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COMMENTARY:

Outrageous Thought of the Day: Nuclear Hypocrisy

by Dave Lindorff
Originally published in This Can't Be Happening on 20 October 2009

DU-charred Iraqi soldier
Iraqi soldier, body carbonized by depleted uranium shell

The US is expressing concern about Iran enriching uranium, and possibly creating a nuclear bomb, which in the unlikely event that it were ever used, might spread some radioactivity, yet it is the US which already has spread close to 2000 tons of uranium dust all over Iraq and Afghanistan over the past 18 years.

Now absurd is it that we have the government on the one hand pulling back from using a hollowed out mountain in Nevada to store nuclear waste because of a remote fear (legitimate I grant) that hundreds or thousands of years hence, some earthquake or other catastrophe might cause the stored waste to leak into the water table, while on the other hand we have this same government deliberately taking some of the most dangerous waste--the actual uranium from the used fuel rods--and putting it into bombs, shells and bullets to be splattered and burned all across the landscape?

And I should note that it's not just remote places like Iraq and Kuwait and Afghanistan that are being contaminated with super toxic and radioactive uranium dust--nor am I just talking about the stuff that gets picked up in the wind and carried around the globe, or the stuff that gets inhaled by our troops and carried home internally, bad enough as that is.

The truth is that depleted uranium weapons are being exploded and burned right here in the USA in training operations. Who needs terrorists with dirty bombs! The center of Hawaii's Big Island, for example, which is a military zone, is heavily contaminated by DU ammunition fired by tanks there. Our tanks! The same is true of Vieques Island, long a favored target for the US Navy, which for years has fired shells, including DU-tipped shells, from its ships at the populated island, and also launched DU-tipped missiles at and dropped DU-loaded "bunker-buster" bombs on the place.

While I don't have direct knowledge, I'd say it's a safe bet that there are a number of sites on the Mainland US where DU munitions have also been widely used--maybe White Sands Proving Ground, the Marine training area near Joshua Tree National Monument in Southern California, or other such training and testing areas.

The simple truth is that our own government, besides committing an ongoing atrocity in the Middle East, is also doing Osama Bin Laden's job for him, poisoning our own country with uranium oxide.

Our Nobel Peace Prize president should take note. President John F. Kennedy, whatever his faults, reportedly moved to halt open air testing of nuclear weapons after looking at the rain falling outside the window of the Oval Office and asking a science advisor whether it was delivering nuclear fallout to the rose garden where his two kids played (he was told that it was). Maybe President Obama should consider that the rain today is delivering uranium dust to his wife's and daughters' garden in the back yard of the White House. At least he should take a look at pictures of the horribly deformed babies being born to mothers in Iraq (and of the lucky babies that are stillborn), thanks to the radioactive warfare that the US military has been employing against both that country and Afghanistan--his "necessary" war.

There is another irony here too. The US is expressing concern about Iran enriching uranium, and possibly creating a nuclear bomb, which in the unlikely event that it were ever used, might spread some radioactivity around parts of the Middle east, yet it is the US which already has spread close to 2000 tons of uranium dust all over Iraq and Afghanistan over the past 18 years--far more radioactive material than any small Iranian bomb could release.


Dave Lindorff in Washington

About the author: Philadelphia journalist Dave Lindorff is a 34-year veteran, an award-winning journalist, a former New York Times contributor, a graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, a two-time Journalism Fulbright Scholar, and the co-author, with Barbara Olshansky, of a well-regarded book on impeachment, The Case for Impeachment. His work is available at www.thiscantbehappening.net.



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This story was published on October 22, 2009.