End nuclear cooperation between Germany and Russia
Anti-nuclear initiatives from North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony as well as the Federal Association of Citizens' Initiatives for Environmental Protection (BBU) and the doctors' organisation IPPNW demand an immediate end to nuclear cooperation between Germany and Russia, especially in the field of uranium enrichment and fuel element production. The reason for the urgent appeal is, on the one hand, the violent repression against numerous demonstrations in Russia in the wake of the unlawful arrest of opposition politician Alexej Nawalny. In addition, the question arises to what extent the existing nuclear cooperation violates already existing EU sanctions.
"The human rights situation in Russia has deteriorated drastically. State repression also affects the environmental movement, which campaigns against nuclear power and coal mining. For example, the co-chair of the environmental organisation Ecodefense, Alexandra Koroleva, had to go into exile to Germany in 2019. Further German cooperation in the field of uranium enrichment and fuel element production is no longer sustainable, especially since Russia, just like other nuclear weapon states, is planning to build small modular reactors that would be suitable, for example, for military nuclear submarines," explained Dr Angelika Claussen, IPPNW's European Chair.
In concrete terms, German-Russian nuclear cooperation has been considerably expanded in recent years:
1. the uranium enricher Urenco has delivered around 18 000 t of depleted uranium hexafluoride as uranium waste to Russia from Gronau in 2019 and 2020 alone, with a total of 20 uranium transports. According to an expert opinion by Prof. Bernhard Wegener from last October, these exports clearly violated the EU sanctions in the wake of the Crimea annexation in the area of dual use. A reaction from the German government is still pending.
2. The uranium enricher Urenco also received two export licences for enriched uranium from Gronau to Russia from the Federal Export Office BAFA in July 2020 - the exact purpose of these deliveries is still unknown. According to the transport list of the Federal Transport Office BASE, there were already three corresponding transports in July and November 2020.
3. The fuel element manufacturer Framatome/ANF in Lingen also maintains close business relations with the Russian nuclear industry: in December 2019 and 2020, two export licences were issued from Lingen to Russia, and in 2020 there have already been two corresponding uranium transports to Russia. In addition, BASE has documented a total of ten uranium transports from Russia to Lingen since December 2019.
The anti-nuclear initiatives and associations assume that exports of enriched uranium from Gronau and Lingen also violate the EU sanctions in the dual-use sector against Russia. Enriched uranium can also be used for military purposes, e.g. in fuel elements for nuclear submarines or for nuclear power plants that serve the military. In addition, depleted uranium hexafluoride can be used for the production of armour-piercing ammunition. The initiatives and associations therefore demand that the German government immediately stop these exports and make a determined effort to strengthen human rights in Russia.
"The numerous export licences and uranium transports between Gronau, Lingen and Russia impressively show how closely the German nuclear industry cooperates with Russia. Regardless of the existing EU sanctions and the poor human rights situation, the preservation and expansion of nuclear energy use in Russia and Germany is promoted. Where is the nuclear phase-out? Therefore, it is now time to act and stop the nuclear cooperation," says Matthias Eickhoff from the Action Alliance Münsterland against Nuclear Plants.
The initiatives and associations will continue to campaign for an end to the German-Russian nuclear deals in 2021 together with Russian environmental organisations (such as Ecodefense).