[ RadSafe ] Fw: [NoMoreDU] Joint Communique from Scientists On the UN Resolution Concerning Depleted Uranium Weapons

Roger Helbig rhelbig at california.com
Sun Dec 2 08:48:30 CST 2007

Originally drafted by Katsumi Furitsu M.D. Ph.D. and Gretel Munroe. 
Nov. 20. 2007) -- who are they - do they really have any relevant qualifications or are they just activists?

I see that some of the familiar names pop up as references (I am sorry if quality of the posting is a little garbled -- that's the best I have so far since I do not have the URL of the web page where this communique is posted)

Roger Helbig

Uranyl Acetate seems to be frequently used in experiments -- I would think that this is never found in the environment and only can be created in the laboratory or manufactured and is never found naturally even if DU munitions had been used in the environment.  Is that the case?  If that is the case, then what, if anything is the significance of any experiment with Uranyl Acetate?

Kazashi <nkazashi at yahoo.com> wrote:  To: NoMoreDU at yahoogroups.com
From: Kazashi <nkazashi at yahoo.com>
Date: Sat, 1 Dec 2007 20:23:32 -0500
Subject: [NoMoreDU] Joint Communiqué from Scientists On the UN Resolu
tion Concerning Depleted Uranium Weapons

Joint Communique from Scientists
On the UN Resolution Concerning Depleted Uranium Weapons

On November the 1st, the resolution entitled 'Effects of the use of 
armaments and ammunitions containing depleted uranium' was passed at 
the UN First Committee by an overwhelming majority. The resolution 
was drafted by the Movement of Non-Aligned States and submitted by 
Indonesia. We the scientists who have been concerned about the 
harmful effects of depleted uranium (DU) weapons, welcome this 

The resolution was adopted, because the majority of UN member states 
took â?~into consideration the potential harmful effects of the use of 
armaments and ammunitions containing depleted uranium on human health 
and the environmentâ?T (Preparatory Paragraph: PP 4); â?~convinced 
that as humankind is more aware of the need to take immediate 
measures to protect the environment, any event that could jeopardize 
such efforts requires urgent attention to implement the required 
measuresâ?T (PP 3). It was also â?~guided by the purposes and 
principles enshrined in the Charter of the UN and the rules of 
Humanitarian International Lawâ?T (PP 1) and showed the 
determination â?~to carry forward negotiations on arms regulation and 
disarmamentâ?T (PP 2) on the issue of DU weapons.

We are convinced that, and expect that, this resolution will be the 
first step to place the issue of DU weapons on the disarmament 
agenda, following the issues of Landmines and Cluster Munitions, and 
the beginning of a serious discussion about the deleterious nature of 
DU weapons and a possible ban, among the member nations of the UN.

We really respect and appreciate the effort of the leading countries 
on behalf of this resolution. We also appreciate the support from all 
the countries that voted for the resolution. We request and believe 
that these supportive countries will vote for the resolution again at 
the Plenary Session in December.

We strongly urge the countries that abstained from voting, to 
seriously reconsider the international meaning of the resolution 
stated in the PPs and to vote in its support at the Plenary Session, 
based on the independent political will of each country.

There is mounting scientific research, including studies reported in 
the most recently peer -reviewed papers, which clearly indicate â?~the 
potential harmful effects of the use of armaments and ammunitions 
containing depleted uranium on human health and the environmentâ?T. We 
think that the previous reports from a number of governmental bodies 
and international organizations have not yet fully reflected and 
referenced these scientific studies. They mainly focus on the 
radiological toxicity to the lung and the chemical toxicity to the 
kidneys. It is not right to vote against the resolution based on 
those previous reports, without considering these omissions.

The countries which voted against the resolution, should seriously 
consider such circumstances, take account of the multilateralism and 
dialogue with many other countries which are concerned about the 
effect of these weapons and at least come to the table to discuss the 
issue. Therefore, we urge these countries to change their previous 
stance and vote to support the resolution at the coming Plenary Session.

We, the scientists who have been working as specialists in different 
scientific fields including medicine, chemistry, biology, physics, 
environmental science and epidemiology, have been deeply concerned 
about the potentially harmful effects on the environment and human 
health, which may be caused by the radioactive and chemical toxicity 
of DU following the use of DU weapons.

DU is â?~nuclear wasteâ?T produced from the enrichment process and is 
mostly made up of the alpha emitting isotope Uranium 238 and is 
depleted in the fissionable isotope Uranium 235, as compared to 
concentrated natural uranium (NU). DU is somewhat less radioactive 
than NU, yet has about 60% of the radioactivity of concentrated NU 
(NU in nature is a thousand times less concentrated). DU is mostly 
an alpha emitter, a very damaging type of radioactivity inside the 
body. DU and NU are identical in terms of the chemical toxicity, 
which is also a source of potential damage to the body. With regard 
to DUâ?Ts radioactivity, it is well known that concentrated DU is one 
of a number of radioactive materials, which are strictly controlled 
by laws in most of the countries of the world.

