The NATO intervention against former Yugoslavia was supposed to relieve the agonies and sufferings of the people in the region who were subject to seemingly unending wars. The outcomes of the intervention, however, came to confirm an established truth: West’s multiple standards in its foreign policies to achieve the goals of expanding its military and political hegemony across the globe. 20 years ago, for the first time, the silver bullet, as the inhabitants of Bosnia used to call the ammunition with depleted uranium, was used in the military conflicts at the Balkans. NATO generals were satisfied with the overall trial results. The depleted uranium became a part of everyday life at the Balkans in the years that followed. The story starts since long time ago long time ago when the Americans were preparing for a long period for the war against Slobodan Milosevic. Several years before the war, the Balkan headquarters of CIA was moved from Belgrade to the capital city of Bulgaria, Sofia. Everyone was relieved when the truce was signed in Kumanovo, Macedonia, for the cease of the military operations of NATO. The Serbian army began to withdraw from Kosovo. But the bombs and the consequences of the bombing remained. The depleted uranium started to take its blood tax. People began to die of cancer on a large scale. 15 years after the NATO bombing in Southern and Central Serbia, we are witnessing a real explosion and increase of cancer.
TIME CODE: 00:00_05:13
Narration:Hadzichi is a small town near Sarajevo. In former Yugoslaviaone of the three largest factories for the overhaul of infantry weapons and armored vehicles– the Technical Repair Institutewas builtin Hadzichi. During the NATO bombing of Bosnia and Herzegovina, most of the depleted uranium bombs were thrown on Hadzichi.
SOUNDBITE [Serbian], Vido Banduka, Deputy Mayor, Bratunac: “I was a living witness of the bombing in Hadžići.Thatdepleteduranium, as it turned out later, was mostly present in the ammunition with caliber of 24 mm. I had the opportunity to see those shells. Many of our fellow citizens have kept those shells on their desks as souvenirs. These bullets were fired by the planes.”
Narration:Nobody knew that NATO planes were using depleted uranium ammunitions in the attacks on Hadzichi. Nobody.
SOUNDBITE [Serbian], Jelina Djurković, Depleted Uranium Investigation Commission, Sarajevo: “Our people, our government and our military didn’t know that the ammunition that NATO used to bomb us twice in Bosnia and Herzegovina was ammunition with depleted uranium. We did not know that. We were totally uninformed. NATO bombed twice the military infrastructure in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1994 and 1995. In 1995 they bombed the relays in Republika Srpska, and destroyed the telecommunication, so the so-called secondary radiation appeared. What did people do? People would collect the spent cartridges and use them as trophies in their homes. They would enter the craters, because NATO not only used ammunition for the destruction of tanks, but they also used large aircraft bombs as well as cruising rockets that were filled with depleted uranium. We do not know with what ammunition they were bombing us.”
Narration:Until the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement, by which a ceasefire of the three-year war in Bosnia and Herzegovina was signed, a predominantly Serb population used to live in Hadzichi. After the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement, the Serbian forces left Hadzichi. Most of the inhabitants of Hadzichi that were of Serbian nationality left with them. They settled in the town of Bratunac near the Bosnian-Serbian border.
SOUNDBITE [Serbian], Vido Banduka, Deputy Mayor, Bratunac: “We couldn’t know this at that time. The bombing was in September, and the Dayton Peace Agreement was signed in November 1995. With that agreement, the part of Hadžićiwhich was controlled by us, the Serbs, was given to the Bosniak-Croat Federation, and then there was chaos among the people who had defended that territory for 4 years, and then left the area and went to another place.”
Narration:Then the mass dying of the immigrated Serbs from Hadzichi to Bratunac began. Four times higher was the mortality of the immigrated Serbs from Hadzichi to Bratunac, compared with the native inhabitants of Bratunac.
SOUNDBITE [Serbian], Lamia Tanović, Prof. of Nuclear Physics,Sarajevo:“In that period the Serbs from the region of Hadžići were intensely moving away. And most of the Serbs that used to live in Hadžići during the NATO bombing with depleted uranium, now live in Bratunac. It has been discovered that In Bratunac people are getting sick, on a large scale, of malignant diseases.”
