The DIME Bomb: Yet another genotoxic weapon, Part III
James Brooks – Al Jazeera December 7, 2006
The human genome: target or innocent bystander?
Since early July, Israeli forces have been using a new weapon in the Gaza Strip that inflicts strange and deadly wounds. Doctors and medics say the unidentified device has significantly increased fatalities from Israel’s attacks. (1)(2)
In the first two parts (part I, part II) of this article we reviewed evidence that Israel’s new weapon may be Dense Inert Metal Explosives (DIME), a “low collateral damage” weapon developed by the US Air Force. The DIME bomb’s “micro-shrapnel” is reportedly made of HMTA, a tungsten alloy that disrupts body biochemistry, damages the immune system, rapidly causes cancer, and attacks DNA (genotoxic). (3-9)
The Road to DIME
DIME weapons are "spin-offs" from the military’s “bunker buster” research. Initially, “bunker busters” were made with depleted uranium (DU), which had already been used in armor-piercing bombs, bullets, and artillery shells. (10)
The former director of the US Army’s Depleted Uranium project, Dr. Douglas Rokke, warns us that DU is an “illegal…radioactive toxic material”, the use of which “is absolutely unacceptable, and a crime against humanity.” (11)
During Gulf War I, US forces deployed more than 300 tons of DU in Iraq. A few years later, more was dropped during Operation Desert Fox. Iraqi doctors reported alarming rises in the incidence of cancer, leukemia, and birth defects, in clusters closely correlated with US bombsites. Scientists found strong links between DU and Gulf War Syndrome, which is slowly killing thousands of veterans. (12-14)
Despite the science, the vets, and the tragedies in Iraq, the US has stubbornly refused to end its use of DU. US-UK forces may have expended more than 2000 additional tons of DU in Iraq since March 2003. Nowadays, however, commanders are supposed to warn GIs to avoid contact with the results of their work. (15)
After the 2001-2002 bombing of Afghanistan, the Uranium Medical Research Centre (UMRC) found that the urine of Afghanis living near US bombing sites contained 4 to 20 times the normal level of non-depleted uranium (NDU). These unexpected results could not “be explained by…any known geological or other features in the area.”
UMRC researchers were “shocked” that, “without exception, at every bombsite investigated, people are ill…[with] symptoms consistent with internal contamination by uranium.” (13)
Their field results indicated that our weapons scientists had “progressed” beyond DU to NDU, a processed form of pure uranium that is even more toxic than the depleted form. The “slightly enriched” uranium reported from recent Israeli bombsites in Lebanon may possibly be NDU from modified GBU 28 ‘bunker busters’ supplied by the United States. (16)(17)
Considering the scope of their destructive power, DU and NDU may be said to function as Dual-Purpose Munitions, like cluster bomblets that kill both tanks and people. As their exotic metallurgy “burns” through concrete and steel, DU and NDU bombs are converted to micron-sized particles that sicken and kill and murder the next generation in the womb.(18)(19)
Agent Orange, an herbicide heavily used during the war on Vietnam, also performed two functions. It obliterated the ‘jungle cover hiding the Viet Cong’ while it ‘weakened the enemy’ with burns, illness, and death, and corrupted the DNA of hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese. The third generation of its disfigured and suffering victims is now being born.(20)(21)
This madness seems to have begun during World War II, within the Manhattan Project that built the first atomic bomb. In a 1943 memo to Brigadier General L. R. Groves, three researchers proposed steps to develop:
“a gas warfare instrument” [of radioactive material, such as uranium] “ground into particles of microscopic size to form dust and smoke….in this form it would be inhaled by personnel. The amount necessary to cause death to a person inhaling the material is extremely small. It has been estimated that one millionth of a gram accumulating in a person's body would be fatal. There are no known methods of treatment for such a casualty.” (22)
The good doctors were concerned the Germans might be preparing such a weapon. They urged the Army to be ready to respond, or act, in kind. General Groves promptly followed their recommendations.
The toxic HMTA “micro-shrapnel” spewed by DIME weapons appears to be the latest development in a long string of carcinogenic and genotoxic weapons developed and deployed by the US military.
Return to Gaza: The mythology of murder
Israel has denied using DIME weapons. Nonetheless, Israel’s military has used the occupied Palestinian territories as a weapons development zone for decades, testing bright ideas like depleted uranium and poison gases. It would not surprise us to find that it is now testing a weapon for the US Air Force on Palestinians in Gaza. (23)
Unfortunately, the DIME hypothesis is the most plausible explanation for the grotesque effects of Israel’s new weapon. We can only pray that we have not witnessed the first experiment in the effects of embedded HMTA in human subjects.
Still, DIME may not explain all of the evidence. For example, one of the metals found in victims’ wounds was copper. DIME bombs are not known to contain significant copper, but another US marvel, the Sensor Fuzed Weapon (SFW), sprays slugs of molten copper at its targets. Is Israel also testing the SFW? (24)(25)
If DIME weapons are designed to reduce civilian casualties, why has Israel’s ‘mystery weapon’ increased the civilian death toll? Perhaps this question should be addressed to the advocates of Focused Lethality Munitions, and to the remote-control operators of Israel’s drone aircraft and their commanders and politicians.
Although much remains unclear about Israel’s new weapon, a few devastating facts are indisputable:
The weapon causes enormous and indiscriminate pain and suffering.
It operates as both a chemical weapon and an anti-personnel explosive. At the very least, it is likely to induce heavy metal poisoning in its surviving victims.
