Use of Depleted Uranium Weapons Raises Health Concerns in Iraq

High levels of radiation are showing up at a number of sites throughout Iraq, thanks to the use of depleted uranium (DU) weapons by U.S.-led forces during the war in March and April. DU is considered a potential cause of cancers and birth defects. Some Iraqi doctors and others say that use of DU ammunition during the 1991 Gulf War led to a significant surge in cancers and birth defects in Iraq a few years later. DU is also suspected of contributing to the Gulf War Syndrome that has afflicted thousands of U.S. veterans. Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) has introduced a bill that would require the U.S. government to study the health and environmental effects of DU, but the legislation is going nowhere fast. The military says there’s no evidence that DU causes health problems, and it insists DU ammunition is needed because it’s dense enough to penetrate heavy tank armor.