TIME CODE: 05:13_10:22
SOUNDBITE [Serbian], Vido Banduka, Deputy Mayor, Bratunac: “I was a member of the National Assembly of Republika Srpska for one term. For the first time during the year 2000, the National Assembly formed a committee to examine these developments and the possible consequences. I have been a member of that committee for two to three years and we have collected all available data. We’ve found that mortality among the population that moved from Hadžići to Bratunac significantly increased. In particular, the percentage of cancer deaths increased.”
Narration:The depleted uranium started to take its blood tax. People began to die of cancer on a large scale.
SOUNDBITE [Serbian], Vido Banduka, Deputy Mayor, Bratunac: “Mortality of the immigrants from Hadžići was much higher compared with that of the aboriginal population of Bratunac.”
Narration:Jelina Gjurkovikj now lives in Bjeljina, where she immigrated in 1992, immediately after the beginning of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Her brother, Vujadin Popovikj was sentenced to life imprisonment by the ICTY for the crimes done in Srebrenica.From 2003 to 2007 Jelina Gjurkovic was a member of the Parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo. At her own initiative a Commission was formed, which had to examine the consequences of NATO bombing of Bosnia and Herzegovina with depleted uranium.
SOUNDBITE [Serbian], Jelina Djurković, Depleted Uranium Investigation Commission, Sarajevo:“What was the motive? Since the start of the war in Bosnia, I have lived in Bijeljina. In a period of six months almost every day I went to a funeral. And if you ask from what the person died, and the passed away were mostly middle age people, which means that they were neither old nor were they dying due to unfortunate accidents, etc. So the answer was: cancer, cancer, cancer, cancer, and cancer. Then I wondered why they were dying of cancer. That was my motivation. Of course like any other human being, I also read the newspapers, had contact with many people and everyone was talking about cancer. I have to tell you that I had no problem to form that committee, but during the work of the committee I was visited by NATO when they asked me why we did this.”
Narration:The commission formed by Jelina Gjurkovic confirmed that ammunition with depleted uranium was used at the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
SOUNDBITE [Serbian], Lamia Tanović, Prof. of Nuclear Physics,Sarajevo: “In 2005, a parliamentary commission was established with the purpose of investigating the issue of depleted uranium and its connection with the diseases of the population in those areas. There are three locations. One is in Hadžići which is relatively close to Sarajevo, the second one is in Han Pijesak, and the third one is in Žirovnica that is located in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The committee had prepared a report, but, unfortunately, that report was never adequately treated.”
Narration:Today there is only one copy of that Report. That is the one that is in possession of Jelina Gjurkovic. There are no documents for the work of this commission in the archives of the Parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
SOUNDBITE [Serbian], Jelina Djurković, Depleted Uranium Investigation Commission, Sarajevo: “We were not the only ones who investigated this. Such investigations were also done by the UN and their agency UNEP. The Assembly of Republika Srpska had established its own committee and we shared information with each other. About four tons of depleted uranium bombs were thrown on Bosnia and Herzegovina, and about 30 tons were dumped in the territory of Kosovo and Serbia. But those numbers should be taken with caution because we think that they are much bigger.”
TIME CODE: 10:22_15:24
SOUNDBITE [Serbian], Vido Banduka, Deputy Mayor, Bratunac: “A man, who was president of the Municipal Assembly in Hadžići, and his wife died of cancer six or seven years ago. We have all kept that ammunition as a souvenir. That ammunition, as we later found out, primarily served to penetrate solid walls and the armor of tanks and other metal parts, because it is activated only when it hits hard surfaces. That was explained to me. When that shell hits plain soil, it will not explode, but will only make a small crater that is even smaller than the crater which is formed during the hit of a grenade of 60 mm. These shells were extremely black and they looked very interesting to people. Folk said, you could collect that ammunition with a shovel since it was spread everywhere on the soil. Especially in the area around the Technical Repair Institute which was probably bombed separately in order to destroy all tanks, machinery and the whole equipment there. So those shells served to pierce solid armors and surfaces.”
