown paper wrapping. ... Once the inscription U235 had been painted on the wrapping of a package, it would then be carried over...and stowed in one of the six vertical mine shafts."

"Radio transmission of Wolfgang Hirschfeld, Chief Radio Operator of U-234: Lieut Comdr Karl B Reese USNR, Lieut (JG) Edward P McDermott USNR and Major John E Vance CE USA will report to commandant May 30th Wednesday in connection with cargo U-234."

According to "US Navy secret transmission #292045 from Commander Naval Operations to Portsmouth Naval Yard, 30 May 1945, ‘I just got a shipment in of captured material. ... I have just talked to Vance and they are taking it off the ship. ... I have about 80 cases of U powder in cases. He (Vance) is handling all of that now.' "

The "telephone transcript between Manhattan Project security officer Major Smith and Major Traynor, 14 June 1945" contained the following: "The traditional history of the atomic bomb accepts as an unimportant footnote the arrival of U-234 on United States shores, and admits the U-boat carried uranium oxide along with its load of powerful passengers and war-making materials. The accepted history also acknowledges these passengers were whisked away to Washington for interrogation and the cargo was quickly commandeered for use elsewhere. The traditional history even concedes that two Japanese officers were onboard U-234 and that they committed a form of unconventional Samurai suicide rather than be captured by their enemies. The traditional history denies, however, that the uranium on board U-234 was enriched and therefore easily usable in an atomic bomb. The accepted history asserts there is no evidence that the uranium cargo of U-234 was transferred into the Manhattan Project, although recent suggestions have hinted that this may have occurred. And the traditional history asserts that the bomb components on board U-234 arrived too late to be included in the atomic bombs that were dropped on Japan."

Saba's research showed that "the documentation indicates quite differently on all accounts. Before U-234 had landed at Portsmouth -- before it even left Europe - - United States and British intelligence knew U-234 was on a mission to Japan and that it carried important passengers and cargo. A portion of the cargo, especially, was of a singular nature. According to U-234s chief radio operator, Wolfgang Hirschfeld, who witnessed the loading of the U-boat: ‘The most important and secret item of cargo, the uranium oxide, which I (Hirschfeld) believe was highly radioactive, was loaded into one of the vertical steel tubes one morning in February, 1945. Two Japanese officers were to travel aboard U-234 on the voyage to Tokyo: Air Force Colonel Genzo Shosi, an aeronautical engineer, and Navy Captain Hideo Tomonaga, a submarine architect who, it will be recalled, had arrived in France aboard U-180 about eighteen months previously with a fortune in gold for the Japanese Embassy in Berlin. I (Hirschfeld) saw these two officers seated on a crate on the forecasting engaged in painting a description in black characters on the brown paper wrapping gummed around each of a number of containers of uniform size. At the time I didn't see how many containers there were, but the Loading Manifest showed ten. Each case was a cube, possibly steel and lead, nine inches along each side and enormously heavy. Once the inscription U-235 had been painted on the wrapping of a package, it would then be carried over to the knot of crewmen under the supervision of Sub-Lt Pfaff and the boatswain, Peter Scholch, and stowed in one of the six vertical mineshafts.' "

Saba continued: "Hirschfeld's straightforward account of the uranium being "highly radioactive" -- he later witnessed the storage tubes being tested with Geiger counters -- and labeled "U-235" provides profoundly important information about this cargo. U- 235 is the scientific designation of enriched uranium — the type of uranium required to fuel an atomic bomb. While the uranium remained a secret from all but the highest levels within the United States until after the surrender of U-234, a captured German ULTRA encoder/decoder had allowed the Western Allies to intercept and decode German and Japanese radio transmissions. Some of these captured signals had already identified the U-boat as being on a special mission to Japan and even identified General Kessler and much of his cortege as likely to be onboard, but the curious uranium was never mentioned. The strictest secrecy was maintained, nonetheless, around the U-boat.

"As early as 13 May, the day before U-234 was actually boarded by the Sutton's prize crew, orders had already been dispatched that commanded special handling of the passengers and crew of U-234 when it was surrendered: Press representatives may be permitted to interview officers and men of German submarines that surrender. This message applies only to submarines that surrender. It does not apply to other prisoners of war. It does not apply to prisoners of the U-234. Prisoners of the U-234 must not be interviewed by press representatives."

"Two days later, while the Sutton was slowly steaming toward Portsmouth with U-234 at her side, more orders were received. ‘Documents and personnel of U- 234 are most important and any and all doubtful personnel should be sent here,' the commander of naval operations in Washington, D.C. ordered. The same day, the commander in chief of the Navy instructed, ‘Maintain prisoners U-234 incommunicado and send them under Navy department representative to Washington for interrogation.' "

"The effort to keep U-234 under wraps was only partially successful. Reporters had been allowed to interview prisoners from previous U-boats, and, in fact, were allowed to interview captured crews from succeeding U-boats, as well. When the press discovered U-234 was going to be off limits, a cry and hue went up that took two days to settle. Following extended negotiations, a compromise was struck between the Navy brass and the press core. The reporters were allowed to take photographs of the people disembarking the boat when it landed, but no talking to the prisoners was permitted. When they landed at the pier, the prisoners walked silently through the gawking crowd and climbed into buses, to be driven out of the spotlight and far from the glaring eyes of history. On 23 May, the cargo manifest of U-234 was translated by the office of Naval Intelligence, quickly triggering a series of events. On the second page of the manifest, halfway down the page, was the entry ‘10 cases, 560 kilograms, uranium oxide.' Whoever first read the entry and understood the frightening capabilities and potential purpose of uranium must have been stunned by the entry. Certainly questions were asked."

Saba asked, "Was this the first shipment of uranium to Japan or had others already slipped by? Did the Japanese have the capacity to use it? Could they build a bomb? Whatever the answers, within four days personnel from the Office of Naval Intelligence had brought U-234s second watch officer, Karl Pfaff -- who had not been brought to Washington with the original batch of high-level prisoners, but who had overseen loading of the U-boat in Germany -- to Washington and interrogated him. They quickly radioed Portsmouth: ‘Pfaff prepared manifest list and knows kind documents and cargo in each tube.' Pfaff states ‘… uranium oxide loaded in gold lined cylinders and as long as cylinders not opened can be handled like crude TNT. These containers should not be opened as substance will become sensitive and dangerous.' "

"The identification that the uranium was stowed in gold-lined cylinders and that it would become ‘sensitive and dangerous' when unpacked provides persuasive substantiation that this was U-235. Uranium that has had its proportion of the isotope U-235 increased compared to the more common isotope of uranium, U-238, is known as enriched uranium. When that enrichment becomes 70 percent or above, it is bomb-grade uranium. The process of enriching uranium during the war was highly technical and very expensive -- it still is. Upon first reading that the uranium on board U-234 was stored in gold-lined cylinders, this author (Saba) tracked down Clarence Larsen, former director of the leading uranium enrichment process at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where the Manhattan Project's uranium enrichment facilities were housed. In a telephone conversation, I (Saba) asked Mr. Larsen what, if anything, would be the purpose of shipping uranium in gold-lined containers. Mr. Larsen remembered that the Oak Ridge program used gold trays when working with enriched uranium. He explained that, because uranium enrichment was a very costly process, enriched uranium needed to be protected jealously, but because it is very corrosive, it is easily invaded by any but the most stable materials, and would then become contaminated. To prevent the loss to contamination of the invaluable enriched uranium, gold was used. Gold is one of the most stable substances on earth. While expensive, Mr. Larsen explained, the cost of gold was a drop in the bucket compared to the value of enriched uranium. Would natural uranium, rather than enriched uranium, be stored in gold containers? I (Saba) asked. Not likely, Mr. Larsen responded. The value of natural uranium is, and was at the time, inconsequential compared to the cost of gold."

