Message from Ramsey Clark to the Gijon, Spain
Conference on Depleted Uranium, Nov. 25-26, 2000
I would like to convey to you my utmost solidarity with your important international
conference on depleted uranium and my congratulations to the Arab Cause
Solidarity Committee for organizing it. I wanted very much to be with you
today to share in the work you are doing to combat the dangers of depleted-uranium
weapons. But the United States government has taken dangerous steps that
threaten a major war in yet another area of the world. I'm speaking now
of Colombia in South America. With $1.3 million in new military aid under
the cover of a so-called war against drugs, Washington threatens a 21st
Century version of the Vietnam war. Others from the International Action
Center and I are now on a fact-finding mission traveling to areas of Colombia
held by the popular insurgent forces.
I would like to include here the appeal
we drafted in 1996 calling for a ban on depleted uranium weapons and hope
you can make it part of the results of your conference. Thank you.
An International Appeal to Ban the Use of Depleted
Depleted-uranium weapons are an unacceptable
threat to life, a violation of international law and an assault on human
dignity. To safeguard the future of humanity, we call for an unconditional
international ban forbidding research, manufacture, testing, transportation,
possession and use of DU for military purposes. In addition, we call for
the immediate isolation and containment of all DU weapons and waste, the
reclassification of DU as a radioactive and hazardous substance, the cleanup
of existing DU-contaminated areas, comprehensive efforts to prevent human
exposure and medical care for those who have been exposed.
During the Gulf War, munitions and armor
made with depleted uranium were used for the first time in a military action.
Iraq and northern Kuwait were a virtual testing range for depleted-uranium
weapons. Over 940,000 30-millimeter uranium tipped bullets and "more
than 14,000 large caliber DU rounds were consumed during Operation Desert
Storm/Desert Shield." (U.S. Army Environmental Policy Institute)
These weapons were used throughout Iraq
with no concern for the health and environmental consequences of their use.
Between 300 and 800 tons of DU particles and dust have been scattered over
the ground and the water in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. As a result,
hundreds of thousands of people, both civilians and soldiers, have suffered
the effects of exposure to these radioactive weapons.
Of the 697,000 U.S. troops who server in
the Gulf, over 90,000 have reported medical problems. Symptoms include respiratory,
liver and kidney dysfunction, memory loss, headaches, fever, low blood pressure.
There are birth defects among their newborn children. DU is la leading suspect
for a portion of these ailments. The effects on the population living in
Iraq are far greater. Under pressure, the Pentagon has been forced to acknowledge
Gulf War Syndrome, nut hey are still stonewalling any connection to DU.
Communities near DU weapons plants, testing
facilities, bases and arsenals have also been exposed to this radioactive
material which has a half-life of 4.4 billion years. DU-weapons are deployed
with U.S. troops in Bosnia. The spreading toxicity of depleted uranium threatens
DU weapons are not conventional weapons.
They are highly toxic, radioactive weapons. All international law on warfare
has attempted to limit violence to combatants and to prevent the use of
cruel and unfocused weapons. International agreements and conventions have
tried to protect civilians and non-combatants from the scourge of war and
to outlaw the destruction of the environment and the food supply in order
to safeguard life on earth.
Consequently, DU weapons violate international
law because of their inherent cruelty and unconfined death-dealing effect.
They threaten civilian populations now and for generations to come. These
are precisely the weapons and uses prohibited by international law for more
than a century including the Geneva Conventions and their Protocols Additional