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Thursday, December 18, 2008

The cold calculus of war —Mahmud Sipra

A doomsday scenario? Read on.

Dr Asaf Durakovic, founder and director of Canada’s Uranium Medical Research Centre, sent a team to Afghanistan to interview and examine civilians in heavily bombed Nangarhar. This province, the BBC reported, had become “a strategic target zone for the deployment of a new generation of deep-penetrating ‘cave-busting’ and seismic shock warheads.”

The British broadcasters failed to mention that each of these new weapons was tipped with a deadly mix of non-depleted uranium.

Alerted to the “radioactive, toxic uranium alloys and hard-target uranium warheads used by the coalition forces”, the UMRC team started looking for radiation poisoning. What they found was, in their words, “astonishing” and “astounding”.

Identifying “several hundred people suffering from illnesses and conditions similar to those of Gulf veterans,” the team began administering tests. “Without exception, every person, donating urine specimens tested positive for uranium internal contamination,” UMRC reported. But the readings were off the scale of previous known DU exposures: The results were astounding: “the donors presented concentrations of toxic and radioactive uranium isotopes between 100 and 400 times greater than in the Gulf veterans tested in 1999.”

“A control group of three uncontaminated Afghans averaged 9.4 nanograms of uranium per litre of urine. The average for 17 randomly selected patients in Jalalabad, Kabul, Tora Bora and Mazar-i-Sharif was 315.5 nanograms. A 12-year-old boy living near Kabul displayed 2,031 nanograms.”

The maximum permissible level for members of the American public is 12 nanograms per litre.

Dr. Durakovic told the BBC he was “stunned” by the results. “I’m certainly not saying Afghanistan was a vast experiment with new uranium weapons. But use your common sense.”

It is that common sense that needs to germinate in the minds of people who speak of an armed response every time a suicide bomber or squad embarks on their deadly missions that threaten to plunge one-fifth of the human race in to a conflict that has all the ingredients of Armageddon.

The cold calculus of war —Mahmud Sipra


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