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For immediate release, April 11, 1999.

For distribution at Press Conference
Monday, April 12, 10 a.m.
National Press Theatre
150 Wellington Street,
Ottawa.


Impacts of NATO's "humanitarian" bombings,
The Balance Sheet of Destruction in Yugoslavia


By Professor Dr. Michel Chossudovsky

Professor of Economics at the University of Ottawa, author of The Globalization of Poverty, Impacts of IMF and World Bank Reforms, Third World Network, Penang and Zed Books, London, 1997.

Professor Chossudovsky can be contacted at chossudovsky@sprint.ca;
fax 1-514-4256224.


Amply documented, the bombings of Yugoslavia are not strictly aimed at military and strategic targets as claimed by NATO. They are largely intent on destroying the country's civilian infrastructure as well as its institutions.

According to Yugoslav sources, NATO has engaged around 600 aeroplanes of which more than 400 are combat planes. They have flown almost 3,000 attack sorties, "with 200 in one night alone against 150 designated targets". They have dropped thousands of tons of explosives and have launched some 450 cruise missiles.

The intensity of the bombing using the most advanced military technology is UNPRECEDENTED in modern history. It far surpasses the bombing raids of World War II or the Vietnam War.

The bombings have not only been directed against industrial plants, airports, electricity and telecommunications facilities, railways, bridges and fuel depots, they have also targeted schools, health clinics, day care centres, government buildings, churches, museums, monasteries and historical landmarks.

Infrastructure and Industry

According to Yugoslav sources: "road and railway networks, especially road and rail bridges, most of which were destroyed or damaged beyond repair, suffered extensive destruction". Several thousand industrial facilities have been destroyed or damaged with the consequence of paralysing the production of consumer goods. According to Yugoslav sources, "[B]y totally destroying business facilities across the country, 500,000 workers were left jobless, and 2 million citizens without any source of income and possibility to ensure minimum living conditions". Western estimates as to the destruction of property in Yugoslavia stand at more than US$ 100 billion.

Bombing of Urban and Rural Residential Areas

Villages with no visible military or strategic structures have been bombed. Described as "collateral damage", residential areas in all major cities. The downtown area of Pristina [Kosovo] (which includes apartment buildings and private dwellings) has been destroyed. Central-downtown Belgrade -- including government buildings-- have been hit with cluster bombs and there are massive flames emanating from the destruction. According to the International Center for Peace and Justice (ICPJ):

"No city or town in Yugoslavia is being spared. There are untold civilian casualties. The beautiful capital city of Belgrade is in flames and fumes from a destroyed chemical plant are making it necessary to use gas masks".

Civilian Casualties

Both the Yugoslavia authorities and NATO have downplayed the number of civilian casualties. The evidence amply confirms that NATO has created a humanitarian catastrophe. The bombings are largely responsible for driving people from their homes. The bombings have killed people regardless of their nationality or religion. In Kosovo, civilian casualties affect all ethnic groups. According to a report of the Decany Monastery in Kosovo received in the first week of the bombing:

"Last night a cruise missile hit the old town in Djakovica, mostly inhabited by Albanians, and made a great fire in which several Albanian houses were destroyed ... In short, NATO attacks are nothing but barbarous aggression which affects mostly the innocent civilian population, both Serb and Albanian."

Refineries and warehouses storing liquid raw materials and chemicals have been hit causing environmental contamination. The latter have massively exposed the civilian population to the emission of poisonous gases. NATO air strikes on the chemical industry is intent on creating an environmental disaster, "which is something not even Adolf Hitler did during World War II." According to the Serbian Minister for Environmental Protection Branislav Blazic, "the aggressors were lying when they said they would hit only military targets and would observe international conventions, because they are using illegal weapons such as cluster bombs, attacking civilian targets and trying to provoke an environmental disaster". A report by NBC TV confirms that NATO has bombed a the pharmaceutical complex of Galenika, the largest medicine factory in Yugoslavia located in the suburbs of Belgrade. The fumes from this explosion have serious environmental implications. "The population is asked to wear gas masks that in fact nobody has..."

Supply with drinking water for the inhabitants of Belgrade is also getting difficult after the drinking water facility at Zarkovo was bombed.

