• Daniel Ethan Finneran

Clintonian Uranium: Elements of a Controversy

October 2017


Lest we think President Trump stands alone when it comes to international imbroglios, a recent controversy connecting Russia, Canada, uranium, and Hillary Clinton has come to the fore. Unearthed from the annals of an administration past is this anfractuous tale. It began in 2010, but we are only now learning of its size and scope. It may be seven years after the fact, but such controversies are always better known late than never at all. And, in many ways, President Trump is correct in calling it “the biggest story that Fake Media doesn’t want to follow”. Truer words than these, he’s not yet spoken. Here it is.


Unlike most multi-national controversies nowadays, this tale begins in Canada. Yes, dear Canada—our quiescent neighbors to the north. What the country lacks in scandalous intrigue, it makes up for with breathtaking vistas, a landscape lush with verdant conifers and inexhaustible commodities. It’s the country’s natural bounty, practically begging to be tapped, that has for so long lured enterprising explorers and entrepreneurs down the St. Lawrence River’s mouth. It’s why Britain chose it, and not Guadalupe, when at the end of the Seven Years’ War, the choice was hers to make. The latter’s lucrative sugar fields and its balmy Caribbean clime certainly were appealing, but not enough so to persuade the crown to leave the north behind. Say what you will about that Hanoverian tyrant, but King George chose his territory wisely. The French secured their provincial sugar hub, while the Britons settled a frontier fecund with timber, fur, and eventually—as future Canadians would learn—uranium.


It wasn’t until after WWII that uranium mining in Canada became permissible. Before that time, in the early to mid 1940s, procuring the element was strictly prohibited. The wartime proscription was only sensible, as nuclear weapons experimentation took place due south by the likes of Oppenheimer, Einstein, Feynman, and Fermi in arid Alamogordo, New Mexico. During the post bellum days, however, prospecting and mining resumed and eventually flourished. The Saskatchewan Province proved to be particularly fertile, and for many years, Canada enjoyed market dominance with its sale of uranium. At one point, its uranium export accounted for nearly a quarter of the world’s output. And considering the many purchasers, who were motivated by the element’s applicability to an ambitious nation’s energy or military sectors—or both (the first tends to succumb to the second)—Canadian companies stood to profit handsomely.


For a while, Canada was predominant among the many countries whose soil invests uranium. Excepting South America and Antarctica, uranium is currently found and extracted in the world’s five remaining continents. Second to Canada in its quantity is Australia (yet another former British penal colony), Niger, Namibia, Russia, Uzbekistan, and then the U.S. Other countries with deposits, scant thought they may be, are China and Ukraine. The only country with more is Kazakhstan, that immense and oft-forgotten landmass abutting Russia to the north and China to the east.


While uranium isn’t ubiquitous, it’s certainly widespread. The nature of its extraction, therefore, has been for many years an international affair. Countless multi-national corporations are entrenched, both literally and economically, in its collection and sale. Which leads to the controversy at hand. To meet it head-on, we must complete our circumnavigation, eastward from Kazakhstan and China, and find ourselves back in Canada.

It is here that a mining company, called Uranium One, is at the center of our attention. Until recently, it was a mid-tier player in Canada’s expansive the mining industry. Not the biggest company by far, but no mom and pop operation either. At the height of its production, Uranium One’s assets included nearly twenty percent of America’s uranium fields. Much to most people’s surprise, the American southwest is relatively rife with the element. For decades, it’s been mined successfully in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah. One-fifth of that yellowcake cache was Uranium One’s property. Or, at least, it was—until the company was swallowed by another.


Such is the world of business. What would an economy or a country be if not acquisitive? So, without further ado, the acquisition was approved and the purchase went through. Lo and behold, the proud new owner of nearly a quarter of America’s uranium assets became…you guessed it. Russia.


Specifically, the company is Rosatom, which, by happenstance, is Moscow’s state-run nuclear energy company. If the name “Rosatom” isn’t revealing enough, the company’s website describes itself as the Russian “state atomic energy corporation”. Their purpose is quite explicit. What was obscured, and what has the potential to be a sizable scandal, was the way in which this tenebrous transaction took place.