Uraniumâ?Ts high density gives DU shells increased range and 
penetrative power. This density, combined with uraniumâ?Ts pyrophoric 
nature, results in a high-energy kinetic weapon that can punch and 
burn through armour plating. Striking a hard target, DU munitions 
create extremely high temperatures of more than 3000oC. The uranium 
immediately burns and vaporizes into an aerosol, which is easily 
diffused in the environment, while the shell is penetrating the 
target. The uranium particles formed by this heat are unlike forms of 
naturally formed uranium in terms of their size (10 to 100 times 
smaller). These extremely small particle sizes are known to be much 
more toxic and more rapidly absorbed from the lungs than larger 
(micron-sized) particles.

Aerosolized DU dust can easily spread over the battlefield, and can 
be re-suspended by the winds especially where the climate is dry, 
spreading over civilian areas, sometimes even crossing international 
borders. Therefore, not only the military personnel but also the 
civilians, including children who are very sensitive to such toxic 
substances, might inhale the fine DU particles and internalize them 
in their bodies. It was also recognized that DU weapons were actually 
used even in highly populated residential areas. The contamination 
also continues after the cessation of hostilities. DU particles will 
remain in the environment and retain their radiation for decades and 
centuries if not longer. Taking these aspects of DU weapons into 
account, we consider that DU weapons are illegal under binding 
international humanitarian, human rights and environmental law and is 
one of the inhumane weapons of â?~indiscriminate destructionâ?T.

Uranium is a radioactive element naturally distributed in the 
environment. However, we repeat that the very fine particles of DU 
created at the extremely high temperatures that result from the 
impact of a DU shell on a tank are micron- and nano-sized and can 
travel in the body once inhaled. They have no analogue in history. In 
addition, the high temperatures at impact sublimate the metals in the 
tank around the penetrating holes and in the shell casing, adding 
tiny particles of these metals and their oxides to the aerosol which 
can be internalized if inhaled, like the uranium, and which are toxic 
to the body. We have been facing an entirely new type of 
contamination to humans and the environment through these weapons.

It is true that we do not, as yet, understand the full impact of fine 
particles of DU oxide on the human body. However, there is a 
considerable amount of basic scientific evidence from both animal and 
cellular studies (including studies of human lung cells) that suggest 
deleterious effects on human health from inhaled DU particles through 
both radiological action and chemical toxicity. These data clearly 
indicate that the internalized uranium (both soluble component and 
insoluble particles) has genotoxic effect (carcinogenic, mutagenic), 
for it affects directly and/or indirectly the DNA, which codes the 
genetic information of the cell. It has also been pointed out that 
the internalized uranium may affect the intracellular organelles and/ 
or enzyme proteins and damage some of the repair mechanisms of the 
cells. These harmful effects are possibly produced in the various 
tissues and organs in a body, including potential damage to the 
immune and nervous systems. If genotoxic effects are produced in the 
germ line cells, it might lead to trans-generational effects. A 
teratogenic effect to the fetus was detected in animal studies where 
rodents were exposed to DU during gestation; also a number of Gulf 
War veterans were found to have DU in their semen. We should in 
addition consider the possible synergistic effect of radio-toxicity 
and chemical-toxicity from DU exposure.

We think it critical to immediately launch a full-dress, long-lasting 
and independent environmental monitoring as well as health and 
medical research on possibly exposed populations, both military and 
civilian, in the areas where the DU weapons have been used. We should 
also pay serious attention to the contamination and possible harmful 
health effects due to the manufacturing of DU weapons; a recent study 
clearly indicates that the workers of the DU weapons-producing 
factory as well as residents living nearby were contaminated by DU. 
However, we should also note that it may take many years, even 
decades, before we get statistically significant results on affected 
populations from epidemiological studies.

In the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, which was 
adapted at the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development 
(Earth Summit) in Rio de Janeiro, they stated: â?~In order to protect 
the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied 
by States according to their capabilities. Where there are threats of 
serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty 
shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures 
to prevent environmental degradation; Principle 15.â?T This 
â?~precautionary principleâ?T has been confirmed repeatedly in the UN. 
It is also recognized widely in the international community as one of 
the most important principles concerning the international as well as 
the domestic policies for environmental and public health protection. 
It is also a valuable and logical principle for us, scientists, when 
we take responsibility for our society. The issue of DU weapons 
should be also discussed seriously based on the 'precautionary 
principle' among the UN member countries.

Considering the basic scientific evidence we already have, it is not 
right to continue using DU weapons making the excuse that â?~no 
definitive conclusions had been reachedâ?T in the present limited risk 
assessments of the health and environmental impact of DU. We request 
all the UN member countries to discuss seriously what concrete 
measures are needed, including the immediate clearance of 
contaminated remnants, and the protection of the environment and the 
public health of contaminated populations following the use of DU 
weapons. We request the member nations of the UN to refrain from 
using DU weapons, unless they are proved to be completely safe. The 
burden of proof is on the users. Furthermore, we hope very much that 
the international community will go forward to ban DU weapons, one of 
the inhumane weapons of â?~indiscriminate destructionâ?T.