Hospitals and Schools

NATO has targeted many hospitals and health-care institutions, which have been partially damaged or totally destroyed. These include 13 of the country's major hospitals. More than 150 schools (including pre-primary day care centres) have been damaged or destroyed. According to Yugoslav sources, more than 800,000 pupils and students do not attend schools in the wake of the war destruction. There is almost no pre-school institutions (nurseries and day-care centres) which are operational.

Churches, Monasteries and Historical Landmarks

NATO has also systematically targeted churches, monasteries, museums, public monuments and historical landmarks.

"The targets of the attacks on historical and cultural landmarks have included the Gracanica monastery, dating back to the 14th century, the Pec Patriarchate (13th century), the Rakovica monastery and the Petrovarardin Fortress, which are testimony to the foundations of the European civilization, are in all world encyclopedias and on the UNESCO World Heritage list".

The Use of Weapons banned by International Convention

The NATO bombings have also used of weapons banned by international conventions. Amply documented by scientific reports, the cruise missiles utilize DEPLETED URANIUM "highly toxic to humans, both chemically as a heavy metal and radiologically as an alpha particle emitter". Since the gulf War, depleted uranium (DU) has been a substitute for lead in bullets and missiles. According to scientists "it is most likely a major contributor to the Gulf War Syndrome experienced both by the veterans and the people of Iraq". According radiobiologist Dr. Rosalie Bertell, president of the International Institute of Concern for Public Health:

"When used in war, the depleted uranium (DU) bursts into flame [and] releasing a deadly radioactive aerosol of uranium, unlike anything seen before. It can kill everyone in a tank. This ceramic aerosol is much lighter than uranium dust. It can travel in air tens of kilometres from the point of release, or be stirred up in dust and resuspended in air with wind or human movement. It is very small and can be breathed in by anyone: a baby, pregnant woman, the elderly, the sick. This radioactive ceramic can stay deep in the lungs for years, irradiating the tissue with powerful alpha particles within about a 30 micron sphere, causing emphysema and/or fibrosis. The ceramic can also be swallowed and do damage to the gastro-intestinal tract. In time, it penetrates the lung tissue and enters into the blood stream. ...It can also initiate cancer or promote cancers which have been initiated by other cancinogens".

According to Paul Sullivan, executive director of the National Gulf War Resource Center:

"In Yugoslavia, it's expected that depleted uranium will be fired in agricultural areas, places where livestock graze and where crops are grown, thereby introducing the spectre of possible contamination of the food chain."

The New York based International Action Center called the Pentagon's decision to use the A-10 "Warthog" jets against targets in Serbia "a danger to the people and environment of the entire Balkans". (Truth in Media, 10 April 1999). In this regard, a report in from Greece:

"registered an increase in levels of toxic substances in the atmosphere of Greece, and said that Albania, Macedonia, Italy, Austria and Hungary all face a potential threat to human health as a result of NATO's bombing of Serbia, which includes the use of radioactive depleted uranium shells".
(see Truth in Media, 10 April 1999).

What is not conveyed by the international media, is that people of all ethnic origins including ethnic Albanians, Serbs and other ethnic groups are leaving Kosovo largely as a result of the bombing.

There are reports that ethnic Albanians have left Kosovo for Belgrade where they have relatives. There are 100,000 ethnic Albanians in Belgrade. The press has confirmed movements of ethnic Albanians to Montenegro. Montenegro has been portrayed as a separate country, as a safe-haven against the Serbs. The fact of the matter is that Montenegro is part of Yugoslavia.

Michel Chossudovsky
Department of Economics,
University of Ottawa,
Ottawa, K1N6N5

Fax: 1-514-425-6224
E-Mail: chossudovsky@sprint.ca.


SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER
FRONT PAGE

Uranium bullets on NATO holsters

Thur, April 1, 1999
By Kathleen Sullivan
OF THE EXAMINER STAFF

(Excerpts)

As the war against Yugoslavia escalates, NATO is expected to send U.S. Air Force attack jets to blast Yugoslav tanks with DEPLETED URANIUM radioactive ammunition prized as a "tank killer" and deplored as a long-term threat to human health.

The use of depleted uranium in combat is a troubling prospect to some veterans groups, which worry that the Pentagon will fail once again to issue warnings about the danger posed by its hazardous dust and debris.

"With its behavior during the Gulf War, the United States has established a precedent: Don't protect your own troops from depleted uranium, don't warn civilian populations about it, and don't take any responsibility for cleanup or restoring the environment when you're done," said Dan Fahey, a staff member at Swords to Plowshares, a veterans' rights group in San Francisco.

