- Thousands of soldiers were placed at risk from the
of depleted uranium, the substance linked to Gulf war syndrome,
safety notice failed to reach troops in Saudi Arabia during the
- A breakdown in communications meant that the notice from
Ministry of Defence in London never found its way to soldiers attached
to tanks armed with ammunition containing the fatal substance, the
said last night.
- In a written parliamentary reply, the defence minister,
John Spellar, said officials had uncovered a message which was sent from
the MoD to 1 Armoured Division in Saudi Arabia on 25 February 1991 about
the dangers posed by the substance. A second message, advising on how to
avoid breathing in depleted uranium dust, never reached its
- Mr Spellar's admission is an embarrassment to the MoD,
fighting claims by Gulf war veterans that they were poisoned by
depleted uranium during the war.
- Veterans reacted angrily last
night to the MoD statement.
Shaun Rusling, of the National Gulf
Veterans and Families Association,
said he did not believe safety
messages were ever sent to the Gulf.
- "I think the MoD statement
is untrue and is designed
to cover up their failure to issue any
warnings," he said. "This
is very disturbing. I would like to
see their documentation as we can
prove the MoD was fully aware of the
dangers and yet did nothing to advise
- The MoD statement
came as new figures showed nearly 300
Gulf war veterans have died in
the last three years. In a parliamentary
reply, Mr Spellar said 278
Gulf war veterans have died since 1995. None
of the dead has been
officially confirmed as a victim of Gulf war syndrome.
- Stephen Childs, 47, who died of liver and pancreas cancer
Saturday, was the most recent Gulf war soldier to die. His doctor believes
exposure to depleted uranium while he recovered damaged vehicles caused
- The MoD said last night that it regretted that its
notice failed to reach troops. But a spokesman insisted that there
no proof that soldiers fell ill as a result of depleted uranium, which
is used to strengthen the tips of shells.
- The spokesman said that the
substance only posed a risk
to Iraqi troops when it vapourised after
piercing armour. "We do not
believe it is a problem for British
veterans, but we have offered them
tests. This has not been
- The veterans' campaign received a boost earlier this
tests were carried out on the body of Terry Riordon, a Canadian
military policeman who died after suffering Gulf war syndrome. They found
substances linked to depleted uranium in his bone tissue.
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