NATO is now facing a lawsuit coming from the Serbian government regarding the use of depleted uranium munitions in 1999, during the Balkans war. The result of the weapons use, calculated to have left about 15 tons of dangerous contaminants, have been devastating with an acute upward trend in the prevalence of cancers among Serbians since the war. So far, the imperialists have refused to comment on the truth of the accusations, and have only acknowledged that they stand accused in international courts. What’s more, Serbia was not the last—nor the most affected—region to be the victims of imperialist forces armed with deadly depleted uranium munitions. It is estimated that 20 times as much depleted uranium has been dropped in Iraq to a devastating effect. But under a wall of amerikan apathy, it is unlikely that the full results of the campaign will ever be made known, especially while conflict continues to rock the country.
Serbian officials have stated that as a result of the use of illegal depleted uranium weapons against the country in the 1990s, more than 50 people in the city of Nis have been diagnosed with cancer with relevant medical histories relating to the bombing of the area. The rates of cancer in these regions being much higher than those in other regions, which can only be traced to the dangerous levels of radioactivity linked to depleted uranium in the soil and buildings. The costs to decontaminate such sites would be immeasurable, and would require the excavation of contaminated soil as well as reconstruction of affected areas. A cost which, until now, was assumed to be the responsibility of Serbia, despite the united $tates ultimately being at fault.
This most recent charge helps to erode the myth in the amerikan mindset that “conventional” warfare is somehow clean, and that after the war is done there are no long term environmental and health hazards to worry about. After all, to amerikans the only warfare which truly threatens them is the idea of nuclear warfare, and therefore there is no need for much thought to go into the bombs dropped on far away places, until the explosions are felt at home. The truth is that even “conventional” weapons have a significant impact on the long term environmental and health conditions of a population/country, and this is demonstrated not only by the destruction of cities and farms, but also the poisoning of groundwater with dangerous chemical residues which are left by explosives. One such material, left by standard munitions utilized by NATO, is depleted uranium. Which irradiates surrounding material and contaminates entire areas where they are deployed.
The united $tates has only been brought to court over a minute amount of the actual destruction it wreaks on the environment and public health in the post-war countries it has occupied or bombed, and often times is never asked to attone for the crimes it commits during those wars. While the united $tates has agreed to assist, in Vietnam, with the cleanup of only a very minute area of land where agent orange was deployed—a deadly chemical which has had devastating environmental/health effects on the country—they have yet to be charged or forced to pay in any way for the massive loss of life suffered by the country during the war, in which the genocidal campaign killed millions of Vietnamese people.
Similarly, NATO (if it is forced to pay) will pay only a fraction of the material cost that will be needed to bring about any significant change in the effects stemming from the bombing of Serbia in the 1990s. The First World, despite its overwhelming wealth, will still demand that payment for their wars of aggression come from the poor populations who suffered as a result. Unfortunately no international court has the authority to bring the united $tates to answer for its real crimes, that is something that anti-imperialists and real revolutionary environmentalists will have to do.
- “‘Up to 15 tons of depleted uranium used in 1999 Serbia bombing’ – lead lawyer in suit against NATO” (Russia Today)
- “4 Decades on, U.S. Starts Cleanup of Agent Orange in Vietnam” (Telegraph)