"I would hope that wouldn't happen again," said Fahey, author of "Case Narrative: Depleted Uranium Exposures," a 1998 report on Gulf War health hazards.

According to Fahey's report, the Air Force fired depleted uranium ammunition in combat in Bosnia in 1994-95.

Depleted uranium ammunition is made from a radioactive and toxic metal that is twice as dense as lead. It rips through tanks, the Pentagon says, "like a hot knife through butter."

NATO officials have said that during the second phase of the war, planes would target Yugoslav tanks and armored vehicles. The Air Force A-10, nicknamed "Warthog," is a low-flying, slow-moving plane, often referred to as a "tank buster."

During the first phase of the attack on Yugoslavia, bombers hit targets with cruise missiles fired from a great distance.

"Unless there is a cease-fire in the immediate future, the likelihood of the imminent use of depleted uranium ammunition is high," said Paul Sullivan, executive director of the National Gulf War Resource Center, a Washington, D.C., advocacy group for veterans...

In addition to depleted uranium bullets, which are fired from the plane's Gatling guns, Warthogs can also fire Maverick missiles at Yugoslav armored vehicles.

Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon declined Wednesday to answer questions about when or how A-10s will be used in Yugoslavia, saying such operational details were "verboten from this podium."

"Planes' assignments secret"

Piers Wood, a senior fellow at the Center for Defense Information, an independent think tank in Washington, said the movement of A-10s is an important tactical secret that must be guarded to protect pilots from enemy fire. Wood, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, dismissed concerns about the health and environmental effects of depleted uranium, saying everything in life is a trade-off...

"Ask me whether I'd like to have an A-10 overhead with depleted uranium when tanks are going to kill me, or if I'd rather preserve the environment and have that pilot carry heavy explosives, and I'd say: I want them carrying depleted uranium," Wood said.

"I wouldn't say no, use the heavy explosives, because I'm worried about dying of cancer 30 years from now. I would risk the consequences of inhaling depleted uranium dust before I would consider facing tanks. Depleted uranium is wonderful stuff. It turns tanks into Swiss cheese."

However, radiation expert Rosalie Bertell said depleted uranium is highly toxic to humans. Bertell, president of the International Institute of Concern for Public Health, called its use in Yugoslavia radiation and toxic chemical warfare that must be denounced.

"Troops not told of dangers"

The ammunition was used for the first time in combat in the gulf, but soldiers were not warned that inhaling, ingesting or absorbing its hazardous residue could cause cancer, or respiratory, kidney and skin disorders.

By the end of the Gulf War, 630,000 pounds of depleted uranium dust, fragments and penetrators the ammunition's spear-shaped projectile were scattered in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq, the Pentagon has said.

In 1998, the Pentagon said exposure to depleted uranium was not the cause of Gulf War illnesses, the undiagnosed ailments afflicting 100,000 veterans. However, in 1999, the Pentagon corrected that statement, saying its conclusion was premature.

Under a 1998 federal law, the National Academy of Sciences will investigate the causes of veterans' illnesses to determine if they are linked to battlefield exposure to depleted uranium and other toxic substances used in the gulf.

Sullivan, of the National Gulf War Resource Center, said he hopes the Pentagon will provide medical screenings to U.S. soldiers who may be exposed to Yugoslavian battlefields contaminated with depleted uranium if it is used. [And who damn cares about Yugoslav children - this is HUMANITARIAN BOMBING - after all! This will help Kosovo Albanians grow two heads]

Army regulations required medical screenings for soldiers exposed to radioactive substances, but the military failed to provide them.

Sullivan also warned of the environmental hazards posed by depleted uranium, which has a half-life of 4.5 billion years.

"In Yugoslavia, it's expected that depleted uranium will be fired in agricultural areas, places where livestock graze and where crops are grown, thereby introducing the spectre of possible contamination of the food chain," he said.

Last year, Iraqi doctors said they feared a disturbing rise in leukemia and stomach cancer among civilians who live near the war zone may be linked to depleted uranium contamination of Iraqi farmland.
(End quote)


Take a look at Coghill Research Laboratory's study of the effects of the Depleted Uranium: "The Question of Depleted Uranium (DU) bombing: battlefield Chernobyl?"


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Last revised: April 20, 1999