"Assuming the Germans invested roughly the same amount of money as the Manhattan Project to enrich their uranium, which it appears they did, the cost of the U-235 on board the submarine was somewhere in the neighborhood of $100,000 an ounce; by far the most expensive substance on earth. The fact that the enriched uranium had the capacity to deliver world dominance to the first country that processed and used it made it priceless. A long voyage with the U-235 stowed in anything but gold could have cost the German/Japanese atomic bomb program dearly in contaminated enriched uranium. In addition to the gold-lined shipping containers corroborating Hirschfeld's identification of the uranium as U-235, the description for handling the cargo and of the uranium's characteristics when its container was opened also tends to support the conclusion the uranium was enriched and not natural uranium. Uranium of all kinds is not only corrosive, but it is toxic if swallowed. In its natural state, however, which is 99.3 percent U-238, the substance poses little threat to man as long as he does not eat it. The stock of natural uranium that eventually was processed by the Manhattan Project originally had been stored in steel drums and was sitting in the open at a Staten Island storage facility. Much of the German natural uranium discovered in salt mines at the end of the war also was stored in steel drums, many of them broken open. The material was loaded into heavy paper sacks and carried from the storage area by apparently unprotected G.I.s. Since then, more precautions have been taken in handling natural uranium, but at the time, caution was minimal and natural uranium was considered to be relatively safe."

"For the Navy, therefore, to note the uranium would become ‘sensitive and dangerous' when the containers were opened, and should be ‘handled like crude TNT' when the containers were closed, indicates that the uranium was, in fact, enriched uranium. Uranium enriched significantly in U-235 is radioactive and is thus a health hazard, unlike natural uranium, and therefore should be handled with appropriate caution, as the communiqué described. One of the basic rules for handling packaged TNT is to ensure large quantities are not stored in close proximity to one another, when possible, in order to avoid accidental explosions becoming catastrophic. This aligns with one the basic rules of handling enriched uranium, which requires quantities approaching critical mass are not stored in close proximity, in order to avoid creating a chain reaction -- either causing irradiation or explosion. Other handling precautions for both substances have similar corollaries."

"By 16 June 1945, a second cargo manifest had been prepared for U- 234, this time by the United States Navy. But the uranium was not on the list. It was not even marked as shipped out or having once been on hand. It was never mentioned. It was gone -- as if it never existed. Where did the uranium go? Eleven days after U-234 was escorted into Portsmouth, and four days after Pfaff identified its location on the U-boat, a team was selected to oversee the offloading of U-234."

"Portsmouth received the following message: Lieut. Comdr. Karl B Reese USNR, Lieut (JG) Edward P McDermott USNR and Major John E Vance CE USA (Corps of Engineers, United States Army, the Manhattan Project's parent organization) will report to commandant May 30th Wednesday in connection with cargo U-234."

"It is contemplated that shipment will be made by ship to ordnance investigation laboratory NAVPOWFAC Indian Head Maryland if this is feasible. The order, dispatched by the chief of naval operations, is revealing if not outright startling for the selection of one member of its three-man team. Including Major Vance of the Army Corps of Engineers in what was otherwise an all Navy operation seems a telling selection. The military services of the United States, as in most other countries, were highly competitive with one another. True, U- 234's cargo included a mixed bag of aeronautics, rocketry and armor-piercing technology that the Army could use, too, but the Navy had programs for all of these materials and surely would have done its own analysis first and then possibly shared the information with its service brothers. Someone, somewhere at a very high level, appears to have seen that the Army was brought into the scavenging operation that had become U-234; not just any Army group, but the group that oversaw the Manhattan Project-- the Corps of Engineers."

"Major John E. Vance was not only from the Corps of Engineers, the Army department under which the Manhattan Project operated, but, if a telephone transcript taken from Manhattan Project archives refers to the same ‘Vance' as the Major assigned to offload U-234 -- as it appears to -- then he was part of America's super-secret atomic bomb project, as well. The transcript is of a conversation between Manhattan Project intelligence officers Smith and Traynor and was recorded two weeks after ‘Major Vance' was assigned to the team responsible for unloading the material captured on U-234."

"Smith: ‘I just got a shipment in of captured material and there were 39 drums and 70 wooden barrels and all of that is liquid. What I need is a test to see what the concentration is and a set of recommendations as to disposal. I have just talked to Vance and they are taking it off the ship and putting it in the 73rd Street Warehouse. In addition to that I have about 80 cases of U powder in cases. He (Vance) is handling all of that now. Can you do the testing and how quickly can it be done? All we know is that it ranges from 10 to 85 percent and we want to know which and what. Traynor: Can you give me what was in those cases?"

"Smith: ‘U powder. Vance will take care of the testing of that."

"Traynor: ‘The other stuff is something else?' "

"Smith: ‘The other is water.' "

"U-234s cargo manifest reveals that, besides its uranium, among its cargo was 10 ‘bales' of drums and 50 ‘bales' of barrels. The barrels are noted in the manifest to have contained benzyl cellulose, a very stable substance that may have been used as a biological shield from radiation or as a coolant or moderator in a liquid reactor. The manifest lists the drums as containing ‘confidential material.' As surprising as it may seem, this secret substance may have been the ‘water' that Major Smith noted in his discussion with Major Traynor. Why would water be described as ‘confidential material'? Why would Major Smith want the water tested? And what did he mean when he said that its concentration ranged ‘from 10 to 85 percent and we want to know which and what' "?

"The leaders of the German project to breed plutonium had decided to use heavy water, or deuterium oxide, as the moderator for a plutonium-breeding liquid reactor. The procedure of creating heavy water results in regular water molecules picking up an additional hydrogen atom. The percentage of water molecules with the extra hydrogen represents the level of concentration of the heavy water. Thus Major Smith's seemingly overzealous concern about water and his question about concentration is predictable if Smith suspected the material was intended for a nuclear reactor. And using heavy water as a major element of their plutonium breeding reactor project, it is easy to see why the Germans labeled the drums ‘confidential material.' The evidence indicates that U-234 -- if the captured cargo being tested by ‘Vance' was from U-234, which seems very probable given all considerations -- carried components for making not only a uranium bomb, but a plutonium bomb, also."

"Further corroborating the connection of the barrels and drums as those that were taken from U-234 is a handwritten note found in the Southeast national archives held at East Point, Georgia. Dated 16 June, 1945, two days after Smith's and Traynor's telephone conversation, the note described how 109 barrels and drums -- the exact total given in the Smith/Traynor transcript -- were to be tested with geiger counters to determine if they were radioactive. The note also included instructions that an ‘intelligence agent cross out any markings on drums and bbls. and number them serially from 1 to 109 and make note of what was crossed out.' The note goes on to say that this recommendation was given to and approved by Lt. Colonel Parsons, General Groves' right-hand man on the military side of the Manhattan Project. And lastly, the writer of the note had called Major Smith, apparently to report back to him, leading one to believe the note's author may have been Major Traynor."

"Was the captured cargo discussed by Smith and Traynor from U-234? The presence of a Mr. ‘Vance' who was in charge of ‘U powder,' almost certainly proves so. The documents under consideration and the conversation they detail are from Manhattan Project files and are about men who worked for the Manhattan Project. Using the letter ‘U' as an abbreviation for uranium was widespread throughout the Manhattan Project. That there could have been another ‘Vance' who was working with uranium powder -- especially "captured" uranium powder -- seems unlikely. And the fact that the contents of the barrels listed on the U- boat manifest were identified as containing a substance likely to be used in a nuclear reactor, benzyl cellulose, and that the barrels in the Smith/Traynor transcript and the untitled note -- as well as the drums -- were tested for radioactivity by geiger counter, certainly links the ‘captured' materials to no other source than U-234."

