Speaking on Depleted Uranium:
and The Politics of Radiation
Los Altos, California 21apr03
Sponsored by the Women's Solidarity Movement held at the Spangenberg Theatre, Gunn High School, Los Altos, California.
This event featured three speakers: Doug Rokke, a Vietnam and Gulf War I Veteran and the Army's expert on depleted uranium; Leuren Moret, a whistle-blower from Livermore National Laboratory, expert lecturer on the health effects of depleted uranium; and Veteran Staff Sergeant Dennis Kyne who served as an Army medic during Gulf War I. Because they speak out about depleted uranium (DU), all three of these people are constantly harassed by the US government and its agents. Both Rokke and Kyne are in extremely serious medical condition because of their exposure to depleted uranium and other toxicants that the military tells our valiant warriors are safe. You may listen to all three lectures on Mindfully.org by clicking on the appropriate link below.
Recorded and transcribed by Paul Goettlich.
[ Leuren Moret's 36-minute lecture, 4
file of this
lecture | More
on Leuren Moret
[ Doug Rokke's 71-minute, 8 MB MP3 file, HTML | More on Doug Rokke ]
[Dennis Kyne's 16-minute lecture, 2 MB MP3 file, HTML | More on Dennis Kyne ]
Left to right:
Staff Sergeant Dennis Kyne, Leuren Moret,
Photo by Paul Goettlich
And now, please welcome Environmental Commissioner of Berkeley, and president for the Scientists of Indigenous People, Leuren Moret on depleted uranium, the public and environmental perspective, the impact on human, wildlife, and public health.
As-salamu-'alaikum. [Muslim greeting meaning "Peace be upon you"]
People in the audience responds... `Wa `Alaikum us-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi [Peace and Allah's Mercy be upon you].
I'd like to welcome all of you tonight and I'm so happy that youve come to inform yourselves. And we have to give you something better than what's in the mainstream media. So, (she chuckles) and getting it straight from the horses mouth.
I, sort of, accidentally got involved with the depleted uranium issue when I was invited to speak in Japan at the 2000 World Conference against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs. I'm a whistleblower at the Livermore nuclear weapons lab.
Audience applauds loudly
And, you know, when you work in these places, as Dennis [Kyne] said, you really don't know what's going on. I worked five years at the Lawrence Berkeley Lab. I'm a geologist. I was studying volcanoes. I was a single parent, and got a job that Livermore because I could take a lot of time off and spend it with my daughter.
It took me about two years working on the Yucca Mountain project and the Superfund project to realize the extent of science fraud the lies, the manipulation, the theft, the embezzlement. It was a very tangled web. And the blackmail. And I finally realized that the University of California was nothing but as slumlord.
Laughter and applauds from audience
So, one day I was in my office, and I just was looking out the window, and I said, "I'm out of here." I packed everything in my car, drove out the gate, dropped off my badge and my beeper and they've been harassing ever since. That was 1991.
You have to realize the price that Doug [Rokke] and I have paid, and other people who speak out, who come out to inform you, the citizens, the taxpayers, the mothers and fathers, and grandfathers of people who are caught in this tangled web.
And indeed, Iraq is a tangled web. Afghanistan is a tangled web. Bosnia and Kosovo. And Im warning you tonight, this is just the beginning. We have 100 years of war to go, unless we stop it. And if we don't stop it, not only are our pockets going to be empty, our environment is going to be trashed, but our public health, more than anything, and our democracy will be destroyed.
The nuclear weapons project is what I call started with the Manhattan Project and the development of the nuclear bombs, the atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The United States decided, at that time, after the war was over, to expand and development a very large nuclear weapons program. And we created a Cold War with Russia and that sort of ended, but not really. Were in the next game, is what I call them, the next scam.
The waste streams the radioactive waste streams from that project has poisoned the world. The Southern Hemisphere is almost completely a nuclear weapons-free zone. And in the end, those countries will have much better public health that we do.
Just last week, the World Health Organization announced that cancers around the world will increase by 50% in the next 20 years. And I think it's very interesting that this coincides with the use of huge amounts of depleted uranium in Iraq, because radiation respects no borders. Radiation respects no race. And radiation respects no socioeconomic class. It's going to get all of us.
