Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) is turning up the heat on the Uranium One investigation, demanding documents from both the Energy Department and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in a Monday letter to both entities. Barrasso wants to find out if he was intentionally misled by the Obama administration about Uranium One being able to export yellowcake uranium out of the United States after the company was acquired by Russia.
Prior to the approval of the sale [of Uranium One], I wrote to then-President Barack Obama registering my strong concerns regarding Russian control over American uranium production facilities and Russia's ability to ship U.S. uranium overseas. I also requested immediate notification should ARMZ file for a license to export U.S. uranium. Based on information that has recently come to light, I now believe the response I received, and the process by which I received it, were both misleading.
On March 21, 2011, former NRC Chairman Greg Jaczko responded to my letter on behalf of then-President Obama stating:
‘At this time, neither Uranium One Inc. nor ARMZ holds a specific NRC export license. In order to export uranium from the United States, Uranium One, Inc. or
ARMZ would need to apply for and obtain a specific NRC license authorizing the export of uranium for use in reactor fuel’
The NRC staff made a similar statement in their recommendation to approve the transfer control of Uranium One to ARMZ, stating:
"before the licensee may export uranium to a foreign country, they must first comply with the NRC's regulations and seek a specific license for such purpose."
Recent reporting by The Hill uncovered that Uranium One was able to export uranium without obtaining a specific export license. Beginning in 2012, Uranium One exported U.S. uranium by ‘piggy-backing’ as a supplier on an export license held by the shipping company, RSB Logistic Services Inc.
Indeed, as The Hill 's John Solomon and Alison Spann reported last month - when congress reviewed the Uranium One deal back in 2010, assurances that US uranium would not leave the country was a key sticking point. As such, repeated assurances were provided that such exports would never occur.
“No uranium produced at either facility may be exported,” the NRC declared in a November 2010 press release that announced that ARMZ, a subsidiary of the Russian-owned Rosatom, had been approved to take ownership of the Uranium One mining firm and its American assets.
A year later, the nuclear regulator repeated the assurance in a letter to Sen. John Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican in whose state Uranium One operated mines.
“Neither Uranium One Inc. nor AMRZ holds a specific NRC export license. In order to export uranium from the United States, Uranium One Inc. or ARMZ would need to apply for an obtain a specific NRC license authorizing the exports of uranium for use in reactor fuel,” then-NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko wrote Barrasso.
The NRC never issued an export license to the Russian firm, a fact so engrained in the narrative of the Uranium One controversy that it showed up in The Washington Post’s official fact-checker site this week. “We have noted repeatedly that extracted uranium could not be exported by Russia without a license, which Rosatom does not have,” The Post reported on Monday, linking to the 2011 Barrasso letter.
Memos obtained by The Hill in November confirmed that, in fact, Uranium One yellowcake did manage to escape U.S. shores repeatedly between 2012 - 2014.
NRC memos reviewed by The Hill shows that it did approve the shipment of yellowcake uranium — the raw material used to make nuclear fuel and weapons — from the Russian-owned mines in the United States to Canada in 2012 through a third party. Later, the Obama administration approved some of that uranium going all the way to Europe, government documents show.
NRC officials said they could not disclose the total amount of uranium that Uranium One exported because the information is proprietary. They did, however, say that the shipments only lasted from 2012 to 2014 and that they are unaware of any exports since then.
NRC officials told The Hill that Uranium One exports flowed from Wyoming to Canada and on to Europe between 2012 through 2014, and the approval involved a process with multiple agencies.
As Senator Barrasso notes in his letter, "According to The Hill, not only did Uranium One export U.S. uranium, but it was subsequently exported out of Canada," and concludes “By stating DOE had no role in the matter, the DOE concealed the possibility of subsequent exports and their responsibility in reviewing them."
Barrasso asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions for records pertaining to the FBI's investigation of the Uranium One deal - which, according to a FBI mole within the Russian nuclear industry, are extensive. The Hill's John Solomon and journalist Sara Carter have copies of the mole's evidence, which purportedly include a video of Russians stuffing bribe money into a suitcase.
In a nutshell:
- FBI mole William Campbell was a highly valued FBI asset - paid $51,000 by FBI officials at a celebration dinner in Chrystal City, VA, where Campbell's attorney says they thanked him for his service.
- Campbell was required by the Russians, under threat, to launder large sums of money - which allowed the FBI to uncover a massive Russian "nuclear money laundering apparatus"
- Campbell collected over 5,000 documents and briefs over a six year period
- Campbell uncovered a Russian plot to penetrate the Obama administration and gain approval for the Uranium One sale, including a 2010 email which describes "Russia's intent on expanding its Uranium expansion in the United States."