Nuclear Reach: Uranium Prospection and the Global Ambitions of the French Nuclear Program, 1945-1965

Manifestation
Date : 
02/03/2018

Dans le cadre du séminaire de la Chaire d’excellence en études de sécurité

Nuclear Reach: Uranium Prospection and the Global Ambitions of the French Nuclear Program, 1945-1965

Avec : Dr Matthew Adamson, McDaniel College, Budapest
Discutants: Dr Roberto Cantoni, Université d'Augsbourg et Dr Sezin Topçu, EHESS

Abstract :
By the beginning of the 1960s, the French nuclear program was notable for its tangible presence around the globe—France’s nuclear reach. Weapons testing ranges, numerous scientific exchanges, a seat on the IAEA’s governing board, all characterized the program and its successes in the eyes of its leadership. Yet the most remarkable and curious reach of the program was something many in the program may not have been aware of: French uranium geologists, inspecting the prospects of the sands and soils of over two dozen different countries on every continent. This paper explores this phenomenon, and considers the link between this form of “nuclear reach” and the others aforementioned. Utilizing sources in France, the US, and at the IAEA archives in Vienna, it concludes that the status of uranium, dynamic and shifting during the first decade of the nuclear age, and the prospection of uranium by French geologists around the globe, reveal a great deal about the evolving ambitions of the French nuclear leadership; in the end, geophysics, geochemistry, and ore concentration techniques should be viewed alongside nucleonics and nuclear reactor design as lynchpin techniques of the nuclear age, and the diplomatic and commercial stakes involved as essential elements of the calculations of the French nuclear leadership.

Responsable scientifique : Benoît Pelopidas, Sciences Po-CERI.