Narration:Alfred Vidic of the Institute of Public Health of Federation of B&H confirms that at the territory of Hadzichi there are still remnants of that ammunition with depleted uranium.
SOUNDBITE [Serbian], Alfred Vidic, Institute of Public Health FB&H: “Within the last 10 years, the Center for Radiation Protection, which is part of the Institute for Public Health of Federation of B&H, has conducted research on the presence of uranium in that area. It has been proven that ammunition with parts made of depleted uranium or whole ammunition of depleted uranium had been used in several micro locations around the Repair Technical Institute in Hadžići. Then estimates were made and, in accordance with our capabilities, a removal of the penetrators from that area was performed, from the surface layer and 20 to 30 cm below the surface of the polluted soil.”
SOUNDBITE [Serbian], Jelina Djurković, Depleted Uranium Investigation Commission, Sarajevo: “I had a visit from an Italian committee that was investigating the same case. They had an acute problem because hundreds of their soldiers had died of cancer. Those soldiers were in the Balkans, in Kosovo or in Bosnia and Herzegovina. They died of atypical diseases, like tumors, and cancers and Italians called the problem ‘Balkan Syndrome’. They began to explore whether there was a relationship between the use of depleted uranium ammunition and the deaths of their soldiers. The Italians formed their investigation committee and they were my guests. The Greeks also had their committee and I got a report from them along with research on water pollution around Hadžići. From them I got the information indicating that they had found traces of depleted uranium in the water.”
SOUNDBITE [Serbian], Alfred Vidic, Institute of Public Health FB&H: “There was afewtons ofuranium.”
Narration:20 years ago, for the first time, the silver bullet, as the inhabitants of Bosnia used to call the ammunition with depleted uranium, was used in the military conflicts at the Balkans. NATO generals were satisfied with the overall trial results. The depleted uranium became a part of everyday life at the Balkans in the years that followed.
TIME CODE: 15:24_20:26
SOUNDBITE [Serbian], Jelina Djurković, Depleted Uranium Investigation Commission, Sarajevo: “During the time our committee was working, we had information that about 80,000 of U.S. soldiers were suffering from the so-called Persian Gulf War and Balkan Syndrome.”
Narration:From 23 to 25 April in 1999, the 16th Summit of the NATO member states was held in Washington. NATO celebrated 50 years since its establishment. Already for a
one month the war had raged in Kosovo and the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia was ongoing. At the 50th anniversary of NATO, the Americans and Bill Clinton wanted a big win against Slobodan Milosevic. That was very important for the U.S. President Bill Clinton, since his rating was seriously threatened after the affair with Monica Lewinsky.The Americans were preparing for a long period for the war against Slobodan Milosevic.Several years before the war, the Balkan headquarters of CIA was moved from Belgrade to the capital city of Bulgaria, Sofia.
SOUNDBITE [Serbian], Krasimir Karakacanov, Bulgarian Politician: “I think that it happened before 1999. It was 1994 or 1995, when it became clear that there would be conflicts in Yugoslavia, and that they had already started. Then the Americans decided to shift to a place where they would be safer. And one of their centers in the Balkans was in Sofia.”
Narration:Bulgarian Prime Minister Ivan Kostov and the head of the General Staff of the Bulgarian Army General, Miho Mihov, were called for urgent consultations at the NATO headquarters in Brussels. Bulgaria was one of the two countries whose territories were used by the NATO planes in order to bomb Yugoslavia.
SOUNDBITE [Serbian], Miho Mihov, Bulgarian General: “Our leadership made a political decision that we agree to have such air corridor through Bulgaria.”
Narration: Two options were possible, Belgrade and Yugoslavia to be bombed from the Indzirlik base in Turkey or from the Aviano base in Italy.
