The Human Cost of Uranium Weapons

Copyright©2007 Naomi Toyoda. All Rights Reserved
The EU Exhibition by Naomi Toyoda, May 14-16: European Parliament, Brussel
ICBUW and the European Parliament Greens/European Free Alliance have teamed up with acclaimed Japanese photographer Naomi Toyoda to present an exhibition of his work in the European Parliament this May.
Slide Show: The Human Cost of Uranium Weapons>
ICBUW Press Release
Download the Poster
EU Exhibition by Naomi Toyoda: Descriptions of the Photos>

Copyright©2007 Naomi Toyoda. All Rights Reserved
Belgium Bans Uranium Weapons and Armour
They were first with land mines, first with cluster bombs – now Belgium has become the first country in the world to ban uranium weapons! ICBUW praises the hard work and commitment of the Belgian Coalition Stop Uranium Weapons.
Read story at ICBUW website
A Speech at the Opening of the Photo Exhibitin, The Human Cost of Uranium Weapons,
(EU Parliament, May 14-16, 2007)

I am deeply thankful for this precious opportunity for this exhibition to be held at the European Parliament. I would like to thank all the people who made this exhibition possible: the members of The Greens and European Free Alliance at the EU Parliament, especially Ms. Els de Groen, Dr. Caroline Lucas, and Ms. Angelika Beer; the members of ICBUW™s Steering Committee, especially Ms. Ria Verjauw and Mr. Doug Weir; Prof. Nobuo Kazashi who assisted me in many ways as always.
This project started in 1999 when I encountered some Hibakusha (radiation victims) in Iraq. Although I live in Japan, which is thought of as the only country in the world to have experienced a nuclear attack, I was unaware of the effects of uranium weapons. But the people I met in Iraq almost ten years after the Gulf War had ended taught me that the use of uranium weapons is a war without end.
This is because of the 4.5 billion year half-life of uranium 238; a time span equivalent to the age of the earth. While this means that the isotope has a relatively low specific activity, it also means that contamination will continue to be a problem far into the future. The radioactive threat is compounded by uranium™s chemical toxicity and the hazards posed by micro-particles.
By the time the threat posed by uranium weapons began to be reported around the world, another war was imminent “ the ongoing Iraq War. Once again US and UK forces poured uranium weapons down upon the Iraqi people.
On April 8 2003, I witnessed US A10 Warthog strikes in Baghdad showering innumerable depleted uranium shells on to the city centre. I visited the strike sites a few days later and lost count of the DU shells littering the area, all of which were emitting strong radiation.
I, and others, reported this fact to the Japanese broadcast and print media, triggering stories from interested journalists. But the Japanese Government remained silent on the issue, refusing to recognize that DU had again been used by US and UK forces “ let alone that it represented a health problem. Today they recognize its use, but still refuse to acknowledge any danger to health.
It was not only Iraq™s children, suffering from leukaemia and other cancers who had been demonstrating and condemning, with their own bodies, the horrifying effects of uranium weapons; exposed Gulf War veterans in the US, UK and other countries were all part of the same narrative.
And now, people suffering from diseases, as a cause of which DU must be implicated, are beginning to raise their voices anew from inside the US and Iraq. The voices of Iraq War veterans, who tested positive for DU, overlap with those of the Iraqi children suffering, still under fire, from a range of cancers.
I would like people to listen to their voices – voices that represent the inescapable truth. Inescapable because it is a truth that their own bodies have learnt. I would ask that you listen to them because it is our responsibility as world citizens. Just as uranium dust pays no heed to mankind™s national borders, nor should our concern for others. I firmly believe that we can unite with each other beyond such imagined barriers to cooperation and solve this problem.
It would be a great joy if my humble photos could be of some help in our joint efforts towards a solution. I remain deeply grateful to those people who let me take their photos, especially those children who exposed their suffering faces and bodies to my camera.

