New Green Audit report

Enriched uranium found in Lebanon bomb craters

Is this evidence of a cover-up of DEPLETED Uranium armour piercing weapons and bunker busters?
This is a developing story. We are adding fresh material at the foot of this page. Scroll down to view.
(For older material on Uranium and depleted Uranium click on Uranium / WDU on the nav bar at left.)

The front page of The Independent for 28th October 2006 confirmed that enriched Uranium was used in bombs in the recent Lebanon conflict.

The report follows research (on this site) by Dr. Chris Busby of LLRC (also of environmental consultancy Green Audit and the European Committee on Radiation Risk, ECRR) using samples recovered from the Lebanon by Dai Williams of Eos and analysed at UKAEA Harwell.

The immediate question (Robert Fisk and Professor Bellamy both pose it) is Why? What is the point of putting enriched Uranium in bombs? The Independent report addresses a couple of possibilities but to the Low Level Radiation Campaign it seems far more likely that the enriched Uranium is meant to mask the use of Depleted Uranium, especially bearing in mind the provenance of much of Israel's arsenal. The American military has been concerned about bad publicity since at least 1991 — DU rounds may become politically unacceptable and thus be deleted from the arsenal. (see this link for the full 1991 memorandum from a high-ranking US army officer, also cited here.

Following the use of Depleted Uranium armour piercing rounds in the first Gulf War and in the Balkans conflict it was relatively easy to detect DU in environmental samples. This is because of the tell-tale ratio of U-238 to U-235 (the natural proportions of these isotopes are U-235 0.7 percent; U-238 99.3 percent). The link to subsequent increases in cancer and birth defects is intuitively obvious and scientifically credible, given that it is now generally acknowledged that dose from internal exposure to sources such as DU is a virtually meaningless concept.

There have been suggestions that confusion about DU in subsequent campaigns may have been caused by the use of Uranium metal (in e.g. bunker busters) in its naturally occurring proportions — i.e. undepleted. We may now have an explanation. A relatively small number of rounds or bombs made with slightly enriched Uranium — as we now see in the Lebanon — would mask a much larger number of DU weapons by increasing the amount of U-235 in the environment towards its natural abundance relative to U-238. The military will then claim that the Uranium found after a conflict is the result of high explosives and soil disturbance unless, that is, someone with Dai Williams' courage gets samples from the conflict area before reconstruction work buries and redistributes the evidence.

Green Audit's report on the samples Dai Williams brought back is on this site (see link below).

We conclude by repeating, as we have for the last ten years, that Depleted Uranium weaponry is illegal because the radioactive aerosols produced by the impacting rounds have indiscriminate health effects. This contravenes the United Nations Convention on prohibitions or restrictions on the use of certain conventional weapons which may be deemed to be excessively injurious or to have indiscriminate effects (UN 1980). The same must apply to enriched Uranium and the health effects must be assumed to be greater, in proportion to its mass, because particles of U-235 will deliver more energy to body tissue than similar sized particles of U-238. LLRC has photographed multiple radiation tracks from particles in an air filter recently recovered from a Lebanese ambulance. They indicate that the source is far more active than (depleted) U-238. The area of filter so far examined is small (only the size of a microscope slide), suggesting that such particles are fairly common in that environment. We shall produce further briefings on this issue.

The context for this investigation in Lebanon is given in Dai Williams' two recent reports:

  1. UN priorities for inspecting uranium and other suspected illegal weapons in Lebanon, Aug 2006 at
  2. Eos weapons study in Lebanon, September 2006 at - describing his visit to Lebanon and the location where he collected the Khiam sample (page 23).

Link to Dai’s DU web page

The Independent article also carries comment from Chris Bellamy, professor of military science and doctrine at Cranfield University -- An enigma that only the Israelis can fully explain.

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to investigate in Lebanon - The Independent reports.    Note that the reference to Butros al-Harb is mistaken. The person meant is in fact Dr. Habib N. El-Habr, Director and Regional Representative, UNEP/ROWA (Regional Office West Asia), P.O. Box 10880, Bahrain, Manama. (see UNEP West Asia Office website)
According to a UN report, UNEP has failed to find any form of Uranium in Lebanon.

LLRC and Green Audit predicted this. The Independent 8th November 2006 reported Chris Busby's statement:

We are concerned that UNEP don't know what they are doing. Earlier [in 2001] they were useless at finding depleted Uranium in Kosovo due to wrong choice of instrumentation. Link to Independent article

Earlier UNEP investigations fail -

The United Nations Environment Programme team must use appropriate methods to monitor for Uranium dust in the atmosphere in any conflict zone and in neighbouring regions. Here is a link to LLRC's letters to UNEP dated 2nd November 2006.

New analysis of Lebanon bomb crater samples confirms enriched Uranium

Following the report in The Independent (28th October 2006), a separate sample from the same crater has been analysed for Green Audit by a different laboratory in the United Kingdom. The first analysis was conducted by Harwell Scientifics at the Harwell International Business Centre in Oxfordshire.
The ratio of Uranium 238 to U235 in the second sample is 117, showing that it consists of enriched Uranium.

Lebanon Report
Click here for
Report from Green Audit (Note: the version posted here on 29th October was an early draft. As of 11.10 GMT 30th October 2006 it has been replaced with the final version under the same file name. Apologies for any confusion.)
The report is a PDF - use this link to find out about PDFs
The BBC Today programme on 1st November 2006 carried a report on the World Health Organisation's suppression of a report by its own scientists on the genotoxicity of depleted Uranium.
Read a full transcript
via this link
The Listen again facility does not appear to be living up to its name at the moment but we will ask the BBC what the problem is and will provide a link as and when it becomes useful. (You may need to download software to enable your computer to process the data.)
Next phase - Enriched Uranium in Beirut ambulance air filter shows widespread contamination.
Predictably, Dan Fahey has started emailing again, picking at what he sees as loose threads. We refer the reader to his earlier attempts to discredit our work
  • LLRC's response to Dan Fahey's Science or Science Fiction? (guess who was writing fiction) and
  • Green Audit's response to illogical attacks by Fahey and WISE on the discovery that Uranium from Gulf War 2 was found in filters in England. This now contains his latest and a response.

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