Anyone Convinced that Depleted Uranium Is Safe Should Read This

What follows summarizes one article, already produced, and synopsizes another narrative, forthcoming in a few days.  The rationale for giving folks a summary and a preview is twofold.

In the first place, these are extremely complicated issues, a full understanding of which inevitably involves digging pretty deeply into background, technical data, and divergent perspectives about the evidence and how to analyze it.  Under such circumstance, many people prefer to know ‘the skinny’ or ‘executive summary’ and leave the heavy-lifting for nerds and policy wonks.

In the second place, even if someone shoulders the responsibility to plow through the intricacies of such problems, she might not have time right now.  He might markedly prefer to receive a briefing, with appropriate coordinates to find the more complete account, so as to be able to have a sense of context going in, choosing the moment to try to take in the bigger picture, as it were.

In any case, here readers see a short queue.  The first place tells of a piece posted a couple of weeks ago.  The second stop proffers the essence of an upcoming installment.


In the initial article of this partnered pair, the narrative introduced the fiery clash that has occurred over the impacts of Depleted Uranium munitions.  Given such deep-seated differences of opinion, a widespread, grassroots dialog and policy consideration might serve purposes both scientific and political.  An increase in knowledge almost always attends such processes; popular decision-making is impossible without the necessary understanding and nexus of participation.

A contextualization of DU followed, in which the general historical omnipresence of class oppression and imperial-industrial growth arguably went hand-in-hand.  What Jeremiah Wright called a ‘theology of liberation’ has acted as a counterpoise to this central tendency of domination by propertied elites.

Taking DU as a plausible expression of both ruling-class self-interest and imperial hegemony, last week’s text focused on a particular effort of the Manhattan Project’s S-I Uranium Committee.  A subcommittee of that body, so vital to the success of the race for atomic weapons, examined with some care the question of creating lethal instruments from fission, creating ‘dirty bombs’ out of waste and by-products of the inherent work of trying to construct an atomic explosive.

The likely formulation of such deadly machines would have been as poison gas bombs of some sort.  From this demonstrable fact, various opponents of contemporary DU weaponry have concluded that this ‘Groves-Memorandum’ acted as the inception of the United States’ pathway toward the present deployment of DU as a devastating component of bullets and cannon shells and bombs of various sizes.

Stentorian and frequent and derisive critique of these arguments has emanated from the ranks of Health Physics experts and from former members of the military who dismiss any contention of significant dangers flowing from DU weapons.  Such disputants hammer on the otherwise accurate summation that nowhere in either the summary memo or the original report’s easily available text do the authors–Conant, Compton, and Urey–make any mention of Uranium.

Instead of engaging in a dialog about this interpretation, however, these voluble naysayers condemned the anti-DU proponents of this position as frauds and charlatans.  In fact, quite the opposite is, reasonably, a much more legitimate conclusion.

The horrific toxicity of Uranium is well-established.  The USG inclination to develop weapons of indiscriminate effect, putting poison by-products to ‘productive’ use, is incontrovertible.  Mass murder repeatedly happened at the behest of the U.S. Government, through the technology of fission weapons and their aftermath.  Moreover, the USG approached these matters as opportunities for human experiment.

As well, Leuren Moret, whose analysis led the way in linking DU with the Manhattan Project, offers testimony from Manhattan-Engineering District participants that scientists and bureaucrats involved with the S-1 subcommittee did in fact intend to include Uranium in the lethal stew that this small group was contemplating.  In no obvious way do the supposed scholars so busily casting aspersions refute Moret’s directly pertinent rebuttal.

Thus, any wholesale rejection of the notion that 1940’s experts imagined the possibility of weaponizing Uranium is at best one plausible assertion.  In fact, such a view goes against both analytical and evidentiary elements of this case.

However, rather than merely proposing that the DU decriers have clearly won this battle of wits, this humble correspondent proceeded to call for a Peoples Congress on this particular issue, and on the wider questions associated with the employment of DU ordnance and the insistence that a ‘renaissance’ of the Nuclear Fool Cycle is in the best interest, here or elsewhere, of citizens and soldiers and civilians.  Without going into devilish details, THC does insist that such a community-led conversation may be the only way to achieve anything akin to justice or consensus on DU.

The present pages provide further background useful to the creation of such a forum.  The nature of this explication is the articulation, development, and defense of a thesis that might account for the attendant facts of DU and the dogfights which it has engendered.


In the first portion of this duo, readers may easily have gained adequate background to begin to speak, ask questions about, and generally learn more regarding the origins of ‘atomic energy,’ which, of course, started out exclusively as a modality for creating ‘gadgets’ that killed tens of thousands in one fell swoop.  The data and background that these articles and the many other resources about DU provide permit at least a general discussion of the nuclear genie to move forward.

The present narrative installment seeks to accomplish one basic task, which is to proffer a hypothesis as to why such a toxic metal, in the context of ongoing doubts and fears about its safety, would end up the default choice of the USG and its military branches.  This premise is fairly easy to state.  Something like the following would fit the bill necessary to develop the argument here.

The development of nuclear weaponry, and all the attendant events and processes related to them–such as the so-called Nuclear Fuel Cycle of the both weapons and power based on fission or fusion; such as the problem of atomic wastes and such opportunistic ‘solutions’ to that problem as the manufacture and use of DU ordnance; such as the policy choices to pursue a ‘Nuclear Renaissance;’ and so forth–not only emanate from and serve both the dominance of capitalism, but they also represent the primary, and some would say the only, focus or methodology that financial Plutocrats, who have come to predominate the entire system, will accept to resolve capitalism’s inherent and ever-recurring crises.

Readers should note that this leaves aside all judgments about the viability of these glowing, radioactive choices.  It completely ignores the opinions, more or less informed, that the Fuel-Cycle is in fact a ‘Fool-Cycle’ that guarantees human mayhem, dissolution, and decline as the best possible outcome.  Of course, such beliefs are typical of this humble correspondent and many wiser than he.

However, the point of the forthcoming investigation and analysis, which these paragraphs merely summarized, is to explore the rationality of the thesis.  Does capital necessitate a nuclear highway?  That would be the preliminary conclusion of THC, and the pages-to-come are the initial presentation of a proof about that.

This first pass, though, will not attempt a complete telling of the tale of the hypothesis-in-action, but instead will circumscribe the assessment by tending to revolve an examination of DU in the process.  In part, this is the result of the alleged, and quite plausible, social damage that has accompanied the political and economic underpinnings of DU’s deployment.  In part, the emphasis on DU follows from the way that this unfolding catastrophe–or, if one prefers, highly charged controversy–sheds so much light on how capital created this situation and how its manifestation illustrates the chief proposition itself.

The choice here, to make a radical excision in order to present an overview of multifaceted difficulties, may or may not end up making the other materials more digestible.  But the idea seemed a worthy experiment, in the same sense that long reports and other texts often begin with such brief statements of the case.

Besides, my wife bet me that this would be a good idea.  I couldn’t resist the wager.

Jim Hickey

Jim Hickey