A Conversation With The Defence Minister

Posted on Friday, March 02 at 08:48 by mjclarke
In your reply you also said, “Despite many detailed epidemiological studies on the subject, there has never been any causal link established between the use of depleted uranium in operational theatres and damage to human health or the environment.” As a physics and math major I am sure you must have at least a fair understanding of the characteristics of radioactive materials. In Jefferson County, Indiana, the Pentagon has closed the 200 acre proving ground where it test-fired depleted uranium munitions. The lowest bid for cleaning up the site was reportedly $7.8 billion, but it did not include the permanent quarantined storage of all of the natural vegetation plus the topsoil to a depth of six metres. Considering the cost too great, the U.S. military eventually decided to donate the tract to the National Park Service for a nature preserve, but they promptly rejected it. At last report there was a new proposal to declare it a National “Sacrifice” Zone and quarantine it forever. This “solution” strongly suggests that the U.S. military believes there is a causal link between DU and damage to human health and the environment. Suffice it to say that there are ongoing major disputes between government researchers and independent researchers on this question. Frankly, I hope to convince you that there is enough scientific evidence to merit immediately invoking the Precautionary Principle relative to the employment of depleted uranium weaponry in every NATO theatre of operation. You went on to state, “no international prohibition currently exists on the use of depleted uranium munitions, nor is there any obligation for countries to notify others of their use of this material.” While that statement may be technically correct, depleted uranium munitions and weaponry absolutely fail to meet the temporal, environmental, territorial and humaneness tests of legality under international law with the result that several UN resolutions as well as the special investigator of the UN Sub-committee on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights have declared DU weaponry “incompatible” (i.e., illegal) with existing humanitarian law and human rights (UN Doc. E/CN.4/Sub.2/1997/27 and additions; E/CN.4/Sub.2/2002/38 and E/CN.4/Sub.2/2003/35). Additionally, the 1925 Geneva Convention Gas Protocol and other succeeding Geneva Weapons Conventions specifically outlaw the use of poison gas weapons. The Hague Convention of 1907 also prohibits the use of any “poison or poisoned weapons”. Again, given such a paradox it would be wise to make sure that no DU “dirty” bombs or munitions are deployed by any NATO air support groups or ground forces. In a Toronto Star article last November 5th, Bruce Campion-Smith wrote about the plastic dosimeters Canadian soldiers wear around their necks next to their dog tags to measure any “chance encounter” with gamma and X-ray radiation during patrols outside their bases. Because depleted uranium emits alpha radiation that cannot be detected by those dosimeters, this insufficient monitoring inevitably generates a sense of false security to the potential detriment of our troops and their families, and that is clearly not acceptable. The Personal Alpha Dosimetry Service (PAD Service) of the Radiation Safety Institute of Canada is licensed and audited by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, under provisions of the Canadian Nuclear Safety and Control Act and its Regulations, specifically, Regulatory Standard S-106. It is the only service of its kind in North America that provides dosimeters that are capable of measuring the actual exposure of individuals to alpha radiation from long-lived radioactive dust (LLRD) that occurs from depleted uranium weaponry. The RSIC website states that its purpose is “to assist companies to better monitor the individual radiation exposure of mine workers, particularly in the uranium mining industry, and to assist that industry in its efforts to prevent excessive exposure… Historically, the excessive exposure of workers to these sources of [alpha] radiation had the most destructive effects on the health of workers of any kind of workplace radiation exposure in Canada.” Their alpha radiation dosimeter kit is portable, lightweight and can be worn on a belt. May I suggest you call Dr. Reza Moridi PhD, their Vice-President and Chief Scientist in Toronto at 416-650-9090 x.25 and see what help he can provide to further ensure the safety of our Canadian Forces. You also informed that, “We have had a voluntary depleted uranium-testing program in place since 2000. To date, we have tested 230 Canadian Forces personnel and Veterans Affairs Canada clients. Total uranium levels in all tested personnel have been in the normal range.” As comforting as this claim sounds, it is potentially an extremely misleading statement in that a test result of total uranium concentrations