"Besides linking the ‘captured' uranium on board U-234 to the Manhattan Project through Major Vance, another striking and important detail is revealed in this telephone transcript. The uranium is spoken of as being in ‘about 80 cases.' Assuming these are the same containers the uranium was shipped in, and there is good reason to believe so, those cases may have been the same gold-lined cylinders referred to in Navy secret cable #262151, referred to earlier. To have distributed up 560 kilograms of natural uranium into 80 smaller cases -- whether as stowed on U-234 by the Germans or after offloading by the Americans -- does not make sound economic sense, either in terms of monetary cost or in terms of space, which was at a desperately high premium inside U-234. The logical option would have been to transport the uranium in as large a quantity as reasonable for lifting and stowage, saving space and cost. To have divided 560 kilograms into 80 cases means each case weighed about seven kilograms (15.5 lbs.), considerably smaller than one would think was either efficient or least expensive. But if the uranium was enriched, there would be a requirement to separate the powder into sub-critical quantities to avoid creating a critical mass -- and the devastating nuclear chain reaction that would follow. Critical Mass was 15 kilograms. Stowing half of critical mass in each container, about seven kilograms -- the amount of 560 kilograms divided into 80 cases -- would be a safe, and logical, quantity. But in the U-boat, the containers of enriched uranium still would be packed in close proximity to one another; still supporting a critical scenario.

The solution: make the containers cylindrical so when tightly packed the walls don't touch on all edges, thus breaking up the critical mass. Lining the walls of the cylinders with gold, a dense, neutron reflecting element that Manhattan Project scientists had once considered using as a neutron reflecting tamper in the plutonium bomb , would provide an extra level of protection above and beyond deterring contamination. The dense gold would suppress neutrons from migrating through the container walls, further curbing a chain reaction. This would be especially beneficial protection in the U-boat, where direct exposure to salt water would provide a reactor moderator -- the perfect environment for creating a chain reaction."

"The new-found evidence taken en mass demonstrates that, despite the traditional history, the uranium captured from U-234 was enriched uranium that was commandeered into the Manhattan Project more than a month before the final uranium slugs were assembled for the uranium bomb. The Oak Ridge records of its chief uranium enrichment effort -- the magnetic isotope separators known as calutrons -- show that a week after Smith's and Traynor's 14 June conversation, the enriched uranium output at Oak Ridge nearly doubled -- after six months of steady output. Edward Hammel, a metallurgist who worked at the Chicago Met Lab, where the enriched uranium was fabricated into the bomb slugs, corroborated this report of late-arriving enriched uranium. Mr. Hammel told the author (Saba) that very little enriched uranium was received at the laboratory until just two or three weeks -- certainly less than a month -- before the bomb was dropped. The Manhattan Project had been in desperate need of enriched uranium to fuel its lingering uranium bomb program. The cumulative evidence seems very persuasive that U-234 provided the enriched uranium needed, as well as components for a plutonium breeder reactor."

"From the transcript of an introduction to a lecture given by Dr Heinz Schlicke to the Navy Department: ‘Mr. Alvarez' appears to be Dr. Schlicke's handler. Manhattan Project physicist Luis Alvarez was credited with at the last minute solving th plutonium bomb's fuse problems. Uranium does not appear to be the only component aboard U-234 capable of being used to make an atomic bomb. There were the steel drums and wooden barrels full of fluids (mentioned earlier) which Manhattan Project personnel tested, apparently to see if the materials had been, or could be, part of a plutonium breeder reactor. And there were tons of lead, possibly for radiation protection; mercury, possibly for very fast mercury switches; and infra-red proximity fuses. The infrared fuses were discovered within five days of U-234s landing at Portsmouth, apparently as the result of Dr. Heinz Schlicke's interrogation. A memorandum written by Jack H. Alberti dated 24 May 1945 stated, ‘Dr. Schlicke knows about the infrared proximity fuses which are contained in some of these packages. ... Dr. Schlicke knows how to handle them and is willing to do so.' "

Schlicke and two others were flown to Portsmouth to retrieve the infrared proximity fuses. "... Beyond fusing and explosives expertise, he (Schlike) was either referenced by other prisoners of U-234, listed in documents onboard U-234, or admitted to being knowledgeable in or responsible for: very high technology radar and radio systems, guided missile development, and V2 rockets. While still in Germany, he also had met with a long list of scientists. ... That Schlicke was personally and almost immediately flown back to U-234 specifically to retrieve the infrared fuses, from among all the technology for which he was responsible, seems very revealing. It suggests that the infrared fuses were of immediate interest to the United States, not just as the booty of war, as were all the other technologies on the boat, but expediting retrieval of the fuses seems to have been driven by a need to have them immediately available for some purpose."

"... For a year-and-a-half, the Los Alamos scientists tried to develop a simultaneously firing detonation system. ... Indeed, into late June and early July, just two weeks before the first atomic bomb test at Alamogordo, New Mexico, the detonator timing problem was still not resolved. The experts at Los Alamos had been working on the timing problem since the fall of 1943, but had failed to solve it when, in October 1944, Robert Oppenheimer created a committee to tackle the detonator problem. The first name on the three-man team was Luis Alvarez. ... Alvarez also became one of the great heroes of the atomic bomb story when he solved the plutonium bomb detonator timing problem in the last days before the Trinity Test. ... Of all the Manhattan Project personnel whose name one would expect to see connected to Heinz Schlicke's and U-234's infrared proximity fuses, if there was a connection, Luiz Alvarez's name would be at the top of that list. ..."

"... By late spring 1945, when U-234 arrived on American shores with just two months left until the Trinity Test -- the first test of an atomic bomb -- the detonator problem was still unsolved and its resolution was now paramount to the success of the entire program. Alvarez, as the key man assigned to the problem, was in desperate need of a fusing system that could fire multiple detonators simultaneously. Schlicke had fuses that worked on the principles that govern light -- presumably they worked at the speed of light."

"In fact, among the documents Schlicke was accompanying to Japan was a report on ‘the investigation of the usability of ultraviolet (invisible) light for transmitting messages or commands and particularly for the remote ignition of warhead fuses.' The report had been prepared based on research done from 1939 through 1941 by Hans Klumb and Bernard Koch. In suggesting that ‘the ultraviolet method permits the transmission of much more concentrated energy compared with the infra-red method,' the inference is made that infrared was also usable for similar purposes, though lower concentrations of energy made it problematic. Ultraviolet light, on the other hand, according to the same report, appears to have presented its own challenges to the task because it had a ‘stronger absorption rate.' "

"... But what about the identification of Alvarez as a Commander in the Navy? General Groves supplied military identities -- uniforms, ranks and papers -- to scientists Robert Furman and James Nolan, so they could escort the enriched uranium bomb cores to Tinian on board the USS Indianapolis without raising suspicion."

