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Reports emerge the UK used depleted uranium weapons in Iraq

Published time: July 28, 2010 23:20
Edited time: July 28, 2010 23:20

Reports have emerged that the UK used depleted uranium weapons during the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. A UK defense official has reportedly admitted using highly controversial ammunition.

"UK forces used about 1.9 metric tons of depleted uranium ammunition in the Iraq war in 2003," UK Defense Secretary Liam Fox said in a written reply to the House of Commons Thursday, Iranian Press TV reported, citing the Kuwait News Agency.

It is alleged that a joint inquiry by Iraq’s environment, health and science ministries uncovered more than 40 sites across the war-torn country contaminated with high levels of radiation.

The use of uranium ammunition is widely controversial because of potential long-term health effects. The US and UK have allegedly used up to 2,000 tons of such ammunition during the war.

British Labor Party MP Paul Flynn says the depleted uranium still causes serious health problems.

“We know that in the first Iraq war depleted uranium was used in shells. It’s very likely it was used again,” Flynn said. “It’s used as ballast because of its density in shells. It’s not as radioactive as it might be, it’s uranium 238 where the gamma-radiation has been reduced and it’s not the weapon of mass destruction, but sadly it’s a weapon of eternal destruction because it turns into dust and gets into the water supply, into the air and it can of course give children cancer, it can cause birth defects.”

Findings of the recent study conducted by a group of researchers in London suggest the same.

“The study that we have conducted does actually prove that there are massive increases in cancer, a 38-fold increase in leukemia, 10-fold increase in breast cancer and infant mortalities are also staggering,” one of the authors of the report, British-Iraqi scientist Malak Hamdan told RT.

However, the World Health Organization claims the depleted uranium has not that that large an effect on new-born infants. But science is changing every minute, says another author of the study, Professor Christopher Busby, scientific secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risks.

“There is an enormous amount of new science that is being completely ignored by the World Health Organization and by the scientists who work for the governments who are associated with use of these weapons,” Prof. Busby said.

Watch full interview with Malak Hamdam and Prof. Busby

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Iraq's Ministry for Human Rights is expected to file a lawsuit against Britain and the US over their use of depleted uranium bombs in Iraq and will seek compensation for the victims of these weapons.