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Exclusive Report: Heavy Metal
Explosives Never Stop Killing
A Series On The Trail Of Israel’s Designer Weapons
Part 2 – Essay: Gaza Residue Reveals Israel’s Hidden Nuclear War

Gaza will remain irradiated for thousands of years

The 5th Estate

By Yoichi Shimatsu

A sophisticated new generation of Israeli bombs and rockets, used against Gaza over the past five years are leaving behind environmental contamination that is extremely threatening to public heath. According to Gaza hospitals, Palestinian victims are showing severe symptoms of heavy metal poisoning along with indications of radiation exposure. Depleted uranium, used for armor-piercing penetrator heads, is suspected – as it was in Iraq – of causing radiation-related disorders after it becomes vaporized on impact and ingested as dust.


Israeli “Operation Cast Lead” airstrike

On the ground in Gaza and in hair samples, analyzed by international researchers, several other radioactive elements and compounds associated with nuclear materials were identified. These included trace amounts of cesium, probably from the depleted uranium rods, and much higher concentrations of strontium, another decay product of nuclear fission.

The symbol Sr stands out inexplicably on a list of 21 bomb-related metals found by an international research team in Gaza. The presence of strontium in high concentration is so baffling that physicians have yet to pin it on any plausible source from conventional weaponry. Equally puzzling is the relative abundance of two other metals, which have no purpose in the standard arsenal of modern warfare. Briefly, the trio of elements includes:

Strontium (Sr) showing up in Gaza is a troubling riddle, being a decay product of fission, a radioactive isotope in fallout, and – under war conditions – proof of a nuclear attack.


Nuke cross-section

The appearance of a second substance, symbolized by Hg, is cloaked in dark mystery since mercury fulminate has been rendered obsolete for bomb detonators and fuses. Due to its instability under heat and rattling, mercury (Hg) was replaced in fuses years ago with lead-based detonators.

The third element, beryllium (Be), tantalizes like an enigma, since it has few wartime applications other than as neutron-reflecting shells enclosing the cores of nuclear bombs.

These mystery elements are scattered throughout the Gaza Strip in sufficient quantity to indicate that dozens, possibly hundreds of nuclear events occurred during Operation Cast Lead of 2008-2009 and Operation Pillar of Defense in November.

If Israel did indeed drop a nuclear bomb on Gaza, how could it have gone unnoticed? That is the riddle wrapped in a mystery within an enigma.

Inside the Coffee Cup Bomb

In the wake of the Tokyo subway gassing in 1995, I was the editor in charge of an investigative reporting team with The Japan Times Weekly. Leaks from the national police bureau indicated that the Aum Shinrikyo sect had established sources and routes across Yeltsin-era Russia for smuggling nerve-gas technology and nuclear warheads into Japan and Taiwan.


Aftermath of Israeli airstrike in Gaza “Operation Cast Lead”


Tracking down various clues, which were subsequently reported in the now-defunct website Archipelago, I interviewed a leading British nuclear physicist, who described a new type of micro-nuclear warhead that could be transported in a brief case or knapsack. As former head of the authoritative Sweden-based arms monitoring group SIPRI, Frank Barnaby was convinced that a micro-nuke was not only technically feasible but also on sale to the highest bidder.

Here’s how Dr. Barnaby described the micro-nuclear bomb design:

-          At the center of the core is a pellet of weapons-grade plutonium, and its size doesn’t really matter since there is no minimum point of critical mass.

-          Wrapped around the plutonium ball is a sphere of super-dense “red mercury”, which acts as a tamper that focuses the fission-triggering blast inward, promoting an implosion (while preventing the device from being blown apart prematurely).

-          The tamper is confined within a metallic shell of beryllium that reflects the neutrons released by initial fission, prompting a chain reaction and resulting in a nuclear blast.

-       The beryllium shell is surrounded with cones of high-powered chemical explosive material encased by a network of small detonators, which ignite the implosive blast.

Red mercury is a “ballo-technic” material that eliminates the need for a kick-start from a flow of neutrons from another radioactive source such as tritium or polonium. This enables a reduction in size and simplifies the handling of the nuclear device. According to Russian physicists in Ekaterinburg, who were in contact with Barnaby, red mercury is produced by boosting the isotope count of a mixture of mercury and antimony (Sb) inside a nuclear reactor. The resulting product is a dense, viscous and glossy compound with gel-like properties. (Note: Residue from Gaza indicates that tin symbolized by Sn, with nearly identical properties of antimony, is now used instead.)


