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Iraq: the Logic of Withdrawal

DoD Claims 'Depleted' Uranium (DU) Not Used in 'Bunker Busters'
How then to explain Congressional testimony, patent specifications and DOD cruise missile descriptions?

On March 6, 2004, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's forum on 'depleted' uranium weapons, Dr. Michael Kilpatrick, Deputy Director of Deployment Health Support in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, claimed that 'depleted' uranium* is not used in the so-called bunker busters in the US arsenal. He made these comments during a question and answer session following his participation in the concluding policy panel portion of the forum. He was responding to an earlier question that raised the question whether bunker busters used in Iraq had contained 'depleted' uranium.

Hear Dr. Kilpatrick's comments - mp3 file. "Dr. Kilpatrick is a leading US Department of Defense spokesperson on deployment health issues related to depleted uranium." (MIT forum program description)

Dr. Kilpatrick seemed to contradict documents that show that DU is used in munitions designed to penetrate hard standing targets.

Dr. Kilpatrick said to the MIT audience: "there was an issue here earlier about bunker busters. Bunker busters are
not depleted uranium. Depleted Uranium is like an anvil. I mean it does not explode. And so when you take a look at a bunker buster - that is an explosive device that goes down. So, these are, you read in the paper about all the DU in the bunker buster, it's not in that munition." (Please check our transcription with his taped comments .) photo © 2004 Charlie Jenks

Is Depleted Uranium used, or considered to be a desirable metal for use, in Bunker Buster Bombs?

The following sources indicate yes. What seems clear is that Dr. Kilpatrick was wrong or gave a misleading answer when he said the DU was not suitable for bunker busters. Whether the US used it in Iraq is not known. The US is in the position to prove whether or not it used uranium (du or uu) in this manner, but has not done so. It's no wonder then that people are suspicious that it was used in bunker busters given the willingness it has shown to use 'depleted' uranium in Iraq.

1. Congressional testimonny (thanks 'Amarie' of DU Watch) :

[H.A.S.C. No. 107–30]


Marty Meehan, Massachusetts, Ranking Member
FEBRUARY 20, 21, 27, AND MARCH 12, 2002

(Page 12)
Mr. MULLIGAN "We have developed a number of technologies and
one of our flagship technologies is called fibrous monolith
technology. This technology was initially funded by DARPA and ONR.
And, it allows us to produce ceramic and specialty materials the way
woods are produced. So, they have a woody, grainy texture.

"What this does it lets materials operate in the 5,000 to 7,000
Fahrenheit degree range or to be extremely tough....

"We believe that this technology has a number of applications…, two
components to replace rhenium metals, which are used in the National
Missile Defense Program, two components to be used for a new
generation of earth penetrators and replacing depleted uranium." [emphasis added]
(Page 17)
Mr. MEEHAN "Mr. Mulligan, I was intrigued by your reference
to ceramic for replacement for depleted uranium. Could you elaborate
on that a little bit? Obviously, the health hazards and clean-up
costs associated with depleting of uranium are well known and
problematic and I would be interested in hearing any ideas about
viable substitutes.

Mr. MULLIGAN. We currently have an Air Force SBIR program with our
joint venture company for developing fibrous monolith tungsten
materials. In the case of depleting uranium, uranium has high-
performance because it gets sharper as it is going through the
materials it is going through.
In the case of materials like
tungsten, which do not create long-term environmental hazards, those
materials tend to get duller as we are going through a target.

What we believe with our fibrous monolith processing, similar to how
we built the coatings for oil and gas drilling bits, that materials
like tungsten can be controlled and fabricated in a fashion so they
get the performance of the depleted uranium, but they do not have the
long lasting impacts
or just tungsten materials.

We also think that this works very well or has the opportunity of
working very well for deep earth penetrators to penetrate bunkers
that are at a greater depth under the surface."

2. Specification of 'reactive metal' for Joint SuperSonic Cruise Missile, ex. page 25. (large 2.7 mg file)

3. See United States Patent Office references to conventional guided weapons October 12, 2002
with suspected Uranium warhead components

Dai Williams comment: Some bunker busters were designed to use tungsten and/or uranium. No
question - refer Lockheed Martin Patent 6,389,977. These are explosive
penetrators. Uranium alloy casings could be manufactured with high
compression strength but low fracture strength (like cast iron). These would
explode better than tungsten.

Dai Williams has analysed various weapon systems as ones that could incorporate DU. See for example Known and Suspected DU Weapons

* As noted by Professor Malcom Hooper, the statement that DU is "40% less radioactive" is true only for alpha emissions. If all emissions were considered, DU had 88% of the readioactivity of the natural material." Minutes for the 13th Meeting, 20 Nov 2003, page 9, Depleted Uranium Oversight Board of the Ministry of Defence, UK Professor Hooper is emeritus professor of medicinal chemistry at Sunderland University.

See generally

For example:

"Fiction: DU is “depleted” in the amount of U235 and is therefore less
radioactive than the uranium in our natural environment.

Fact: The term “Depleted uranium is a misnomer. DU is “depleted” only in the
isotopes U234 and U235 which constitute less that 1% of the total uranium.
The fact is that both “depleted” uranium and “natural” Uranium are over 99%
composed of Uranium 238. Depleted uranium is almost as highly concentrated
as pure uranium and may contain plutonium in trace amounts."

March 7, 2004 - page created by Charlie Jenks