Not only for our soldiers, not only for the people of Iraq and Afghanistan and Yugoslavia, but for our own health, and for our future generations, we need to do something about this and stop it.
It's very interesting that Doug gave me a memo, not very long ago. It was a memo to General Leslie Groves, dated October 30th, 1943.
[Also see: Letter from Leuren Moret to Congressman McDermott 21feb03]
I'm an environmental scientist. My Ph.D. research was on atmospheric dusts, and how they move, and are transported around the world, how much of our pollution now is transported in less than a week from Asia on and with atmospheric dusts. Thirty-four percent of mercury pollution in the United States is from Asia.
Truly, we're globally one environment. So, when you're doing things in one country, eventually it's going to end up in your country too, no matter how many continents or oceans separate you.
In this memo, I was just astounded to read it because it's actually a blueprint for depleted uranium. This is in 1943, before they'd even dropped the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And actually, the three physicists who wrote the memo where the top physicists on the Manhattan Project Conant, Urey, and Compton.
And what they recommended to General Groves was that he develop radioactive materials, including depleted uranium, into a military weapon that could be used on the battlefield. In the details of their memos they described grinding it to up to 0.1΅ [1/10 of micron], which is very, very fine particles. This is smaller than bacteria. It would behave like a gas. It diffuses into the lungs and gets into the blood. It completely contaminates the environment and denies access to both the enemy and friendly forces without being exposed. It also said that it goes through gas masks. It goes through filters air filters. It's impossible to filter it out the very fine particles. And there is no protective clothing that can be designed to protect you from exposure.
Wow! That memo really, really had a very profound effect on me. What I did was contacted Karen Parker in this film [that was shown to you]. I said I need to write a science report for you, which you can use at the United Nations. I found out that Congressman McDermott, a Democrat in Washington, was offering a bill in Congress requiring a health study on, and other studies on depleted uranium.
The studies have all been done. From the Groves, memo in 1943, they knew everything about DU then. They were very, very competent scientist. Then I found summaries of military research done at Los Alamos National Labs in military laboratories. These were summaries of research done from 1974 to 1999. And it's just a repeat of the Groves memo.
Indeed, Karen Parker is absolutely right. They have tested all of these weapons and they know everything about them. In summaries they described the contamination of the testing grounds and the battlefield. They measured the depleted uranium and the radiation levels in ground squirrels and animals that live there. They measured the DU in the gut of the animals, in the fur. And this is years after the [open-air nuclear bomb] testing. They also said they were worried about personnel who would be handling the metal depleted uranium shells, and loading them and deploying them, they would be exposed.
It's all there. It's impossible for the military to say it's not a health and environmental hazard.
In Afghanistan, they used depleted uranium in the Gulf War [I] for the first time. It broke a 46-year taboo against the use of radiological weapons on the battlefield. I began to investigate and wonder why. Having worked at Livermore, and knowing nuclear weapons scientists and so forth, I'm pretty sure, in fact, I'm very sure that the depleted uranium is an analog it's a very similar weapon to what the military is planning to develop fourth-generation nuclear weapons.
They can study with those health effects and environmental effects will have by using DU. And indeed, we've heard Bush and Rumsfeld and Chaney saying, "Well, we're going to develop fourth-generation nuclear weapons." Were using mini-nukes on the battlefield.
I'd just like to read something from a very, very informative article that I just got yesterday, which appeared in the Idaho Statesman. I love the alternative media.
"George Bush's ongoing war in Afghanistan is also a nuclear war. Shortly after 9-11, the U.S. announced it would stockpile tactical nuclear weapons, including small neutron bombs, nuclear mines and shells suited to command a warfare and Afghanistan." [from: Death By Slow Burn: How America Nukes Its Own Troops - AMY WORTHINGTON / The Idaho Observer (Spirit Lake) 16apr03]
In late September in 2001...gee I never saw this... Bush and Russian President, Vladimir Putin agreed that the U.S. would use tactical nuclear weapons in Afghanistan while Putin would employ nuclear weapons against the Chechens. Describing the Pentagon's B61-11 borrowing nuke bomb (at right), George Smith writes in the Village Voice, "Built ram tough, with a heavy metal casing for smashing through the earth and concrete, the B61-11 explodes with a force of an estimated 340,000 tons of TNT. It is lots of bang for the buck, literally two apocalypse bombs in one-a boosted plutonium firecracker, called the primary, and a heavy hydrogen secondary for that good old fashioned H-bomb fireball."
