URA­NIUM ONE AND NEW START

The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics -

Some U.S. na­tional se­cu­rity of­fi­cials are urg­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the bur­geon­ing Ura­nium One scan­dal to fo­cus on whether the New START arms treaty with Rus­sia was com­pro­mised by Moscow pay­offs and not just by Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion poli­cies that sought to curry fa­vor with the Krem­lin.

The Obama team, through the Trea­sury Depart­ment-led Com­mit­tee on For­eign In­vest­ment in the United States (CFIUS), ap­proved the 2010 sale of 51 per­cent of Canada-based Ura­nium One to JSC Atom­red­met­zoloto, or ARMZ, the min­ing arm of Rosatom, the Rus­sian state nu­clear en­ergy agency. The merger gave Rus­sia con­trol of some 20 per­cent of U.S. ura­nium ex­trac­tion ca­pa­bil­ity.

In 2015, it was re­vealed that nine lob­by­ists for Ura­nium One paid the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion, Bill and Hil­lary Clin­ton’s char­i­ta­ble or­ga­ni­za­tion, $145 mil­lion be­fore, dur­ing and af­ter the deal was ap­proved. Bill Clin­ton also trav­eled to Moscow, where he was paid $500,000 by a Rus­sian govern­ment-linked bank for a speech.

Last month, the Ura­nium One case resur­faced when news re­ports re­vealed that the FBI ap­par­ently cov­ered up in­for­ma­tion about il­le­gal Rus­sian at­tempts to lobby then-Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Clin­ton.

The deal was ap­proved by se­nior Obama of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing Mrs. Clin­ton, ap­par­ently with­out knowl­edge of an FBI probe that led to the con­vic­tion of a Rus­sian lob­by­ist linked to the deal who was found guilty of bribery and kick­backs. A con­fi­den­tial source used in the pros­e­cu­tion was forced to re­main silent and only re­cently re­vealed de­tails of the pay­offs.

Since the dis­clo­sures, Congress has jumped on the Ura­nium One deal and is in­ves­ti­gat­ing, in­clud­ing po­ten­tial links be­tween con­cil­ia­tory poli­cies to­ward Moscow by the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion and the New START treaty.

President Trump told Rus­sian President Vladimir Putin in Fe­bru­ary that New START was among sev­eral bad deals con­cluded by the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion.

One U.S. na­tional se­cu­rity of­fi­cial told In­side the Ring that the Ura­nium One deal is symp­to­matic of a big­ger scan­dal in­volv­ing the com­pro­mise of Amer­i­can se­cu­rity in the New START treaty, a pact that con­tains less-than-ro­bust ver­i­fi­ca­tion pro­ce­dures.

“What is more valu­able to Putin: a few bil­lion dol­lars worth of ura­nium, or the lever­age the com­pro­mised New START deal al­lows Putin to make with Obama?” the of­fi­cials said. “Have the Rus­sians re­duced our arse­nal while at the same time buy­ing time to mod­ern­ize their own, know­ing full well Obama was not go­ing to in­vest a dime in nu­clear weapons?”

Mrs. Clin­ton, as sec­re­tary of state, lob­bied hard to win rat­i­fi­ca­tion of New START dur­ing a lame-duck Se­nate ses­sion in De­cem­ber 2010. In Novem­ber 2010, Mrs. Clin­ton called the treaty “crit­i­cal” to the U.S.Rus­sian re­la­tion­ship she was try­ing to “re­set.”

Mark Schneider, a former Pen­tagon nu­clear of­fi­cial, said there are na­tional se­cu­rity im­pli­ca­tions to the Ura­nium One deal — but not much link­age to New START.

“Rus­sia has enough plu­to­nium and highly en­riched ura­nium for a nu­clear force vastly larger than the one it can pos­si­bly pro­duce in the next two decades,” he said.

“We have killed our ura­nium en­rich­ment ca­pa­bil­ity, which in turn has killed our tri­tium pro­duc­tion ca­pa­bil­ity. The emerg­ing tri­tium cri­sis elim­i­nates any po­ten­tial to hedge against a greater-than-ex­pected threat, and we will soon start los­ing ca­pa­bil­ity that even the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion thought was nec­es­sary.”

Ura­nium One will so­lid­ify Moscow’s hold on the ura­nium en­rich­ment mar­ket and will in­crease lever­age on na­tions that use low-en­riched ura­nium-pow­ered re­ac­tors.

“Ura­nium One is a symp­tom of Third World cor­rup­tion com­ing to the United States,” Mr. Schneider said.

“The Rus­sians bought the sec­re­tary of state with mas­sive bribes — $500,000 for a speech and $145 mil­lion for the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion, their per­sonal piggy bank,” he said. “The Demo­crat lead­er­ship in the Congress does not care. Un­less they are pun­ished, this is just the begin­ning.”

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