SOUNDBITE [Serbian], Miho Mihov, Bulgarian General: “We and the Prime Minister Ivan Kostov were in Brussels for a meeting with, the then NATO commander Wesley Clark.Then it became clear to me that NATO would not use the airspace of Bulgaria and Incirlik Air Base in Turkey for intervention in Kosovo, but would use the road from Italy through Macedonia for the bombing of Kosovo and Serbia.”
Narration:At the end the NATO generals decided for air strikes on Yugoslavia from the Aviano base. Bulgaria was “saved”. The burden fell on Macedonia, a small country in the Balkans which borders with Kosovo and today’s Serbia.TheMacedonian Prime Minister Ljubcho Georgievski was called to a meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the United States, Madeleine Albright. The Americans wanted to have a backup option in case NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia did give the desired results. The plans were already ready for ground intervention and entering the NATO forces in Belgrade and overthrowing of Slobodan Milosevic, as it was done in Iraq with Saddam Hussein.
SOUNDBITE [Serbian], Ljubĉo Georgievski, Fmr. Macedonian Prime Minister: “NATO’s aviation had previously received permission to pass through Macedonia, but I cannot recall the exact date. A month or so before Slobodan Milošević’s capitulation, I was summoned to Washington where Madeleine Albright asked me for permission. They were already planning to enter Serbia by land.”
Narration:The port of Thessaloniki was already prepared to receive the new NATO forces which were prepared for a ground intervention in Kosovo.
SOUNDBITE [Serbian], Ljubĉo Georgievski, Fmr. Macedonian Prime Minister: “According to what I was able to understand, which is not authentic as information, probably they were planning a quick landing in Greece and then a quick passing through Macedonia. On the other hand, there was another attempted corridor through Albania, but the route was less favorable.”
TIME CODE: 20:26_26:15
Narration: Macedonia was swarming like a beehive. The U.S. Embassy was attacked. The Ambassador was saved by hiding in the basement of the Embassy.
SOUNDBITE [Serbian], Ljubĉo Georgievski, Fmr. Macedonian Prime Minister: “Macedonia had the same role in the intervention against Serbia as that of Pakistan during the intervention in Afghanistan. I clearly remember the time when most of the logistic preparations for the entire operation were performed in Macedonia.”
Narration: The NATO planes accidentally or with intention, while returning to the base in Aviano, throw bombs with depleted uranium on the Macedonian territory.
SOUNDBITE [Serbian], Petar Shkrbina, Military-Political Analyst, Macedonia:“We were lucky enough that in the NATO air strike, according to our own records, the planes carrying out the attacks failed to launch all missiles and around 39 missiles and grenades fell, not activated, on the territory of Macedonia.”
SOUNDBITE [Serbian], Blagoja Markovski, Fmr. Spokesman for the Macedonian Army:“It is obviousthatsuchconsequences are already felt or willbe feltin the northernandnorthwesternparts of Macedonia.”
Narration:Everyone was relieved when the truce was signed in Kumanovo for the cease of the military operations of NATO.
SOUNDBITE [Serbian], Ljubĉo Georgievski, Fmr. Macedonian Prime Minister:“Milošević’s capitulation came as great relief to us because we considered it to be a very complicated operation.”
Narration: The Serbian army began to withdraw from Kosovo. But the bombs and the consequences of the bombing remained.
SOUNDBITE [Serbian], Petar Shkrbina, Military-Political Analyst, Macedonia: “The firstproblem was perceivedorverifiedwhen the KFOR forces enteredKosovoafterthe air strikein the region ofPrizrenwhere the Italianforceswerestationed. It turned outthat the Italiantroopsweremostlyexposed toradiationand when theyreturnedto Italy they filed a lawsuit againstthe ItalianGovernmentin which they demandedpaidcompensationbecause of the factthat many of the soldiers had died. Butthe Italiangovernmenttold them tosue the NATOAlliance, not the government.”
Narration: PeterSkrbina was project coordinator for the production of the tank M-84 which represented a particular pride of the former Yugoslav People's Army.
