The radioactive legacy of U.S.-led war in Iraq

By Helen Caldicott, Independent Australia, 23 March 2023
Families in Iraq are now living with a dramatic rise in birth defects (Image via Pixabay)

An increasing number of birth defects have been reported in Iraq following the U.S. detonation of radioactive weapons near homes and schools during the 2003 invasion, writes Dr Helen Caldicott.

* CONTENT WARNING: This article contains disturbing video footage 

THE ”SHOCK AND AWE” war crime initiated by George W Bush and his co-frères was both a nuclear and conventional war, initiating disastrous medical diseases and congenital abnormalities that will haunt the people of Iraq forever.

The U.S. deployed missiles armed with uranium 238 (half-life of 4.5 billion years) were dense with a unique armour-penetrating power. Bursting into flame on impact, they convert to microscopic particles — polluting the air and surrounding soil to be spread by the wind for the rest of time.



Uranium is an alpha emitter with serious mutagenic and carcinogenic properties that become more radioactive over time.

A review by The Iraqi Commission for Human Rights stated:

‘The U.S. and British militaries used more than 1,700 tons of depleted uranium in Iraq in the 2003 invasion on top of 320 tons used in the 1991 Gulf War.’

Also, in the first 24 hours of the Libyan attack, U.S. B-2 bombers dropped 45 2,000-pound uranium bombs.

According to Independent:

‘Iraqi doctors in Fallujah have complained since 2005 of being overwhelmed by the number of babies with serious birth defects, ranging from a girl born with two heads to paralysis of the lower limbs. They said they were also seeing far more cancers than they did before the battle for Fallujah between U.S. troops and insurgents.’

In Fallujah, where two massive U.S. military operations took place, 25 per cent of newborns were seriously deformed.

Journalist Tom Eley reported:

‘… the rate of leukaemia was 38 times higher. The childhood cancer rate was 12 times higher and breast cancer was ten times more common than in populations in Egypt, Jordan and Kuwait.’


Despite this article downplaying the source of rising birth defects in Iraq, nonetheless, it states:

‘Across Iraq, increasing numbers of birth defects appear to be surfacing, including in MosulAl-RamadiNajafFallujahBasraHawija and Baghdad. In some provinces, cancers also are rising. Sterility, repeated miscarriages, stillbirths and severe birth defects – some not found in medical books – are reported widely.’

Even the BBC was forced to acknowledge the reality.

Despite the fact that the U.S. war with Iraq came to a close on 18 December 2011, families in numerous Iraqi cities are now living with a dramatic rise in birth defects and cancer from radioactive weapons that were detonated near homes, schools and playgrounds during the nearly seven-year conflict.

These diseases will be perpetuated for the rest of time.



If you would like to speak to a counsellor about birth issues or need a mental health check-in, please call Beyond Blue.

You can follow Dr Caldicott on Twitter @DrHCaldicott. Click here for Dr Caldicott’s complete curriculum vitae.

Originally published:,17353

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