within the normal range does not indicate whether or not a person has ever been contaminated with depleted uranium, as the basic measurement of the total quantities (concentrations) of uranium in urine samples become diagnostically irrelevant shortly after initial exposure; even after an especially significant exposure to DU a normal range total uranium concentration level test result would be expected once the depleted uranium alpha radiation and heavy metal toxicity had damaged the kidneys to the point they were no longer able to remove the isotopes from the victim’s system for excretion. If any of the vast array of physical symptoms from radiological contamination are observed in an individual, additional (and more invasive) tests like isotopicratio bioassay urine tests and organ biopsies must be performed regardless of initial urine tests that indicated total uranium levels were within the normal range. In 1999 Dr. Rosalie Bertell, a prominent Canadian and one of the world’s leading authorities on the health effects of low level radiation, spoke at the University of Toronto and claimed that “We actually have tested some of the veterans here in Canada and we have found Depleted Uranium...” Last September a group of New York Iraq war veterans brought suit against the U.S. government saying that their severe illnesses were caused by exposure to depleted uranium from U.S. military weapons. They claimed that private doctors confirmed they had high levels of DU even though the military doctors had told them their total uranium levels were safe. Given such inconsistencies and contradictions relative to the safety of Canadian troops and Afghan nationals, the Canadian testing program should only employ experienced physicians with appropriate radiation medicine expertise, and all test results should be made available to all study participants. I also recommend that you begin utilizing methodology and equipment capable of properly detecting and measuring the specific isotopic ratios of uranium in the urine of Canadian soldiers and veterans: 1. Ensure that the biological specimens are known to be organs, tissues or fluids within the metabolic pathways of internal uranium contamination. Urine or biopsies of target organs and bone are suggested. Body hair is not in the metabolic pathways of uranium. 2. Follow a proven methodology for preparing biological samples for radiological study and protect them from exogenous and environmental contamination sources. 3. The proper laboratory equipment, the method of preparing the specimens, and the proper operation and reading of the equipment are critical to ensuring accuracy and repeatability. Thermal Ionising Mass Spectrometry (TIMS) is recommended. 4. Screening programs must be able to determine the presence of DU by measuring the isotopic concentrations of U238 and U235 and then matching those ratios in the identification process. Measurements of the total quantities (concentrations) of uranium in urine samples without an isotopicratio bioassay become irrelevant a short time after exposure and therefore essentially useless for any purpose other than generating a sense of false security in those supposedly tested. 5. To accurately determine the U238:U235 ratio requires equipment capable of measuring picogram concentrations of the U235 isotope, which is only 0.2% to 0.72% of the total uranium concentration in a sample. To ensure this level of sensitivity, Thermal Ionising Mass Spectrometry (TIMS) is again recommended. I expect that once the above procedures are incorporated into a new testing programme you will discover significant depleted uranium contamination of our troops which will lead you to immediately demand that all NATO member countries cease deploying such radiological weapons unless they want the Canadian Forces to withdraw from NATO completely. I assume that if you truly support our troops and want to stand up for Canada you will heed the above advice. If you are hesitating, please remember that at Nuremberg and the Tokyo War Crimes trial the Judges decided that “[A]nyone with knowledge of illegal activity and an opportunity to do something about it is a potential criminal under international law unless the person takes affirmative measures to prevent commission of the crimes.” Thank you for your attention to this urgent international issue on behalf of our fine Canadian Forces. Michael Clarke [The above letter referenced information provided by Todd Weyman in “12 Years too Late? How Canadian and U.S. Defense Departments reveal veteran’s post-conflict follow-up programs are not capable of detecting depleted uranium” (2003)] Following is the reply to my original message to Defence Minister O’Connor that I received from him on 13 Sept 2006: Dear Mr. Clarke: Thank you for your e-mail of 25 July 2006 in which you express concerns about the use of depleted uranium by US military forces in Afghanistan. I regret the delay in replying. As you are likely aware, the