In 2010, Atomredmetzoloto (or ARMZ), the reputed mining arm of Rosatom, purchased a majority stake in Uranium One. The agreement provided Rosatom “no less than fifty-one percent” of Uranium One. In subsequent years, this percentage evolved such that it became a full acquisition. That assumes, of course, that it had not been just that from the very beginning. After all, “no less than fifty-one percent” might just as well apply to a statement like, “no more than one hundred percent”. The proprietorship could land anywhere in between.


Being that this deal involved American assets and foreign adversaries, Rosatom’s purchase was subject to administrative review. This was conducted by the Committee on Foreign Investments, a nine-member coterie that decides on international transactions such as this. The committee’s roster includes an administration’s sitting secretaries of state, treasury, defense, homeland security, commerce, energy, the Attorney General, and one to two other White House representatives. Through these nine dignitaries do all foreign monetary matters flow.


But the committee’s influence is ultimately constrained; it’s endowed with an affirmative capacity, not a prohibitive one. The Committee on Foreign Investments can’t stop acquisition proposals—it can only approve them when it considers “acquisitions of critical infrastructure” on American land. Removed from the committee, this prohibitory power rests with the America’s chief executive. It’s the president’s job to stop an acquisition or sale if he determines it indecent or otherwise injurious to the country at-large. The law states that “Only the president has the authority to suspend or prohibit a covered transaction”.


Neither the president nor the committee disapproved of the deal. Rosatom’s acquisition of Uranium One was sanctioned with unanimity. This is where the controversy sets in.

In her role as Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton simultaneously served as an ex officio member in the Committee on Foreign Investments. The claim is that Madame Clinton received a hefty kickback, one to the tune of $145 million, for green-lighting the acquisition’s approval. The claimant, as it were, is Peter Schweizer—an investigative journalist, author, and Breitbart News editor. In his 2015 book, “Clinton Cash”, Schweizer detailed the way in which the deal went down. If true, his conclusions would be damning.


To take Schweizer at his word, one walks away with conclusion that the Russians successfully compromised Hillary Clinton. In his not unlikely estimation, Schweizer believes Clinton’s approval was purchasable and her fidelity fungible. And the deeper one digs, the more plausible (yet incompletely proven) his conclusion becomes.


As mentioned, nine Uranium One investors poured $145 million into the Clinton Foundation’s coffers before the acquisition was approved. Perhaps said investors were feeling at especially eleemosynary at the time and nothing more than mere coincidence was at play. To take from Yogi Berra one of his famous koans, “That’s too coincidental to be coincidence”. All the while, this inordinate largesse remained hidden from public view. This was after then candidate Clinton promised all donations to her and her husband’s foundation would be, as requested, disclosed for all to see. A Clinton Foundation spokesperson contritely confessed that they “made a mistake” by not making this known.


In addition to the $145 million investment, former president Bill Clinton was commissioned $500,000 for a speech he gave in Moscow. His ever-profitable prolixity came at just the right time: It was after the Rosatom deal was announced, but before the deal was approved. His receiving that amount of money looks now like an implicit inducement for Hillary to vote in uranium’s favor. It’s a second not-so-subtle push to get Ms. Clinton to on the Kremlin’s side.

Mr. Clinton’s speaking fee was picked up by Renaissance Capital, a prominent investment institution in Moscow. Unsurprisingly, after the fact, Renaissance bankers were rather bullish on the Rosatom acquisition. They hyped it as the “best play” in the uranium commodifies market and a stock worth its purchase. Again, this was before the approval was signed and delivered. Renaissance Capital was assessing the situation less on speculation, and more on devious confidence, well-placed it doubtless was.

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Most assuredly, more information will be revealed in the days and months to come. For now, the question is this: Did Uranium One and Rosatom’s “donations” to the Clinton Foundation influence the actions she took ostensibly on behalf of the nation? The evidence thus far is insufficient to convict, but the omnipresent plumes of Clinton’s skullduggery are thickening. If the allegations are true, and the forthcoming congressional investigation discovers indecorous quid pro quos, we’ll be left with not only one, but two party leaders who are themselves indelibly damned with Russian prints that paved their paths to the top. And, from that precarious pinnacle, they may just as quickly fall.

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