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The Eos life~work resource centre
New page 26 September 2002
Uranium weapons in 2001-2003
Occupational, public and environmental health issues
Hazards of suspected Uranium weapons in the proposed war on Iraq (summary)
Updated analysis of collected studies and public domain sources
compiled by Dai Williams, 24 September 2002
Full report at:
On 24 September Prime Minister Tony Blair presented a dossier of evidence about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to the UK Parliament to support military action proposed by the US Government. This is a summary of a new analysis that questions the weapons that may be used by US and allied forces in the proposed war on Iraq and issues for international decision makers and media. The use of these weapons may create serious and permanent health hazards for troops, expatriate civilians and the Iraqi population.
In January Depleted Uranium weapons 2001-2002 ( http://www.eoslifework.co.uk/du2012.htm ) investigated the suspected use of Uranium warheads in a new generation of hard target guided weapons. It questioned their use in Iraq and the Balkans since 1991 and immediate health and safety issues for civilians and troops from their use in Afghanistan. The new report Hazards of suspected Uranium weapons in the proposed war on Iraq is available at http://www.eoslifework.co.uk/u231.htm .
Most public debate about US war plans for Iraq has been led by US allegations about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction justifying "regime change" by military action. UK and other governments appear caught up in the group think of the Bush Administration's "War on Terrorism". Group think involves self-justifying logic that generates an illusion of morality, demands unquestioning conformity, accepts dangerously high risk strategies and demonises enemies and dissenters (1). It explained strategic errors that led to the Bay of Pigs fiasco.
In time of war vital combat and aftermath data that may alter public perception, government decisions or arms procurement is classified, concealed or distorted on the pretext of state security. It is vital to separate facts from propaganda about terrorist threats and Iraqi or allied weapons. Since September 11th US and UK Government agendas have excluded any debate about the weapon systems used by US and allied forces (2). Their potentially devastating effects on the Iraqi population and allied ground forces may far exceed hazards from weapons that Iraq may have developed.
Most of the guided weapons that will be used in new air attacks on Iraq - smart bombs and cruise missiles - will be the same as those used in Afghanistan (3). No independent assessment has been made of post-war health & environmental conditions there. It is feared that these weapons have already started widespread and irreversible health problems for civilians and troops - a potential Afghan War Syndrome.
Most of these "hard target" guided weapons contain a mystery and highly secret "dense metal"- over twice the density of steel and pyrophoric, creating intense heat inside their targets. The only metal that meets both requirements is Uranium, depleted or non-depleted.
If Uranium is used in large, explosive "hard target" warheads (up to 1500 kg) it will create levels of radioactive contamination 100 times higher and more widespread than the depleted uranium anti-tank "penetrators" used in the Gulf War. After bomb attacks in the Balkans in 1999 increased levels of airborne Uranium dust were detected in Greece and Hungary. Any warheads containing Uranium will cause permanent Alpha, Beta and Gamma radiation hazards in target areas. They are radiological bombs - weapons of indiscriminate effect in terms of the 1st Protocol additional to the Geneva Conventions. 23 weapon systems are questioned see Figure 1 (warhead size) and Table 1 (combat use since 1991) in the full report.
All Parliaments that have been asked to support a new war on Iraq are strongly advised to ask these two basic questions:
A. What is the secret, high density metal used in the new generation of hard target guided bombs and cruise missiles produced in US and other countries?
B. If this mystery metal is Uranium how will national leaders and parliaments justify attacking unconfirmed weapons of mass destruction with weapons of indiscriminate effect ?
Weapons of mass destruction cause sudden death or destruction in target areas, some with long term or widespread effects. Weapons of indiscriminate effect cause widespread or long lasting contamination liable to cause injury, chronic illness, slow death or severe birth defects. Both are outlawed in the 1st Protocol of the Geneva Conventions.
Action needed by Parliaments and media
The "heavy metals" used in hard target guided weapons have been a closely guarded military secret since 1990. They can only be Tungsten or Uranium. Why classify the use of Tungsten?
To establish the truth about suspected "conventional" Uranium weapons and their effects Parliaments and media across the world are urged to demand the following actions before sanctioning any new military action by the USA in Iraq or other countries:
1. Immediate, independent investigations by UN inspectors and Parliamentary representatives to verify the materials used in all the suspected Uranium weapons identified in this analysis. These to include current weapon stocks and manufacturing facilities in all countries, and full disclosure of combat use since 1990.
2. Rigorous environmental monitoring for Uranium contamination in Afghanistan and re-survey of other recent combat zones. Both UNEP studies (2001, 2002) of Depleted Uranium in the Balkans excluded guided bomb, missile and cluster bomb targets.And see (4).
3. Independent and ongoing health monitoring of troops and civilians (local residents, refugees and expatriates) exposed to suspected Uranium weapons in Afghanistan, the Balkans and Iraq.
