On Depleted Uranium

Doug Rocke is probably the world's foremost expert on the toxic metal generally called depleted uranium and on its use as a weapon. Rocke has studied the metal for most of his professional life as a scientist and as a soldier. He was in charge of the so-called "clean-up" of depleted uranium in Gulf War I (1991). Depleted uranium has made Doug Rocke sick and most of the men under his command.

The U.S. refuses to treat them and pretends that there are no symptoms ... just as it does for most Gulf War Vets. What Rocke has to say about depleted uranium is bad. What he has to say about toxic morality of the military command is worse. Rocke reveals these stories in a riveting and inspiring interview with Dennis Bernstein on the Flashpoints show on KPFA, an East Bay radio station (you can hear it at <> for the Friday, December 6 show).

Even in Vietnam, Rocke relates, the central responsibility of the command was professed to be to "take care of the troops." However, beginning with Gulf War I, the military understood that modern warfare necessarily produces a toxic battlefield. Any human exposed to this environment automatically builds up a toxic and radioactive load that inevitably will compromise, and then destroy, their health.

This applies to soldiers as well as the intended civilian victims. When the next Gulf War starts, the troops will be deliberately sent into a toxic battlefield with the knowledge that they will get sick. The military, of course, continues to deny that depleted uranium has any serious health effects. During Gulf War I, the military blew up thousands of tons of weapons, plastics, toxic materials, bioagents, insecticides, and chemicals of all types -- even the Sarin nerve gas.

The mad scheme was to blow it all up, just to show the world. Many military people fought this reckless action as completely unnecessary public relations grandstanding that could only harm the troops. So, during the days of the great oil-field fires, the military just went ahead and blew it all up anyway.

Rocke condemns the military command for forsaking the soldier's welfare through gross negligence and deliberate policy. Depleted uranium, it seems, is a horrendous weapon that the military just can't put down. In Gulf War I, they shot off 352 tons of the stuff in anti-vehicle shells that weighed up to 10 pounds a piece!

Today, Rocke estimates that over 2,000,000 people have been sickened in Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia from radioactive exposures. Rocke notes that exposures of people in the United States have been almost continuous since 1943. Even at that time the military was quite clear on how harmful depleted uranium was to the human body.

For years, uranium was processed into munitions in Concord, Mass -- the birthplace of the American Revolution. The city, like virtually every other location where uranium processing has gone on, is a cancer center. When a shell hits a vehicle it explodes into a cloud of toxic radioactive dust that is so fine that it is almost permanently suspended in the air for a radius of 80 feet. In his important interview, Rocke raises the demand that the use of uranium emission in warfare is never justifiable. You can find out more about depleted uranium at or

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