Python on Israeli jet


Unlike the strategic atomic-bombs dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a micro-nuke is not intended to level an entire city. Its fission reaction is aimed at multiplying the chemical blast of its conventional explosives, which can equal the impact of a much larger and heavier thermobaric (heat pressure) bomb. Additionally, the release of a wave of neutrons can cripple electronics systems of missiles and warplanes. In short, the micro-nuclear is an ideal tactical warhead, if only nuclear weapons were not illegal to use under international law.

Disinformation Aided Israeli Proliferation

After Dr. Barnaby exposed the threat of micro-nuclear warheads in an ITV documentary, Western intelligence agencies launched a disinformation campaign claiming that red mercury is a hoax. Since the veteran nuclear physicist could not be easily discredited, several fake incidents were staged involving alleged sales of fake red mercury to “terrorists.”

The British physicist’s statements found support from American weapons designer Sam Cohen. Known as the “father of the neutron bomb”, the London-born expert estimated 100 micro-nukes had gone missing from Russian labs and apparently sold to terrorists.

The suspected buyers in these nuclear thefts included North Korean agents, who may have acted in cooperation with the wealthy Aum sect, and the bin Laden network. (A point to note is that “suitcase nukes” are of different design, less efficient, larger and more difficult to deploy than red-mercury ballo-technic bombs.)

Then the Israelis showed their hand. During the Reform Party’s 2000 U.S. presidential campaign bid, Cohen came under severe criticism and personal harassment for his anti-Zionist views by activists with the Jewish Defense League (JDL), a front for Israeli interests. JDL accused him of being “anti-Semitic”, even though Cohen was a Jew by birth.

While Western intelligence agencies frantically tried to denigrate reports from Barnaby and Cohen, a steady stream of physicists, nuclear engineers and weapons designers was emigrating from the Soviet successor states to Israel. Along with the expertise went the production technologies for micro-nuke warheads. According to a Western intelligence source, about 800 top personnel from former Soviet nuclear labs have relocated to Israel since 1989. The fanatic “terrorists” who smuggled out the micro-nukes turned out to be from the Israeli Foreign Ministry and the Mossad.

Live Testing of Tactical Nukes in Gaza

During Operation Pillar of Defense, the Israeli Defense Forces ran a high-profile publicity campaign boasting of its ability to demolish the Hamas militants’ tunnel system and claiming that its Iron Dome anti-missile interceptors knocked down 420 Qassam rockets. Unmentioned in any press release or news conference was that these spectacular military successes were due to the use of micro-nuclear warheads.

From a purely military standpoint – excluding ethical qualms and legal objections – a micro-nuke has clear advantages over the standard 2000-lb. bunker busters that were used against Tora Bora, Afghanistan, in 2001 and subsequently in the early phase of the Gaza Wars. A narrower diameter of projectile, as for example, in the 190mm smart bomb, allows easier penetration through concrete and soil. Its lighter weight of less than 100 kg, including the depleted uranium penetrator head, enables a jet, helicopter or drone to deliver many more bombs and rockets on each sortie.

Micro-nukes are also easily adapted for anti-missile missions. The use of red mercury warheads in battle was first alleged during the Angolan War of the 1980s after the downing of South African jet fighters. The wide dispersal of strontium and mercury across the Gaza Strip indicates that IDF jets and Apache helicopters fired Python air-to-air missiles armed with mini-nuke warheads to disable the majority of the 420 Qassam-Grad missiles that failed to reach target.

It is easy work to fire a nuclear-tipped Python and blast the air space over a rising Qassam missile soon after launch and toast its electronics control systems with neutrons. An airborne detection and anti-missile system directly over the battlefield lessens reaction time and accuracy, as compared with a cumbersome ground-based anti-missile system like the Iron Dome batteries in Beersheba. The IDF gave all the credit for the anti-missile kills to the Iron Dome, obviously to convince the Knesset and Israeli public to fund expensive missile-defense programs to counter Iran’s long-range missiles. Another reason is to cover up the use of nuclear weapons.

