Decision by the PM to buy from the US second-hand Abrams tanks is really stupid



The decision by the prime minister to buy from the US fifty nine second-hand Abrams tanks, which have had armour, and have used shells, all made from depleted uranium, is very dangerous for our troops who will go and serve in these tanks .... even if the DU is removed as planned, the tanks are still going to be affected long into the future by once being in contact with radioactive material.

Depleted uranium (DU) is the heavy metal which remains after the more radioactive, bomb-making uranium (isotope U235) has been extracted. This remaining metal is largely composed of U238, which is less dangerous than U235, but which is still radioactive (carcinogenic) and poisonous. In the case of US-sourced DU, which appears to be reprocessed reactor waste, it may also contain more radioactive elements such as plutonium.

DU is a very dense, very heavy metal, and it is this property which has interested the military. Munitions (bombs and shells) made of DU fly further and faster than projectiles made of less dense metals such as lead. They therefore strike the target with more force, and penetrate armour more readily. On impact, the DU projectile liquefies, and the molten stream tunnels through the armour, emerging as a blast of hot metal; fine particles and vapour. This, of course, results in the immediate death of those behind the pierced armour, but the fine particles and vapour remain as a permanent threat to any who later come near.

The use of DU weaponry provides a decisive edge for the battlefield commander, as has been demonstrated by the US and British forces in recent years ... but at a great cost.

US forces themselves, through their handling of the munitions; through fires and accidents with the munitions, and through venturing onto the battlefield after DU weapons have been used, have been contaminated. Civilians, particularly children, in the vicinity of tanks and vehicles which have been hit by DU weapons are at extreame risk.

The US defence administration is denying that Gulf War and Kosovo veterans have been affected by DU exposure. They also deny that Iraqi mothers and children have been affected. They do not admit that DU munitions are dirty chemical weapons which should be scheduled as such. These facts should be considered when Australia is asked to host US forces and munitions on Australia soil, and when Australian forces are asked to fight alongside our great and powerful allies.

DU has been blamed for causing health problems, particularly in southern Iraq where DU anti-tank ammunition was widely used in the 1991 Gulf War. The US Department of Veteran Affairs, in a report that was issued in last September of 2002, confirmed that over 221,000 of America's troops that participated in Gulf War I are now suffering serious adverse health effects, to the point where they're on permanent disability and well over 10,000 are prematurely dead.


A US training base at Shoalwater Bay, Central Queensland has been agreed to this year where joint US and Australian military training exercises will take place - and the old second hand Abrams tanks purchased from the US are apparently going to play a key role in this training.

The tanks leftovers from Gulf War I, are supposedly decontaminated by now, but with U235 having a half-life of 4.5 billion years it is very doubtful wheather 10 years is really enough?????

The Abrams tanks are specifically made to use DU munitions and many of the tanks conveniently come with two tonnes of DU armour plate built in as protection.

Although modifications are being made for the Australians, like replacing the DU armour with ceramic plate, the Abrams tank still fires DU munitions.

The big question for the Aussie tank crews will be the level of residual radiation inside the tanks. Check em out boys before you take possession! And don't believe the bullshit the Pentagon secondhand tank dealer spins about how the radiation levels are now perfectly safe. About as believable as John Howard really being 'honest John'.

It is likely that the real reason for the purchase of the Abrams tanks is part of the so called "harmonization" of US and Australian forces. So that in future wars of adventure over oil, the Aussies can bravely fight and die for the Yanks, using the same weaponry overseas.

Hopefully the Australian government will not bow to Pentagon pressure to go down the DU path in the future.

Recommended link:

DU The Key to Understanding Gulf War Syndrome

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This page was last updated Fri Oct 1 03:33:45 2004 Pacific time