Because of its deadly propensity, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) have begun a campaign to ban depleted uranium weapons, just as land mines, chemical, and biological weapons have been banned. Citizen’s Inspections compliment this international effort.
During a peaceful afternoon standoff with the six-person CIT, the base officials acknowledged that the depleted uranium weapons in question are present at the base. A rally of about 100 people supported the CIT and joined them in demanding an end to the sanctions against Iraq.
Statement of the Citizen Inspection Team:
“Today we are at Davis Monthan Air Force Base, Tucson, Arizona, USA, to conduct an inspection for possible weapons of mass and indiscriminate destruction — namely, depleted uranium weaponry. In the spirit of openness that is being urged upon the Iraqi regime, we have written to the base commander requesting full and unconditional access to the site and requested an escort to aid us in our inspection.
“We, the Citizen's Inspection Team, strongly believe that the crisis in Iraq would be better resolved if all the nations of the world, including the U.S., agreed to free and unfettered inspections of their sites involved in production, testing, storage, and deployment of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.
“The chemical and radioactive toxicity of depleted uranium weapons continues to kill non-combatants long after the battle has ended. Depleted uranium weapons destroy the environment and food supply necessary to safeguard life and rebuild society after the scourge of war. Consequently, depleted uranium weapons violate international law because of their inherent cruelty and unconfined death-dealing effect. They threaten civilian populations now and for generations to come.
“These are precisely the weapons and uses prohibited by international law for more than a century, including the Geneva Conventions and their Protocols Additional of 1977. Furthermore, the Subcommission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities of the U.N. Human Rights Commission adopted resolutions in 1996 and 1997 which include depleted uranium weaponry amongst "weapons of mass or indiscriminate destruction" incompatible with international humanitarian or human rights law.
“Article VI, paragraph two of the U.S. Constitution states that adopted treaties are the supreme law of the land, and that we must obey these higher laws in spite of ‘anything in the laws of any state to the contrary.’
“Therefore, we understand our obligation to carry out this citizens' inspection to determine whether the United States has, at this site, weapons of mass and indiscriminate destruction. If these weapons are found, we will warn the government that possession and use of depleted uranium weaponry is a violation of international law.
“We believe that depleted uranium is present at Davis Monthan AFB because the A-10 Thunderbolt attack aircraft train at Davis Monthan. Among the A-10s' standard weapons is the 30mm GAU-8 bullet, a depleted uranium weapon. The A-10 was responsible for firing massive quantities of these rounds, comprising about 95% of the more than 500,000 pounds of depleted uranium that remains to this day in Iraq and Kuwait. Thus, we are requesting a tour of the base and access to all documentation that confirms whether or not weapons of mass destruction or the delivery vehicles of any such weapons are present on the base. We will issue a report based on our findings.
“Radioactive pollution remaining from the unprecedented use of this new radiological weapon during the 1991 Gulf War against Iraq continues to poison millions of innocent Iraqi civilians. In the United States, many thousands of veterans suffer illness and some have deformed offspring consistent with depleted uranium's toxic and radioactive poisoning. Our concern for these military and civilian victims, and our responsibility to prevent creating more such victims in the future, compels us to carry out this citizen's inspection today.
“This weekend, people are gathering all over the United States to demand that the United States stop threatening war against Iraq and bring the troops home, to support diplomatic efforts, and to demand an end to the seven year economic embargo of Iraq which has killed over a million Iraqi civilians, the majority of them children. [U.N. and Red Cross figures]
“Also this week, citizen inspection teams are searching for weapons of mass destruction in the U.S. and other countries (Bangor Subbase, Washington; Bath Iron Works, Maine; the U.K.'s War Command Bunker near London). We join together as ethically concerned and law abiding world citizens, acknowledging our duty and responsibility under international law to seek out possible war crimes and crimes against humanity. It is our belief that to not so act would make us complicit in these crimes.”
The statement was signed by the following: Gery Armsby, Felice Cohen-Joppa, Carolyn Epple, Lisa Kiser, Dwight Metzger, Carolyn Trowbridge. The Team refused a Tucson city police order to leave, claiming the authority of international law and moral responsibility as citizens of a democracy and of the world community. They were arrested for trespass and taken to the Pima County jail, cited and released.
[Felice Cohen-Joppa said in a telephone interview that the citizen inspections were “mostly spontaneous responses to the Iraqi inspections.“ The action in Maine had among the citizen inspectors some high-profile officials from Canada. This got very good coverage, and inspired other actions including one in Holland. Felice and her husband, Jack publish The Nuclear Resister, “a chronicle of hope” that provides information and support for imprisoned anti-nuclear activists. Felice reports that 6,000 people who protested Desert Shield and Desert Storm were arrested.
-- To receive a free sample of the publication, contact: the Nuclear Resister "a chronicle of hope" at P.O. Box 43383, Tucson, AZ 85733, which provides information about and support for imprisoned anti-nuclear activists. Felice & Jack Cohen-Joppa, editors. Call 520-323-8697 or E-mail us! FREE SAMPLE ISSUE ON REQUEST!