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Ex-military director speaks out

Peace activist says U.S. using uranium in warfare

Sunday, January 8, 2006

PEORIA - A former military director on Saturday accused the United States of war crimes for its use of depleted uranium in warfare. Peace activist Dr. Doug Rokke, a Gulf War veteran and former director of the U.S. Army's Depleted Uranium Project, presented his thoughts on the military's alleged use of depleted uranium to about 50 people in the basement auditorium of the Peoria Public Library's main Downtown branch.

Rokke's presentation was sponsored by the local chapter of Peace Action, which is dedicated to creating a world "free from violence and war," according to its Web site, .

Rokke, who has a Ph.D in physics and technology education, claimed the U.S. government continues to use uranium against the mandates of the United Nations.

"The United States Department of Defense continues to use uranium emissions," he said. "It is a radioactive defense item, it's a dirty bomb."

Rokke said the government continues to use uranium because of its effectiveness. "It's incredibly effective as a weapons system."

By the Office of Homeland Security's own definition, use of depleted uranium is radiological warfare and thus a war crime, Rokke said.

"It's an act of terror," he said. "It's in their own guidelines. I don't think they realized what they did when they did it."

Depleted uranium exposure causes a variety of symptoms and, Rokke claimed, is a contributing factor in Gulf War syndrome, a malady among veterans of that military action against Iraq in 1991.

Once uranium is used in an area, studies show the particulate matter can travel at least 30 miles, Rokke said. Those in the area can continue to infect others as well.

"Any military personnel that has been near the contamination will bring it back," Rokke said. "We have proven incidents when contamination has been brought back."

There is no way to effectively remove this contamination, Rokke said.

"You cannot decontaminate clothing," Rokke said. "We could never, ever get it down to permissible levels."

Furthermore, Rokke said there is no way to treat exposure if it is not dealt with in the first 24 hours.

"I mean, you can do basic stabilization," Rokke said. "When the rash breaks out, the doctor gives me a salve."

Even on the other side of the globe from war, central Illinois residents have been exposed, Rokke said.

"Have troops in Illinois gone over and been exposed? Absolutely," Rokke said. "Have central Illinois people died as a result of this? Absolutely."

Kelly Mahoney can be reached at 686-3114 or .