Depleted Uranium: The Balkans Syndrome

by Gilles d'Aymery

January 8, 2001



"As there is no excess which cannot be exceeded, there is never any shortage of people eager to exceed."
--Milo Clark

It used to be known as the "Gulf War Syndrome." It must have been a get-rich-scheme invented by greedy Gulf War veterans to get some money from the U.S. Government. Everything's possible in America, the land of opportunities. Even the heroic U.S. soldiers are entitled to a buck, here and there.

As to the effect of depleted uranium on the Iraqi citizenry, who cares, they're all terrorists after all.

Anyway, the Pentagon denies that there is any linkage between depleted uranium and cancer; and the Pentagon has the arsenal to make its denial stand through countless studies by countless experts on the Pentagon payroll that will insist that this kind of ordnance does no harm to people or the environment. Then the lawyers on the same payroll will take over the case, and on, and on till an even more destructive type of ammo is invented by the scientists bankrolled by the same Pentagon.

Meantime, in the Balkans, European soldiers are falling like leaves in the fall. They ain't Serbs, mind you; we've long forgotten those little flies even existed. They ain't Serbian children and mothers either; demons don't have wives and children. No, they are the very allies of the forces of good (a.k.a. USA), the virtuous foot-soldiers of the NATO coalition that in the name of multi-ethnicity, humanitarianism, and the like destroyed the only multi-ethnic federation in Europe over a 10-year period. They are soldiers from Italy, Spain, Portugal, Belgium and more.

Who says it?

In the news, lately (excerpts):

LONDON, July 31, 1999 -- (Reuters) - Depleted uranium shells leave a legacy of birth defects and death, scientists told a conference in London Friday, warning that the radioactive ammunition will cause the same health problems in Kosovo as it has in Iraq.

BELGRADE, Dec 4, 1999 -- (AFP) - NATO's use of armor-piercing depleted uranium shells in its 1999 air war on Belgrade has left five areas of Yugoslavia contaminated by radiation, excluding areas in Kosovo, a high-ranking army officer said here Thursday.

ROME, Dec 22, 2000 -- (AFP) - The Italian government said on Friday it did not know that depleted uranium arms were used in Bosnia by NATO, just days after an inquiry was launched into why seven military personnel recently died of leukemia.

[NATO officials have acknowledged that U.S. jets fired 10,800 depleted uranium rounds in Bosnia between 1994 and 1995. U.S. jets also used 31,000 depleted uranium rounds -- about 10 tons of the munitions -- during NATO's 78-day air campaign against Serbia in 1999 ("unofficial" estimates mention 100,000 rounds or more) ]

MADRID, Dec 23, 2000 -- (Agence France Presse) - The 32,000 Spanish troops who served in Kosovo will undergo medical tests to determine whether they were exposed to radiation from depleted uranium shells, the defense ministry has decided.

LISBON, Dec 29, 2000 -- (Reuters) - Portugal has ordered medical tests for its soldiers serving in Kosovo to check for radiation from depleted uranium ammunition used in NATO's 1999 campaign in the Yugoslav province, a press report said on Friday.

BRUSSELS, Dec 29, 2000 -- (Reuters) - Belgium called on Friday for European Union defense ministers to discuss health problems suffered by peacekeepers in the former Yugoslavia, dubbed the ``Balkans Syndrome.´´

ROME, Dec 30, 2000 -- (AFP) - An Italian soldier who served as a peacekeeper in Bosnia has died of leukemia linked to radiation exposure from depleted uranium arms, according to the latest edition of the Italian gendarmes' newspaper.

Several cases of leukemia have been recorded amongst Dutch veterans of the Balkans.

Sunday Telegraph (UK), December 31, 2000 - Thousands of European soldiers who served in Nato forces in Kosovo are to be tested for radiation after claims that they developed cancer through exposure to allied munitions.

STOCKHOLM, Jan 4, 2001 -- (Reuters) - Sweden Says EU Must Act on Balkan Syndrome - Defense Minister Bjorn von Sydow of Sweden, which holds the European Union presidency, said on Thursday action was needed on reports of deaths or illnesses among peacekeeping soldiers who had served in the Balkans.

UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 5, 2001 -- (Reuters) - The United Nations announced today that it had found evidence of radioactivity at 8 of 11 sites tested in Kosovo that were struck by NATO ammunition with depleted uranium. … The 11 sites tested were among 112 in Kosovo hit by weapons containing depleted uranium.

Then, you know that the issue, largely ignored by the main media, is going to come to the fore when cover-up stories start popping up, like that exposed in the Scotland Sunday Herald:

Sunday Herald (Scotland), Jan. 7, 2001 - Leaked documents back cover-up claim - The Pentagon scientist who briefed Britain and America on the lethal health risks to Western troops of using depleted-uranium (DU) shells claims he warned the allied powers as far back as 1991 that the explosives could cause cancer, mental illness and birth defects. Professor Doug Rokke, ex- director of the Pentagon's Depleted-Uranium Project, says the USA and UK have covered up the hazards, despite the rising death toll among allied troops who fought in the Gulf from illnesses linked to DU exposure, including Gulf War syndrome.

And you can be sure it has come to the fore when The New York Times gets into damage-control mode in its Sunday edition with a long article by Marlise Simons. In over 1,000 words the reader is told that the Europeans are alarmed by D.U., that the Pentagon and NATO see no reason for alarm but that out of prudence the Europeans "collected more than 400 samples of soil, water, vegetation and pieces of ordnance from 11 sites." They will be analyzed for "both radioactivity and toxicity" and results will be published in a "final report" expected in March. Plenty of time to bury the issue and move on to the next news cycle!

Friends, there is no need to worry. Your children are safe. Your wives are safe. Your husbands are safe. Depleted uranium is safe, the Pentagon tells us. Go back to your TV. Go back to your mortgage. Don't forget the Mall. You are safe! We guarantee it… (just remember to read the small print)

And we are not using D.U. in our inner cities just yet.

Only our European allies should worry…along with the rest of the world!


Note:  For those of you with a curious mind we recommend you take a few minutes to investigate further by visiting the following three links:

Depleted Uranium Haunts Kosovo and Iraq (Middle East Report 215, Summer 2000)

Depleted Uranium: A Post-War Disaster for Environment and Health (Laka Foundation, May 1999)

The Human Cost of Depleted Uranium (Extensive investigative research by The Chugoku Shimbun, a newspaper based in Hiroshima, Japan)


Please, DO NOT steal, scavenge or repost this work without the expressed written authorization of Swans, which will seek permission from the author. This material is copyrighted. All rights reserved.


Related links

War Against Women and Other Civilians in Yugoslavia: Terror Keyed Triumph of the New Colonialism - by Geoff Berne

...Dream - by Milo Clark

Addendum to ...Dream - by Milo Clark

Freedom to Kill, Right to Live - by Jan Baughman

Short Excerpts of I Had Seen Castles - A Novel by Cynthia Rylant



Resources on the War in Yugoslavia and its Aftermath


Articles Published on Swans Regarding the War in Yugoslavia and its Aftermath

Published January 8, 2001
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