"... According to Harlow Russ, who wrote in his book Project Alberta about his work on the team that assembled the plutonium bomb, two significant changes were made to the bomb design at the last minute. One was the development and inclusion in the plutonium bomb of ‘detonator chimneys' that were developed so late in the process that they were not included in the first four shipments of equipment to Tinian, the Pacific airfield from which the bombs were dropped on Japan. The second design addition was a series of small-diameter stainless steel tubes that ‘vented' radiation from the plutonium core, according to Russ's explanation, to allow the technicians to monitor activity at the core. Russ makes a point of stating both additions were new and just in time for the Trinity Test. These modifications suggest that very late before the plutonium bomb's use, passages were being built into the bomb that, presumably, would allow the free flow of radiation, or light waves, throughout the device. Theoretically, with these passages in place, once any one of the 64 detonators was ignited, the system allowed emitted infrared waves to travel at the speed of light through the ‘detonator chimneys' to the other detonators/fuses and simultaneously ignite all the fuses at the speed of light. As a back-up plan, once any one of the firing detonators compressed the plutonium core at the center enough to achieve even a partial chain reaction, the radiation from that event would be emitted out to the detonators, again at the speed of light, and, again, simultaneously fire all of the detonators."

"Given the timing of the developments, from Alvarez's arrival on the U- 234 scene, to Schlicke's special trip to retrieve the fuses, to Alvarez's solving the timing problem so late in the process, and Russ receiving last-minute design changes apparently initiated to provide paths for the free movement of light waves within the bomb, such a scenario certainly seems viable. In an effort to substantiate or eliminate this theory, I (Saba) tried to call Harlow Russ on the telephone at his home in Los Alamos to ask him about the detonator chimneys, venting tubes, and if, in general, there were any significant changes to the actual detonators themselves. Unfortunately my (Saba's) call came too late; I (Saba) was informed Mr. Russ had died in the few months between when I (Saba) received from him his book and when I (Saba) had developed the above scenario."

"The second factor suggesting the detonators used to fire the plutonium bomb came from Dr. Schlicke is the striking success of the Trinity Test of the plutonium bomb. Trinity was ‘successful beyond the most optimistic expectations of anyone,' wrote General Groves. ‘Nearly everyone was surprised,' Robert Serber recorded. In his quintessential theme on the subject, The Making of the Atomic Bomb, Richard Rhodes wrote that Trinity was four times its expected yield. What could have caused such a remarkable miscalculation by the experts?"

"Those who knew the problems the system was experiencing in firing all of the detonators at once by mechanical means, but were unaware that the proximity fuses were being utilized to make detonation occur at the speed of light, certainly would not have expected the profoundly superior results. Thinking the detonation was still limited by hard-cable restrictions and physical switches, and based on tests of these systems, the scientists were expecting a much less dramatic event. Instead, they were surprised by the power and efficiency of the explosion. That so many who knew what the outcome of the detonation should have been were so surprised by how efficient it actually was, tends to indicate that Schlicke's infra-red proximity fuses were used to compress the plutonium core at the speed of light."

 

GULF WAR SYNDROME

 

Even though tens of thousands of Gulf War veterans complained of a wide variety of diseases, the Pentagon continued to deny that its weapons were responsible. Tens of thousands of Gulf War veterans complained of fatigue, joint pain, headaches, sleep disorders, depression, and other ailments. Some estimates have been that as many as 65 percent of Gulf War veterans suffered physically and/or psychologically. Even at least ten babies, children of Gulf War veterans, died of heart defects, liver cancer, and one had no spleen.

The United States carried out three nuclear wars. The first was World War II when two atomic bombs were dropped. Then came the Gulf War and the Kosovo war where the United States used depleted uranium (DU) in its tank cartridges, bombs, rockets, and missiles. There are three types of DU: U-238, U-234, and U-235. Uranium 234 and 235 are fissionable material that is used in bombs. DU is what is left over when the U-234 and U-235 is removed. The remaining U-238 is still highly radioactive.

A DU round is made from the leftover U-238. The killing punch comes from the solid depleted uranium metal rod in the shell. A 120 mm tank round contains about 4,000 grams or 10 pounds of solid DU. A DU rod is very dense. At high speed, it slices through tanks like a hot knife through butter. It burns on impact, creating flying bits and dust that are toxic and radioactive with a half-life of 4.2 billion years.

After having been tested as early as the 1940s, the Pentagon quietly began introducing DU rounds into their arsenals in the late 1970s but never used it in battle until the Gulf War. It turned out to be the most devastating tank-killing ammunition ever used on a battlefield, accounting for about one-third of all Iraqi tank kills.

During the Gulf War, the United States military used depleted uranium (DU) in tens of thousands of rounds of ammunition that were fired from warplanes and tanks. Just one 30 mm round contains 300 grams of DU. The American government disclosed that military personnel fire 340 tons of DU during Desert Storm. Because DU is denser than steel, shells containing it were capable of penetrating enemy tanks. Iraqi and American soldiers inhaled the deadly DU dust. Subsequently, of the 10,000 American veterans who reported illnesses, 82 percent had entered captured enemy vehicles which were the main targets of DU weapons.

Even before the Gulf War erupted, the Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) reported in July 1990: “Aerosol DU exposures to soldiers on the battlefield could be significant with potential radiological and toxicological effects.” Yet the Pentagon made the decision to use potent DU weapons during the war.

During the Gulf War, the 144th National Guard Supply Company was stationed at King Khalid Military City in Saudi Arabia. The unit worked on damaged American military equipment and vehicles for shipping back to the United States. Among the vehicles were sixteen M1 Abrams tanks that had been hit by “friendly fire” DU rounds. According to a report on DU released four years after the war by the Army Environmental Policy Institute, 26 members of the company worked inside these tanks without knowing of the risks posed by DU. About three weeks later, an Army radiological team in radiation-protection suits arrived and measured the tanks with Geiger counters. They marked the vehicles with radiation symbols and covered them with tarps. Soldiers were then warned that the vehicles were “hot,” meaning radioactive, and told to wear protective anti-chemical gear before entering them. But members of the unit were not aware of the danger and continued to work in the tanks without masks. The soldiers were later given letters certifying they were exposed to uranium in the Persian Gulf; the tanks were buried in a South Carolina radioactive waste dump. After the war, some of the soldiers began developing severe medical problems.

During the Gulf War, the United showered Iraq with well over 300 tons’ worth of depleted uranium ordnance. DU shells incinerated on impact, leaving behind a dusty residue that was primarily composed of the isotope Uranium-238. The Gulf War marked the first widespread use of DU ordnance. Subsequently, DU was used in Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina by NATO forces. An estimated 15 nations, primarily in the West, were believed to possess DU weapons.

Many scientists feared that this dust, when inhaled or ingested via contaminated water, emitted radiation inside the lungs or lymph nodes, leading to cancer and other severe ailments.

While the United States refused to entertain the premise that American uranium-tipped artillery shells were to blame for Gulf War syndrome, Baghdad long claimed that they were the reason for a high rate of cancer and birth defects among Iraqi civilians. Iraq’s health ministry claimed that cancer rates had soared by 400 percent since 1991, and victims of Gulf War syndrome in the United States and Europe had frequently ascribed their maladies to DU exposure.

While the United States refused to entertain the premise that American uranium-tipped artillery shells were to blame for Gulf War syndrome, Baghdad long claimed that they were the reason for a high rate of cancer and birth defects among Iraqi civilians. Iraq’s health ministry claimed that cancer rates had soared by 400 percent since 1991, and victims of Gulf War syndrome in the United States and Europe had frequently ascribed their maladies to DU exposure. (www.iol.co.za/index.php?click_id=31&art_id=qw952448820775H430, March 7, 2000)

Iraqi Health Minister Umid Medhat Mubarak told a conference on cancer in Baghdad in the spring of 2000, “The number of cases of cancer in Iraq have multiplied by four since the 1991 Gulf War because of the use of radioactive weapons by the United States-led coalition. … Study into the effects (of the Gulf War), notably cancers, show that the United States used deadly radioactive weapons, including depleted uranium. … Serious illnesses such as leukemia, congenital malformations, psychiatric, and muscular troubles continue to be found in high numbers.”