The weapon has significantly increased civilian mortality rates, in part because it inflicts virtually untreatable wounds.
Despite this public parade of horrors, Israeli forces have continued to use this weapon against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip for nearly five months.
“Whenever and wherever necessary”
If the DIME hypothesis is confirmed, authorities will probably explain that it is a new class of weapon not regulated by international law. The truth is that existing conventions and treaties have already prohibited some of the most egregious effects of the new weapon.
To cite one example, the bomb may be in direct violation of Protocol I of the 'Geneva Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons', which "prohibits the use of any weapon the primary effect of which is to injure by fragments which in the human body escape detection by X-rays." (26)
We will likely be told that DIME weapons provide a more “humane” way to fight “terrorism” by “reducing collateral damage” and “helping US troops win hearts and minds”. At the same time, we’ll be assured that the new weapon “packs quite a punch” and will “give our troops more options” to “take the battle to the enemy”, even if he is “hiding among civilians”.
Whether Israel’s new weapon is the Air Force’s DIME bomb or another similarly dreadful invention, the horrors unfolding in Gaza make it clear that “Focused Lethality” is a blood-drenched lie. It promises only a deadlier form of indiscriminate warfare.
US plans to explode payloads of cancer-causing genotoxic heavy metal powder “wherever and whenever necessary” may portend an escalation of a campaign currently limited to the vicinity of “hard targets” we attack with DU and NDU. Whatever we make of the intent behind these weapons, the habitual result is chemical-genetic warfare. It cannot be allowed to continue.
1) Gaza doctors say patients suffering mystery injuries after Israeli attacks
By Rory McCarthy, The Guardian, 10/18/2006
2) Israel used chemical weapons in Lebanon and Gaza
By Jean Shaoul, Centre for Research on Globalization/wsws.org, 10/24/2006
3) Abstract: Potential late health effects of depleted uranium and tungsten used in armor-piercing munitions: comparison of neoplastic transformation and genotoxicity with the known carcinogen nickel
Miller, AC, et al, PubMed, 11/26/2006
4) Neoplastic transformation of human osteoblast cells to the tumorigenic phenotype by heavy metal–tungsten alloy particles: induction of genotoxic effects
Miller, AC et al
Carcinogenesis, Vol. 22, No. 1, 115-125, January 2001, Oxford University Press
5) Abstract: Carcinogenic Potential of Depleted Uranium and Tungsten Alloys
Alexandra C Miller, Ph. D., Department Of Defense, Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute (AFRRI)
6) Depleted uranium-catalyzed oxidative DNA damage: absence of significant alpha particle decay
Miller, AC et al, Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry, Issue 91, 2002 pp. 246– 252
7) Embedded Weapons-Grade Tungsten Alloy Shrapnel Rapidly Induces Metastatic High-Grade Rhabdomyosarcomas in F344 Rats
Kalinich et al, Environmental Health Perspectives Volume 113, Number 6, June 2005
8) Abstract: Effect of the militarily-relevant heavy metals, depleted uranium and heavy metal tungsten-alloy on gene expression in human liver carcinoma cells (HepG2)
By Miller, AC et al, SpringerLink/Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, 1/1/2004
9) Preconceptional paternal exposure to radiation or heavy metals like cadmium can induce cancer in unexposed offspring
By Alexandra C. Miller, Rafael Rivas, Robert J. Merlot and Paul, Carcinogenesis 5: Environmental and Endogenous Carcinogens/Proc Amer Assoc Cancer Res, Volume 47, 2006
10) Cancer Worries for New U.S. Bombs
11) Depleted Uranium and US-Israeli Bombs
By Dr. Doug Rokke, PhD, Media Lens, 7/24/2006
12) Dirty Weapons - Casualties From Iraq War Will Mount
By Chalmers Johnson, Pacific News Service, 5/3/2003
13) Uranium Radiation Levels in Afghanistan Not Attributable to Depleted Uranium
Centre for Research on Globalization - Middle East, 6/5/2003
14) Depleted Uranium Radioactive Contamination In Iraq: An Overview
By Prof Souad N. Al-Azzawi, Centre for Research on Globalization - Middle East, 8/31/2006
15) Use of Depleted Uranium Weapons Lingers as Health Concern
By Larry Johnson, Common Dreams, 8/4/2003
16) Further Evidence Of Enriched Uranium In The Air In Lebanon Following The Recent Conflict
Stop Uranium Wars/Pandora DU research Project, 11/22/2006
17) Mystery of Israel's secret uranium bomb
By Robert Fisk, The Independent, 10/28/2006
18) The Real Dirty Bombs: Depleted Uranium
By Christopher Bollyn, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, 8/6/2004
19) Depleted Uranium
Australian Peace Committee, 12/2/2006
20) Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign
21) Agent Orange DNA injury confirmed in Vietnam veterans
By Patrick Gower, New Zealand Herald, 7/29/2006
22) Memorandum to: Brigadier General L. R. Groves From: Drs. Conant, Compton, and Urey
Midfully.org/War Department, United States Engineer Office, Manhattan District, Oak Ridge Tennessee, 10/30/1943
23) The Israeli Poison Gas Attacks
James Brooks, Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel
25) Textron Systems' Sensor Fuzed Weapon Production to Include Maritime Capability
Textron Systems Corporation, 8/10/2006
26) Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons...
United Nations: International Law, 10/10/1980
James Brooks serves as webmaster for Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel (www.vtjp.org). He can be contacted at email@example.com.
Last updated 10/12/2006