There is a group called the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons which fights against uranium weapons. But this group has a very limited definition of uranium weapons. It believes that there is a limited number of uranium weapons, which are 105 mm and 120 mm tank shells, and 30 mm bullets of A-10 Thunderbolt planes. As a consequence, a number of people who believe this will criticize the US or other governments only when they do a move which involves such weapons, and ignore totally the GBUs, cruise missiles and other anti-tank missiles. Perhaps PCness ? because indeed governments have more or less recognized the uranium content of this list of weapons. But there is much more, because uranium is the best penetrator in the world for anti-armour fight, it’s the best against bunkers and any solid target which will resist all of its competitors, but not uranium. Governments have acknowledged the use of uranium in a few weapons which are not really used in civilian areas (because a tank will fire its shells mostly in open land, not in urban areas), so that people can believe urban areas are not contaminated with it. That’s the explanation of the policy. But the ICBUW is gullible enough to believe them, even though many proofs have been accumulated to demonstrate that cruise missiles and GBU bombs include uranium too.
The first proof is the list of patents of aerial bombs and cruise missiles which include uranium. Here is a first one recorded by David Williams. But that’s not the only one, there are more recent patents (the list is from 2002), like this one for a « reactive material » used in missiles to create fire. To this list the ICBUW replies that « patenting something does not mean you will use it ». Really. But there is more.
The second proof is even more accusing : the simple fact that places that were destroyed by missiles and GBU bombs have been tested with a Geiger counter, and radioactivity has been found here. Take for instance the Amariyah bunker destroyed by two GBU-27s in 1991 (it killed more than 400 people, many from the fire created by the weapons, fire from a GBU indicates clearly the pyrophoricity of uranium) : 10 years after it is still radioactive. Doug Rokke too, the veteran with a Ph.D in health physics, who is sick because of contamination, indicates that places that were destroyed by cruise missiles were radioactive in Iraq. The video he did for the U.S. Army as part of a program he had been tasked to prepare in order to warn soldiers about the dangers of depleted uranium (the 40-hours long program was later shelved) said uranium was used not only in tank shells and small caliber ammunition, but also « as ballast in missiles » (listen here for the precise moment when the video mentions that uranium is used as ballast in missiles. Please again note that this was intended to be an official military training video on « uranium hazard awareness »).
More again : the military journal Jane’s (the reference in weapons) acknowledged twice, in 1998 and 2000, the use of uranium in two very widely used missiles, the Maverick and the Tomahawk. The journal later withdrew the information but this is probably a consequence of censorship. Jane’s also once reported on its website that uranium had been used to increase the penetration effect of guided weapons and in shaped charge warheads (the information was later removed). But it can still be accessed through the Internet Wayback Machine : here you will see that « It is true that some guided weapons used depleted uranium to increase the penetration effect« . By guided weapons, understand missiles and GBUs. Note that the BBC also once reported that GBUs are made with uranium.
I have also seen another video (I think it’s in the German movie « Deadly Dust ») where journalists enter a building destroyed by a GBU with a Geiger counter (in spite of the fact it was closely guarded by the US military) and also find a lot of radioactivity inside.
In Bulgaria, in a US cruise missile from the Bosnia war that had landed unexploded, in 1998, high levels of radioactivity had been found. And Satu Hassi, Environment minister of Finland, sent to all his European counterparts a letter stating that the majority of the 1500 cruise missiles used against Serbia in 1995 included uranium, about 3 kilograms each.
And after accusations were made of uranium use in the Balkans, Lord Robertson, secretary-general of NATO, said « that Nato is to carry out further research and clean up 112 sites where missiles were dropped during bombing raids in the Balkans« . So he’s talking about missiles, not about small caliber bullets, here.
In other words : there is DEFINITIVE proof that uranium is being used in GBU bombs and in cruise missiles, as well as in, for instance, anti-tank missiles like the Javelin.
The debate has focused on cinetic energy penetrators because these were those that the military indulged in acknowledging they include uranium. But they are not really directly used in urban areas, except perhaps the small caliber A-10 ammunition. Cruise missiles and laser guided bombs, however, are fired directly at military targets hidden deep inside urban areas from GPS guided aircrafts, boats or submarines. They also include generally a mass of uranium that is much more heavy than the tank shells. GBU bombs weigh more than a ton, a high percentage of which is depleted uranium. There is also the use of uranium in shaped-charge warheads, as a liner. This is heavily demonstrated by the numerous patents for explosively formed penetrators which include uranium as a liner (for example : the K-charge 6 393 991 in David Williams’ list). The liner is the part that is directed by the power of the explosion of the charge directly toward the target. The explosion melts it and uranium takes fire thanks to its pyrophoricity.
The organisations working on uranium weapons need to update their intellectual software and to understand the use of uranium in GBU bombs, in cruise / anti-tank missiles, and in shaped charge warheads. So long as we fail to target these, we won’t be taken seriously by the military.
A further complement on this article (October 2016) : it has emerged from an anonymous testimony in the French military that SCALP missiles (known as Storm Shadow in the UK) include a mass of uranium. The soldier who provided this testimony works in weapon preparation.
Add to this the directed-effect anti-tank shell Bonus, used by French Caesar cannons – they work like shaped-charge munitions. These cannons are the only long-range weapon used currently in Canjuers, a military camp in southern France where I found radioactivity (0,35 uSv/h, some kilometers away from target sites, in a place where natural radioactivity is 0,10 uSv/h). No A10s in the area, and no current use of tank shells. The Bonus shell is a directed effect anti tank shell killing « by elevating violently the temperature », its description perfectly fits with « depleted » uranium weapons.