4. Medical aid and environmental protection for all civilian communities at risk of Uranium contamination.
5. Review of past medical research, hazard assessments and policy advice concerning Depleted Uranium (DU) weapons based on Uranium exposure from small penetrator warheads (less than 6 kg), or overlooking widely varying levels of U235, U 236 and Plutonium contamination (Dirty DU).
Urgent need for public debate about Uranium weapons likely to be used against Iraq
There has been very little media coverage except Le Monde Diplomatique in March (5), ABC Australia in July (6), Guardian in September (7), and no public debate in the US or UK about the new generation of hard target guided weapons used in the Afghan war. Over 2,000 were used. If the secret metal they use is Uranium then 1000+ tons of fine oxide dust will have contaminated many areas. Thousands of Afghans, and many expatriates, may have been exposed to moderate or severe levels of uranium contamination with grave implications for their long term health, similar to those in Iraq since the Gulf War.
Hundreds or thousands of civilians in Afghanistan may already have died from acute Uranium exposure, their symptoms compounded by, or misdiagnosed as, common causes of death during the Afghan winter e.g. pneumonia, acute gastric infections and malnutrition. There are very few independent laboratory facilities for medical or environmental analysis of Uranium contamination in the world and none in Afghanistan.
International proliferation of known and suspected Uranium weapons - to over 20 countries since 1991 - is a major arms control problem. The 5 action points identified above indicate the complexity and scale of responding to Uranium weapons contamination and the public health disasters they may cause. These effects can be seen already in Iraq and for Gulf War veterans since 1991. They represent a grave risk not yet assessed in Afghanistan.
To launch another military campaign in Iraq on the scale of the Afghan war - with the same suspected armada of Uranium weapons - and without attempting to evaluate their health and environmental impacts in Afghanistan and on allied troops and expatriates seems irresponsible beyond belief, verging on genocide.
Until these questions are raised in the national and international media, most politicians will be unaware of the hazards and scale of problems of Uranium contamination that may now exist in Afghanistan caused by allied bombs and missiles. If politicians and governments have been deceived about these hazards they may inadvertently support US action in Iraq with the same Uranium weapon systems - a grim responsibility.
The military are employed to conduct wars effectively by any means authorised by their governments. The legal, moral and ethical consequences of war are the ultimate responsibility of governments, not the military. If the perceived threat from Iraq is considered serious enough to justify using weapons of indiscriminate effect - nuclear, chemical or radiological - this should be a decision for parliaments and the UN General Assembly, not the Pentagon or heads of state that rely totally on military briefings.
In the absence of public questions and debate about Uranium weapons political representatives have had to rely on cumulative pro-Uranium propaganda since 1991. This includes statements from government, military and commercial sources (arms and nuclear industry) and several compromised scientific reports, even by UN agencies, that have relied on government or military funding and co-operation. Refer Part 4 of Depleted Uranium weapons 2001-2002.
Is Uranium the mystery metal in any hard target guided weapons? If so there may only be a few weeks left to prevent a new public health disaster in Iraq, larger than the one that already exists due to 300 tons of Uranium weapons and the effects of sanctions.
This briefing was originally prepared for the UK Government, MPs and media contacts for consideration in the Iraq War debate in Westminster on Tuesday, 24th September.
These questions and actions need to be raised in all countries that are expected to support a US led attack on Iraq, whether with troops, logistic facilities or by voting in the UN General Assembly. The USA, UK, France, Israel, Russia, Pakistan and any other country manufacturing suspected Uranium weapons must be called to account for their weapon systems by the UN General Assembly before their use is sanctioned in future military action. This includes weapons now being used by the US and UK in the Iraq no-fly zones. To widen this debate this updated analysis will be offered in the public domain via the Internet.
Any politician, leader or government that supports a new military offensive against Iraq before the identity and effects of suspected Uranium weapons used in Afghanistan are fully investigated would be wise to read Articles 35 and 55 of the First Protocol additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 very carefully.
Dai Williams, MSc C.Psychol, independent researcher
Eos, Woking, Surrey, UK
Figure 1 and Table 1 below were first published in DU weapons 2001-2002 pages 89 and 131. They have been updated for the two new US hard target weapons - the Thermobaric bomb GBU-118/B first used in February and the 20,000 lb Big BLU reported to be under development in March (planned since 1997 and probably operational now). Both use "dense metal" Advanced Unitary Penetrators, suspected to be uranium.
Table 1: Combat use of known and suspected conventional Uranium weapon systems with dense metal penetrators or shaped charge warhead technology (updated September 2002)
(1) Janis, I. L. & Mann, L. (1977). Decision making: A psychological analysis of conflict, choice,
and commitment. New York: Free Press at http://www.cedu.niu.edu/~fulmer/groupthink.htm
(2) Written questions and answers in the UK Parliament are available in Hansard online.
