What’s the deal with Ura­nium One deal?

Chattanooga Times Free Press - - POLITICS - BY MATTHEW LEE

WASH­ING­TON — The sale of Ura­nium One, a Cana­dian firm with rights to mine U.S. ura­nium, to a Rus­sian com­pany is in the news again with the Depart­ment of Jus­tice sig­nal­ing it could ap­point a special coun­sel to look into the mat­ter.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and his sup­port­ers have crit­i­cized the deal and sug­gested for­mer Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Clin­ton may be im­pli­cated in wrong­do­ing.

A look at the sale of Ura­nium One to Rus­sia’s nu­clear en­ergy agency Rosatom:


Rosatom ac­quired a ma­jor­ity stake in Ura­nium One in 2010 and bought the re­main­der of the com­pany in 2013. Be­cause Ura­nium One had hold­ings in Amer­i­can ura­nium mines, which at the time ac­counted for about 20 per­cent of Amer­ica’s li­censed ura­nium min­ing ca­pac­ity, Rosatom’s 2010 pur­chase had to be ap­proved by the Com­mit­tee on For­eign In­vest­ment in the United States. That com­mit­tee, known as CFIUS, is made up of of­fi­cials from nine fed­eral agen­cies, in­clud­ing the State Depart­ment, which Clin­ton ran at the time. Other agen­cies rep­re­sented on the com­mit­tee in­clude the de­part­ments of Trea­sury, De­fense, Com­merce, En­ergy and Home­land Se­cu­rity and the Of­fice of the U.S. Trade Rep­re­sen­ta­tive.


Trump and his sup­port­ers have ac­cused Clin­ton of over­see­ing the sale of 20 per­cent of Amer­ica’s ura­nium sup­ply to Rus­sia. They see her al­leged role as a scan­dal, par­tic­u­larly amid charges the Trump cam­paign col­luded with Rus­sia in the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. Al­le­ga­tions have also been made that the ap­proval of the sale of Ura­nium One ben­e­fited ma­jor donors to the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion, rais­ing con­flict-ofin­ter­est ques­tions.

The mat­ter took on new life af­ter a re­port last month said the FBI was in­ves­ti­gat­ing pos­si­ble Rus­sian at­tempts to in­flu­ence the U.S. nu­clear sec­tor at the time CFIUS was con­sid­er­ing the sale of Ura­nium One to Rosatom. The re­port said mem­bers of the com­mit­tee, in­clud­ing Clin­ton, should have known about the in­ves­ti­ga­tion and it ques­tioned why they would have ap­proved it.


The Rosatom-Ura­nium One deal did not sell 20 per­cent of Amer­ica’s ura­nium to Rus­sia. The 20 per­cent fig­ure cited by crit­ics re­flects only li­censed ura­nium min­ing ca­pac­ity in the U.S. at the time of the sale, not to­tal ura­nium re­serves or even ac­tual pro­duc­tion. And with­out a spe­cific li­cense to ex­port ura­nium from Ura­nium One’s mines, which it did not have at the time, Rosatom would not have been able to send it to Rus­sia or else­where.

In terms of the CFIUS ap­proval, Clin­ton has said she had noth­ing to do with it. As sec­re­tary of state, she tech­ni­cally had a seat on the panel. But most other Cab­i­net-level mem­bers his­tor­i­cally have del­e­gated such re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to less se­nior of­fi­cials.

The al­leged re­la­tion­ship be­tween the ap­proval of the sale and the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion was first raised in 2015 by con­ser­va­tive au­thor Peter Sch­weizer. He and oth­ers have pointed to some of the in­vestors in the deal and their ties to for­mer Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton and his foun­da­tion.

In April 2015, The New York Times pub­lished an ar­ti­cle echo­ing much of the Sch­weizer book, in­clud­ing one sen­sa­tional con­tention that not long af­ter the Rus­sians said they wanted to ac­quire a ma­jor­ity stake in Ura­nium One, Bill Clin­ton re­ceived $500,000 for a speech in Moscow. The speech was paid for by a Rus­sian in­vest­ment bank with links to the Krem­lin as it pro­moted Ura­nium One stock.

Cana­dian fi­nancier Frank Gius­tra, a top Clin­ton Foun­da­tion donor, sold his com­pany, UrAsia, to Ura­nium One, which was chaired by Ian Telfer, also a Clin­ton Foun­da­tion donor. Gius­tra has said he sold his stake in the deal in 2007, while Hil­lary Clin­ton and Barack Obama were vy­ing for the Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion.

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