A row of US Army 25mm rounds of depleted uranium ammunition, 11 February 2004, at the base of Charlie Company, 1-22 Battalion, 4th Infantry Division, in Tikrit, 180 km (110 miles) north of BaghdadInternationalIndiaAfricaExclusiveThe use of uranium ammunition pushed by the UK will cause irreversible harm to the health of the military and civilian population of Ukraine and beyond, the Russian Defense Ministry has warned. Dr Chris Busby, the scientific secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risk, told Sputnik that Moscow’s fears are completely justified.Russian President Vladimir Putin has accurately identified depleted uranium (DU) munitions as a weapon of mass destruction (WMD) and of indiscriminate effect, Dr Chris Busby, a physical chemist who has worked for the UK government’s uranium committee, emphasized while talking to Sputnik.
"The British and the Americans continue to cling to their crazy theory that these radioactive substances which bind to DNA are effectively harmless and have no genetic or indiscriminate effects on populations," Busby said. "In this case, I just have to say that the British are wrong, that this substance contaminates Europe and will cause all of the effects that it caused in Iraq (…) It will cause all those effects in Germany, and Luxemburg, and France, and Sweden, and the Baltic States and a long list of countries which stand between Ukraine and the United Kingdom, where we measured it."
On 21 March, UK Minister of State for Defense Annabel Goldie told British lawmakers that London would grant a squadron of Challenger 2 main battle tanks to Kiev, as well as ammunition including armor-piercing rounds that contain depleted uranium. She boasted that “such rounds are highly effective in defeating modern tanks and armored vehicles”.
However, what she didn’t mention is that depleted uranium causes irreversible health effects previously registered among civilians in Yugoslavia and Iraq, bombed by NATO with DU weapons as well as among the military bloc’s troops.MultimediaHow the West’s Depleted Uranium Ammo Spells Death for Soldier and Civilian Alike23 March, 15:54 GMT
Dr Busby’s Research Into Iraq War’s Painful Legacy
Dr Chris Busby is an old hand at scientific research of radiation risks who personally conducted a series of studies including the one in Fallujah which came under massive attacks from DU munitions used by the US military back in 2004.
"We were concerned about the reports that were coming from Fallujah about high levels of cancer and birth defects. Since it was impossible to get official data, we decided to run a survey ourselves, in which people went around and knocked on doors and asked who lived in the property, how many people were there, and how many cancers there were, what sort of cancers, how many children had died in the past five years and all these sort of questions," Busby recalled.
He noted that after that, his team analyzed the cancer data that they got over the preceding five years by comparing it with cancer rates in Egypt and in Jordan as a sort of background. They found that the levels of all cancer were enormously high, even higher than in Hiroshima which was subjected to nuclear bombing by the US military on 6 August 1945.© Chris BusbyChris Busby, scientific secretary of the European Committee on Radiation RiskChris Busby, scientific secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risk
"I've already studied the health effects of the Hiroshima bombing, which are quite well recorded," the scientist continued. "And what we found was that the levels of cancer in Fallujah were higher than that. And the particular cancers that we found were cancers associated with radiation: these were leukemia – particularly leukemia in children – and also lymphoma in children. And that's another disease that you get from radiation, or we believe so. We found out the high level of infant mortality within the first year of life and the cause of these deaths were congenital malformations. We also find out a skewed birth:sex ratio, which is another sign of genetic damage associated with radiation exposure."
When the scientists brought all those results together, they came to the conclusion that there had been some very large genetic damage event which occurred about the time of the Fallujah attacks.AnalysisKiev’s Use of Depleted Uranium Ammo May Cause Health Problems Akin to Yugoslavia and Iraq21 March, 15:01 GMT
Fallujah Case: Link Found Between DU and Congenital Malformations
Busby and his team suspected that the primary cause of those congenital malformations in Fallujah was DU. The scientist served on the DU committee of the British Ministry of Defense, and he had dealt with lots of reports of ill health associated with serving in the Gulf War by British soldiers.
"I gave evidence on this to the American Congressional Committee on DU and they put me on the board of the Ministry of Defense looking into this sphere," he said. "And because of that, from about 1999 onwards, I was increasingly interested in how it was that uranium, which is a not terribly radioactive substance, could be causing Gulf War syndrome and all the congenital malformation effects that were slowly emerging in the British soldiers and also in the American soldiers."
Iraqi residents living in Fallujah and Arab doctors raised the alarm over the war’s devastating environmental effects in Iraq with a spike in oncological diseases and birth defects in Fallujah. These defects in particular included babies born with only one eye; babies born with missing limbs or too many limbs; a higher than normal incidence of babies with brain damage or tumors; cardiac defects; and missing genitalia.© Chris BusbyRadiation RiskRadiation RiskThe issue was to prove that these health problems had to do with DU, because the US and UK authorities were – and are still – denying that DU munitions were at the root of all evils, according to Busby.”It certainly wasn’t an unfortunate coincidence, but what we can say for certainty from the epidemiology is that the probability of this occurring by chance was vanishingly small,” the scientist explained. “You can do statistics to show that it’s more or less impossible for this to happen, unless there had been some cause. But the question is what the cause is. The Americans refused to admit that they were using uranium.”Russia’s Special Operation in UkraineBritish Media Downplays Risks of Depleted Uranium Ammo Now That Russians Are the Target22 March, 16:19 GMTBusby’s team decided to analyze the hair: “There’s a method called ICP-MS – Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry – in which you can take a hair sample and dissolve it in acid, and then you can measure the atoms inside the hair sample and see what the concentration of all these different elements are. So we looked at 52 elements in the hair of 20 mothers of children with congenital malformations, and we found that there was an anomalously high level of uranium.”Busby emphasized that the only anomaly they found associated with an element which can cause congenital malformations was uranium. Hair was a safe bet because Arab women have very long hair. The scientists knew the rate at which hair grows, so they cut the hair into little slices and measured the uranium in each of the slices going back to the first bit.
