Over 1Mln Iraqis May Have Suffered From Use of Uranium Shells by US

© REUTERS / Mohammed SalemDisplaced Iraqis, who fled the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul, walk under rain in Khazer camp, Iraq December 14, 2016
Displaced Iraqis, who fled the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul, walk under rain in Khazer camp, Iraq December 14, 2016 - Sputnik International, 1920, 21.03.2022
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CAIRO (Sputnik) - Over one million Iraqis may have suffered from the use of depleted uranium ammunition by the United States during its two military operations in Iraq, with radioactive weapons causing damage to the population even after the war, Souad al-Azzawi, an Iraqi expert in radioactive pollution, told Sputnik.
Sunday marked the 19th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq by the US-led coalition. The official reason for the invasion was an alleged link between the regime of then-Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and international terrorism, as well as a CIA claim of stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, which has never been proved. As a result of the invasion, Hussein was overthrown and executed.

"1.2 million citizens were irradiated [due to the use of depleted uranium shells by the US]. There are sources of pollution and people exposed to high doses of radiation. They need to be taken care of, they must be provided with diagnostics and medical care, hospitals, medicines," al-Azzawi said.

According to the expert, the US army used depleted uranium ammunition for the first time in Iraq during Operation Desert Storm in 1991, when it used up to one million of such shells.

"In 2003-2004, they used 181,000 of such shells not only in Basrah, but also in Baghdad, Karbala, Najaf, Baqubah, Al-Fallujah. In 2004, they were used them especially intensively in Al-Fallujah," the expert noted.

Al-Azzawi said that today, up to "15% of children born in the city" suffer from congenital birth defects caused by the use of prohibited weapons by Washington, with 5% ultimately dying.

The expert noted that radioactive weapons have affected Iraqis even after the war. Landfills of Iraqi military equipment destroyed during the US military campaigns are a source of constant radiation and a hotbed of dangerous diseases. According to al-Azzawi, currently, there are up to 22 such dumps in Iraq. Moreover, sandstorms contribute to the spread of radiation, the expert added.

"After the 2003 occupation, there were about 330 facilities polluted with radioactive substances, including depleted uranium. After that, the number of such facilities reached 1,130. Therefore, there is a problem. However, this problem is not discussed openly with people affected by it," al-Azzawi said.

According to the scientist, first the US, then the authorities appointed by the occupation administration, glossed over and denied the existence of the problem for many years.

Naturally occurring uranium is composed of three isotopes, mainly of U-238, but also the U-235. The uranium remaining after the separation of the U-235 isotope from uranium ore is called depleted. In military industry, depleted uranium is used, specifically, for the production of ammunition capable of destroying strong concrete constructions. According to experts, depleted uranium can cause cancer and other serious diseases.
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