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Depleted Uranium in Libya: do the Australian Greens even care?
June 5th, 2011 by Syd Walker

The question of whether Depleted Uranium is being used in Libya has been a sensitive issue from the outset – and an issue raised by alternative media from the onset of NATO bombing.

Although DU weapons – if used – would represent a small component of the vast arsenal deployed by US, UK and French forces in this war, Depleted Uranium is a matter of particular sensitivity. That’s especially true on the ‘green’ side of politics.

Australian Greens Media Release on Libya, March 2011

9,000 bombing sorties later (plus Tomahawk missiles, drones - and now attack helicopters), do the Australian Greens REALLY still support NATO's "moves to protect the beleaguered people" of Libya?

Here in Australia, for example, the national leadership of the Australian Greens rushed to support NATO’s attacks on Libya back in March – ducking questions from the public about whether DU was being used in the conflict.

Since then, the leadership has not, to my knowledge, wavered in its support for NATO’s bombing extravaganza, despite a rising chorus of anguished appeals from the public. The media don’t seem to have quizzed the Greens on the subject, but given the Australian media shares the same pro-war agenda, why would they bother?

Yet it would be hard indeed for Australian Greens Leader Bob Brown and his Deputy Christine Milne to withstand party anger and ‘stay the course’ on Libya – if it turned out the military action they’d supported, supposedly to ‘protect civilians’ – was in reality poisoning the North African environment with highly persistent radioactive toxins.

It seems the Australian Greens Senators and their staffers can make mental contortions to justify why bombing Gadhafi’s grandchildren, or a Tripoli school for disabled children, or a group of religious leaders assembled for a peacemaking initiative, or Libyan hospitals, are all acceptable ways of “protecting civilians”. But depositing DU in the dusty atmosphere of Libya? Now surely that’s too much for any conservationist to shrug off?

For the most part, spokespeople for NATO and the individual aggressor nations have avoided giving straight answers to the very occasional questions they’ve had about the use of DU in Libya. The closest to a real answer I’ve noticed so far was the response received by the valiant lone Green Party MP in the British Parliament, Dr Caroline Lucas, back in mid-April. UK Defence Minister Dr Liam Fox replied for the British Government:

Caroline Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what discussions he has had with his counterparts in (a) the US Administration and (b) the governments of other countries forming the coalition for military action in Libya on policy on the use of depleted uranium weapons; and how that policy (a) is applied to and (b) will apply in operations in Libya.

Liam Fox: The Government’s policy is that depleted uranium (DU) can be used within weapons. It is not prohibited under current or likely future international agreements. The UK’s armed forces use all munitions in accordance with international humanitarian law. It would be quite wrong to deny our serving personnel a legitimate and effective capability. The only DU munition in service with our armed forces is the Charm 3 antitank round fired from the Challenger 2 tank. With no deployed ground forces it follows that none of the weapons supplied to UK armed forces for uses over Libya contain DU. Other nations may choose to use DU munitions fired from aircraft guns against armoured targets if they have that capability but that is a choice for them alone to make.

Note that Dr Fox explicitly said: “The only DU munition in service with our (British) armed forces is the Charm 3 antitank round fired from the Challenger 2 tank

What then to make of the following report on Iran’s Press TV, in which independent scientist and radiation expert Leuren Moret said:

The U.S. and the British as of March 21st had fired a 112 Tomahawk missiles, those are from Navy ships and this was fired at Libya. The warhead in the Tomahawk missile is 360 kilos of Depleted uranium so in those 112 Tomahawk missiles that would have been 40, 312 Kilos of Depleted Uranium

Listen to the interview with Dr Moret here

Leuren Moret

Leuren Moret

I should note that the current use of DU in Tomahawk missiles is disputed – as are the long-term environmental dangers posed by Depleted Uranium. Plenty of experts deny both. This recent article by Professor Massimo Zucchetti  – Cruise missiles with depleted uranium on Libya: A first assessment of environmental impact and health – conveys some of the complexity of the debate. Above all, it’s complex because of the shocking lack of honesty and transparency on the part of so many governmental officials who deal with the subject.

If Leuren Morret is correct, more than 40 tonnes of DU have already been dropped on Libya. Professor Zucchetti’s worst case scenario posits a tonnage ten times as great – 400 tonnes!