The only debating question in any parliament about DU in Afghanistan this year that I have
found was asked by MEP P. Lannoye in the European Parliament, Strasbourg, 9 April 2002
(3) Williams, D (January 2002) Depleted Uranium weapons 2001-2002, Mystery metal nightmare in Afghanistan?
at http://www.eoslifework.co.uk/du2012.htm and from Politicos bookshop, London (http://www.politicos.co.uk)
(4) The new UNEP PCAU study for Afghanistan contains no reference to uranium or depleted uranium monitoring see http://www.postconflict.unep.ch/actafghassessment.htm
(5) Parsons R.J. (March 2002) America's Big Dirty Secret, Le Monde Diplomatique in English at: http://mondediplo.com/2002/03/03uranium
(6) Barraud, A (1 July 2002) Was depleted uranium used in Afghanistan? ABC Asia Pacific radio (Australia)
(7) Hambling, D. (5 Sept 2002) The heavy metal logic bomb, Guardian (UK)
Other references are provided by Internet links to sources in the full analysis. © Eos 2002
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Hazards of Uranium weapons
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Copyright The report contains extracts from public domain sources on the Internet. It is offered on the Internet for humanitarian, educational and research purposes. These sources and their copyright are acknowledged. This summary and the full report are available as public domain resource in digital format on the Internet provided that copyrights are acknowledged and the website link to this page http://www.eoslifework.co.uk/u23.htm is included. The report may not be reproduced for commercial purposes without the author's prior agreement.
Page updated 26 September 2002 © Dai Williams 2002
The Eos life~work resource centre
Consultant profile: Dai Williams
page updated 1 October 2001
I am an independent consultant specialising in career, organisation and community psychology issues. For Eos projects I work with other specialists in occupational psychology, human resource management, organisation change and occupational health.
I read Psychology and Sociology at Swansea University graduating in 1970. The Occupational Psychology Masters course at Birkbeck College, London University (77-79) was a major inspiration featuring many new developments in work, organisation and personal development psychology. I became a Chartered Occupational Psychologist in 1989.
From 1971-86 I worked with Shell in the UK and Canada in various Personnel functions including employee and public relations, career planning, personnel systems, job evaluation, job design, international recruitment and staff development. Work and life in Shell Canada (81-83) offered me very different perspectives on employment and personal development from those in the UK. These included far more positive approaches to self-motivated careers and to age, gender and ethnic differences. I returned to Shell International to work as overseas recruitment and education advisor for companies in the Far East, Middle East and Africa (83-86) before voluntary redundancy created the opportunity to set up my own business.
Eos work & career psychology
Eos initially specialised in international graduate recruitment and education programmes for companies in the Far East. Clients included Singapore Airlines, Singapore Broadcasting Corporation and Guardian Pharmacy and several companies in Japan. From 1987-90 I was a member of the AGCAS Overseas Student Working Party working with UK university careers services, co-author of their handbooks on international careers for students and career advisers.
Eos life-career planning and outplacement programmes began in 1987 and became a major priority during the UK Recession, 1990 onwards. Traditional approaches to employment, career guidance and career patterns became obsolete as the UK labour market became more unstable. Eos programmes were developed to help clients cope with severe career crises, stress and change - both in and out of work. Many of the topics covered in Eos Life-Work Themes come from action research into problems faced by my clients. From these I have developed a "toolkit" for career planning and strategies for turning crises into opportunities for career and personal development.
Corporate clients have used Eos programmes to assess training and development opportunities for management and departmental teams, development potential for staff, internal redeployment of staff (inplacement), redundancy programmes (outplacement) and support for staff in career or personal crisis situations. In the last year this has included planning and supporting Chief Executive and Director selection in a major UK trade association. Sectors covered include IT, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, publishing, postal services, a 'not-for profit' membership association and education. plus family businesses and the self-employed.
I have lectured part-time on the occupational psychology and counselling in organisations courses at Surrey University and joined Surrey Training & Enterprise Council's New Directions network when it was launched. Eos is now the longest established independent career consultancy in Surrey.
Eos community, political and peace psychology
Career challenges faced by individuals and employers are often symptoms of wider social and employment issues. My interests in this area are listed in the Community Psychology Index. I convened a national workshop on Psychological Effects of the Recession for the British Psychological Society in 1993 and became a contributor to the UK Forum for Organisational Health. I ran seminars with local support groups for the unemployed through the Recession with a local community network and wrote a handbook for support group leaders and helpers with them.
In September 1997 I began to apply work psychology and organisational change principles to events in UK and international politics. On a hunch I wondered if the transition psychology processes that affect my clients in many organisations and professions could be used to anticipate the potential effects of trauma and change on politicians in the UK Parliament after the 1997 General Election.