SOUNDBITE [Serbian], Petar Shkrbina, Military-Political Analyst, Macedonia: “At that time Yugoslaviawas thesixthcountryin the world toproduceits owntanks, one hundred percent its own, which represented ahugesuccess. TheM-84tankisactuallylicensedRussiantankT-72which at thattimewas pronounced the besttankin the middle classbecauseit was carrying a 125 mmcannon, whilethe standardtanksof the NATOAlliancehad105mm cannons.”
Narration: M-84 tank was used and showed excellent performance in combat during the Persian Gulf War in 1991.
SOUNDBITE [Serbian], Petar Shkrbina, Military-Political Analyst, Macedonia: “161 M-84 tanks that Yugoslavia produced, was sold to Kuwait. They were used during the crisis there and were proven as very good. I can provide you with a few details since I participated in the presentation in Kuwait ... since the Arabs demanded all sort of things ... in one of the warehouses there was the Abrams, the American M1 tank, which is otherwise heavier than M-84 for almost ten tons. One of the other tests was to attach the M-84 to the Abrams and see which one will pull harder. Unfortunately, the M-84 tank pulled the Abrams. The reason for this was the construction of the transmission system and the way it operated on land.”
TIME CODE: 26:15_30:40
Narration: The ammunition with depleted uranium is used to destroy tanks and other armored vehicles.
SOUNDBITE [Serbian], Lamia Tanović, Prof. of Nuclear Physics,Sarajevo: “Why did Americans begin to make the tips of the shells from depleted uranium? Because depleted uranium is a very heavy metal. Tungsten is also a heavy metal and is used to produce the tips of classical ammunition. Americans began to use depleted uranium because it is much heavier than tungsten and has certain features when it collides with the armor of a tank; for example, its tip in such collisions becomes sharper and thus penetrates much deeper into the armor of a tank.”
SOUNDBITE [Serbian], Petar Shkrbina, Military-Political Analyst, Macedonia: “Depleteduranium increases the destructive powerofstandardmissiles so much thatnobody is willing to give upits use anymore.”
Narration: Compared with the classical ammunition, bombs with depleted uranium are more efficient and less expensive for production. That is why the ammunition with depleted uranium is more and more used in NATO combat operations.
SOUNDBITE [Serbian], Petar Shkrbina, Military-Political Analyst, Macedonia:“A missile made ofsteelanddepleteduranium is 50timesmore powerfulthan a standardmissilemade of steel. Itisreallya great improvementfor thoseplanning touse it, hence it isclearthatanyone whohas access todepleted uranium, which includes everybody who has accessto a nuclearreactorbecausethatis a nuclear waste, is willing to use it.”
SOUNDBITE [Serbian], Vladimir Ajdaĉić, Prof. of Nuclear Physics,Serbia: “A bullet made of depleted uranium which weighs about 270 grams gets very high acceleration and when it hits a solid target such as the steel of a tank or a hard stone, and when it penetrates or drills through that obstacle, its temperature grows more and more and immediately it explodes. The kinetic energy is released by the movement MXV2/2; that amount of energy is converted into thermal energy and that thermal energy scatters the grain of the shell. It's just like when you see the apple falling to the ground and when it falls it bursts. The same happens to this shell. But the grain does not burst due to the kinetic energy but due to the heat that is developed. The heat causes the burning of the uranium and in a moment it glares like when a star explodes.”
SOUNDBITE [Serbian], Lamia Tanović, Prof. of Nuclear Physics,Sarajevo: “When a shell hits a solid wall, then a very high temperature is created. That shell, i.e. ammunition, has a pin of depleted uranium. This creates a very high temperature of 1200 degrees; uranium begins to burn at 700 degrees. Then it comes to the burning of the uranium which creates this so-called uranium fog.”
TIME CODE: 30:40_35:10
Narration: The depleted uranium is nuclear waste. There are vast reserves in the world of such nuclear waste that can be used to produce ammunition with depleted uranium.
