“[Depleted uranium tipped missiles] fit the description of a dirty bomb in every way… I would say that it is the perfect weapon for killing lots of people.” – Marion Falk, chemical physicist (retd), Lawrence Livermore Lab, California, USA
In the first 24 hours of the Libyan attack, US B-2s dropped forty-five 2,000-pound bombs. We do not know if these massive bombs, along with the Cruise missiles launched from British and French planes and ships, contained depleted uranium (DU) warheads. But if past evidence of their deployment by the US and British military is any guide, they may well be part of the bombardment Libya is now experiencing.
DU is the waste product from the process of enriching uranium ore. It is used in nuclear weapons and reactors. Because it is a very heavy substance, 1.7 times denser than lead, it is highly valued by the military for its ability to punch through armored vehicles and buildings. When a weapon made with a DU tip strikes a solid object like the side of a tank, it goes straight through it, then erupts in a burning cloud of vapor. The vapor settles as dust, which is not only poisonous, but also radioactive.
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