Canadian Forces no longer uses depleted uranium ammunition. Indeed, all depleted uranium munitions have been eliminated from the inventories of the Canadian Forces, and there are no plans to purchase or use such ammunition in the future. You also express concerns about possible exposure of local inhabitants and Canadian Forces personnel in Afghanistan to depleted uranium. Despite many detailed epidemiological studies on the subject, there has never been any causal link established between the use of depleted uranium in operational theatres and damage to human health or the environment. Consequently, no international prohibition currently exists on the use of depleted uranium munitions, nor is there any obligation for countries to notify others of their use of this material. The decision whether to use depleted uranium ammunition in a given operational theatre, therefore, lies entirely within the purview of individual governments. Nevertheless, Canada takes the issue of depleted uranium seriously. The Department of National Defence always ensures that Canadian Forces personnel are apprised of the ordnance they may potentially encounter in their operating environment during standard pre-deployment briefings for departing troops. We have also had a voluntary depleted uranium-testing program in place since 2000. To date, we have tested 230 Canadian Forces personnel and Veterans Affairs Canada clients. Total uranium levels in all tested personnel have been in the normal range. Thank you once again for writing and for bringing your concerns to my attention. I trust the information I have provided is of assistance. Sincerely, The Honourable Gordon J. O’Connor, PC, MP Minister of National Defence MCU2006-07667 Below is the original letter that I e-mailed to the Defence Minister in July 2006. I began with the following e-mail introduction: By notifying you in the following letter of unreported acts of terrorism, I am legally complying with the requirements of the Nuremberg Tribunal to speak out to prevent further crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity from occurring. As a member of the Canadian government you now have an important legal responsibility, established by the Nuremberg Tribunal, to thoroughly investigate these accusations. You don’t legally have the option of compounding Canada’s guilt by ignoring this urgent demand for global justice. Thank you for your attention to this urgent international issue. I await your reply. Michael Clarke July 1, 2006 It is Canada Day evening, and I can barely hear the whistles, booms and bangs of the fireworks. It sounds a bit like distant bombs exploding, reminding me of the incredible moral paradox our federal government’s aggressive military role in Afghanistan has created for all Canadians. Our government, military, newspapers, television and radio media efficiently disperse the jingoes: “our troops in Afghanistan have the moral authority”; “Canada is doing the right thing”; “it’s a noble mission”; and, “we are just spreading freedom and democracy”. But, they are not telling us that there is something else we are spreading around Afghanistan that most Canadians would instinctively find repulsive if they were properly informed. It is something very real, but some governments refuse to recognize it even exists. Despite their duplicity, its deployment constitutes a supreme criminal culpability that reveals the darkening character of contemporary western democracies under transnational corporatism. After Capt. Nicola Goddard was killed in an attack last May Canadian troops called in a U.S. B-1 Lancer stealth bomber which dropped a 500 pound bomb on a nearby residential compound killing an estimated 15 to 20 people. According to the U.S. Air Force, that was just one of nearly 2,000 air strikes that were conducted in Afghanistan between March and May 2006. Tragically, every air strike uses bombs and missiles that are encased and ballasted with depleted uranium (DU) which aerosolizes upon impact, instantaneously being released into the atmosphere as insoluble ceramic uranium oxide nanoparticles. Its gaseous characteristics allow DU to remain suspended in the air and be distributed around the earth as a radioactive component of atmospheric dust, contaminating the environment and indiscriminately killing, maiming and causing disease in all living things wherever rain, snow and moisture remove it from the atmosphere. Nuclear experts agree that DU is a weapon for killing lots of people that keeps on killing forever. It meets the U.S. government’s own definitions of weapons of mass destruction. And, there is no way to ever clean it up. An estimated 900 tons of DU was released in the initial 2001 invasion of Afghanistan. The approximately 2,000 air strikes this spring could easily have released another 250 tons of DU into the air and onto the ground, water and crops. According to the White House website a total of 24,000 bombs were used in the first year of