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Date: Fri, 22 Aug 97 09:45:46 CDT
From: Workers World <ww@wwpublish.com>
Organization: WW Publishers
Subject: DU Weapons Threaten North Korea
Via Workers World News Service
Reprinted from the August 28, 1997 issue of Workers World newspaper

Pentagon’s DU Weapons Threaten North Korea

By John Catalinotto, Workers World, 28 August 1997

Sometimes Pentagon spokespeople don’t know when to keep their mouths shut. Or maybe they’ve just grown too arrogant since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

On Aug. 15 they made two big admissions in one statement. One was that the United States is preparing for war against north Korea. The other is that depleted-uranium weapons are controversial and might prove to be dangerous.

As reported in the Japanese daily Mainichi Shimbun, Pentagon spokesperson Kenneth Bacon said the U.S. military has moved all depleted-uranium bullets deployed in Okinawa to south Korea.

He also reportedly said that in south Korea, the shells are closer to a potential battlefield. It is natural for us to be gravely concerned about maintaining peace in the Korean peninsula.

We are fully prepared for an outbreak of a war in Asia. Some 44 years after a truce ended the fighting of the Korean War, the Pentagon still keeps 37,000 troops in south Korea threatening the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. According to the Mainichi Shimbun article, a south Korean foreign ministry source said the U.S.-puppet government in Seoul had not been informed of the transfer. If it is the case that the move was made to avoid further controversy in Japan, it could disturb sentiments of the [south Korean] people, the source reportedly said.

Bacon told the newspaper there is no evidence DU bullets posed health hazards to U.S. soldiers who fought in the Gulf War against Iraq in 1991. But he admitted that they were clearly a controversial weapon and that Washington has not reached any conclusion as to links between the bullets and the so-called Gulf War Syndrome.

DU is a radioactive material 1.7 times as dense as lead, which makes shells effective penetrators. It burns when it strikes steel. The tiny particles of burned uranium oxide can be inhaled or ingested by anyone within thousands of miles of the target area.

There have already been protests against DU weapons by the environmental movement in south Korea, as well as by masses of people in Okinawa.