Stomach, breast and intestinal cancers and leukemia are the most common. According to Baghdad, the international coalition fired 940 000 shells containing depleted uranium during the Gulf War when Iraqi forces were ejected from Kuwait.

An Iraqi expert, Sami Al-Aaraji, calculated that the Allies dropped 300 tons of depleted uranium in southern Iraq. (www.iol.co.za/index.php?click_id=31&art_id=qw952448820775H430, March 7, 2000)

Since the Gulf War, a number of studies corroborated the allegation that DU was one cause of Gulf War syndrome. As early as 1990, the Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) report in July said, “Aerosol DU exposures to soldiers on the battlefield could be significant with potential radiological and toxicological effects.” Immediately after the war, an officer at the Los Alamos Laboratory testified before the Presidential Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veteran’ Illnesses. Members of the committee virtually ignored his memo which said, “If no one makes a case for the effectiveness of DU on the battlefield, DU rounds may become politically unacceptable and thus, be deleted from the arsenal. ... We should assure their future existence (until something better is developed) through Service/DOD proponency.” Defense Department spokesman Bryan Whitman had no comment when asked about the memo. The department’s reluctance to address the documents was blasted by John Muckelbauer, the VFW’s national coordinator for Persian Gulf issues, and by Michael Rotko, special counsel for a Senate investigative unit on the Gulf War.

A year after the Gulf War, the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority released a report, concluding that American tanks fired 5,000 DU rounds, American aircraft many tens of thousands and British tanks a small number of DU rounds. The tank ammunition alone amounted to greater than 50,000 pounds of DU. If the tank inventory of DU was inhaled, the International Committee of Radiological Protection predicted 500,000 potential deaths. Rounds made from DU proved incredibly effective in piercing tank armor. At least 4,000 large-caliber rounds were fired by American M1 Abrams tanks and 960,000 smaller-caliber rounds by the A-10 Warthog “tank killer” airplane. According to documents released under the Freedom of Information Act, the American and British forces left more than 300 tons of DU the battle fields between Kuwait and Iraq, mostly in the form of toxic, radioactive dust.

In January 1993, the General Accounting Office concluded in Army Not Adequately Prepared to Deal With Depleted Uranium Contamination, “Inhaled insoluble oxides stay in the lungs longer and pose a potential cancer risk due to radiation. Ingested DU dust can also pose both a radiological and a toxicity risk.”

Two years later, the Army Environmental Policy Institute (AEPI), Health and Environmental Consequences of Depleted Uranium Use in the U.S. Army, June 1995: “Depleted Uranium is a low-level radioactive waste and therefore, must be deposited in a licensed repository. If DU enters the body, it has the potential to generate significant medical consequences. The risks associated with DU in the body are both chemical and radiological. Personnel inside or near vehicles truck by DU penetrators could receive significant internal exposures. Short term effects of high doses can result in death, while long term effects of low doses have been implicate in cancer. When a kinestic round penetrates a vehicle, it contaminates the vehicle interior with dust and fragments. As much as 70 percent of a DU penetrator can be aerosolized when it strikes a tank. Aerosols containing DU oxides may contaminate the vehicle downwind. DU fragments may also contaminate the soil around the struck vehicle. DU is inherently toxic. The toxicity can be managed, but it cannot be changed.”

With so many flaws in the Pentagon’s report, Clinton created an advisory panel in August 1995. Its goal was to study the results of the committee’s findings. After studying the health status of 10,000 Desert Storm veterans and spending $10 million, the committee submitted its 50 pages findings. It concluded that there was no evidence of any “Gulf War disease.” Military personnel claimed that perhaps infectious diseases may have resulted from psychological stress which enhanced any physical and mental illnesses.

But the Pentagon’s report failed to address several important issues. First, the DOD never found the causes of the veteran’s illnesses. Second, the Pentagon only addressed the possible exposure to chemical and biological agents and not psychological factors. Third, the Pentagon study did not clarify comparisons made between personnel who had served in the Gulf War and those who were not in the Middle East. Finally, no health studies were conducted on other populations.

In 1995, the Army Environmental Policy Institute (AEPI), released a statement which acknowledged the risk from exposure to DU, but the Pentagon continued to deny that DU was a cause of Gulf War syndrome. The AEPI report read: “Depleted Uranium is a low-level radioactive waste and therefore, must be deposited in a licensed repository. If DU enters the body, it has the potential to generate significant medical consequences. The risks associated with DU in the body are both chemical and radiological. Personnel inside or near vehicles truck by DU penetrators could receive significant internal exposures. Short term effects of high doses can result in death, while long term effects of low doses have been implicate in cancer. When a kinestic round penetrates a vehicle, it contaminates the vehicle interior with dust and fragments. As much as 70 percent of a DU penetrator can be aerosolized when it strikes a tank. Aerosols containing DU oxides may contaminate the vehicle downwind. DU fragments may also contaminate the soil around the struck vehicle. DU is inherently toxic. The toxicity can be managed, but it cannot be changed.”

This came at a time when the United States military was conducting exercises in Japan and admitted that they had test-fired and left behind a small amount of depleted uranium rounds on a tiny, uninhabited island near Okinawa. Despite the insistence of American officials that DU was no more dangerous than “a 1950s TV set,” the Japanese Diet roundly condemned the action. The Diet also asked for and received an official apology and a promise not to use DU in the future.

While more studies on Gulf War syndrome were being conducted, Doug Rokke was assigned to produce a Pentagon training video to teach soldiers how to handle depleted uranium. He produced three videos in 1995: “Deplete Uranium Hazard Awareness,” were completed in 1995 but were never shown to the troops. The videos said, “There are four general situations during which depleted uranium may present hazards to soldiers. One: if the equipment is damaged or destroyed in combat or in an accident.” The video emphasized the importance of wearing respiratory protection when working with DU contaminated equipment.

Meanwhile, in 1995, Iraqi health officials reported alarmingly high increases in rare and unknown diseases, primarily in children. The increases occurred in leukemia, carcinoma, cancers of the lungs and digestive system, late-term miscarriages, congenital diseases, and deformities.

In August 1996, the United Nations Subcommission on Prevention of Discrimination of Discrimination and Prevention of Minorities passed a resolution condemning the use of Depleted Uranium and certain other weapons during its 48th session It “affirmed that weapons of mass destruction and, in particular, nuclear weapons should have no role to play in international relations and thus should be eliminated; further reaffirmed its support for a total ban on the production, marketing and use of such weapons; urged States that had not yet done so to sign and ratify the Convention on Conventional Weapons and Protocols thereto; Urged all States to be guided in their national policies by the need to curb production and spread of weapons of mass destruction or with indiscriminate effect, in particular nuclear weapons, chemical weapons, fuel-air bombs, napalm, cluster bombs, biological weaponry containing depleted uranium; Requested the Secretary-General to collect information from governments and other relevant sources on the use of such weapons and on their consequential and cumulative effects, and to submit a report on the matter to the Subcommission at its forty-ninth session.”

After a two-month investigation by The Nation (October 21, 1996), it was discovered that hundreds and perhaps thousands of American veterans were unknowingly exposed to potentially hazardous levels of DU in the Gulf War. In fact, the number of veterans, complaining of health problems may have been as high as 80,000 and 90,000. According to the investigation, some soldiers inhaled it when they pulled wounded comrades from tanks hit by DU “friendly fire” or when they boarded destroyed Iraqi vehicles. Others picked up expended rounds as war trophies. Thousands of other Americans were near accidental explosions of DU munitions. Even the end of the ground war on February 28, 1991, did not end the threat of exposure to American soldiers. Government documents revealed that in one accident alone, at a camp at Doha, about twelve miles from Kuwait City, as many as 660 rounds weighing 7,062 pounds burned, releasing dark clouds of DU. Many of the 3,000 American troops stationed at the base participated in cleanup operations without protective gear and without knowledge of the potential dangers.

