Depleted Uranium - America's Dirty Bomb Secret Scandal
We have compiled a video slideshow to show you what atrocities are being commited by the U.S. Government using depleted uranium in Iraq and other countries.
Depleted Uranium is very dense; at 19050 kg/m³, it is 1.67 times as dense as lead, only slightly less dense than tungsten and gold, and 84% as dense as osmium or iridium, which are the densest known substances under standard (i.e., Earth-surface) pressures. Thus a given mass of it has a smaller diameter than an equivalent lead projectile, with less aerodynamic drag and deeper penetration due to a higher pressure at point of impact. DU projectile ordnance is often incendiary because of its pyrophoric property.
Because of its high density, depleted uranium can also be used in tank armor, sandwiched between sheets of steel armor plate. For instance, some late-production M1A1HA and M1A2 Abrams tanks built after 1998 have DU reinforcement as part of the armor plating in the front of the hull and the front of the turret, and there is a program to upgrade the rest (see Chobham armor).
Watch Slideshow and listen to the informative soundtrack on the Depleted Uranium Scandal
Most military use of depleted uranium has been as 30 mm caliber ordnance, primarily the 30 mm PGU-14/B armour-piercing incendiary round from the GAU-8 Avenger cannon of the A-10 Thunderbolt II used by the United States Air Force. 25 mm DU rounds have been used in the M242 gun mounted on the U.S. Army's Bradley Fighting Vehicle and LAV-25. The United States Marine Corps uses DU in the 25 mm PGU-20 round fired by the GAU-12 Equalizer cannon of the AV-8B Harrier, and also in the 20 mm M197 gun mounted on AH-1 Cobra helicopter gunships. The United States Navy's Phalanx CIWS's M61 Vulcan Gatling gun used 20 mm armor-piercing penetrator rounds with discarding plastic sabots which were made using depleted uranium, later changed to tungsten.
Kinetic energy penetrator rounds consist of a long, relatively thin penetrator surrounded by discarding sabot. Two materials lend themselves to penetrator construction: tungsten and depleted uranium, the latter in designated alloys known as staballoys. Staballoys are metal alloys of depleted uranium with a very small proportion of other metals, usually titanium or molybdenum. One formulation has a composition of 99.25 percent by mass of depleted uranium and 0.75 percent by mass of titanium. Staballoys are about twice as dense as lead and are designed for use in kinetic energy penetrator armor-piercing ammunition. The US Army uses DU in an alloy with around 3.5 percent titanium.
Staballoys, along with lower raw material costs, have the advantage of being easy to melt and cast into shape; a difficult and expensive process for tungsten. According to recent research, at least some of the most promising tungsten alloys which have been considered as replacement for depleted uranium in penetrator ammunitions, such as tungsten-cobalt or tungsten-nickel-cobalt alloys, also possess extreme carcinogenic properties, which by far exceed those (confirmed or suspected) of depleted uranium itself: 100 percent of rats implanted with a pellet of such alloys developed lethal rhabdomyosarcoma within a few weeks. On more properly military grounds, depleted uranium is favored for the penetrator because it is self-sharpening and pyrophoric.
On impact with a hard target, such as an armored vehicle, the nose of the rod fractures in such a way that it remains sharp. The impact and subsequent release of heat energy causes it to disintegrate to dust and burn when it reaches air because of its pyrophoric properties. When a DU penetrator reaches the interior of an armored vehicle, it catches fire, often igniting ammunition and fuel, killing the crew, and possibly causing the vehicle to explode. DU is used by the U.S. Army in 120 mm or 105 mm cannons employed on the M1 Abrams and M60A3 tanks. The Russian military has used DU ammunition in tank main gun ammunition since the late 1970s, mostly for the 115 mm guns in the T-62 tank and the 125 mm guns in the T-64, T-72, T-80, and T-90 tanks.
The DU content in various ammunition is 180 g in 20 mm projectiles, 200 g in 25 mm ones, 280 g in 30 mm, 3.5 kg in 105 mm, and 4.5 kg in 120 mm penetrators. DU was used during the mid-1990s in the U.S. to make grenades, cluster bombs, and mines, but those applications have been discontinued, according to Alliant Techsystems. The US Navy used DU in its 20 mm Phalanx CIWS guns, but switched in the late 1990s to armor-piercing tungsten.
It is thought that between 17 and 20 countries have weapons incorporating depleted uranium in their arsenals. They include the U.S., the UK, France, Russia, China, Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Pakistan, Thailand, Iraq and Taiwan. DU ammunition is manufactured in 18 countries. Only the US and the UK have acknowledged using DU weapons.
In a three week period of conflict in Iraq during 2003 it was estimated over 1000 tons of depleted uranium munitions were used, mostly in cities.
The Iranian Government TV news channel Press TV claimed on January 4, 2009, that evidence of depleted uranium exposure has been found in wounds of casualties of the 2008–2009 Israel–Gaza conflict.
Legal Status in Weapons....Read On
Depleted uranium (DU) is uranium primarily composed of the isotope uranium-238 (U-238). Natural uranium is about 99.27 percent U-238, 0.72 percent U-235, and 0.0055 percent U-234. U-235 is used for fission in nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons. Uranium is enriched in U-235 by separating the isotopes by mass. The byproduct of enrichment, called depleted uranium or DU, contains less than one third as much U-235 and U-234 as natural uranium. The external radiation dose from DU is about 60 percent of that from the same mass of natural uranium. DU is also found in reprocessed spent nuclear reactor fuel, but that kind can be distinguished from DU produced as a byproduct of uranium enrichment by the presence of U-236. In the past, DU has been called Q-metal, depletalloy, and D-38.
DU is useful because of its very high density of 19.1 g/cm3. Civilian uses include counterweights in aircraft, radiation shielding in medical radiation therapy and industrial radiography equipment, and containers used to transport radioactive materials. Military uses include defensive armor plating and armor-piercing projectiles.
The use of DU in munitions is controversial because of questions about potential long-term health effects. Normal functioning of the kidney, brain, liver, heart, and numerous other systems can be affected by uranium exposure, because in addition to being weakly radioactive, uranium is a toxic metal. It is weakly radioactive and remains so because of its long half-life. The aerosol produced during impact and combustion of depleted uranium munitions can potentially contaminate wide areas around the impact sites or can be inhaled by civilians and military personnel. During a three week period of conflict in 2003 Iraq, 1,000 to 2,000 tonnes of DU munitions were used, mostly in cities.
The actual acute and chronic toxicity of DU is also a point of medical controversy. Multiple studies using cultured cells and laboratory rodents suggest the possibility of leukemogenic, genetic, reproductive, and neurological effects from chronic exposure. A 2005 epidemiology review concluded: "In aggregate the human epidemiological evidence is consistent with increased risk of birth defects in offspring of persons exposed to DU." The World Health Organization states that no consistent risk of reproductive, developmental, or carcinogenic effects have been reported in humans. However, the objectivity of this report has been called into question.
WHO - Depleted Uranium Campaign against Depleted Uranium Depleted Uranium Education Project