Depleted Uranium - DU


From Canada with Love
Truth versus Guns
exploration by Rolf A. F. Witzsche - May 2006


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Depleted Uranium - DU


The term 'DU' stands for 'depleted uranium.' The term is used as a deception. For kinetic weapons purposes and in terms of it deadly effects resulting from these weapons there this nothing depleted about it. It real terms DU should be seen to signify 'dirty uranium.' 

The so-called 'depleted uranium' is depleted only in terms of its usefulness for making atom bombs or power-reactor fuel.  Depleted uranium has 40% to 50% of its fissionable component removed to be used for bombs and for nuclear power reactors.  In any other respect the so-called depleted uranium has lost none of its qualities, including its deadly qualities in the form of alpha radiation and beta radiation that is inherent in all forms of depleted uranium.

Natural uranium contains 99.3% of the non-fissionable form of uranium U238, and 0.7% of the fissionable isotope U235. In principle it is only the rare isotope U235 of uranium that gets burned up in the nuclear power reactors and in atom bombs. The remaining 99.3% of the natural uranium (the U238) remains unaffected.

The fissionable isotope U235 is unique in that it unstable and emits three neutron particles when it breaks up. The break-up can be enhanced when the unstable atom  is poked at with a neuron particles. When it fissions and spits apart, it leaves behind a concoction of broken parts (fission products) that become unstable elements in turn, some of which are up to 100,000 times more radioactive than uranium is. (see more)

The 0.7% of U235 provides neutron radiation that is rich enough in its natural concentration to power a nuclear power reactors moderated by heavy water or graphite. Modern light water reactors, however, which are are more efficient and less expensive to build, but require enriched fuel in the 3% range  of U235 concentration. The residue of the enrichment process is called 'depleted uranium.' (Bombs require a much higher concentration, but uranium bombs are rarely used anymore in nuclear weapons. Plutonium is a more 'ideal' fission material for nuclear weapons.)

In principle 'depleted uranium' consists of 99.7% of uranium U238, a powerful emitter of alpha radiation that causes biological damage, and 0.3% of the fissionable U235 that is of negligible significance as a neutron emitter. The reduced amount of the fissionable U235 in DU makes the DU a waste product of the nuclear-power and weapons industry.

This waste product could be converted back into to useful fuel in a fast breeder reactor. The fast breeder reactors, however, appear to have been banned for political reasons since every major component of the fast breeder program has been shut down. Thus, by shutting the fast breeder program down, the potential resource that it would use has become a waste product that has become a major storage liability for the industry. Being a waste product makes the depleted uranium dirt-cheap for weapons production.

In the current political environment the enriched reactor fuel that the nuclear power industry requires is produced by separating the fissionable U235 out from either natural uranium or from from the uranium of spent reactor fuel. In both cases, what is left over is called, depleted uranium. 

In military practice the depleted uranium is used to enhance munitions. It makes no difference to the effectiveness of uranium-enhanced bombs whether the DU came from spent reactor fuel or not.  In either case the physical properties of the uranium metal remains the same. It is primarily for these physical properties of uranium as a metal that uranium is used in weapons and bombs ('dirty' bombs).

Depleted uranium (DU) is ideal in military applications for two of physical properties of uranium that are unique to uranium as a metal. One is that the metal it is extremely heavy and extremely dense. It is thereby able to penetrate the armor of tanks or thick slabs of concrete like cutting through a block of butter with a hot knife. And it really does become a hot knife in the process. It becomes enormously heated by friction as it penetrates the barriers.

The other quality for which DU is used by the military is that Uranium becomes extremely flammable at high temperatures. At the moment of impact the uranium metal heats up and then explodes. The impact friction heats the uranium so intensely that the metal burns up in an extremely high temperature explosion exceeding 5000 degrees C.. The resulting heat is said to be so fierce that some children that were playing near a tank that was hit had their clothes and skin burnt off instantly. Of course the 'enemy' soldiers inside the tank suffered the same fate. The Americans soldiers developed a name for them: 'crispy critters.'