By basic standards of common decency – if not the mangled convolutions of what currently passes for international law – dropping ANY amount of this appalling stuff on Libya is a major crime against humanity’s future. Then there’s the little question of whether the UK Secretary of State for Defence lied to the British Parliament. Lying to Parliament is still regarded as a sacking offence for Ministers – even in this day and age.

Let’s hope Dr Lucas follows up in the House of Commons. If Fox lied to Parliament about Britain’s non-use of DU he should quit.

Of course, the British Government may well continue to lie about DU. It has a long history of doing so  – as does the USA. The pattern of systematic deceit was reported in Australia’s mainstream media years ago – see Washington’s Secret Nuclear War.

Here’s a brief extract from the FAQs on the website of the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons

There are doubts over exactly which conflicts DU has been used in. This is because governments have often initially denied using DU. Governments have admitted so far that DU was used on a large scale by the US and the UK in the Gulf War in 1991, subsequently in Bosnia, Serbia and Kosovo NATO, and again in the war in Iraq by the US and the UK in 2003.

Could it be that Leuren Moret is one of these flakey characters who inhabit the fringes of serious debate because they play fast and lose with facts? Her detractors probably say so – and certainly she doesn’t get much coverage in the western mainstream media.

But commentators like Ms Moret, who’ve been around a while, give warnings and make predictions that history records. One way of gauging their credibility is to refer to what they’ve said in the past. So I turned with interest to the Japan Times, one major newspaper that does have an article by Moret available on-line. This is how it described her:

Leuren Moret is a geoscientist who worked at the Lawrence Livermore Nuclear Weapons Laboratory on the Yucca Mountain Project, and became a whistle-blower in 1991 by reporting science fraud on the project and at Livermore. She is an independent and international radiation specialist, and the Environmental Commissioner in the city of Berkeley, Calif. She has visited Japan four times to work with Japanese citizens, scientists and elected officials on radiation and peace issues.

That happened to be Moret’s byline for an article published by the Japan Times back in 2004. The title? Japan’s deadly game of nuclear roulette. Here’s a poignant extract:

Of all the places in all the world where no one in their right mind would build scores of nuclear power plants, Japan would be pretty near the top of the list.

The Japanese archipelago is located on the so-called Pacific Rim of Fire, a large active volcanic and tectonic zone ringing North and South America, Asia and island arcs in Southeast Asia. The major earthquakes and active volcanoes occurring there are caused by the westward movement of the Pacific tectonic plate and other plates leading to subduction under Asia.

Fukushima Daiichi Explosion

Fukushima Daiichi Explosion, March 2011

Japan sits on top of four tectonic plates, at the edge of the subduction zone, and is in one of the most tectonically active regions of the world. It was extreme pressures and temperatures, resulting from the violent plate movements beneath the seafloor, that created the beautiful islands and volcanoes of Japan.

Nonetheless, like many countries around the world — where General Electric and Westinghouse designs are used in 85 percent of all commercial reactors — Japan has turned to nuclear power as a major energy source. In fact the three top nuclear-energy countries are the United States, where the existence of 118 reactors was acknowledged by the Department of Energy in 2000, France with 72 and Japan, where 52 active reactors were cited in a December 2003 Cabinet White Paper.

The 52 reactors in Japan — which generate a little over 30 percent of its electricity — are located in an area the size of California, many within 150 km of each other and almost all built along the coast where seawater is available to cool them.

However, many of those reactors have been negligently sited on active faults, particularly in the subduction zone along the Pacific coast, where major earthquakes of magnitude 7-8 or more on the Richter scale occur frequently. The periodicity of major earthquakes in Japan is less than 10 years. There is almost no geologic setting in the world more dangerous for nuclear power than Japan — the third-ranked country in the world for nuclear reactors.

“I think the situation right now is very scary,” says Katsuhiko Ishibashi, a seismologist and professor at Kobe University. “It’s like a kamikaze terrorist wrapped in bombs just waiting to explode.”

Of course, the warnings of Moret and the scientists whose views she reported were ignored at the time. Media-promoted ‘experts’ – people we are expected to take seriously – assured everyone who asked that safety standards in Japan’s nuclear industry were impeccable. (And after all, General Electric does own a major US TV network).

