Uranium is used because it emits radiation. Its uses are limited to medical purposes, to manufacturing fuel for nuclear power plants, and to making nuclear weapons. Byproducts of the nuclear process are also used to make “depleted uranium” weapons.
Nuclear power plants were originally created to make the materials needed to manufacture nuclear weapons. This is why it has been so important to remove North Korea’s nuclear power plants. Under the “Atoms for Peace” program in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the U.S. government began looking for other ways to use nuclear reactors. Because nuclear power plants create a lot of heat, they were modified to boil water to create electricity.
Recent demand for uranium is driven by international plans to build more nuclear power plants. Many are planned for India and China, with some also planned for the United States and Europe.
Nuclear facilities are closely monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency in an effort to prevent the spread of nuclear materials and nuclear weapons.