Expert: Iraqi Desert Holds Answer to Depleted Uranium Controversy
The Iraqi desert could shed light on fears that uranium-tipped ammunition, widely used during the Gulf War and in the Balkans, causes cancer, a British expert was quoted as saying on Sunday.
Air samples taken near the border with Kuwait revealed levels of ionizing radiation in the atmosphere 20 times higher than in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, low-level radiation specialist Chris Busby said, quoted by the Observer newspaper.
The samples were taken two months ago around a battlefield of the 1991 Gulf War.
If the samples prove accurate, then NATO's view that the shells have negligible radioactivity and any resulting debris dissipates soon after the impact is false, the Observer said.
The US and Britain have said the uranium particles pose a health risk only if inhaled immediately after the explosion and in significant quantities.
"Current research indicates it would be virtually impossible for a person to inhale enough depleted uranium particles for it to be a health risk," a spokesman at NATO's military headquarters in Mons, Belgium said.
But Busby said the British defense ministry had dangerously underestimated the health risks.
Fear and furor escalated in Europe this weekend over possible after-effects of depleted uranium shells fired by NATO in the Balkans, with reports of a growing number of cancer victims among former personnel there -- LONDON (AFP)
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