operations in Afghanistan, which would suggest a minimum of 3,000 tons of DU was aerosolized in only the first 12 months of conflict. There is a lot of deadly radioactive DU around there. According to one nuclear expert, Leuren Moret, the United States and its willing accomplices like Canada have effectively staged a nuclear war in Afghanistan by using dirty bombs and missiles that “slip the nukes under the wire”. As quickly as the DU aerosols are produced they will permanently contaminate vast areas and slowly destroy the genetic future of populations throughout the region. The permanent radioactive contamination and environmental devastation is unprecedented, resulting in huge increases in cancer and birth defects which will increase over time due to chronic exposure, increasing internal levels of radiation from DU dust and permanent genetic effects passed on to future generations. Of course, DU weapons have also been used in Yugoslavia and the Iraq wars with the same devastating consequences. Studies to monitor the Afghanis have been carried out by the Uranium Medical Research Center, which has sent several field teams to Afghanistan since 2002 to check the contamination and health conditions around specific locations that are known to have been bombed. Approximately 30% of those interviewed in the affected areas displayed symptoms of radiation sickness, including congenital problems in newborns. In Kabul those who were exposed to US-British “precision bombing” showed extreme signs of contamination consistent with uranium exposure. In Nangarhar every person donating urine specimens tested positive for uranium contamination. The researchers were stunned by the astoundingly high levels of widespread contamination. Their report warned, “The UMRC field team was shocked by the breadth of public health impacts coincident with the bombing. Without exception, at every bombsite investigated, people are ill. A significant portion of the civilian population presents symptoms consistent with internal contamination by uranium.” Using the same calculation method that the U.K. Atomic Energy Authority employed in their 1990 projection of potential DU consequences for Iraq War I, the bombing in just the initial year of the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan could cause as many as 30,000,000 additional cancers in only the first ten years of a “killing spree” that should last at least 2,500,000 years. This horrible prognosis supports Leuren Moret’s contention that this was a genocidal plan from the start; this was not a war in Afghanistan, but a war against Afghanistan. And Iraq. And Yugoslavia. However, the laws of war prohibit the use of weapons that have deadly and inhumane effects beyond the field of battle, or remain active or cause harm after hostilities cease. The military use of DU weapons violates international humanitarian law (Hague & Geneva), violates the principles of international environmental protection and contradicts the right to life established by the UN Subcommittee on Human Rights. The UN Human Rights Commission determined a decade ago that DU is a weapon of mass destruction that should never be used. These rulings mean that the use of DU is intrinsically immoral as well as illegal. Of course, there may still be some who insist that DU is harmless so there really is no problem. Robert Jensen, a professor of journalism at UT Austin, recently delivered a speech at the Brisbane (Australia) Social Forum titled “The Threats to Sustainable Democracy” in which he said, “…there is no power so convinced of its own benevolence as the United States. The culture is delusional in its commitment to this mythology, which is why today one can find on the other side of the world peasant farmers with no formal education who understand better the nature of U.S. power than many faculty members at elite U.S. universities.” Leuren Moret dramatically proved his point in an article published in World Affairs – the Journal of International Issues (July 2004) when she wrote, “…even uneducated Afghanis understand the impact these [DU] weapons have had on their children and on future generations: “After the Americans destroyed our village and killed many of us, we also lost our houses and have nothing to eat. However, we would have endured these miseries and even accepted them, if the Americans had not sentenced us all to death. When I saw my deformed grandson, I realized that my hopes of the future have vanished for good, different from the hopelessness of the Russian barbarism, even though at that time I lost my older son Shafiqullah. This time, however, I know we are part of the invisible genocide brought on us by America, a silent death from which I know we will not escape.” (Jooma Khan of Laghman province, March 2003) Genocide? The word fits too perfectly! The statistical potential for the number of DU cancer deaths in Afghanistan over the passage of time easily eclipses the Holocaust victim total and sets