Army documents obtained by The Nation (May 26, 1997) showed that as far back as 1990, the Pentagon was aware of concerns over the health effects and environmental impact of DU concerns that could make the weapon “politically unacceptable” and force the military to stop using the new weapon. Investigative reporter Bill Mesler of The Nation reported that, after extensive interviews with exposed soldiers and veterans’ doctors as well as medical reports, the Pentagon knew as early as 1990 of the dangers of DU in its new anti-tank ammunition. But the Pentagon chose to remain silent since it was concerned with adverse publicity and went ahead and used the radioactive weapon.

In 1997, the Institute of Medicine concluded: “If indeed there were a new, unique Persian Gulf related illness that could cause serious disability in a high proportion of veterans at risk, it would probably be detected in a population of 10,020 patients.” The report continued by stating that it was “likely that at least a few ... patients have developed illnesses that are directly related to the Persian Gulf service.

In August 1997, Margaret Papandreou, the former first lady of Greece, led a delegation, known as Women for Mutual Security and the International Commission of Inquiry on Economic Sanctions, to the United Nations. The group called for the lifting of sanctions against Iraq and an investigation into Iraqi claims of increased cancer rates in the Basra region that Iraqis attribute to the 300 to 800 tons of DU left behind by American forces. The United Nations Subcommission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities passed a resolution that included language calling for a prohibition on the use of depleted uranium. The only dissenting vote came from the American representative.

As a result of Papandreou’s investigation, a study was conducted by the International Educational Development/Humanitarian Law Project, a non-governmental organization. The committee concluded that DU was a major contributor to the health problems encountered by Gulf War veterans. The report read in part, “During the Gulf War up to 800 tons of munitions containing DU were used by United States forces in military actions in Kuwait and Iraq. This was the first field test of these weapon in actual combat. ... Several investigators who have traveled to the area reports that shell casings containing DU are scattered all over the ground in many areas, including in school yards and other similar civilian locales. DU contains about 30 percent less than normal of 235/U, a dangerous radioisotope of uranium used in nuclear bombs and commercial power plants. It is a byproduct of extraction of 235/U form natural uranium. Much of depleted uranium is 238/U with a half-life of 4 billion years. DU vaporizes when deployed in armour-piercing bullets. Scientific studies indicate if as much as one small particle (less than 5 microns in diameter) enters the lungs, the lungs and surrounding tissue will be exposed to 270 times the radiation permitted for workers in the radiation industry.

Still, the Pentagon continued to deny that Gulf War veterans were exposed to DU. Finally in the late 1990s, Pentagon officials admitted that troops were exposed when they destroyed Iraqi stores of chemical weapons, as Congress held hearings on “Gulf War Syndrome.” But the Pentagon tried to vindicate itself, saying that exposure to chemical weapons did not fully explain the diverse range of illnesses that have plagued thousands of soldiers who served in the Persian Gulf. The DOD only implied that DU could have been one of the missing links.

Meanwhile, scientists at the Pentagon’s Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute (AFRRI) in Bethesda, Maryland, tried to determine the effects of embedded DU by inserting shrapnel-like pellets of the substance into the legs of rats. According to abstracts of preliminary results of the studies obtained by The Nation, AFRRI scientists have discovered that DU has led to the occurrence of oncogenes, tumorous growths believed to be the precursors to cancerous growth in cells, and that it kills suppressor genes. They also found that embedded DU, unlike most metals, dissolves and is spread through the body, depositing itself in organs like the spleen and the brain; and that a pregnant female rat will pass depleted uranium along to a developing fetus. Despite the discoveries, the research drew scant attention.

Finally, in 1998, Undersecretary of the Army Bernard Rokke -- former head of the Pentagon's Depleted Uranium Project -- admitted that over the years, troops were given no proper training. Rokker himself reported that American soldiers in the thousands had been unnecessarily exposed to DU.

In 2001, Rokke told the British Parliament that one-fifth of his Gulf War team -- which examined Iraqi vehicles hit by DU fire – had since died of various lung diseases. Nevertheless, the Pentagon continued to dismiss a direct link between DU residue and cancer. It often pointed to a Rand Corporation study that monitored the health of Gulf War veterans exposed to DU and concluded that no link between kidney disease and DU had been found.(www.gulflink.osd.mil/library/randrep/du/index.html) The Department of Defense also argued that DU dust was less toxic than naturally occurring uranium, of which there is typically 2 to 4 tons per square mile of top soil. (www.ratical.org/radiation/DUuse+hazard.html, January 21, 2002)

A British researcher theorized that any increase in Iraqi cancer rates was due not to DU pollution but rather to Hussein’s use of sulfur mustard gas during the Iran-Iraq War. (John Sweeney, The Observer, June 23, 2002; www.observer.co.uk/Print/0,3858,4446693,00.html)

The World Health Organization published its own report in April of 2001. The organization agreed that a link between DU exposure and cancer had not been established by 2002 -- but it cautioned that its study relied heavily on military data. The WHO report said, “Some scientists would like to see a larger body of independently -- i.e., non-military -- funded studies to confirm the current viewpoint.” (www.who.int/environmental_information/radiation/depleted_uranium.htm

 

CHEMICAL AND BIOLOGICAL WARFARE IN THE GULF WAR? In the mid-1990s, researchers also focused on other possible causes of Gulf War syndrome, including insecticides, pesticides, various preventative medicines given experimentally to American soldiers, and the smoke from the burning oil fields in Iraq and Kuwait. Still the Pentagon denied that these were factors in the ailments of the veterans. Researchers also speculated that the cause of Gulf War syndrome may have come from low levels of chemical and biological warfare (CBW) agents which were used during the war. According to a wide variety of sources, including Marine battlefield chronologies, widespread exposure to CBW agents occurred when American planes bombed Iraqi chemical facilities and also during direct attacks by the Iraqis.

 

In response to a Freedom of Information Act request by Gulf veterans in Georgia, the Pentagon released 11 pages of previously classified nuclear, biological, and chemical incidents which covered only seven days of the war. These were documented by General Norman Schwarzkopf and revealed chemical injuries to American troops, the discovery of Iraqi chemical munitions dumps, fallout from American bombings on Iraqi chemical facilities, and chemical attacks on Saudi Arabia. One Marine Corps report confirmed the use of anthrax around King Khalid City in Saudi Arabia. Another report stated that Marine vehicles detected and identified the chemical nerve agent lewicite. Additionally Army General Ronald Blanck, as well as other doctors who treated veterans in the United States, strongly supported contentions that CBW agents were used in the Gulf War.

 

The cover-up was compounded by evidence which indicated that the military has harassed and mistreated veterans who claimed that they had been exposed to CBW agents. Additionally, some military records were "conveniently" lost or destroyed through incompetence or by design. Two months after declassified documents were about to be released, the military admitted destroying some logs. Two marines located at Camp Pendleton, California admitted to seeing hundreds of medical records from the Gulf War burned. Yet the Pentagon continued to deny that Gulf syndrome exists.

 

At first glance it seems strange that the United States would downplay CBW exposure, especially if this could be blamed on Iraq. Yet by admitting that chemical and biological weapons were used in the Gulf War, the Pentagon would be conceding that it is unable to protect its troops. In addition this would prove very embarrassing to the government, since it directly and indirectly helped Hussein build up his war machine which included technology to manufacture CBW agents.