"So we can get a graph of the uranium in the hair going right the way back to about 2005. And what we found is that the uranium went up the further back in time we went. So clearly there was an increase in uranium round about the time just after Fallujah battle, which then fell as time went on, obviously because it got out of the system. So we had proof – more or less – that uranium was the cause of all of these congenital malformations, genetic damage, sex ratio and extraordinarily high level of cancer," the physical chemist underscored.
© AFP 2023 / STAN HONDAUS Army Spcl. Eli Butcher of Charlie Company, from the 1-22 Battalion, 4th Infantry Division, counts 25mm rounds of depleted uranium ammunition, 11 February, 2004, at his base in Tikrit, 180 km (110 miles) north of BaghdadUS Army Spcl. Eli Butcher of Charlie Company, from the 1-22 Battalion, 4th Infantry Division, counts 25mm rounds of depleted uranium ammunition, 11 February, 2004, at his base in Tikrit, 180 km (110 miles) north of Baghdad
Why DU is So Harmful for Health
DU is a by-product of the enrichment process. It is considered to be less radioactive than natural uranium. But still, even in its weakened form, this substance is very radioactive, the scientist stressed. But that is not all:
"The most important thing about it is that uranium for a long time has been known to bind very strongly to DNA," explained Busby. "Now, DNA is the target for all radiation effects. If you're looking at the reason radiation causes genetic damage and cancer, it's been well-accepted since the Fifties, since the discovery of DNA in 1952, that the DNA is the target for all the genetic effects. Uranium binds to it very strongly, as it has a strong chemical affinity for DNA. This fact has been known for a very long time (…) Now, if uranium is radioactive and it attacks the chromosomes, clearly it's going to be much more dangerous than some kind of neutral substance that you drink and then goes out of your body. It's a calcium seeker and it binds to DNA. So that's the first thing."
The second risk associated with the use of depleted uranium was revealed by the physical chemist and reported to the Depleted Uranium Oversight Board in 2004. At that time Busby drew attention to the fact that uranium acts as a sort of amplifier for normal radiation because it has a very high atomic number.”We all live in an environment where we get gamma rays that come through our body and go out,” he said. “And of course, that they’re not good and they have an effect. But if you’ve got uranium inside you, then it intercepts this because of its high atomic number and all its electrons. And when it gets hit by a gamma ray, it shoots off a load of electrons and this is called the photoelectric effect (…) All studies that have been done of people exposed to uranium showed massive chromosome damage. So when they look to see the chromosomes in their cells, in the peripheral blood cells, they find massive amounts of chromosome damage that leads to genetic effects – cancer, birth defects and so forth. So that’s the reason uranium is so dangerous.”The reason DU penetrated the body so easily and spread in the environment was that when munitions explode, the uranium burns at a very high temperature, producing particles so small that they’re effectively a gas, Busby says.© Chris Busby, scientific secretary of the European Committee on Radiation RiskRadiation RiskRadiation Risk“They don’t behave as a metal particle, they behave like a gas and they are totally volatile and float all over the place. They contaminate over distance. In 2003, we looked at the first Gulf War effects and we looked at filters in the United Kingdom, measuring uranium, and we showed that they came from Iraq all the way to England,” said the scientific secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risk.Given this, the British government’s decision to deploy DU munitions to Ukraine sends a sinister message to the rest of Europe and its populations that will reap the whirlwind of radioactive contamination after the Kiev regime starts using these weapons, the scientist said.
‘Democracy Should be Run on Basis of Truth’
Busby highlighted that neither the US nor the British governments had listened to the results of the scientific research in Fallujah.
"I've been on two British government committees relating to radiation, and they really don't like anything that I say," he stressed. "Once I was asked to be an expert in a coroner's jury, about a Gulf War veteran, Mr Dyson, who died of colon cancer. He fought in the first Gulf War and he developed colon cancer and died. And so the coroner, whose job is to decide why he died, called a jury for certain people to come in and listen to these arguments. The Ministry of Defense sent a representative to argue that uranium was harmless and couldn't have caused his cancer. I brought in my evidence and they brought in their evidence. And the jury found totally for what I said, that the colon cancer in this man, Stewart Dyson, was caused by the uranium."
He noted that instead of considering DU munitions as WMD – which it is – the US and UK military see it as a wonder weapon that helps them effectively blast the adversary’s armored vehicles and they don’t really care about civilians dying as a result, the collateral damage. Likewise, the American and British governments remain in denial about the disastrous effects of DU weapons and potential negative consequences for nations far beyond the Ukraine conflict zone.”Democracy is run on the basis of truth, on the basis of perfect knowledge. If people in a democracy have perfect knowledge that something that our government is doing that is killing them, then they ought to get another government. Quickly,” Busby concluded.