Insights: Cleaning Up after War; October 2003; Scientific American Magazine; by Marc Airhart; 2 Page(s)
During its springtime assault against Saddam Hussein, the Pentagon played videos showing the deadly precision of U.S. weaponry. Guided by satellites and lasers, missiles found their targets without hitting nearby buildings. Yet even if civilians were spared, they could face dangers from spent munitions. For many weapons, U.S. forces have for the past two decades relied on depleted uranium, which, being nearly twice as dense as lead, can penetrate materials more effectively than conventional alloys can.
The metal, a by-product of uranium enrichment for nuclear power plants and warheads, is toxic when ingested and slightly radioactive, and that worries Pekka Haavisto. "Do you think that people in the postconflict situation are somehow harder people and they can take more burden?" Haavisto asks. "Or do you think that they are human beings like us, and whatever you can avoid, you should avoid?"