Sadly, that is how we loose our humanity. 

For warfare depleted uranium is enormously 'efficient' as the following newspaper report illustrates from the Dessert Storm war in 1991.

American pilots bombing and strafing, with depleted uranium weapons, helpless retreating Iraqi soldiers who had already surrendered, exclaimed:

"We toasted him…. we hit the jackpot….a turkey shoot….shooting fish in a barrel….basically just sitting ducks… There’s just nothing like it. It’s the biggest Fourth of July show you’ve ever seen, and to see those tanks just ‘boom’, and more stuff just keeps spewing out of them… they just become white hot. It’s wonderful."
(L A Times and Washington Post, both February 27, 1991)


The US war in Afghanistan made it clear that this was not a war IN the third world, but a war AGAINST the third world. In Afghanistan where 800 to 1000 tons of depleted uranium was estimated to have been used in 2001, even uneducated Afghanis understand the impact these 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)

For the above, see: Global Research

What we call war has now drifted far into the range of insanity and inhumanity. And this is probably intended. The physical effects of the DU-use qualify the conduct of this war for this description of insanity. But the DU story doesn't end there. There is a side effect associated with exploding uranium that is still worse in its effect. The superheated uranium that explodes into a fierce fire in the range of 5-10,000 degrees C., (up to near 20,000 degrees in special cases of the new uranium loaded 'daisy cutter' fuel-air bombs).  

The uranium vaporizes in the process of burning at the enormously high temperatures that are produced by the weapons' impact and explosion. As the uranium becomes vaporized it forms an invisible dust of superfine nanometer-sized particles. Half of the particles, by volume, are so fine that they are smaller in size than the wavelength of light, and more than 30% are said to be substantially smaller than that (smaller than 0.18 microns - see table of particle sizes). They are so small that they disperse in the air like a gas. Being smaller than the wavelength of light, the vaporized DU-gas particles literally vanish from sight.  Nevertheless they remain radioactive with a half-life of 4.5 billion years. (see article on the discovery of radiation and the transmutation of elements)

Since the the radioactive nano-sized particles of uranium behave like a gas, they are easily  carried with the air currents over long distances. The larger particles, of course, get eventually rained out or settle locally onto the ground where they become a part of the environment in which people live and work. They also get into the water, and become a part of the food that people eat. We really don't know for how long the minuscule particles remain suspended and in the air and the environment before they become washed out into the oceans.

The small particles that remain suspended in the air become a part of the air and are inhaled with the air (typically a minimum of 50,000 particles a day).  Once inside a person the minuscule particles, in some cases, become absorbed into the cells of the human body or become trapped otherwise, where they do their damage. The nano-particles of insoluble uranium oxide can be as small as 1/10,000 the diameter of a red blood cell. They are most certainly small enough to elude the filtering celia in a person's air passages and then become lodge in the lungs, even the deepest lung sacs.


 In fact, the trapped particles can cause enormous damage. They act like miniature cannons that fire off high energy particles at a rate of 12,000 shots per second that can wreck the DNA chains by blasting links out of them or damage links, etc, or they can cause chemical changes in cells, or injure the human cells in many other ways. Scientist and radiation expert Dr. Rosalie Bertell testified, “DU is a very powerful alpha particle emitter, with each particle carrying a force of about 4.2 MeV (million electron volts). It requires only 6 to 10 eV (electron volts) to break the DNA or other large molecules in the body.” Then, if a cell is damaged by DU-radiation, pray that the radiation has killed it outright, because if it survives in its damaged state and is still able to reproduce, that cell would no longer be fit as a team player in the body's organization, and like a fungus would replicate itself without restraint and become a parasite, a cancer that exists and grows without a purpose until it disrupts the organization in the body so severely that the person dies. That is still called “low level” radiation. (see: Blowing Smoke    - A new kind of gas warfare)

The biological damage that is inflicted by uranium is caused by two types of radiation. The typical DU particles emit both Alpha and Beta radiation. 

