A prominent investigative journalist says the United States is using illegal weaponry - particularly depleted uranium - during its wars in the Middle East.
A new report shows US forces have used massive amounts of depleted uranium in Afghanistan -- causing a huge number of congenital deformities and cancers.
Numerous UN human rights commissions have prohibited the use of depleted uranium on humans, including during military conflicts.
However, the US government has notoriously used weaponized depleted uranium on humans, including: 340 tons during the first [Persian] Gulf war in 1991; every missile used during the 1998 Yugoslavian invasion; at least 1,000 tons in Afghanistan in 2001; and 2,400 tons in Iraq in 2003.
Depleted uranium is radioactive and extremely destructive to humans - with a half-life of 4.5 billion years. In other words, it takes 4.5 billion years for one kilogram of depleted uranium to reduce to a half a kilogram - the US has forever contaminated the Middle East.
Press TV has conducted an interview with Gareth Porter, investigative journalist, to further discuss the issue. The following is a transcript of the interview.
According to our previous guest, levels of uranium have been found in blood and urine tests taken away from Afghans. First of all, does this news come as a surprise to you?
Of course, there's plenty of evidence from past years about the use of depleted uranium in all the recent wars of the United States including the first [Persian] Gulf war, the invasion of Iraq, as well as Afghanistan. No, this is not a surprise at all.
In fact, I think it's well established that the US military has been using depleted uranium particularly with regard to the bullets or ammunition that are used by the A-10 Warthog aircraft specifically to penetrate armor or any target that is conceived to be, or imagined to be hard to penetrate.
This is what the depleted uranium shells are used for, that's what they're specialized for. They are the hardest substance that they've been able to find to penetrate armor.
The question, of course, is why would you want to use it in Afghanistan where the Taliban clearly have no tanks or the usual kinds of targets not present there?
Never-the-less, the A-10 Warthog has been using the depleted uranium shells particularly for large caliber 120 millimeter, but also smaller caliber ammunition.
Mr. Porter, do you think that Afghans themselves and Kabul is aware of this issue? Also, along the lines, could you describe for us the repercussions depleted uranium will have through future generations there?
Yes. What people need to understand is that depleted uranium shells cause extreme heat in the course of being fired at the target and arriving at the target. And as a result, the uranium burns up and releases very tiny units of uranium into the atmosphere.
This is how human beings can ingest the uranium very easily and cause, of course, toxic consequences for the human body, as well as, certainly, deformities in children born to families who are exposed to the depleted uranium.
Mr. Porter, so far the US and its coalition allies have pretty much gotten away with a wide range of violations specifically in the region, just to mention a few of those committed in Iraq, the ongoing drone strikes in Pakistan. How can this case regarding the depleted uranium in Afghanistan be any different? How can the US be held accountable for its crimes?
Well, you asked me a moment ago are the people in Kabul and, particularly, the officials in Kabul on the Afghanistan side aware of this issue? And I think the answer is, almost certainly, only in the dimmest way are they aware of it. And I think that's really the problem.
This has been so obscure in terms of the various issues associated with the US-NATO war in Afghanistan. It's simply not been covered by the news media in any way over the last 10 years or so.
You have an international coalition to ban uranium weapons which have been trying to, of course, raise this issue. But I don't think they've been successful in doing so.
Although, they report that the US government now has said that it is going to try to find alternatives to uranium weapons for the future needs to penetrate armor partly and apparently in response to environmental problems in the United States associated with both the manufacture of these weapons as well as the storage and disposal of these weapons.
So, it may well be that, in the end, it will be the consequences here at home of such toxic weapons that will cause the United States to make a change. This of course is the history of US use of highly dangerous weapons that they always cause damage to the population here at home as well as to those whom they use against abroad.