Drought stricken Afghanistan's underground water supply is now contaminated by these nuclear weapons. Experts with the Uranium Medical Research Center report that urine samples of Afghanis show the highest level of uranium ever recorded in a civilian population.
Afghani soldiers and civilians are reported to have died after suffering intractable vomiting, severe respiratory problems, internal bleeding, and other symptoms consistent with radiation poisoned.
Dead birds, still perched in trees, are found partially melted, with blood oozing from their mouths.
Afghanistan's new president, Hamid Karzai, is a puppet installed by Washington. Under the protection of American soldiers, Karzai 's regime is setting a new record for opium production.
Both U.N. and U.S. reports confirmed that the huge Afghani opium harvest of 2002 makes Afghanistan the world's leading opium producer. Thanks to nuclear weapons, Afghanistan is now safe for the Bush-Cheney narcotics industry. ABC News asserts that keeping "the peace" in Afghanistan will require decades of Allied occupation. For years to come, peacekeepers will be eating, drinking, and breathing the hot, carcinogenic pollution they have helped the Pentagon inflict upon detonation for organized crime.
A hot particle... this is a brand new study by the European Parliament. I wrote a letter recommending that the Parliament fund this study-this was released January 30th-and this is the 2003 recommendation of the European Committee on Radiation Risk.
Health Effects of Ionizing Radiation Exposure at Low Doses for Radiation Protection Purposes.
And this is a photograph of a hot particle-a microscopic particle with alpha tracks coming out of it. It looks like a little ball with toothpicks stuck in it. These are alpha tracks from one microscopic/sub microscopic particle. [For notes on photo at right, see "Hot or radioactive particle in lung tissue]
In one day, if a soldier is wearing a gas mask with HEPA filters-the most efficient possible air filters - he will inhale, through those efficient air filters 28 million of these particles. Seventy percent of these will go into the blood.
Now, we've heard Dennis and the veteran on the news story say they even didn't have any protective gear.
Doug and I, on our tour on the East Coast in January, in every single event that we did, a national guardsman/guardswoman, or ROTC student, or someone would say, "You no those gas masks they gave us? Well, if you just put your head up they flop off your face."
What kind of protection is that? And you know the government is not paying for the best air filters for soldiers...because our soldiers are disposable. We know from Vietnam. We know from Gulf War I. And we know from Gulf War II. Were going to soon find that out. It's not going to be any different.
What happens when these particles get into the blood?
After uranium metal burns...and depleted uranium is pyrophoric it burns when it heats to 170° C. So, as soon as they shoot them, and the surface of the weapon heats up to 170°C, it starts burning. And you can see them. They look like tracers going through the air on the battlefield.
They are creating billions and billions and billions of superfine particles. These did not settle out by gravity. Gravitational forces do not pull them out of the air. They stay suspended. They act like a radioactive gas.
And we know-I work with 8 independent scientists-we've measured depleted uranium, which after it burns, is very very insoluble. It forms oxides that almost will not dissolve. And because they will not dissolve, they will not dissolve in body fluids. And so, the body cannot excrete them through the kidneys in the urine.
These particles are like fairy dust. They go everywhere that a red blood cell or a white blood cell will go. And they stay in the body-millions and billions of them. These alpha particles tear through the cell. They tear through the membrane, which damages the immune system. They tear through the mitochondria, which is your energy system. They tear through the DNA, causing mutations.
And then, the energy that they dump in the cell along that path, disturbs the hormones, the molecules and the compounds, the signaling mechanism that helps the cells communicate with each other because they're in a cooperative system.
I'd like to read to you why Gulf War syndrome is so complex. It's a complex of illnesses. And it's also combined with chemical exposure on the battlefield. And even Doug told me they had eight vaccinations in one day at one time. That trashes your immune system. In addition, they were exposed to biological agents. They were sprayed with pesticides. They had an illegal anthrax vaccine with squaline in it.
Very, very, very tiny amounts of chemicals and radiation can do terrible damage. We're just finding that out now. And the synergistic effects of chemicals and radiation working together...there's no research on that. We don't even know. We just know it's really bad.