The Alpha radiation comes almost exclusively from the non-fissionable uranium U238 that makes up the bulk of the DU in the 95% range or higher. Alpha radiation can also come from plutonium-239 and the highly exotic americium-241, which may all be present in minute quantities as fission products if the DU is produced from spent reactor fuel. The Beta radiation in DU comes exclusively from fission by-products.

The two types of radiation are radically different from each other.

Alpha radiation doesn't penetrate far. A couple of inches of air will stop it, or a heavy piece of paper. Nevertheless the short-range penetration is sufficient to cause great damage in the miniature environment of the human cell or a whole lot of them. Alpha radiation is a type of radiation that emits nucleonic clusters made up of 2 protons and 2 neutrons. The clusters are ejected from the core of the radiating atom with a velocity equal to 1/20th the speed of light. The biological damage that even the tiniest speck of an alpha emitter can cause, becomes soon large enough that it can be seen visibly. In the human lung tissue alpha-damaged cells typically appear in star like clusters as shown on one of the websites. The damaged (altered) cells are subsequently replicated. They typically spread throughout the body since they don't belong to any specific function and multiply without control as no function controls them. If the DU gets into the blood stream and subsequently gets stuck in some of the most sensitive parts of the body, almost anything can thereby become effected. The end result is the development of a large array of biologic failures including diabetes, leukemia, lung cancers, teen age breast cancers, and stomach cancers in boys, and so on. Over 90 different diseases have so far been attributed to DU-radiation (both Alpha and Beta Radiation).

Bata radiation is radically different that alpha radiation. Beta radiation emits high energy electrons from the surrounding sphere of the emitting atom. The electrons are infinitesimally minute in mass (one trillionth the mass of a neutron), but the high energy with which they are ejected in terms of speed (300,000 km/second) causes considerable harm to living cells, leaving in their wake a trail of destruction. 

Beta radiation is a high energy radiation that penetrates much farther than alpha radiation does. Nevertheless, a barrier of 3mm of aluminium can stop it. This shielding effect of aluminium may be the reason why the DU-elements in weapons are encased in aluminium. During manufacturing of DU weapons special protective clothing provides the shielding. Some of the fission products that are included in small quantities in the depleted uranium mix could be 100,000 times as radioactive than uranium U238, but their percentage is low. With the beta radiation being blocked by the weapon's aluminium shielding the DU weapon poses no danger to the military personnel. The danger begins when the DU becomes vaporized into invisible dust that becomes airborne and is being inhaled.

Beta radiation is an energetic type that is causing major biological damage by breaking down chemical bonds and creating disruptive ions with their electrical energy. The effects of Beta radiation are typically chronic illnesses that are developing over long periods in the range of 5-30 years, including cancers.

To some degree the third type of radiation, gamma radiation is also present in DU in minute amounts. Gamma radiation consists of high energy electromagnetic radiation, like x-rays. It occurs when an unstable element emits excess energy (usually after a beta emission). The gamma radiation has enormous penetrating power, since no actual particles are transmitted. A centimetre of led cannot stop gamma rays. Thick lead shielding is typically required just to attenuate the radiation. Evidence of gamma radiation in depleted uranium munitions is found in the lives of soldiers who were sitting on boxes of DU-munitions in the Bradley Fighting Vehicles, who had contracted rectal cancer that is otherwise rare. (see Global Research)

 A Geiger counter can detect all three types of radiation. However, the alpha radiation inside the human body, which makes up over 95% of all DU-radiation, will decay long before it can reach a counter. The internal radiation that is lodged inside a person's body is therefore not measurable.

Because of their small size of the airborne DU particles, smaller than the wavelength of light, and their extremely low density in the air, the airborne presence of uranium requires elaborate processes for detection, even though a single nano-particle of uranium is theoretically sufficient to cause a deadly cancer if it enters the lungs, etc..

