- Sixteen British Gulf War veterans say
they have proof they are suffering from radiation poisoning, caused by
materials in the weapons used by the Allies.
- The men believe this could be a factor
in Gulf War Syndrome, the condition which thousands of soldiers say they
developed after serving in the region.
- In Iraq, doctors also say children have
been deformed by the same radiation.
- Shaun Rusling served in the Gulf War
and today, he takes a dozen different drugs to treat a catalogue of illnesses,
from chronic fatigue and post-traumatic stress disorder to problems with
the nervous system and depression.
- Doctors have diagnosed him as suffering
from Gulf War Syndrome.
- The Ministry of Defence says the syndrome
as such does not exist, so Mr Rusling and two of his fellow Gulf veterans,
Mike Kirkby and Mike Burrows, have been desperately seeking reasons for
the illnesses since their return from the war zone.
- They say independent tests carried out
in Canada revealing they and 13 other veterans have uranium radiation poisoning
may at last provide some answers.
- Independent diagnosis
- Mr Rusling says: "Basically we have
just been diagnosed with a bone disease...that is where depleted uranium
finishes - in your bones.
- "I'm saddened by our treatment by
the Ministry of Defence because we went out to do our job.
- "I treated Iraqi casualties with
more care and compassion than this government has treated me," he
- Mr Rusling believes it was while serving
with a field hospital unit that he was exposed to depleted uranium in dust
- Exposure to toxic metal
- A by-product of weapons grade uranium,
which in most forms is perfectly safe to handle, depleted uranium was used
by British and American forces on the tips of missiles to devastating effect.
- Controversially, the veterans say they
ingested tiny particles of the toxic metal after the missiles burned up
in the atmosphere.
- Mr Kirkby says: "They were blowing
locations up and we were driving through bodies and blown -up tanks. You
were breathing all the smoke and the dust off the sand."
- More than coincidence
- In Iraq, there is no shortage of tragic
stories about families whose children have a wide range of birth deformities.
- Professor Selma Al-Tah, a paediatrician
in Baghdad, believes her studies demonstrate a link with depleted uranium
and the many terrible genetic defects.
- "A lot of cases are really monsters.
Some of them have no necks, their appearance or their facial appearance
is completely distorted", she says.
- No matter how many examples there are
of terrible deformities or leukemia, Iraq's hospitals are so badly off
that proving a link with depleted uranium will be difficult, if not impossible,
without the proper resources.
- But the fact that similar cases have
also been identified among the families of British and American soldiers
who served during the Gulf War, is regarded as too much of a coincidence.
- The Ministry of Defence's medical team
is highly sceptical about these latest reports.
- However, a spokesman said it would be
happy to study any new tests which may shed light on the many and varied
conditions affecting Gulf War veterans.
- Fury over denial
- On Tuesday, families of veterans also
criticised a government report, released last week, which said Gulf War
Syndrome did not exist in the form of one condition.
- The report, by doctors working in the
Ministry of Defence's Medical Assessment Programme and released last Thursday,
said soldiers who fought in the 1991 war had developed illnesses, but no
single psychological or physiological cause was found.
- The National Gulf Veterans and Families
Association said the report was "an outrageous attempt to cover up
Gulf War illness".