The cost-effectiveness of micro-nuke warheads is undeniable, again if the moral toll is not included. An early-model short-range air-to-air Python rocket costs only one-third of the 50,000 dollar price tag for a Tamir rocket used in the Iron Dome system. Since the Israeli military has absolute air superiority over Gaza, the risk to piloted jets or unmanned aerial vehicles is insignificant. It therefore makes zero military or financial sense to waste costly Tamir rockets against crude home-built Qassams. In the economics of warfare, brute force usually outperforms elegance – and nuclear is nothing if not brutal.

The only nagging detail after the Israeli nuclear assault is secrecy when so much mercury, beryllium and strontium were left scattered on the sands of Gaza. The forensic proof is being ignored by the permanent members of the Security Council led by an emasculated Washington, since the so-called world powers lack the iota of courage to demand Israeli disclosure and accountability. The Security Council’s mute impotence proves the late Sam Cohen was correct in his prediction that the advent of micro-nukes would undermine the nonproliferation regime, rendering it ineffective and obsolete. Israel has ushered in a brave new world of tactical nuclear war.

Myth and the N-Bomb

The literal code name of the recent November operation, translated from Hebrew, is “Pillar of Cloud”, derived from the Exodus story when a billowing apparition arose in a clear sky to signal the escape path from the vindictive Pharoah’s army. At twilight, its nimbus metamorphosed into a column of fire – an awesome vision, indeed.

In more recent times, the image of a towering cloud – a manmade one – is linked in the public mind with the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In the historically mangled subtext of the Zionist movement, the splitting of the atom was a near-mystical feat in the formation of a modern state of Israel – a genie born from the imagination of Einstein, realized through the tireless work of the Manhattan Project under Mssrs. Oppenheimer and Teller, and expressed in the fateful destruction of the last Axis power, the summoning of the United Nations and declaration of Jewish statehood. The unimaginable force of nuclear power is thus subliminally, in the minds of zealots, a veritable column of cloud and fire manifesting the divine will.

Only a rare skeptic dares suggest that a supreme intelligence could never tolerate permanent damage to a far greater achievement, the very reflection of its own image – human chromosomes. Exposure to radioactivity destroys the essence of body, mind and spirit: the double helix strands that comprise the greatest gift to humankind, the diversity and resilience of our DNA. Spurning that blessing, those who demand in-breeding along religious and racial lines are voicing no objections to genomicide – the destruction of our genetic spectrum by exposing entire peoples to radiation.

A Work of Angels Fallen

From the armchair in Washington, the Nuclear Age has been framed as a peak of civilization with its fine-tuned balance of advanced science and moral leadership. On the global stage, the nuclear bomb is presented as an instrument of peace wielded by enlightened minds, posing a constant threat of extinction to enemies of progress.

Yet since August 1945, the randomness of cruelty to victims and endless suffering of innocents began to emerge from the blinding light, absent the moral rationale behind the volcanic annihilation of two wrongful cities in the Old Testament. Gradually, it became apparent to compassionate people worldwide that there is nothing peaceful, law-giving, liberating, sacred or good about the Bomb.

As for myths, whenever these are hijacked by politicians and generals for their megalomaniacal objective of lebensraum, ancient bravery in battle loses its supernatural wonder and becomes reduced to cold, calculated justification for blood lust and tribal savagery. The nuclear bomb has been celebrated by its worshipers as the work of angels, when in truth it is a graven idol, a monstrous infant-devouring Gollum, which arose as a death wish from the darkest recesses of a demented psyche.

Israeli leaders have oft repeated the claim of being the only civilized nation in a troubled Middle East – in a twisted parody of the desert tribe’s self-appointed status ages ago as the upholders of light for benighted humankind. For all the moral posturing and blasphemous analogies, the warlords of Zion have unwittingly left behind a trail of fingerprints, a nuclear signature in the chemical traces, an everlasting seal of guilt. To borrow a biblical term, it is the mark of Cain.

Yoichi Shimatsu is the former Editor of The Japan Times Weekly in Tokyo and a science writer and director of Above & Beyond, which provides radiation-related health consulting to Fukushima residents and conducted public-health seminars during the SARS and avian influenza outbreaks in Hong Kong and Thailand.





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