new upper limits for satanic crimes against humanity. Dr. K. Yagasaki calculated that since 1991 the U.S. has used enough DU to equal the nuclear toxicity of 400,000 Nagasaki bombs. Throughout the history of this world there has been no greater atrocity against the people and the planet. Dr. Rosalie Bartell coined the term omnicide to reflect DU’s comprehensive annihilation over the millennia to come. So, here’s the deep moral paradox for all Canadians: government, the military and the corporate media enthusiastically declare that Canada’s mission in Afghanistan is noble and moral while, at the same time, Canadian forces initiate the deployment of illegal depleted uranium nuclear weapons that deliver horrific radioactive genocide and cause the permanent destruction of the environment. Fortunately, the paradox is easily, if not comfortably, resolved. Simply by requesting air strikes with illegal radioactive DU bombs Canadian soldiers are perpetrating war crimes. It is a logical impossibility that our mission in Afghanistan is the “right thing to do”, because such crimes against humanity can only arise from immoral authority. Depleted uranium gas and the zyclon gas showers at Auschwitz fulfill a common function – genocide. Therefore, whenever anyone tells us that we are in Afghanistan with full moral authority, they are indubitably wrong. On the contrary, Canada has effectively become a state sponsor of terror, because the DU atrocities we have become involved in through our unwise military commitments to the U.S. and NATO implicate us in terrorist acts much worse than 9/11. Yet, despite being given scientific and medical proof of the hazards from depleted uranium nanoparticles and being warned that over the millennia DU will annihilate all life on earth, our governments continue to deploy it while stubbornly denying there is a serious problem. Their irresponsibility has sentenced mankind to perpetual nuclear war crimes and permanent environmental destruction which they glibly validate with their ubiquitous “noble lies” about 9/11 and the War on Terror. The fact that some nations have been allowed to perpetrate depleted uranium war crimes for the last 15 years without even a hint of international prosecution points to a shocking degree of collusion between western governments and multilateral institutions that widens and deepens suspicion. A continuing failure to act against nuclear war crimes will have extremely serious unintended consequences when the world finally learns the truth about DU and realizes that our psychotic governments consciously and deliberately put the entire world at ultimate risk. Notwithstanding, by notifying you of this unreported DU terrorism, I am legally complying with the requirements of Nuremberg to speak out to prevent further crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity from occurring. As a member of government you now have an important legal responsibility, established by the Nuremberg Tribunal, to thoroughly investigate these accusations about DU atrocities and seek international justice through publicly held war crimes and environmental crimes prosecutions. You must also demand that all coalition forces in Afghanistan cease all deployment of DU weaponry immediately. The basic fact that DU nuclear war crimes have consistently been committed in Afghanistan morally voids Canada’s military obligations to Operation Enduring Pipeline, ISAF and NATO; therefore, all Canadian troops must be reassigned to alternative duties forthwith. Now that depleted uranium weaponry’s moral, ecological and criminal atrocities have been exposed, you don’t have the option of compounding Canada’s guilt by ignoring this urgent demand for global justice. Thank you in advance for doing the right thing (and the moral thing) by ordering Canada’s military forces in Afghanistan back home and working with the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice in seriously investigating and prosecuting all suspected DU war criminals to the fullest extent of the law. Show the world that you have the guts to defend the planet against the evil and degenerate nations that wage nuclear atrocities. Impatiently waiting for your reply, hoping you don’t cut and run from this urgent international issue, Michael Clarke Information sources that you are encouraged to consult: August 2004 World Affairs Journal. Leuren Moret: “Depleted Uranium: The Trojan Horse of Nuclear War”, www.mindfully.org/Nucs/2004/DU-Trojan-Horse1jul04.htm May 2006 Vital Truths and Information Clearing House. Doug Westerman: “Depleted Uranium – Far Worse than 9/11”, http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=20060503&articleId=2374 May 2006 Brisbane Social Forum, Australia: Robert Jensen: “The Threats to Sustainable Democracy” http://www.counterpunch.org/jensen05302006.html

Note: www.mindfully.org/Nucs/... http://www.globalresear... http://www.counterpunch...

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