SOUNDBITE [Serbian], Petar Shkrbina, Military-Political Analyst, Macedonia: “Depleteduraniumis actuallynuclear waste,i.e. a leftover from the nuclear fission in anuclearreactor.It is acheapraw material, whichis obtainedas a byproduct ofnuclear waste.”
SOUNDBITE [Serbian], Lamia Tanović, Prof. of Nuclear Physics,Sarajevo: “Many analysts blame America. Americans first started to produce ammunition with depleted uranium during the 70s of the last century. In one of the Israeli-Arab conflicts depleted uranium ammunition, which Israel received from America, was used for the first time. And then such ammunition was used very extensively in 1991 in the Gulf War in Iraq. And then it was our turn in Bosnia in 1995, and in 1999 such ammunition was used in Kosovo. It is estimated that USA has a very large amount of radioactive waste in its nuclear reactors that produce fuel for nuclear power plants and nuclear submarines. The radioactive waste is depleted uranium.”
SOUNDBITE [Serbian], Petar Shkrbina, Military-Political Analyst, Macedonia:“Even the most advanced and latestknownAmericannuclearbombB 91-11 has acasing thatismade ofdepleteduranium; it is analloyofdepleteduraniumandothermaterials.”
SOUNDBITE [Serbian], Lamia Tanović, Prof. of Nuclear Physics,Sarajevo:“There is such nuclear waste in huge quantities. It is estimated that today America has 570 thousand tons of nuclear waste. The Americans have the problem of where to store that nuclear waste. They have developed special procedures to store it in separate wells deep in the ground or deep beneath the sea surface in the oceans. But that is very expensive. Whether because of that or because of the good features of uranium in combats, someone invented nuclear waste to spread it around the world. I do not know, but there are many journalists who claim that it was a U.S. strategy. Otherwise, what will America do with such a large amount of nuclear waste? It is easier to make the tips of ammunition from depleted uranium, and thus can be solved the problem of nuclear waste. It is difficult to assess what it is. Although depleted uranium has these beneficial properties of big combat penetration, it also has those harmful effects.”
Narration:Kosovo is the youngest country in Europe. It was established after the end of the NATO intervention against Yugoslavia. The best tank and anti-aircraft units of the Army of Yugoslavia were located on the territories of Kosovo and Southern Serbia. Accordingly, most of the depleted uranium bombs were thrown in Kosovo and southern Serbia.
SOUNDBITE [Serbian], Milovan Drecun Chairman, MP, Serbian Parliament: “There is absolutely no doubt that ammunition with depleted uranium was used. I am absolutely positive but according to the data presented by the Serbian government, exactly 50,000 pieces of ammunition were fired by aircraft A-10 which is a Volcano Cannon, and those were not necessarily bombs but mostly ammunition and one piece of this ammunition weighs about 290 grams.”
SOUNDBITE [Serbian], Petar Shkrbina, Military-Political Analyst, Macedonia: “The missiles are launchedfrom a specialkindoffighterplane calledA 10Thunderbolt.”
TIME CODE: 35:10_40:23
Narration: NATO planes threw most of the ammunition with depleted uranium near Prizren.Prizren is an old Turkish city at the border between Kosovo and Albania. The units of Kososvo Liberation Army or KLA were trained in the camps in Albania. Army of Yugoslavia anticipated joint attack by the units of KLA, the Albanian army and NATO forces from the territory of Albania. That is why the best brigades of the Army of Yugoslavia were located near Prizren.
SOUNDBITE [Serbian], Milovan Drecun Chairman, MP, Serbian Parliament: “They were trying to weaken our defense using the aircrafts A-10, destroy as much as possible of our military machinery, especially our tanks and artillery units, and cause major material losses and casualties, thus to enable the upcoming land aggression through Albania, from the Košareand Gorna Župa outposts. A strong attack from Albania was supposed to come from the direction of Prizren and Gjakova which involved more than 10,000 troops supported by the Albanian Army and the Special Forces of NATO. With the heavy bombing of this area they were preparing the land entry of their forces from Albania. That was a precisely devised operation of the NATO forces,and the Albanian army. That is why this area was so intensely bombed.”
