Radioactive Warfare: Impact on the Civilian Population and Environment of Iraq

Radioactive Warfare: Impact on the Civilian Population and Environment of Iraq

Conference Presentation in Iraq at the First International Conference on Radioactive Pollution and its Implication for Health and Environment in Iraq, Iraq Centre for International Studies, July, 2010

Asaf Durakovic, Tedd Weyman

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— Iraq Conference Cancelled due to Security Issues —


The last two decades witnessed the introduction of a new concept of warfare by radioactive weapons, used inIraqin the first Gulf War, 1991.  It changed the modern battlefield concept from NBC (Nuclear Biological Chemical) to the current concept of CBRN (Chemical Biological Radioactive Nuclear).  It introduced not only contamination of the human population with the products of nuclear fission and the radioactive waste from the nuclear fuel cycle, but also has an impact on the general environment with possible, irreversible alterations of the biosphere.  Among the direct risks to the human population are multidimensional damage to organs and tissues. As well, malignant tumors at the site of retention have been identified.  This paper addresses questions of the effects of uranium isotopes on the civilian population and environment of Iraq.

Upon the conclusion of the military conflict (OIF 2003), the Uranium Medical Research Centre conducted field work inIraq.  We collected biological samples from 22 symptomatic civilians inBaghdad,Basra, Nasiriyah, Samawa and Kerbala.  Symptoms included headaches, fatigue, intermittent fever, urinary tract disorders, musculoskeletal dysfunction, respiratory symptoms, central and peripheral nervous systems and affective disorders.  The urine specimens were collected under strict guidelines of a standard protocol for a 24-hour sample and subject confidentiality. Urine samples were also collected from three members of the UMRC Iraq field team.

Our results demonstrate the presence of DU and non-DU containing the manmade isotope 236U in the civilians of Baghdad, Basra, and Nasiriyah.  In addition, all DU and non-DU civilian samples have average concentrations of 300 – 500 per cent above normal populations.  These data are in agreement with the Uranium Medical Research Centre’s previous findings in military personnel in Gulf War I (Operations Desert Storm and Desert Fox) and Gulf War II (Operation Iraqi Freedom) in Iraq (from 1995-2007) and field and laboratory studies of Afghan civilians from Operation Enduring Freedom (2002-2005)..