Senator Christine Milne on Libya, ABC TV QandA, 21st March 2011

Truth has always been the first casualty in war – and it was a casualty of the nuclear industry from the get-go. When war and the nuclear industry combine in a death embrace – as in the cases of atomic weapons and Depleted Uranium –  official spin goes into hyperdrive.

That’s one very sound reason why the environment movement – and its political offshoot, the Greens Party – have a long and consistent record of opposition to (a) war and (b) nuclear energy.

Bob Brown, Christine Milne and MP for Melbourne Adam Bandt clearly get the second part of that proposition.

But on foreign affairs, the leadership seem to inhabit a make-believe world which has more to do with Enid Blyton stories than the reality of a hyper-militarised western world, hijacked by people who are utterly ruthless and to whom lying about matters of life and death is simply routine.




More Leuren Moret: Attack on Iran would result in India feeling nuked (Feb 2007)


Russia Today interview with Conn Hallinan of Foreign Policy in Focus (April 2011)


Extract from: Rise in birth deformities blamed on Allies’ deadly weaponry

By Nigel Morris (The Independent, UK) 13 May 2004

The number of babies born deformed and children suffering leukaemia have soared because of the “deadly legacy” of depleted uranium shells used by British and American forces in Iraq, human rights campaigners claimed yesterday.

Releasing details of health problems and human rights violations suffered by Iraqi children in the past year, they claim the country’s youngsters faced a worse existence today than they did under Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship.

Depleted uranium was widely used by Allied forces to penetrate Iraqi tank armour in the Gulf Wars of 1991 and again last year.
Opponents claim the dust it releases upon impact is rapidly absorbed into the body, causing an upsurge of serious health problems inherited by Iraqi children during the past 13 years from their parents.

Caroline Lucas at an antiwar demonstration, Trafalgar Square London, 2003

Caroline Lucas speaks at an anti-war demonstration, Trafalgar Square London, 2003

Caroline Lucas, a Green Party Euro-MP who recently visited Basra, said doctors there had told her that the number of children born with severe deformities, such as shortened limbs or eye defects, had increased sevenfold since 1991. In addition they were treating several new cases of leukaemia every week – before 1991 the condition was very rare.

“Women in Basra are afraid to become pregnant because there are so many deformed babies,” she said. “We are leaving a deadly legacy for generations to come.”

She made the claims at the launch in London of a new charity, Child Victims of War (CVW), to help Iraqi youngsters “innocently suffering malnutrition, disease, disability and psychological trauma”.

The amount of depleted uranium used by coalition forces in the two Gulf Wars is not known, but some estimates suggest it was 300 tons in 1991 and five times as much last year.

CVW says the number of Iraqi babies born with serious deformities has risen from 3.04 per thousand in 1991 to 22.19 per thousand in 2001. Babies born with Downs Syndrome have increased nearly fivefold and there had been a rash of cases of previously little-known eye problems.

The Ministry of Defence insists depleted uranium poses a “minimal” risk to civilians….


4 Responses  
  • sentience writes:
    June 6th, 201111:32 amat

    i don’t agree with conflating the deployment of nuclear energy for power generation or peaceful uses with its use as a destructive agent. i’ll confine my comment to the bellicose, as i don’t oppose tout court nuclear as part of the energy mix.

    some people might not have really appreciated the horror of depleted uranium. this should help:

    sadly, the purported use of a small nuclear bomb (5kt) on the last day of the first gulf war received almost no airplay in the anglosaxon media.

    now, brown might have an axe to grind, but the seismic data seems to corroborate his assertions. wouldn’t you think that a story like this is worth following?

  •» Blog Archive » Australian Greens Libya Policy: an absurdity that justifies atrocities writes:
    June 6th, 20111:00 pmat

    […] Depleted Uranium in Libya: do the Australian Greens even care? […]

  • sentience writes:
    June 6th, 20112:31 pmat

    that depleted uranium might have served to mask the use of a real nuclear device in operation desert storm should not be too shocking for anyone steeped in the revisionist tradition. just as a covert warning may have been delivered to saddam hussein, i believe the original nuclear bombing of japan was primarily destined for to thwart stalin’s european designs.

    just to be sneaky, i’ll add that i think 9/11 employed a similar methodology; a novel destructive technology masked by a portfolio of conventional devices. the message wouldn’t have been lost on america’s strategic rivals.

