Thursday, 10 July 2003

Our gift to Iraq

by AL Kennedy

Due to the dreadfully unpatriotic behaviour of Robin Cook and the BBC, many of you are now experiencing what we might call worry.

You're mumbling anxious nonsense like, "Surely, it was obvious that Iraq's new democratically poisonous water supplies, freedom-loving house-to-house searches, its sexy, western-style press censorship and friendly, illegal interrogations might not entirely please Iraqis."

Why, I'll bet you're allowing phrases like "playing Russian roulette with other people's lives" and "blood-soaked, greedy, Westminster scum" to creep into otherwise respectable conversations. You may even worry that Tony Blair has misplaced his soul. But worries cause disease. So to keep us all happy and healthy, let's focus on the one real feelgood factor left in Iraq - depleted uranium.

That it is left all over Iraq just shows how much we care, because DU is gorgeous stuff - gorgeous uranium-238 with a dash of gorgeous uranium-235. It's cheap, if you're subsidising nuclear power to the hilt, and frankly we have whole slag heaps of it to dump. It's almost twice as heavy as lead, so it's great for armour plating, radiation shielding, ballast in missiles and aircraft counterweights.

It's splendid for shells and - better yet - it's pyrophoric. Which is to say, if you bang it into anything, it produces blasting amounts of heat.

War, naturally, involves many things banging into each other. If we're not wasting our own troops by mistake, there's always enemy action to consider, plus accidents and malfunctions - it's not all shiny flightsuits and blasphemous profiteering: combat has it's dark side, too.

A few of you have heard that DU is toxic and radioactive, and maybe you're fretting about that. With so many vehicles containing DU and so much DU ammunition rattling about and the possibilities of violence being fairly high, DU could be released into the environment and come into contact with people, even British people.

And I won't lie to you, there is a tiny chance that the tons of DU fired at and in Iraq may also have landed there. And some of it may have been slightly damaged on impact. But that's no cause for concern, because measures are in place to deal absolutely effectively with every possible scenario.

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