Where there’s smoke…there’s smoke.
But not much fire—not in this case, anyway.
To listen to Fox News, one would think the Kremlin (or its operatives) bribed Hillary (or Bill) Clinton to hand over twenty percent of America’s uranium to Russia. It just isn’t so. It isn’t even close. But it does make for great Kabuki in this bizarre political climate. The Clintons or, more accurately, the Clinton Foundation may take a back seat to no one when it comes to pure guile where a buck is concerned, but avarice is not espionage or treason.
A few facts:
(1). Uranium One is a Canadian uranium mining company that has mining operations in Australia, Canada, Kazakhstan, South Africa as well as the United States. In 2009, ARMZ (the full name of this acronym would cross the reader’s eyes), the mining subsidiary of Rosatom, Russia’s nuclear regulatory agency, acquired a 16.6 percent interest in Uranium One and increased its ownership in Uranium One to 51 percent a year later.
(2). Uranium One’s mining operation in Wyoming accounted for 20 percent of the then licensed uranium in-situ recovery production capacity in the United States. In-situ recovery is simply the extraction method currently used by ten of the eleven licensed US uranium producers. Today, Uranium One would account for only about 6% percent of in-situ recovery production capacity in the US because of additional production licenses that have been approved since 2010. Uranium One also has exploratory projects in Arizona, Colorado, and Utah.
(3). Any shipments of Uranium out of the county would have to be approved and, contrary to inferences on Fox News, there is no evidence that any uranium has ever been shipped to Russia.
(4). The acquisition of Uranium One by a Russian company (or any foreign entity) required multiple approvals by the United States including the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States, which must review all foreign investments that raise potential national security concerns.
(5). The Committee on Foreign Investments has nine members, including the secretaries of the treasury, state, defense, homeland security, commerce and energy; the attorney general; and representatives from two White House offices (the United States Trade Representative and the Office of Science and Technology Policy). So, the State Department had one vote on this committee.
The State Department’s representative who participated in the review of this transaction was Jose Fernandez, then Assistant Secretary of State for Economic, Energy and Business Affairs, not Hillary Clinton. Furthermore, additional agency approvals would be required before any uranium could be exported. While these agencies can approve the sale of a uranium mining operation, they cannot disapprove or stop such a sale. Only the President can do that. Thus, their approval is, essentially, advisory.
(6). It is important to note that the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission also had to approve the transfer of these two uranium recovery licenses in Wyoming from Uranium One to the Russian company. The NRC announced it approved the transfer on Nov. 24, 2010. But as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission explained at the time “no uranium produced at either facility may be exported without US government approval.”
The reason the so-called Clinton-Russian uranium deal has provided so much grist for the anti-Hillary mill is because of the tone-deaf greed of the Clintons (or of the Clinton Foundation), which apparently has never seen a greenback that it didn’t like or a contributor that it wouldn’t embrace. We don’t doubt for a minute that the Russians thought that anything Clintonian was worth contributing to, but we don’t find a shred of evidence that there was, or even could have been, a quid per quo between contributions to the Clinton Foundation, or speaking fees for Bill Clinton, and all of the approvals necessary to finagle the approval of the Canadian Uranium One deal with the Russians.
The deal was underway at the very start of the Obama Administration when the White House wanted to “reset” relations with Russia. Contrary to the Fox News drumbeat the United States DID NOT sell or transfer 20 percent of its uranium to Russia. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did not unilaterally approve the mining license transfer, nor could she have if she wanted to. It was not a State Department show.
There is plenty to criticize about how the Clinton Foundation and the Clintons operate. The donations from those with ties to Uranium One weren’t publicly disclosed by the Clinton Foundation, even though Hillary Clinton had an agreement with the White House that the foundation would disclose all contributors. Playing it smart-and-a-half, the Clinton Foundation disclosed donations from a Canadian charity, but not the donors to that charity who were associated with the uranium company.
Bill Clinton spoke at a conference in Moscow on June 29, 2010, for which he received $500,000 — which was after the Rosatom-Uranium One merger was announced in June 2010, but before it was approved by the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States in October 2010. The Clintons and their Foundation may slip and slide to avoid looking greedy, but that doesn’t equate to selling out the United States. They didn’t and they couldn’t have in this instance even if they wanted to.
We would suggest that Republicans look elsewhere to divert attention from the foibles of the Trump White House. Forget the uranium mine in Wyoming. Really, we strongly suspect there’s no there-there.