Gulf War illness symptoms [include] chronic fatigue syndrome-that's the mitochondria; severe headaches; rashes; joint pain; muscle pain; nerve damage; neurological damage; kidney damage; lung damage; cardiovascular signs or symptoms; thyroid disease; multiple cancers; autoimmune deficiencies; unusual fevers and night sweats; fluid buildups; sleep disturbances; gastrointestinal signs or symptoms; abnormal births and defects; menstrual problems; reduced IQ; confusion; memory loss; blood in stools and urine; fibromyalgia; Epstein-Barr syndrome; genetic alterations; sinus diseases; mycoplasma fermentans incognitus; infections; unusual hair loss; loss of smell; chemical sensitivities; asthma; vision problems.
And that is just a short list.
Holding up a book (shown at right)
This is a book that I wrote the forward to. It's called Discounted Casualties. It's by a Japanese journalist. This is a really wonderful book. It's on the Internet. Just do a search and read it. I'll have some copies of the book in the back, to sell afterwards. This is a very, very informative, very easy book to read. Friends of mine have used it in their college classes to teach war environment. It's just really a tragedy. It has all of the faces of the DU issue. But also, women whose husbands came back from the Gulf War have complained [that] after intercourse, of having horrible burning in their vaginal area and losing sensation. For soldier's semen has depleted uranium and chemicals in it.
In a study of 251 Gulf War veterans in the state of Mississippi, which was conducted by the Veterans Administration I always use their own reports on them, because how can they refuse their own reports? The veterans had children who were normal before they went off to the Gulf War. When they came back, of the children conceived and born after the Gulf War, 67% had children with severe illnesses and deformities. And I mean, they were born without brains, without organs, without hands, without legs, with the hands attached to the shoulders.
There's a really wonderful live photo essay on the Internet. And you can read about some of his children. The tragedy is that once the veterans have these children they cannot leave the military because it's a pre-existing condition and they will have no health coverage [if they leave]. So, there's really very little being said or publicized in the United States about their plight. But we know from people who have gone to Iraq. Japanese journalists have gone and photographed in the hospitals in Iraq. The birth defects after the Gulf War [were] may be one a week. Now it's two or three a day because the chronic daily 24-hour exposure of the people living in Basrah, who are down-winders from the battlefields, has continued since the Gulf War. And they just have higher and higher levels of depleted uranium in their bodies. It has destroyed the germ cells the ova and the sperm.
That was the battlefields. This time, the United States has gone in and bombed their cities...bombed their cities to rubble, contaminated their water supplies. And the genetic future of the Iraqi people for the most part, is destroyed. For every genetic defect that we can see now, in future generations there are thousands more that will be expressed. And that's even if the exposures stopped if it was just one time. But the environment now is completely radioactive. Afghanistan, people and countryies downwind, and downriver will be exposed.
This is a nightmare. The tragedy is that the United States, and other countries that are weapons manufacturers, has sold DU to 29 countries. This isn't over. The United States used 340 or more tons in Iraq. It used under 100 tons, they say, in Bosnia and Kosovo. They used 1000 tons in Afghanistan. And they have used five times as much as reported in the news in this war in Iraq, this time.
Now, our soldiers are going to come back. Theyre going to be much sicker, much faster. And the illnesses will be more severe. They've been over there breathing all this stuff in the bombing they've been on the battlefields.
And you know what?
They don't even know. They don't even know. They're going to come back just like the first Gulf War veterans came [back]. Some of the did know before they left. They were going to sperm banks and depositing sperm before they went to Gulf War II.
Do know what Gulf War syndrome is now?
Do you know what alpha particles do?
Well, I'm going to tell you something else about depleted uranium.
Uranium decays in four steps. The half-life of depleted uranium of uranium 238, which is more than 99% of DU is 4.5 billion years, the age of the earth. That uranium 238, when it decays, decays into more radioactive isotopes that are more radioactive by millions and billions of times.
So, slowly over time, the areas that have been bombed will become more and more radioactive.
I'd just like to emphasize that depleted uranium is illegal under international law, under the Geneva Conventions, and under all treaties. As we know from the history with the American Indians, the United States does not keep treaties. So we cannot expect them to keep treaties. And indeed, the United States has used illegal weapons since World War II. I guess that we don't think it applies to us, but we expect it to apply to everyone else. And Israel has used depleted uranium on the Palestinians.
