This article was originally published by Matt Agorist at The Free Thought Project.
The Ukrainian people deserve better than to become yet another tragic chapter in the United States’ legacy of depleted uranium warfare.
In the annals of modern warfare, few decisions have been as controversial as the use of depleted uranium (DU). This radioactive waste, stemming from the production of enriched uranium for nuclear reactors and weapons, has long been the subject of intense scrutiny and criticism. Today, as the drums of war beat louder in Eastern Europe, a chilling specter from the past reemerges: the US’s intent to ship DU-laden armor-piercing munitions to Ukraine.
A Reuters revelation this week threw the spotlight on the Biden administration’s unnerving decision to dispatch these potent and controversial munitions to Ukraine. This move, while strategically aimed at fortifying Ukraine against Russian tank assaults, casts a long, haunting shadow over US foreign policy and the broader humanitarian consequences of warfare.
This is fucking horrifying. Do a search for "depleted uranium children" images and then ask yourself the question if the United States is truly the beacon of righteousness they claim to be. Spoiler alert, this makes you the BAD GUY!https://t.co/7qTOLpeZcx.
— Matt Agorist (@MattAgorist) September 6, 2023
To comprehend the magnitude of this decision, one must understand the horrifying legacy of DU in armed conflict. Its extreme density makes it a sought-after component for military projectiles, known for its ability to penetrate thick armor. However, when these munitions strike, they produce a fine dust of radioactive particles that can linger in the environment for millions of years due to DU’s extensive half-life.
This isn’t the first time the US has turned a blind eye to the horrifying repercussions of DU. In the early days of the Iraq conflict in 2003, the US military unloaded over 2,000 tons of this radioactive waste, subjecting the Iraqi populace to its long-term effects. The aftermath is palpable even today: cancer rates in the country have soared, and birth defects are tragically commonplace. Iraqi hospitals, such as those in Basra, report a 60% rise in birth defects post-2003. These figures, coupled with comparisons to the aftermath of atomic bombings in Japan, paint a heart-wrenching scenario.
While the tragedies of Iraq remain fresh, the scars of Syria are still bleeding. A mere six years ago, as TFTP reported in 2017, the US conceded its use of DU in combat against Islamic State militants. This confession, in itself, was a stark contradiction to previous coalition assurances, explicitly stating that DU would not be employed in the Syrian theater.
Returning to the Ukrainian context, the deployment of DU represents a dangerous intersection of geopolitical strategy and humanitarian oversight. As Russia flexes its military muscle, Ukraine’s defense undoubtedly becomes paramount. But in bolstering Ukraine’s military capabilities, are we setting the stage for a longer-term humanitarian crisis? Just ask the Iraqis…
The challenges facing Ukraine are multi-faceted. The land is already marred by the remnants of ongoing conflict — unexploded ordnances, mines, and the continual threat of cluster bombs. Introducing DU to this volatile mix threatens to compound the country’s post-war struggles. Clean-up operations will be monumental, and the health implications for civilians will span generations.
Critics of DU, such as the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons, emphasize the severe health risks associated with inhaling or ingesting uranium dust, which include various cancers and congenital defects. As the US proceeds with its military aid package for Ukraine, including these munitions, one cannot ignore the fact that Britain had already treaded this contentious path earlier this year. The international debate surrounding DU is only set to intensify.
The bigger picture here lies in the perceived hypocrisy of the US’s decisions. The nation, which positions itself as a beacon of human rights and a critic of war crimes, finds itself as one of the most vile villains. As the memories of Iraq and Syria loom large, the international community must confront the disconcerting reality that history might be on the verge of repeating itself, this time on Ukrainian soil.
The Ukrainian people deserve better than to become yet another tragic chapter in the United States’ legacy of chemical warfare.