 

In 1996, after adamantly denying that there was any evidence that American troops had been exposed to chemical or biological weapons, the Pentagon reversed itself and acknowledged that the demolition of the Kamisiyah ammunition depot in southern Iraq in March 1991. This came immediately after the war ended and resulted in the release of sarin and other chemical weapons in the vicinity of American soldiers. This announcement brought accusations of a cover-up from veterans' groups and members of Congress, and within months the Pentagon announced millions of dollars in new research on the health problems of Gulf War veterans and on the possibility that many of them had been made ill by exposure to low levels of chemical weapons.

 

In August 1997 the Pentagon finally acknowledged that the CIA had knowledge that Iraqi chemical agents had been destroyed by the United States. However, that information was never passed on to the Pentagon. The GAO concluded that previous government reports were false. The GAO criticized the Pentagon and a special White House panel over their investigation of the illnesses reported by veterans. The report found that there was "substantial evidence" linking nerve gas and other chemical weapons to the sorts of health problems seen among the veterans.

 

The GAO report stated that the Defense Department should not have ruled out the possibility that Iraqi biological weapons, especially aflatoxin, any of a group of potent liver carcinogens, may have been responsible for some of the veterans' ailments. The GAO also criticized the Pentagon for trying to discount another potential risk, a tropical disease spread by parasites that produces symptoms that might not appear for years. Additionally, the GAO questioned whether pesticides may have contributed to the health problems.

 

The report stated that Pentagon officials and the White House panel were wrong to rule out the nerve gas sarin and other chemical weapons as a cause of the health problems because "there is substantial evidence that such compounds are associated with delayed or long-term health effects similar to those experienced by Gulf war veterans." In 1996 the Pentagon had announced that more than 20,000 American troops may have been exposed to sarin as a result of the March 1991 demolition of an Iraqi ammunition depot where tons of the nerve gas had been stored.

 

The GAO report also raised the possibility that clouds of chemical weapons might have reached American troops as a result of the aerial bombing of Iraqi chemical plants and storage depots early in the war. In addition, the report stated that Pentagon officials and the White House panel were also wrong to try to rule out a tropical disease known as leishmaniasis, an infectious illness endemic to the Persian Gulf and spread by parasites, as a cause of large numbers of ailments among veterans.

 

In September 1999, more evidence surfaced, indicating that the CIA has known much more about the causes of Gulf War syndrome than the agency would reveal. Two CIA intelligence analysts who resigned in August 1999 said that the agency has dozens of classified documents showing that tens of thousands of Americans may have been exposed to Iraqi chemical weapons during the Persian Gulf war in 1991. The husband-and-wife intelligence analysts, Patrick and Robin Eddington, had worked for the CIA, specializing in analyzing satellite and aerial photographs in southern Iraq since 1988. They said that while investigating the issue at the CIA, they turned up evidence of as many as 60 incidents in which nerve gas and other chemical weapons were released in the vicinity of American troops.

 

The Eddingtons claimed that the CIA and the Pentagon repeatedly tried to hinder their investigation. They maintained that when they insisted on pursuing the investigation over the protests of senior officials, their careers were effectively destroyed. Patrick Eddington said that on two occasions in 1998 a supervisor told him that the deputy secretary of defense and the official responsible for the investigation of gulf war illnesses were alarmed by their inquiry.

 

After the Gulf War, Patrick Eddington said that he collected 59 classified intelligence reports from agency files and computer banks that provided "very, very specific" information about the presence of chemical weapons in southern Iraq and Kuwait during the war. Robin Eddington said that she had seen at least one classified document suggesting that even trace exposure to chemical weapons over an extended period could cause illness. The Eddingtons said the CIA and Pentagon were hiding evidence of scores of other potential chemical exposures. Robin Eddington said the CIA's attitude in studying the possibility of chemical exposures was one of "cowardice and conformity."

 

Pentagon and CIA officials refuted their claims. However, CIA officials acknowledged that intelligence reports suggesting the release of Iraqi chemical weapons were still classified were forwarded to the White House panel which investigated Gulf War illnesses. The CIA said the documents could not be made public because they contained information about its intelligence-gathering methods.

 

After two years of denials, the Pentagon changed its story and acknowledged that an experimental nerve gas antidote known as pyridostigmine bromide or PB may have caused Gulf War syndrome. PB was given to nearly 300,000 American soldiers during the war. In October 1999 the Defense Department said that the findings were based on an analysis of scientific literature are were not conclusive, indicating that more studies were necessary. The Pentagon convinced the Food and Drug Administration to permit the use of PB during the Gulf War. However, the Pentagon concluded after the war that Iraq had not built weapons with soman.

 

But DOD officials acknowledged that it was unclear what the best dosages of PB for different individuals should have been. PB was used to counter soman, the fastest acting of the nerve gases, and American troops were ordered to take it in tablet form if a nerve gas attack was probable. DOD officials claimed that the dose, which was administered to American soldiers, allowed them to withstand exposures of up to five times the usual lethal dose. Nerve gases work by blocking an enzyme known as acetylcholinesterase which is essential for the proper functioning of nerves and the muscles they control. Acetylcholine is a chemical messenger that carries signals from one nerve to another. The enzyme acetylcholinesterase absorbs excess acetylcholine. But if it fails to succeed, the nerve does not know when to stop and muscles go into spasms.

 

Several earlier studies questioned the safety of PB in the Gulf War, but none of those investigations and been official. A 1996 study by the Institute of Medicine, a study group of specialists, concluded that PB was unlikely to have caused Gulf War illness. A year later, a special Presidential Advisory Commission came to much the same conclusion, although it said that the substance could mix dangerously with other substances and that more studies should be carried out.

 

Matthew Puglisi, a specialist on the Gulf War and an official in the American Legion, was not surprised at the Pentagon's announcement. He said that his organization had always opposed the military's use of PB because of the uncertainties involved in how large the dosage should be for individuals. Dr. Arthur Caplan, a bioethicist at the University of Pennsylvania and a former member of the presidential study group, said that he too was not surprised by the finding. Caplan did not expect any conclusive report on PB, since medical record-keeping in the gulf was poor, making it virtually impossible to determine precisely how much PB was taken by the veterans who became ill.

 

A Pentagon-sponsored study in October 1999 found reason to suspect that an experimental nerve gas antidote dispensed to troops during the conflict may be one cause of Gulf War syndrome. Then in November, researchers in a study co-sponsored by the Pentagon and the Ross Perot Foundation drew a new conclusion. In a study conducted at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, doctors found the first evidence of brain damage in ailing veterans. This gave further support to suspicions that toxic chemicals were the cause of Gulf War syndrome.

 

Magnetic scans found that these veterans had much lower concentrations of a key chemical in the brain. This suggested that dangerous compounds such as nerve gas or pesticides may have altered key brain cells. The study examined veterans with magnetic resonance spectroscopy by using radio waves to measure body chemistry. It found that 22 veterans with Gulf War syndrome symptoms had concentrations of a brain chemical called N- acetyl-aspertate that were 10 percent to 25 percent lower than those of a group of 18 healthy veterans. The same pattern was found in a group of six veterans who came from different parts of the country and belonged to different units in the Persian Gulf War. In the study, radiologists interpreting the results did not know which patients were complaining of symptoms and which were healthy. Researchers said that the lower concentrations of the chemical NAA suggested a loss of neurons in the brain stem which controls some body reflexes. They also said that a lower amount of NAA was in the basal ganglia, the brain's switching station for movement, memory, and emotion.