SOUNDBITE [Serbian], Zora Žunić,Vinĉa Institute of Nuclear Sciences: “In southern Serbia, depleted uranium bombs totally weighing 1.5 tons were dumped, but most of those bombs were thrown on the territory of Kosovo.”
Narration: Authorities in Kosovo today do not have official figures on the number of deaths due to the Balkan’s cancer.
SOUNDBITE [Serbian], Xhavit Bicaj, Director, Institute of Radiology, Prishtina: “It is a well-known secretthatTomahawkshaddepleteduraniumand it is also known that uranium needs thousands of years to decompose.”
Narration: USA is the biggest ally of Kosovo. Thanks to USA, Kosovo became an independent country. So today in Kosovo very little is talked about the Balkan’s cancer because Kosovo authorities do not want to make their biggest allies, Americans, angry.
SOUNDBITE [Serbian], Milovan Drecun Chairman, MP, Serbian Parliament: “Throughout the bombing there were 20,000 airline departures and 19,000 combat flights; also over 25,000 tons of high explosives were used during the bombing. Out of 450 tanks deployed in Kosovo and Metohija, they only managed to hit seven.”
SOUNDBITE [Serbian], Slobodan Čikarić, Belgrade’s Institute of Oncology: “When that ammunition hits an armor of a tank, a rock, a wall or a bunker, it comes to the ignition of uranium 238, which creates oxides and these compounds of uranium burst into small pieces of dust whose dimensions range from one to five microns. That is the essence of the problem. This dust does not remain only on the field where there was a combat. The most attacks with that ammunition occurred in the territories of Kosovo and Metohija. That dust, helped by the flow of wind, can spread over a large area. There was 15 tons of depleted uranium dumped along with an unspecified amount of plutonium, which is a particularly worrisome problem. Plutonium is far more radioactive material in comparison with uranium 238. That dust spread over the territory of the Balkan Peninsula during the bombing, which means it occurred in March, April and May. The Greeks noted that during the military operations in Kosovo and Metohija, the level of ionization radiation in Greece was 30 percent higher than the natural level. Thus, Macedonia was also covered with that uranium dust.”
TIME CODE: 40:23_45:11
Narration:Vranje is the southernmost city in Serbia. It is located on the border with Macedonia. In case of ground intervention of the NATO troops through the territory of Macedonia, the city of Vranje and its surrounding would be the front line. Therefore the attacks of the NATO planes over Vranje and its surrounding were very heavy. A lot of bombs with depleted uranium were thrown.
SOUNDBITE [Serbian], Eržika AntićDirector,Institute of Public Health, Vranje: “In 1999, the greatest number of bombs with depleted uranium hit the city of Vranje in the area of Pljachkovica, the village of Bratoselce in the area of Bujanovac, the village of Borovac in the area ofMedveđa, and Reljan near Preševo. All the four places are located in the Pčinja District.”
SOUNDBITE [Serbian], Zora Žunić,Vinĉa Institute of Nuclear Sciences: “I have explored locations in Pljachkovica, Bratoselce, Reljan and Borovac. These are the places, especially Pljachkovica, that were mostly bombed. We went to Bratoselce and found the first bullet there. It was October 1999.”
SOUNDBITE [Serbian], Slobodan Čikarić, Belgrade’s Institute of Oncology: “The problem is that the period of semi-disintegration of uranium is 4.5 billion years. That dust was deposited on the soil, and entered surface waters, plants as well as domestic and wild animals; and during the war the inhabitants in the Balkans, some more and some less, and mostly those who lived in Kosovo and Metohija, consumed uranium 238 in two ways. Either through breathing or by digestion, through plants, water and the animal world. After the completion of the military actions, that uranium dust built up over the soil and remained definitely in this region to poison the animals and vegetation.”
Narration:The Institute of Nuclear Sciences Vincha was established in 1948. The Yugoslav atomic bomb was supposed to be produced In Vincha. Before the end of his life, the great communist leader of Yugoslavia, Josip Broz Tito, abandoned the project for the production of an atomic bomb in Vincha.