Naomi Toyoda, Photo-journalist

Description for the Photos (EU Exhibition; IRAQ)

The civilian casualties from US and UK air strikes mounted daily.(March 2003,Baghdad)
Omar was five-years-old when he suyddenly developed leukaemia. Twomonths before this photo was taken he was living happily with hisfamily. (December 2002, Baghdad)
Japanese researchers investigate a tank graveyard contaminated withdepleted uranium dust and other hazardous materials. (December 2002,Basra)
Another young child with leukaemia, on one of her first visits tohospital. It is unclear whether or not she recovered. (April 2003,Baghdad)
Dakh, six-years-old, developed leukaemia late in 2001. Two days afterthis photo was taken she died in her hospital bed. (April 2002, Baghdad)
Nadar died at the age of 25 after giving birth. The baby is now threemonths old. (April 2002, Basra)
During the 1990s, the UN’s sanctions regime is thought to haveindirectly caused the deaths of 500,000 Iraqis. In spite of theirbest efforts, malnutrition and a lack of medical equipment hamperedIraqi physicians attempts to treat cancer patients. This photo showsDr. Jawad Al-Ali. (May, 2002, Basra)
The US and UK governments continue to deny any causal link betweendepleted uranium exposure and ill health, yet the incidence rates ofleukaemia and other cancers have risen sharply since 1991. (July2003, Basra)
Such was the level of child mortality in the area; the city of Basrabuilt a Children’s Graveyard specifically to house theirbodies. (December 2002, Basra)
A desperate father finally reaches a Baghdad hospital after carryinghis son from the Kurdish area to the north. His son has leukaemia andis in dire need of specialist medical care.
The reality of ‘collateral damage’: a huge bomb droppedon a neighbouring telephone exchange destroyed this man’s home.(March 2003, Baghdad)
I met this child on the streets of Baghdad the day after an airstrike had killed nearly 60 civilians in a nearby market. (March2003, Baghdad)
A woman looks on uneasily as her husband is searched in front of a USM1A1 Abrams Tank at a US checkpoint. The Abrams is armed with a 120mmcannon that fires a range of depleted uranium ammunition. Each shellcontains a uranium penetrator dart weighing more than four kilograms.Up to 80% of this dart may be vaporized upon impact with a target,leaving large quantities of uranium dust in and around the wreckage.(April 2003, Baghdad)
A lack of medical equipment means that there is little this mothercan do but try and soothe her terminally ill daughter. (December2002, Baghdad)
This tank, which bears the scars from a depleted uranium strike, iscontaminated with chemically toxic and radioactive dust. It lies inthe middle of a heavily populated residential area and will remainthere for months. The tank battles of the 1991 Gulf War may well bethe last example of symmetrical warfare. In future, fighting willtake place within civilian areas, as parties seek to bog down morepowerful militaries. The implications of this should be of graveconcern to us all. (April 2003, Mahamdiya)
The centre of Baghdad was repeatedly strafed by 30-mm depleteduranium rounds from A10 Warthog aircraft; larger than a VolkswagenBeetle, the GAU-8 Avenger cannon mounted on the aircraft can fire4000 rounds per minute, 80% of which are depleted uranium rounds.Each round contains 300 grams of depleted uranium. (April 2003, Baghdad)
Victoria, the daughter of Iraq War Veteran Gerard Matthew, was bornmissing some of the fingers of her right hand. Gerard Matthew hastested positive for depleted uranium exposure and is suing the UnitedStates Department of Defense. (April, 2005, New York, USA)
A doctor at a maternity ward in the state of Musanna shows photos of deformed babies born after the start of the Iraq War: “I havenever seen such cases before,” he said. “This is thefirst time.” A memo written on the photo reads: A baby like amermaid, with only one leg. (March 2004, Samawa, Iraq)
Gulf War veterans Herbert Reed, Gerard Matthew and Melissa Sterry,appealing for the abolition of DU weapons during the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference at the United Nations in May2005. All were exposed to DU and all are ill.
The air raids may have stopped, but the struggle is far from over forthe children in this leukaemia ward. (July 2003, Baghdad)
Members of the Japanese Self-Defence Forces were sent to Iraq inFebruary 2004 by the Japanese Government, which acknowledged neitherthe use of depleted uranium munitions in Iraq by Coalition forces northe danger that they posed. (March 2004, Samawa, Iraq)
In spite of denying the dangers posed by depleted uranium weapons,the Japanese government insisted that all members of the Self-DefenceForces deployed in Iraq wear Geiger counters on their chests.However, these Geiger counters are incapable of measuring alpha raysor even the gamma rays emitted by the minute, scattered particles ofDU munitions. The Japanese Government’s behaviour towards itsown service personnel was nothing short of negligent. (March 2004,Samawa, Iraq)