Chasing uranium: Securing nuclear fuel on a transnational arena in Sweden 1971–1984
Journal article, 2020
Access to nuclear fuel is a key point for modern nuclear nations. Despite this, the complex processes of the nuclear fuel cycle are seldom discussed in nuclear history. In order to shed light on how actors in the nuclear business have worked to secure access to fuel, this article describes the historical case of uranium import in Sweden, handled by the public-private company SKBF. The risks and challenges brought on by the expansion of the nuclear program in Sweden can be clearly seen in the work of SKBF, and the article gives insight into the complex transnational processes of the nuclear fuel cycle. The article outlines the creation of SKBF as well as its mission and activities during the 1970s, when Sweden tried to navigate the evolving uranium market while dealing with heightening tensions regarding nuclear politics at home. We show how SKBF acted in a constantly shifting national and international arena to secure a rapidly expanding nuclear system and legitimize its actions to the Swedish government. In this process, uranium was perceived in different ways: as national or international, scarce or plentiful, and to varying degrees an economic or political tool.
Nuclear fuel cycle