The four tests to determine the legality of a weapon:
A weapons must not continue to act after the battle is over. I think that 10 times 4.5 billion years is quite a lot longer than after the battle is over.
It must not leave the boundary of the battlefield. Thats the territorial test. Depleted uranium is carried in the winds, in the atmospheric dust around and around and around the world. Indeed, lower orbital space is contaminated with uranium and uranium decay products from atmospheric testing, from nuclear batteries on spacecraft, and from the nuclear reactors some countries have put on spacecraft.
It must not kill inhumanely. The suffering of the civilian population and of the soldiers is horrendous.
I'm an activist now because of the people I know, the people I've met who have been exposed to radiation. I buy all my clothes in thrift stores. I drive a funny old VW so that I can come and talk to people like you, because it's the grassroots, it's us, it's you, it's you and me, who will have to be the ones to change this.
Audience applauds long and loudly
And its students with courage like Lisa [the organizer of this event] who bring us to your communities. So we have to thank her too.
4 Environmental The weapons must not unduly damage the environment. In all of the General Groves memo, in the research papers conducted for the military, it's clear that it has a terrible, terrible environmental impact. And it's forever.
Depleted uranium is the weapon that keeps giving and it keeps killing.
I'd just like to say that, because I have to not say that it's all hopeless, it's not all hopeless. We're working very hard with the European Parliament, who have declared that depleted uranium is illegal and should be banned forever. Congressman McDermott, a very, very courageous congressmen we're disappointed in most of our leaders, but he needs our support because he's doing what we want him to do.
He got on a plane and went to Iraq before Gulf War II started. The Pentagon and the White House were absolutely furious. And he has reintroduced Cynthia McKinney's bill demanding, requiring studies on DU. I went to his office. I wrote a letter to him. It's on the Internet on www.mindfully.org. And my friend Paul Goettlich, here in the front row, has this wonderful web site. Click on nukes. And click on the Letter to Congressman McDermott. The Groves memo is there. You can read it.
We need letter-writing campaigns. We need people to call the radio programs and talk about DU, especially at commuter times. We need to start a buzz with every strategy that we can think of to inform everyone we can think of. And believe me, once you hear it once or twice its sticks in your mind. And then, articles and things that you hear and read begin to stick to you. But they have to hear it. They have to hear something about it to put it on the radar screen. And you're the ones who have to go out now, when you leave this room, and write letters to congressmen asking them to support the bill. Write letters to newspapers. Letters to the editor...the politicians read those. The Pentagon is reading those. A lot of people who are paying attention and had a vested interest are reading those because you're very dangerous when you start writing about it.
You should also do teach-ins. Go to your churches and organize them. But organize, organize, organize.
You know, there are only about 25 people in the White House and the Pentagon who have taken our Constitution and shredded it, and taken our country and destroyed our democracy. There are sure a whole lot more of us. And we need to do it now because I want to read to you what's on the boilerplate.
I write articles now for common people, for the citizens, because I think it's much more important to inform you.
But there's more on the drawing board. Donald Rumsfeld is dumping millions and billions of dollars into the research furnaces of federal laboratories and private universities, and public ones too like the University of California across the U.S. to create super soldiers. These are going to be your children and your grandchildren. The research to create drugs and electro-magnetic brain zaps is directed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) under five-time felon, John Poindexter.
This war-fighter enhancement program will involve injecting young men and women with hormonal, neurological, and genetic concoctions, implanting microchips, and electrodes in their bodies to control their internal organs and brain functions, and plying them with drugs that deaden some of their normal human tendencies the need for sleep, the fear of death, the reluctance to kill their fellow human beings.
But who are the real terrorists? Those who want to turn U.S. soldiers into mind-controlled, drugged-up mutants, to send off to mindless Imperial wars, portray themselves as patriots, noble leaders, and Christian.
I'm telling you, the Republican Party is ruining Christianity.
Audience applauds loudly
And the Christian right are the Hells Angels of the Republican Party.
There are those of us who wish to honor the men and women fighting these wars like patriots Doug Rokke and Dennis Kyne because we oppose the greedy, rapacious elite, we are the traitors, the anti-war agitators, the enemy of democracy! What I like the most is that there are more and more of us. This is war we've seen too many times.
Thank you very much.
Audience applauds long and loudly