Depleted uranium is used in armour-piercing shells
Britain is to test thousands of veterans of the 1991 Gulf War who have
suffered a range of unexplained ailments for the possible presence of
depleted uranium in their
bodies, a report said.
Four clinics will undertake the tests in a attempt to explain so-called
Gulf War Syndrome.
Both British and US forces in the conflict used armour-piercing shells
tipped with depleted uranium, and veterans' groups have long argued that
radioactive dust from the shells could have caused illnesses.
However previous British tests have failed to establish a link,
although some of the research has been condemned as unreliable.
Britain's Ministry of Defence is set to announce the establishment of
four specialist screening centres where Gulf veterans, as well as soldiers
who served in the 1999 Kosovo war, where the uranium shells were also
used, can be properly tested.
David Coggan, the scientist
overseeing the programme, told reporters that the new
tests would be able to detect any amounts of depleted uranium in veterans'
urine sufficient to cause ill-health.
The tests would be sufficiently "sensitive and accurate" to uncover
even "tiny traces" of uranium, he said.
Around 5,000 British troops have complained of experiencing a range of
mysterious maladies after taking part in the Gulf War, in which British
troops joined a US-led campaign to liberate Kuwait, invaded the previous
August by Saddam Hussein's Iraq.
Common symptoms -- also reported by many American veterans -- include
headaches, depression, weakness, joint and muscle pain, rashes and
shortness of breath.
Veterans' groups have slammed the British government's response to the
situation as insufficient and demanded a public