Anne Gut, Vitale Bruno, "Depleted Uranium: Deadly, Dangerous & Indiscriminate"; Dan Fahley, "Science or Science Fiction: Facts, myths and propaganda in the debate over depleted uranium weapons & The use of depleted uranium in the 2003 Iraq war"

IssueSeptember - November 2004
Review by Patrick Nicholson

Translated from the French, Depleted Uranium: Deadly, Dangerous & Indiscriminate: The Full Picture attempts to bridge the gap between campaigning polemic and scientific argument in the area of depleted uranium (DU). One of the strengths of the book is that the authors generally make take the difficult, but correct, decision to leave open questions on which hard evidence is simply absent. This is a welcome contrast to the tendency amongst some anti-DU activists to talk up apocalyptic fears that lack credible supporting evidence, doing more harm than good in the process.

At the heart of the book are thirteen chapters whose scope includes DU physics, military and civilian uses, biological effects, epidemiology and specific instances of DU usage in conflict. Readers will come away with a balanced appreciation of the complexity and uncertainties still surrounding DU. It is well referenced, allowing the reader to explore deeper, with the useful inclusion of abundant web links in the citation lists.

Campaigners arguing from a clear and considered understanding of the facts, and also of the wide gaps in our knowledge, will be much better placed to work effectively on this issue. What is known and what can be plausibly inferred from current knowledge provides ample basis for demanding the immediate withdrawal of DU.

Dan Fahey is a writer with first hand experience of service in the US military and a history of involvement with US veterans' groups. His two articles assume that the reader is familiar with the DU issue and are therefore not so well suited to those seeking an initial introduction to the subject. On the other hand they provide a very rich source of well-referenced technical information. "Science or Science Fiction" aims, and succeeds in my view, to dispel some of the myths and propaganda originating from both sides of the debate. The second article provides very specific information on instances of DU munitions use in combat in Iraq in 2003, and details the failure of the US and UK to address the potential health and environmental consequences.

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