However, the DU story doesn't end here. It gets still worse. If the nano-particles of uranium get into the blood stream and create DNA-defects in the reproductive system, then the human blue-print may become gradually alerted. The resulting birth defects that have been observed so far are varied, but often dramatic. They are mostly too horrible to describe, with such ghastly effects as growing tumour instead of eyes, or intestines growing outside the body, and so forth. In Iraq, over a ten-year period following the First Iraq War birth defects increased ten-fold over the natural frequency, and cancers increased twenty-fold and in recent years thirty-fold. Accurate comparable figures are not available for the Second Iraq War in which over five times as much DU was dumped onto the country, and much of that in the cities in the form of bombs. Against this background the thirty-fold increase in lung cancers is probably a conservative figure. When all is told, the actual increase in the cancer rate in Iraq, resulting from the DU-bombing (that is till going on) might be a hundred-fold.

In comparison with the Iraqi experience, the six-fold increase that is being reported for U.S. lung cancer rate is not astonishing, but might be just the beginning and might be echoed in other types of cancer as well. While we might not see the fifty-fold increase in America that Iraq experienced (that would add eight million annually to the list of cancer patients), we will most likely still see a major increase above the near-one-million per year that has already been observed.

The sad reality is that some people say that the Iraqi deserve what they are getting, because they are an enemy, and an enemy deserves to die, so that the DU-bombing may continue. Most likely many in the Muslim world are saying the same about the unfolding tragedy in America.  And so, mankind is truly loosing its humanity as human beings. No one deserves to die. No one deserves war. War is a tragedy that is 'eating' humanity. War has become obsolete with the advent of DU-weaponry. The purpose of war is to destroy and kill human beings. The DU-weaponry is super-efficient for this purpose as the former US military researcher tells Gay Alcorn explains. It kills people people indiscriminately over long distances as its DU-poison is carried by the wind. The military made it clear they won't give it up, regardless of the worldwide health consequences, because the mission of war is to destroy and kill, so, let's hide the secondary effects. The DU-weapon is as efficient for the purpose of war as any atomic bomb. It is in effect a nuclear weapon without the nuclear explosive. It is a weapon of mass destruction that kills quietly and slowly and continuously for all times, and what is more ideal about it for the military than that is the slow kill-rate that makes the DU-wars it politically acceptable. The DU-weapons are for all intents the ultimate weapon, except for the one glitch that mankind cannot live with the consequences. Certainly the world's children deserve better than having to live a personally poisoned radioactive environment, even if the present society doesn't care.

The imperials most likely have also their own cause for celebrating as the rising human toll is putting any thought of creating a new renaissance further and further out of sight. And more than that, the potential long term death toll is powerfully advancing the imperial's world-depopulation project that has been on the imperial front-burner for almost two centuries since the time of Thomas Malthus. Of course since the imperials and their Neocon stooges control the global 'show' almost totally the mounting wave of horror that flows out of the modern DU-war-zones continues unabated, with vastly more in the planning stage as the stockpiling (pre-positioning) of 2.7 million DU-bombs in South Korea indicates. (see: Korea Times 12/23.2005). 

And what is worse than the increasing cancer-rate, etc., in this escalation of insanity, is that mankind is thereby beginning to loose the DNA blueprint of itself as a species. It is being suggested by some concerned people who are raising this particular alarm flag on the Internet, that Iraq has already been so deeply polluted with two-million kilograms of uranium having been pulverized over its territory that the whole county, or large portions of it, should be deemed technically unfit for human habitation. Nevertheless, people still live there, though not without the dire consequences of living in a basically uninhabitable environment. The sad reality is that Iraq, Yugoslavia and Afghanistan are essentially no longer suitable for human habitation, and therefore uninhabitable. 

It is sad that app. 800,000 kg of DU was used in Afghanistan, mostly in the Tora Bora bombing. The increased DU-bombing, of course, had its corresponding consequences. Since the war is still in progress, reliable statistics are not available. Nevertheless the horrors of the resulting birth defects tell at least some of the story of this unfolding hell.

