US forecast use of depleted uranium weapons in Iraq
(Reuters, Sunday, March 16, 2003)
WASHINGTON--The US military said on Friday it will pound Iraqi tanks in any new war with depleted uranium ammunition, used in the 1991 Gulf War to destroy Iraqi armour and said by critics to cause cancer.
Defence officials told reporters the extremely hard M-1A Abrams tank shells and 30 mm rounds fired from A-10 attack jets easily sliced through Iraqi armour and that studies indicated the active uranium debris was not a health hazard.
"It is a weapon that we will continue to use if the need is there to attack armour," Michael Kilpatrick, responsible for providing medical care to US Gulf War veterans, told reporters at a Pentagon briefing as the United States massed troops, tanks, warplanes and ships in the Gulf near Iraq.
The briefing appeared designed to both again deny charges that depleted uranium was a health hazard and to publicly warn Iraq's military that more was headed their way.
Iraq and other critics, including environmental groups, have charged that man-made "DU" ammunition and protective armour draped across US tanks can cause cancer and other ills. But Kilpatrick denied the accusations.
"Why do they (the Iraqis) want it to go away? They want it to go away because we kicked the crap out of them" in 1991, said Army Col. James Naughton.
"There is no doubt that DU gave us a huge advantage over their tanks. They lost a lot of tanks. Their soldiers can't be really amused at the idea of going out and taking on Abrams again," said Naughton, a depleted uranium expert with the US Army Materiel Command.
Iraqi armoured divisions do not have such ammunition.
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