Keith Baverstock,�Presentation to the Defence Committee of the 
Belgian House of Representatives, 20 November 2006�, http:// 
www.bandepleteduranium.org/en/docs/15.pdf .

Rosalie Bertell, â?oDepleted Uranium: All the Questions about DU and 
Gulf War Syndrome are not yet Answered�, International Journal of 
Health Services 36(3), 503-520, 2006.

Wayne Briner and Jennifer Murray, â?oEffects of short-term and long- 
term depleted uranium exposure on open-field behavior and brain lipid 
oxidation in rats�, Neurotoxicology and Teratology 27, 135-144, 2005.

V. Chazel et al, Characterisation anddissolution of depleted uranium 
aerosols produced during impacts of kinetic energy penetrators 
against a tank. Radiat. Prot. Dosim. 105, 163-166, 2003.

Cooper, J.R. et al. "The behaviour of uranium-233 oxide and 
uranyl-233 nitrate in rats." Intl. J. Radiat. Biol. 41(4), 421-433, 

Virginia Coryell and Diane Stearns, â?oMolecular analysis of s hprt 
mutations generated in Chinese hamster ovary EM9 cells by uranyl 
acetate, by hydrogen peroxide, and spontaneously�, Molecular 
Carcinogenesis 45(1), 60-72, 2006.

J.L. Domingo, Reproductive and developmental toxicity of natural and 
depleted uranium: a review, Reproductive Toxicology 15, pp. 603-609, 

Wendy J. Hartsock et al, â?oUranyl Acetate as a Direct Inhibitor of 
DNA-Binding Proteins�, Chem. Res. Toxicol. 20, 784-789, 2007.

Arjun Makhijani et al., â?oScience for the Vulnerable: Setting 
Radiation and Multiple Exposure Environmental Health Standards to 
Protect Those Most at Risk�, Institute for Energy and Environmental 
Research (IEER), October 19, 2006. (http://www.ieer.org)

Melissa A. McDiarmid et al, â?oHealth Effects of Depleted Uranium on 
Exposed Gulf War Veterans�, Environmental Research Section A 82, 
168-180, 2000 ,(p. 172 on DU in semen of Gulf War veterans).

Alexandra C. Miller (editor), Depleted Uranium: Properties, Uses, and 
Health Consequences, Boca Raton: CRC Press, Taylor and Francis Group, 
2007. See Chapter 1 by David McClain and A.C. Miller and Chapter 4 by 
Wayne Briner (Neurotoxicology of depleted uranium in Adult and 
Developing Rodents), as well as other chapters.

A.C. Miller et al., â?oObservation of Radiation-Specific Damage in 
Human Cells Exposed to Depleted Uranium: Dicentric Frequency and 
Neoplastic Transformation as Endpoints�, Radiation Protection 
Dosimetry 99, 275-278, 2002.

Marjorie Monleau et al. â?oGenotoxic and Inflammatory Effects of 
Depleted Uranium Particles Inhaled by Rats�, Toxicological Sciences 
89(1), 287-295, 2006.

Randall R. Parrish et al., â?oDepleted uranium contamination by 
inhalation exposure and its detection after approximately 20 years: 
implications for human health assessment�, Science of the Total 
Environment, 2007 October 30 [E-pub ahead off print]

Adaikkappan Periyakarupan et al, â?oUranium induces oxidative stress 
in lung epithelial cells�, Arch. Toxicol. 8(16)389-395, 2007.

Diane M. Stearns et al., â?oUranyl acetate induces hprt mutations and 
uranium-DNA adducts in Chinese hamster ovary EM9 cells�, Mutagenesis 
20(6), 417-423, 2005.

G.N. Stradling et al. "The metabolism of ceramic and nonceramic forms 
of uranium dioxide after deposition in the rat lung." Human Toxicol. 
7, 133-139, 1988.

Bin Wan et al. â?oIn Vitro Immune Toxicity of Depleted Uranium: 
Effects on Murine Macrophages, CD+T Cells, and Gene Expression 
Profiles�, Environmental Health Perspectives 114(1), 85-91, 2006.

H.B. Wilson et al. "Relation of particle size of uranium dioxide dust 
to toxicity following ingalation by animals: II." Archives of 
Industrial Hygiene and Occupational Medicine 6(2), 93-104, 1952.

H.B. Wilson et al. "Relation of particle size of U3O8 dust to 
toxicity following inhalation in animals." Arch. of Indust. Health 
11, 11-16, 1955.

Sandra S. Wise et al, â?oParticulate Depleted Uranium Is Cytotoxic and 
Clastogenic to Human Lung Cells�, Chem. Res. Toxicol. 20(5), 
815-820, 2007.

(Originally drafted by Katsumi Furitsu M.D. Ph.D. and Gretel Munroe. 
Nov. 20. 2007)

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