  • international-tripunal-itaal writes:
    June 10th, 20115:20 amat

    this mail sliced ??on 9.6.2011 from copenhagen
    false andklage against Mr. Gadaffi sku have ordered Potency of Libya’s army
    the føste it will be like much great mende since Libya’s army consists of 1.5 millions mensker and it will throw Libya one one Kempe bill and it will rock africa know about but which vors KOMISJON investigate the matter to the bottom, he never order these Potency but it came from east Libya as can be seen on the bill become avlastet in benzhai port and underskavet of ports feet asyyea naiala he told me he get odrat to accept that marketing the product of the National Council Libya will framskønne prosthesis from Libya leader Gaddafi and give him aldt rinsed price for kontener cost transitional government 1.9 miliad dollar and came from usa by boat somkom igemmmen without being stopped by nato blockade
    international tribunal andklager Luis Moreno-Ocampo to white wash indformation and krankermr Gadaffi in the extent that we would look at Mr. Luis Moreno-Ocampo on his political backgrounds to see if he is politically interested in the beskite war he can we say that andklageren whitewashes information for U.S. and NATO lies he can be punished
    in the criminal tribunal in Africa which will soon be our court, as I said, we now have 80 countries who have godkent international tribunal as an alternative for icc Un tribunal since but menner that fn the court is politically pårvirket of fn height castle and the political andkrab on African conductor as usa and west can before ulovilidt war in africa
    tribunal.for.the.aggression.against.libya.itaal renowned not fn height castle in usa and we are renowned not fn ICCC tribunal and we are renowned not overgansregereing eastern Libya they have together played for white lies as it can be proved with 100 percent of Hjelp of international media have framskønnet idea that Gadaffi must andholdes for krigsforbrydse
    des Be the fjøjte coming UN and NATO and the korupte politician not to watch while they live we have tydlidt contrary evidence then got to rest a long out to the petitioners land and sell the story of Potency as Gadaffi sku garden book
    we forsetter with the same style that andklage nato and Denmark for krigsforbrydse and we back on gadaffis daughter Miss Aisha Gaddafi andklagerne against nato is full overindstemse with hat we have proof of material presented to the state of Denmark to kill the diplomats 30.april.2011 the 29 year-old Seif al-Arab Gaddafi, Aisha four months old daughter Mastoura and the two-year-old nephews Seif and Carthage Denmark must frame to Accounting for its forbrydse the promise and the international tribunal our tribunal will back advorkaten Luc Brossollet we will Hjelp to with the evidence and there, we will contact the Belgian court and give them the material presented as evidence that the Danish military has murdered gadaffis Sun will Hjelp like much of the Belgian court and advorkaten to our Hjelp come in installments over time
    multi vidio and material presented comes to us and dukomenter as ofliheden have not seen it will be used against the andsvarli korupte politician in Denmark we have as late today been in touch with oyster steering wheel on our andmodning on state proceedings up is underway and we message once they promise from the administration proceedings are kent in oyster country steering wheel they have registered our andmodning now it must kikkes approaching so Danish politician who shared in the beskite cold blood war will be summoned krigsforbrydse there is no mercy no similar agreements we should show the korupte politician to but can not run country on this planet without hjor it will hit them seld hat the government has up

    this mail we will be translated into multi-thousand media in the world and Africa so all the information and it will play on facebook also on facebook / Libya

    Prasse is in doubt whether it interesting to have the matter østerrat burt they check it up and eat it as it is
    we in the international tribunal Denmark slipped to state andklage against korupte politician and we will prove
    that they are the world’s Prasse will be convened in installments once so rock world can see our korupte politician, and the winner has andsvaret for krigsforbrydse I glad I seld what it is my fornøjse to make international tribunal service and protect the hat is the steering wheel and vad is false to the politicians we have seen in ratsalen in burt makes me ready for the ride are you

    ring like on 21820249 those who have awakened tellefon
    with all rasps for jers court greeting tribunal.for.the.aggression.against.libya

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