Free-Will Productions




Hidden Wars of Desert Storm

From the accounts of veterans who served in the Gulf War, it was a non-stop "toxic soup," exposing the various armies and local civilian populations both in Kuwait and in Iraq to an unprecedented array of chemical, biological and radioactive pollutants. For the US GIs, exposure to pollution started at home with the injection of non-tested anti-anthrax vaccines. It went on with daily exposure to hundreds of oil-well fires (set primarily by the Iraqis) that were left to burn for months, causing one of the worst atmospheric disasters of the 20th century. It continued with exposure totoxic clouds after the US Army detonated captured stockpiles of some of Saddam's chemical and biological weapons, making it unclear to this day whether Iraq actually used such weapons in the conflict. But the most shocking pollution factor arises from the secret use by the Pentagon -- and to a much lesser extent by some Western allies of the US -- of high-perforation shells made of the hardest metal available: uranium 238, commonly called depleted uranium or DU. U–238 is a by-product of uranium enrichment, a process by which the most radioactive part of uranium ore is isolated to create weapons grade Uranium 234 and power plant grade Uranium 235, leaving behind 99% of the original ore -- not radioactive enough to be used for nuclear bombs or power plants, but radioactive enough to be deadly. This radioactive waste had been stored and isolated since it was first generated in the 1930s and 1940s, until some arms-making genius -- the kind that invent chemical and biological weapons, mines, cluster-bombs and similar goodies -- discovered in the 1970s the pyrophoric properties of U-238. This metal is 1.5 times denser than lead, and becomes white-hot and sharpens itself on impact with another metal. To this day, no armored plate can resist such an impact. Tanks burn inside-out like cotton-balls when the dart of fire penetrates and exits them.

The downside of these magical anti-tank bullets? At impact, between a quarter and a third of the shell vaporizes into fine dust and gas that causes both heavy-metal poisoning and irradiation to anyone nearby for thousands of years. Three hundred tons of U-238 were spread over Kuwait and Southern Iraq during the Persian Gulf War. According to a US Department of Defense survey, more than 436,000 US troops have entered contaminated battlefields. The troops received no prior warning or handling instructions, most certainly because the Pentagon feared triggering outrage and panic.

Today, almost a third of the 700,000 US military personnel who served in the Gulf have filed for disability and 10,000 have already died. Of course, all these cases cannot be solely attributed to exposure to radioactive dust, nor can every individual case of the tens of thousands of people in Southern Iraq afflicted with cancer and leukemia be attributed solely to low-level radiation exposure. But in the face of such a monstrous risk factor, the aggregate effects are frightful.

"Hidden Wars" looks at both the sick US veterans' condition and at the health crisis situation in Southern Iraq. Many interviews of scientists, doctors and veterans paint a bleak picture of the health prospects for both groups, and explain the nature of DU munitions and the environmental risks they pose.


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