Getting Bomb Fuel out of Medicine


Tilman Ruff, International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)
Bill Williams, ICAN
Misha Byrne, Nuclear Weapons Inheritance Project (NWIP)


Highly-enriched uranium (HEU) is still used to make most of the world’s radioactive isotopes used in medicine. HEU is directly usable in nuclear weapons of the simplest design, like the Hiroshima bomb, most attractive to terrorists. Even the waste from this process can still be used for nuclear weapons. Yet isotopes can be produced just as well without using HEU. The problems of HEU are increasingly recognised, some important efforts to remove it from civilian uses including medical isotope production are underway, and IPPNW’s medical campaign to remove HEU from radiopharmaceutical production is having some success.  This workshop will provide insight into the wider dimensions of these materials used in daily clinical practice.

Questions we hope to address include:

  • Why, where and how is HEU still being used for medical purposes?
  • What are plans and prospects for its removal?
  • How can students and physicians best contribute to speeding up removal of HEU from isotope production everywhere?
  • What are the implications for clinical practice?   


Room 209