A new report has shown that US forces fired depleted uranium weapons at civilian areas in Iraq during the US-led war in the country.
The report by the Dutch peace organization PAX, which was released this week, shows US jets and tanks fired depleted uranium rounds in or near populated areas of Iraq including As Samawah, Nasiriyah, and Basrah.
PAX obtained the information through a request under freedom of information law from the Dutch Ministry of Defense which obtained last year the GPS coordinates of depleted uranium rounds fired by US forces along with a list of targets and the numbers fired because it was concerned about areas in which its troops were stationed in Iraq.
“The use of DU against these targets questions the adherence of coalition forces to their own principles and guidelines,” said Wim Zwijnenburg, the author of the report. “They should be held accountable for the consequences.”
According to legal advice from the US Air Force issued in 1975, US forces should use depleted uranium weapons only against hard targets like tanks and armored vehicles.
Depleted uranium is a chemically toxic metal which is produced as waste by the nuclear power industry and is attractive to weapons designers because it is extremely hard and can pierce armor.
In 1995, the US, Britain, Israel, and France voted against a resolution at the United Nations General Assembly which urged “a precautionary approach” to using depleted uranium weapons.
The US spread in excess of 400 metric tons of depleted uranium across Iraq. A report issued by PAX last year said, with over 300 sites in Iraq already contaminated by the toxic material, depleted uranium clean-up is estimated to cost the Middle Eastern nation a minimum of $30 million.
Many people in Iraq are still suffering from the effects of the US military’s use of depleted uranium. Cancer is now more common than the flu in Najaf, according to Sundus Nsaif, a local doctor.
“After the start of the Iraq war, rates of cancer, leukemia and birth defects rose dramatically in Najaf. The areas affected by American attacks saw the biggest increases. We believe it’s because of the ‘illegal’ weapons like depleted uranium that were used by the Americans. When you visit the hospital here you see that cancer is more common than the flu,” Dr. Nsaif told RT last year.
Yet, despite requests by the United Nations Environment Program and the Iraqi government, the Pentagon refuses to publish all its depleted uranium firing coordinates in Iraq.