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Cancer Among NATO Troops Linked to Ammunition Used in BalkansAired January 7, 2001 - 5:16 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIAN NELSON, CNN ANCHOR: NATO is investigating whether its use of depleted uranium shells in the Balkans is causing a higher-than- normal rate of cancer among NATO peacekeeping soldiers. A team of investigators went to the Klina area in western Kosovo today. The team is looking for signs of radioactive contamination. NATO is coming under pressure to do something about the issue.
With more, Brussels bureau chief Patricia Kelly.
PATRICIA KELLY, CNN BRUSSELS BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): NATO-led troops serving in Kosovo are being warned to take extra precautions to guard against contamination from depleted uranium. The warning comes in the wake of concern among NATO nations that a high incidence of cancer among military that served in Bosnia in the mid-'90s could be linked to exposure to depleted uranium.
NATO dropped nearly 11,000 depleted uranium bombs in Bosnia to end the siege of Sarajevo. Thirty-one thousand more were launched at targets in Kosovo during the NATO air strikes of 1999. Depleted uranium makes the warhead tougher and easier to penetrate armor and concrete.
LT. GEN. CARLO CABIGIOSU, KFOR COMMANDER: Once you have interaction between the rod, the penetration rod, and the target, of course some depleted uranium is liberated. And if you get this into the human body, I think that you can have some problems.
KELLY: This British soldier did two tours in Bosnia before leaving the army in 1998.
UNIDENTIFIED SOLDIER: I've had testicular cancer (OFF-MIKE) arthritis in the knee joints, skin rashes, real bad head pains, personality stress disorder and severe depression.
KELLY: Belgium, Italy, Spain and Portugal have reported deaths from cancer in the military that could be linked to the toxic radioactive dust released after depleted uranium ammo explodes.
The World Health Organization says there has been no reported increase in cancer among the civilian population in Kosovo.
ERIK SCHOUSTEN, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: The ammunition has been used a year and a half ago. Most military are here only for six months. So the Kosovo population has been exposed three times as long. Up to now, and these are preliminary investigations and preliminary results, we don't see a change and we don't see an increase.
KELLY: But Yugoslavia's government intends to launch its own investigation.
GORAN SVILANOVIC, YUGOSLAV FOREIGN MINISTER: We try to investigate in all the cases what was the ammunition used in the bombing and what are the consequences caused of that ammunition.
KELLY: NATO used depletion uranium ammunition to bomb 112 sites in Kosovo.
(on camera): A team of scientists from the United Nations is planning to publish its findings on the health and environment and the possible effects of depleted uranium on health and the environment at the end of next month.
Patricia Kelly, CNN, Brussels.
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