RJ Matson, the St. Louis Post Dispatch

Century Marks

Shell game: According to the Pentagon, more than 320 tons of depleted uranium (DU) were used in the 1991 Gulf War. No figures are available for the amount used in the current Iraq war. The U.S. Army claims no health risks are involved with the use of DU shells, but the United Kingdom’s Atomic Energy Authority has concluded that a half-million people could die in Kuwait and Iraq from the effects of DU used in the Gulf War. Stillbirths and congenital birth defects rose 250 percent between 1989 and 1999 in the Basra region, where DU shells were heavily used. DU has a radioactive half-life of 4.5 billion years and is particularly deadly once it enters the food chain. Writes Mark J. Allman: “The hypocrisy of the American use of DU in Iraq is obvious. The U.S. invaded Iraq for violating UN sanctions and because of a perceived threat of weapons of mass destruction, and then used in the invasion weapons disapproved by the UN as WMDs” (America, October 17).


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