This horrific assessment that the public presents on the Internet in respect to the DU-poisoning of our planet might well be true. It might even be an understatement if one considers that the resulting DNA damage typically becomes accumulative over time so that the population in a heavily infected region will eventually die out if it remains in that environment.  The resulting trend could have tragic consequences for the whole of mankind.

The radioactivity of uranium has a half-life of 4.5 billion years.  In practical terms that's forever. We don't know yet what the long term practical effects of the global poisoning will be, but we do know that the effects observed so far have already become too ghastly to contemplate.

The  effects of DU-poisoning from short-term exposure that were experienced by soldiers serving in Iraq hint at things to come. The brief exposure of the soldiers serving in the First Iraq War has put over 300,000 of them on permanent disability before the year 2000. That figure now exceeds 500,000. Some returning soldiers have secondarily 'polluted' their wives or girlfriends through intercourse, without being aware of it, and this in some cases so severely that hysterectomy became necessary to save the affected women's life. Thousands of poisoned veterans apparently also committed suicide as their life had been too deeply destroyed that made living unbearable. Apparently the situation is worse in Iraq itself as the real conditions filter out into the open by the "scuttlebutts" that tell their stories. (see: Is Doomsday Coming For U.S. Forces In Iraq?)

However, the DU-exposure doesn't remain contained in Iraq. The DU nano-particles are carried with the winds across the world and have polluted the global environment. DU-fallout from the Tora Bora bombing in Afghanistan had been registered in far away England. The same has occurred from the much larger fallout that originated with the 'Shock and Awe' bombing of Iraq in March 2003. 

It is suggested by the public on the Internet that the DU-poisoning has already severely blanketed most of the USA. The evidence for that appears to be just beginning to unfold. It was reported on CNN on March, 8, 2006 that a six-fold increase in lung cancer has been experienced in the US for the first two month of 2006. The historic yearly average of 175,000 new cases had been reached by the end of February with 172,000 new cases diagnosed. In terms of the timing of this large increase in new lung cancers in the U.S., the increase falls within the two to five year time-span that has been observed for the development of lung cancer if one starts counting backwards. That takes us to the Tora Bora bombing in Afghanistan in October 2002, and the 'Shock and Awe' bombing in Iraq five months later. This unfolding horror show might also be intended as a slowly dying society becomes less like a force for universal economic development that would threaten empires. The DU-war might be a war for the crippling of mankind and its potential to create a new renaissance on this planet.

The meteorological mechanism certainly does exists for the DU pollutants from the battlefields in South Asia to reach America (first and foremost). The battlefield output falls within the northern Hadley Band of the Intertropical Convergence Zone in which the tropical trade winds occur. On the American continent the  DU pollutants are subsequently carried northward from the intertropical zone by the polar anticyclone that flows out of northern Canada into the Gulf of Mexico and then returns northward across the U.S. Atlantic region where most of the US population is concentrated, and from there partially across the Atlantic back to the arctic in a continuous circular pattern. Another path for the fallout to reach America from the battle fields in South Asia is provided by the northern jet streams that carry the fallout from South Asia directly into the USA coming in from the West, 

The massive increase in lung cancers that has bee observed may be due to the DU-pollution that became concentrated in the USA since the major DU-bombing campaigns began, especially since the "Shock and Awe" bombing. The six-fold increase in U.S. lung cancers that has been reported on CNN (March 8th, 2006) is not likely caused by "increased smoking" and other conventional causes, but reflects what its known abut the highly unconventional cancer effects of DU-poisoning. 

A decisive step is required to get society out of this trap, and that requires the development in society of the Principle of Universal Love.

Rolf A. F. Witzsche, is an independent researcher, publisher, and author of eleven novels. The novels are focused on exploring the Principle of Universal Love, the principle that is reflected to some degree in every bright period throughout history with the added challenge for today to give our universal love an active expression in a type of ' Universal Kiss' for all mankind.

Novels by Rolf Witzsche

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