SOUNDBITE [Serbian], Zora Žunić,Vinĉa Institute of Nuclear Sciences: “From 1999 to 2001 there was a conspiracy and nothing could either be heard or found out, so I started to collect samples, to read and learn, because previously I didn’t know anything about it.”
SOUNDBITE [Serbian], Slobodan Čikarić, Belgrade’s Institute of Oncology: “They cleaned the field, brought the radioactive material to Vinća, located 12 to 15 km outside Belgrade and allegedly protected the environment. That of course is not true because when such uranium dust spreads through the Balkans, it cannot be collected in any way. It is still here and will remain for the next 4.5 billion years, and that means permanently.”
Narration:Vincha experts were involved in the research and decontamination of the terrain around Vranje. They worked together with the representatives of UNEP, the United Nations Environment Program. Their results that the territory around Vranje is contaminated with depleted uranium were subsequently confirmed by several specialized agencies that perform such analyses for the purposes of the United Nations.
TIME CODE: 45:11_50:00
SOUNDBITE [Serbian], Zora Žunić,Vinĉa Institute of Nuclear Sciences: “We removed one shell from the soil in 25 minutes. It’s like it had made some arabesques in the soil. The Vinća Institute and UNEP worked together on the field. They possessed metal detectors and examined the ground first, and then we started to work after they told us where they had detected leftovers from the shells. We collected the shells and parts of the soil where they were found. In addition, I collected parts of the moss and lichen, usually found in that territory, because they were usually accumulators of the radioactivity.”
Narration:Allanalyses that were made in the vicinity of Vranje showed that besides the depleted uranium ammunition, also bombs made from plutonium were thrown there.
SOUNDBITE [Serbian], Zora Žunić,Vinĉa Institute of Nuclear Sciences: “All the samples were analyzed in Seibersdorf, near Vienna, in one of the official laboratories of the International Atomic Energy Agency. In the bullets, besides depleted uranium, plutonium was also found.”
Narration: 15 years after the NATO bombing in Southern and Central Serbia, we are witnessing a real explosion and increase of cancer.
SOUNDBITE [Serbian], Eržika AntićDirector,Institute of Public Health, Vranje:“It has been observed and confirmed that in Vranje the number of breast cancer cases is the highest among women while lung cancer dominates among men.”
Narration:Slobodan Chikarikj is President of the Cancer Association in Serbia. He started first with research on the effects of the NATO bombing with depleted uranium on the health of the citizens of Serbia. The results today are very disappointing.
SOUNDBITE [Serbian], Slobodan Čikarić, Belgrade’s Institute of Oncology: “186 billion becquerels. When you divide that by ten million people in Serbia, together with Kosovo and Metohija, it turns out that 18,600 becquerels was thrown per inhabitant. The allowed amount of uranium 238 in drinking water over a year is 80 becquerels. So according to our legislation and also international standards, one person can consume only 80 becquerels per year through drinking water. And this is when NATO threw 18,600 becquerels per person on the territory of Serbia. Hypothetically, if each and every resident of the 10 million population had consumed as much as 18,600 becquerels that was served during the ‘Operation Merciful Angel’, as was called the NATO intervention in Serbia, then virtually the entire population of Serbia would have disappeared.”
Narration:Unfortunately the estimates are not optimistic. The silver bullet of depleted uranium will cast death in the Balkans in the next ten years. Let's hope that the number of deaths from Balkan’scancer will be lower than estimates.
SOUNDBITE [Serbian], Slobodan Čikarić, Belgrade’s Institute of Oncology: “When we know all the information, then we cannot avoid the conclusion that the dramatic increase in malignant lymphoma and leukemia, after 7.5 years is due to the NATO bombing with those penetrators and ammunition made of depleted uranium 238.”
Narration: The NATO intervention against Yugoslavia was called Merciful Angel. It is strange how the name sometimes does lie.