 

The researchers also asserted that those afflicted with Gulf War syndrome were genetically vulnerable to some dangerous chemicals present in the war. These included the pesticide DEET, insect repellents, nerve gas, as well as pyridostigmine bromide, a nerve gas antidote which was administered to protect thousands of American troops.

 

Dr. Arthur Caplan, a bioethicist with the University of Pennsylvania and a former member of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Gulf War syndrome, said that the finding of chemical changes in the brain was "good news" for veterans and would make it more likely that the government and the public will take their complaints seriously.

 

Yet, the Pentagon was skeptical of the study. Colonel Dian Lawhon of the Pentagon's Gulf War illness office said that the sample size was small and the study had yet to be replicated by other researchers. Admiral Craig Quigley had a similar opinion. He said, "There are many steps to go here."

 

FINDINGS BY THE INSTITUTE OF MEDICINE. In September 2000, the Institute of Medicine concluded that there was no evidence linking Gulf War syndrome to depleted uranium, the toxic nerve agent sarin, or vaccines to prevent anthrax and botulism. Quoted in the New York Times (September 7, 2000), Harold C. Sox Jr., chairman of the committee, said, "We'd like to give veterans and their families definitive answers, but the evidence simply is not strong enough. The institute issued the following additional findings:

 

Depleted uranium, the committee acknowledged, was used in tank armor and some ammunition. But its members concluded that there were indications that the levels of uranium involved in the war did not lead to lung cancer or kidney damage. There was not enough evidence to determine if the uranium could be linked to other diseases.

 

The exposure to sarin may have occurred among troops when American soldiers destroyed Iraqi munitions stockpiles. A survey of 20,000 troops within 50 miles of the stockpiles showed 99 percent reported no serious nerve illnesses. It said that while high doses of the chemical were known to be dangerous, there was not enough information available on low doses to reach any conclusion.

 

Pyridostigmine bromide, a drug used as a pretreatment for exposure to nerve agents, was provided to about 250,000 soldiers, but records did not indicate if they all took the pills. There were some cases of poisoning from taking high doses of the pills, but the committee was unable to find evidence of long-term effects from the amount normally used.

 

Anthrax vaccine was given to thousands of service members during the Gulf War because of the fear that Iraq would launch a biological attack. The committee said there had not been enough scientific studies done to determine if there was any long-term adverse effect from the vaccine.

 

The committee concluded that there had been insufficient studies on botulinum vaccine, used to block the dangerous toxins of the form of food poisoning known as botulism.

 

"BALKAN SYNDROME".

 

The term "Balkan Syndrome" arose soon after the Kosovo war. Some soldiers serving in Kosovo experienced symptoms similarly to American veterans in the Gulf War. Specifically under suspicion were the depleted-uranium munitions used by American A-10 Warthog warplanes as armor-piercing rounds. During the 11-week Kosovo air campaign in 1999, American pilots fired more than 30,000 of the superdense slugs at Serbian tanks -- leaving an estimated 10 tons of depleted uranium littering the landscape. And that doesn't include the 10,000-plus rounds fired by NATO-led forces in neighboring Bosnia-Herzegovina during its earlier war. (Los Angeles Times, January 6, 2001).

 

After the death from leukemia of a sixth Italian soldier who served with NATO forces in the former Yugoslav federation was made public in January 2001. That brought the total European deaths to 16. The Italian government demanded a full accounting from the American-led alliance.

 

In Belgium, according to the New York Times, nine Balkans veterans had been diagnosed with leukemia, and five of them have died. Two former peacekeepers each in Spain and Portugal died as a result of blood cancer, as has a Czech military pilot. And in France, four of its former Balkans' peacekeepers were treated in military hospitals for leukemia. French Defense Minister Alain Richard, called on the Clinton administration to be "open" about any and all health risks connected to the depleted-uranium shells.

 

But as was the case after the Gulf War, Washington insisted that no scientifically proven "direct link" existed between cancer in humans and depleted uranium which the Pentagon claimed was 40 percent less radioactive than uranium ore found in nature. And a DOD spokesman said that regular health checks had revealed no symptoms of leukemia and other illnesses among American troops who served in the Balkans.

 

According to the Pentagon, NATO's military command estimates that 10,800 armor-piercing rounds were fired by tank-busting A-10s at Bosnian Serb armor around Sarajevo in 1994-95. NATO Secretary-General George Robertson said that about 31,000 of the shells were used during the Kosovo air war, but Yugoslav authorities had accused NATO of using much more depleted uranium in Operation Allied Force. In 2000 a deputy defense minister claimed that 50,000 rounds were fired by NATO planes, and he said that some areas of the country had to be sealed off because radioactivity had exceeded safe levels. The United States European Command in Stuttgart, Germany said that more than 50,000 American troops had been cycled in and out of the Balkans since the autumn of 1995, as well as thousands of civilians acting in support roles.

 

In January 2001, a number of NATO members charged that there was a link between cancers that had shown up in a small number of the troops who served in the Balkans in the 1990s and American use of depleted uranium munitions in the Bosnia and Kosovo conflicts. (Los Angeles Times, March 21, 2001) Germany, Italy, Norway and the European Parliament called for a moratorium on using the ammunition, while the World Health Organization announced plans for a study of civilians in Kosovo and Iraq who may have been exposed. Pekka Haavisto, the head of the United Nations' investigation of depleted uranium, warned of the necessity to "closely follow the state of health" of those exposed to the ammunition in the Balkans. (Los Angeles Times, February 18, 2001)

 

Meanwhile, in the United States, a separate Army-funded study conducted by the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico found that depleted uranium caused cancer when implanted in laboratory animals. Despite the military's own research, Pentagon spokesmen continued to dismiss concerns about depleted uranium as unscientific hysteria and propaganda. For example, Army Colonel Eric Daxon attributed concerns about depleted uranium to "a purposeful disinformation campaign" by the Iraqi government. Yet, the Army anticipated the current controversy even before the war against Iraq. (Los Angeles Times, February 18, 2001)

 

STOCKPILING OF DU CONTINUES. Presently, the stockpiling of DU weapons has continued to spread. The amount of DU has continued to increase, with more than 20 countries with DU arsenals. According to the New York Times (March 25, 2000), the Department of Energy (DOE) planned to recycle massive quantities of radioactive waste -- 1,250,000,000 pounds of DU -- into the commercial marketplace for reuse in consumer goods. In addition to fabricating its DU into shielding blocks for use at remaining nuclear weapons sites, the DOE hoped to dump its surplus DU onto the open market to be smelted, refabricated, and then reused in a wide array of consumer products. Such as "slightly radioactive" buildings materials, cars, furniture, cooking utensils, and other items, as well as bullets and tanks, will be produced and sold, with no warning labels.

 

In the early part of 2000, the DOE pressed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set dose standards for the exposure of members of the public to radioactively-contaminated scrap metal -- the discarded equipment and structural steel components from aging nuclear power plants. This would allow the DOE to get rid of them without having to pay the high costs of their long-term safe storage in isolation. Currently there are no regulations setting public exposure limits for contaminated metals.

 

Instead, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has allowed for the release of contaminated materials and wastes by its licensees on a case-by-case basis. Since 1974, the NRC has used "regulatory guidance" which has not been an enforceable formal regulation. Dangerous loads of radioactive scrap metal have been being detected at scrapyards with increasing frequency, according to EPA regional officials and the Scrap Metal Dealers Association. According to the New York Times, one NRC report noted doses that were more than 500 times the maximum limit that a member of the public is allowed to receive from an operating nuclear power plant.