The Uranium Atlas is a cooperative project that provides a compact illustration of the global dimensions of uranium mining and subsequent reuse. Many individual experts and authors from three continents have their say in it, which provides interested parties with an overview on the essential core questions relating to uranium. Historical, economic, health and political facts are named that prove the consistent risk posed by uranium. In addition, the various processes and intermediate steps of the nuclear chain are described in a comprehensible manner, revealing the global extent of this impasse.
The atlas – subtitled „Facts and figures about the raw material of the nuclear age“ – is the result of a cooperation between the Nuclear Free Future Foundation (NFFF), the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND) and Le Monde diplomatique. It made its debut on 12.09.19 in the TAZ-Canteen, followed by a discussion in which the director of the project „Uranatlas“, the environmental journalist Dr. Horst Hamm, explained why he considered the creation of a uranium atlas necessary. In the course of the evening, other activists and experts described the consequences of the use of nuclear energy in all its facets.
The South African activist Makoma Lekalakala, who runs the branch of the NGO Earthlife in Johannesburg, denounced the lack of protective equipment for workers in the nuclear power industry, who have an increased rate of cancer. Nevertheless, she said that nuclear power is being treated as „clean“ and that the unpleasant facts are being deliberately concealed. Dr. Alex Rosen, chairman of IPPNW Germany, also warned of the health consequences of the nuclear industry. He emphasized, that the main operator of this industry to this day is the military.
Uranium can be many things: Balance weight for aircraft wings, energy supplier, weapon, but in any form, it is highly harmful to humans and environment. Even in its unprocessed form, the mere extraction is dangerous. The Uranium Atlas dedicates a special double page to uranium or DU weapons, under the heading „DU: An abbreviation for the never-ending war’’.
The article was written by ICBUW chairman Prof. Manfred Mohr and the peace activist Marion Küpker, organizer of the legendary Uranium Weapons Conference in Hamburg, 2003. It provides an up-to-date and condensed presentation of the topic of uranium weapons, their mode of action, history and consequences of their use as well as the legal arguments for their prohibition (principles of international humanitarian law, precautionary principle, human and environmental law standards). Also of interest is the information on DU tests and incidents with reference to federal german territory.
At least 18 states worldwide have uranium weapons in their arsenals, including – England, USA, France, Russia, Turkey, Israel and China. Others are involved in the production of uranium weapons. The biggest producer and exporter of uranium weapons is Honeywell’s subsidiary Alliant Tech Systems (ATK) in the USA, which was taken over by the Northrop Grumman weapons group in 2017.
A highly instructive map presentation entitled „Uranium weapons – the repressed problem“ shows countries where uranium weapons have been and are being manufactured, tested and used. The Uranium Atlas, in whose creation the Munich journalist and co-founder of the Nuclear-Free-Future Award Claus Biegert played a decisive role, closes a gap. Manfred Mohr had pointed this out in the TAZ-Canteen discussion: Except for the International Uranium Film Festival (IUFF), there is hardly a forum (worldwide) that deals with the topic of „uranium“ in general.
At best, the „Uranium Network“, which focuses on uranium mining, and the „WISE Uranium Project“, which is broader in scope, should be mentioned here. The more important it is that an English version of the Uranium Atlas is soon available.
(Manfred Mohr and Eliah Buchholz)