In May 2002 a team of researchers was sent to Afghanistan by the Uranium Medical Research Center (UMRC), an NGO from Canada led by Professor Dr Asaf Durakovic. The UMRC team started their work by identifying several hundred people who suffered from diseases or medical conditions reflecting those clinical symptoms which we know are characteristic of radioactive exposure. In order to investigate whether these symptoms were caused by radiation sickness samples of urine and soil samples were taken and sent to an independent research lab in England.
That way the UMRC research team was able to find a terrifyingly high number of Afghan civilians with acute symptoms of radioactive exposure in a short period of time, including birth defects in new-borns and symptoms of chronic internal uranium poisoning. Inhabitants of the area reported big, thick blueish-black clouds of dust and smoke rising above the ground during the bombardments since 2001, which was accompanied by a pungent stench, followed by burning pain in the sinuses, throat and upper airways. The victims reported pain in the cervical spine, the shoulders, the base of the skull, pain in the loin area, around the kidneys, musculoskeletal weakness, sleep disorders, headaches, memory loss and disorientation.
Two research teams were sent to Afghanistan in total. The first one focused on the region of Jalalabad. The second one followed four months later and extended the study to include the capital city of Kabul with their 3,5 million inhabitants. In the city the researchers found the highest number of stationary targets that were bombed during “Operation Enduring Freedom” in 2001. The team had expected to find traces of depleted uranium in the urine and soil samples they had taken. But nothing prepared them for the shocking results: samples from a number of people from Jalalabad and Kabul showed concentrations exceeding the upper level of normal in general populations by 400 to 2000% – figures that had never been seen in civilians, not even in Chernobyl. So, it became apparent that uranium was causing the high incidence of diseases in Jalalabad and Kabul.
Unlike those from Iraq the UMRC lab results from Afghanistan revealed high concentrations of non-depleted uranium – that is why the degree of contamination was much higher than in the victims of depleted uranium in Iraq. The UMRC concluded that in Afghanistan a concoction of so-called “pristine uranium” mixed with radioactive waste from nuclear power plants had been used, because in all samples uranium 236 was found, an isotope which is not present in nature as we have learnt but only emerges during the reconditioning of fuel rods from nuclear power plants.
The people in Kabul who had been immediately targeted by the Anglo-American precision bombardments also reported flu-like symptoms such as a runny nose with epistaxis and gingival bleeding. Even the research team members themselves complained of similar symptoms during their stay. Most of these symptoms lasted for days up to months. In August 2002 the UMRC team finalised their preliminary analysis of what they had found in Afghanistan: Without exception all persons who had provided urine samples were tested positive for uranium contamination. The specific results showed that this contamination was terrifyingly widespread. The concentrations exceeded those of gulf war veterans’ samples taken by the UMRC in 1999 and later with us in Iraq 2003 by 100-400times.
In summer 2003 the UMRC team returned to Afghanistan to conduct an investigation on a larger scale. This revealed an even bigger contamination than originally thought. About 30 % of those interviewed in the affected regions showed symptoms of radiation sickness. New-borns were among those with symptoms and the village elders reported that more than 25 % of all children were mysteriously sick.
In conclusion this means that according to UMRC Afghanistan had become a test zone for a new generation of bunker-busting uranium ammunition containing high concentrations of all sorts of uranium isotopes. Professor Dr Mohammad Daud Miraki who is Afghan by birth and lives in the USA now told me, that during his travels through Afghanistan he had seen and photographed new-born children with severe birth defects in hospitals for-instance in Kabul, who died in agony only few days after birth, and that not only physicians but also the parents of those children worried about their careers and indeed their lives if they dared to participate in investigations suggesting a connection between these birth defects and uranium ammunition. Specifically, Dr Miraki stated: “Parents will not tell their names or those of their affected children and physicians would not contribute to such research.”
It seems that during that time a huge, unknown number of innocent people including a disproportional number of children were poisoned as a collateral damage of the hunt for a small group of terrorists such as Osama bin Laden. Experts have estimated the number of contaminated people as tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands. Figures are similar for Iraq; Bosnia and the Kosovo where allied bombers also dropped tons of uranium ammunition and bombs.
Meanwhile the US administration admits to urine samples being tested positive for uranium in their own soldiers, but claims those were to low in most cases to cause serious illness. However, data published so far don’t support that claim.
Neutral researchers, among them Professor Dr Asaf Durakovic, the German physician Professor Dr Siegwart-Horst Günther, radiation biologist Dr Rosalie Bertell, the American scientist Dr Leonard Dietz but also American military researchers have proven that uranium ammunition fulfils the criteria of weapons of mass destruction and therefore has to be banned. Germany should consequently demand a ban of this military technology in adherence to international law.
Some time ago one could read again in the press that about 100,000 German troops have served in Afghanistan over recent years. These soldiers were stationed in Kunduz, in Faisalabad and in Massar-i-Sharif. The German Federal government must be aware that in all these regions US fighter jets had used uranium ammunition and bombs during “Operation Enduring Freedom” in autumn of 2001. Again, neutral researchers and physicians as well as NGOs such as UMCR are concerned that as many as 30% of these German soldiers may have been contaminated with uranium nanoparticles and will have to face all the terrible health hazards from immunodeficiency, cancer, leukaemia and genetic mutations affecting their offspring.
And the Afghan population? For them these neutral researchers estimate the risk to be about 1000times higher since they live constantly in these regions. This is why an embittered Afghan father, whose child had been killed by an American bomb, told Professor Daud Miraki:
“We may have no plains but we do have something the Americans lack which is convictions and ethics. We will never do anything remotely similar to American children what they did to our children and families. They may well win some more battles but we have already won the big fight which is about who is morally right.”
Initially I had planned to go to Afghanistan as well when I produced my documentary “Deadly Dust”. But when I talked with Tedd Weyman about this in Iraq, who had been there twice, he strongly advised me not to go because there were uranium contaminated regions which were much worse than the most horrible places in Iraq. And since the contaminations in Iraq are already terrible enough, I abandoned the plan. •
(Translation Current Concerns)
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