After checking this proposition with three leading transition researchers in the UK I wrote a short survival guide for MPs and ex-MPs called After the Honeymoon, featured on BBC TV's Newsnight programme (31 Oct 97). The second edition in Dec 97 was called Parliament in Transition with suggestions for moving 'from crisis to recovery'. This 'landslide syndrome' (Daily Telegraph) appeared to affect members of both the Opposition and the new Government between Oct 97 and Feb 98. The predicted recovery phase took longer than expected but developed rapidly in spring 98.
Through 1998 I continued to monitor periods of crisis and recovery for individual MPs and political leaders. These indicated strong connections between psychological factors (good and bad) and national and international events in Northern Ireland, Iraq and Sudan. I convened a symposium "Waves of Change" about the psychology of change and its societal implications for the BPS Conference in January 1999 with three leading specialists in occupational psychology (see Human responses to change).
During 1999 further events suggested wider psychological issues in conflict and political change especially the conduct and aftermath of the Balkans War, the outlook for the Peace Process in Northern Ireland and the Devolution transition. In January 2000 these were collated in a new analysis of psychological climate in the UK Government from April 98 with forecasts to Sept 2000, in Accidents waiting to happen.
In Autumn 2000 world affairs were shadowed by the new Intifada crisis in Palestine and Israel, deep confusion in the US Presidential election, and a series of disasters in the UK (storms floods and train crashes). If earlier studies were valid these new traumas and changes had the potential to start majot transition cycles for leaders, governments and communities in the Middle East, the USA and the UK.
These potential transition cycles were analysed in February 2001 indicated powerful strategic options for the Governments in Israel, Palestine, the USA and the UK. The implications for "psychological climate" in each government and country - hazards and opportunities - were awesome. They were published in the Power or Peace project, copied to governments in March and reported in the IBPP in April. The forecasts showed best case scenarios and downside risks. Other analysts are welcome to test these forecasts against actual events in the Middle East and USA, and international action (or lack of it) from April onwards culminating in the tragic terrorist attacks in the USA on September 11th 2001.
These propositions have been covered briefly in the UK press and BBC each year since 1997. But they need testing in wider debate with other researchers and political analysts. The full version of the Power or Peace project offers a toolkit for psychological climate forecasting up to a year after major traumas or changes (available on request to analysts and researchers). An update with new scenarios for the aftermath of the traumas in New York and Washington will be posted on this website soon.
Most occupational psychology research and practice focusses on business organisations. However many of the same principles apply to political careers and organisations. In one sense politics is just another employment sector. But in every country politicians determine the economic, social and legal environment that shapes the world of work. The successes and crises of national leaders and governments offer highly visible examples of the hazards and opportunities that face managers and staff in many other organisations.
Encouraging real-time discussion of psychological processes in politics via the media is hazardous. The conclusions are not always what press editors or politicians want to hear. Some media reports have been handled with great integrity. Others have been changed to suit editorial news campaigns. Accidents waiting to happen was reported in The Times on 6 July 2000. The text report was accurate but the headlines and illustration seriously mispresented the imminent recovery forecast for the Government to support the paper's "spin war" campaign against the Prime Minister. Two weeks later the Government published major strategic intiatives for public services indicating that they had recovered from another extended crisis period.
Unfortunately in Sept 2000 the UK Government entered a new series of external crises that have continued for over a year now. These must have had serious effects on stress levels and psychological climate in the Government and hence on its ability to make sound strategic decisions for domestic and international policy. However the issues of fluctuating 'organisational health' and better ways of managing the effects of stress, trauma and change in Governments has yet to be recognised in either academic research or the media. This is unfortunate as chronically stressed and recently traumatised world leaders propose to embark on another cycle of major military conflicts.
New and ongoing projects
2001 has been an exciting year for extending our networks - locally and internationally - via the Internet. The Eos Life-Work website is an exciting opportunity to increase public awareness of psychological hazards and opportunities in everyday life including:
new approaches to career and personal development for individuals and employers
important interactions between work and personal life - life-work boundaries
the need for a new Fair Work Ethic to replace the obsolete Protestant Work Ethic
psychological aspects of conflict and change in organisations and communities
psychological aspects of national and international political processes - the Power or Peace project, March 2001.
the opportunity for closer collaboration between psychologists and other professions on employment issues (see Professional Networking), and community and political issues including peace psychology and psycho-history (see links in the Community Projects Index).
The Internet offers a fast and economical way to promote these issues in the UK and around the world. High quality website links enable us to share a wide range of research and professional experience easily. Future updates will include seminars and networking events promoting best practice, action research and policy reviews in the world of work.
Thank you for visiting the Eos website!
Eos Career Services, 32 Send, Road, Send, Woking, Surrey GU23 7ET, UK
Phone: 44-(0)-1483-222017 EMail: firstname.lastname@example.org
page updated 1st Oct 01 © Eos Career Services 2001
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