Top Nuclear Official Suggests Obama Admin Wasn’t Totally Straightforward On Uranium One Deal

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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The current chair of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) said that one of her Obama-appointed predecessors’ responses to Congress on a key aspect of the Uranium One deal did not capture the intricacies of the matter.

“I would note that, as your letter makes clear, the responses you have received have not fully depicted the complexity of this issue,” NRC chairwoman Kristine Svinicki said in response to  a question from Wyoming Republican Sen. John Barrasso during a Wednesday Senate hearing.

Barrasso wrote to the Obama administration in 2010, expressing concerns that the Uranium One deal would allow Russian interests to export uranium abroad. Obama-appointed NRC chairman Gregory Jaczko responded in 2011, downplaying Barrasso’s concerns by noting that the company would need an export license.

“I specifically raised concerns about future exports of U.S. uranium by Uranium One,” Barrasso said in the hearing. “I believe the Obama administration’s response to my letter was at best misleading.”

Barrasso expanded his investigation into the 2010 Obama administration decision to approve the sale of Uranium One to a subsidiary controlled by Rostam, Russia’s state-owned nuclear company.

The chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works asked the Energy Department and NRC for documents related to the Obama administration’s response to his 2010 letter.

Barrasso also said he had evidence the Energy Department misled him on their role in the approval of uranium exports. He asked both agencies for documents to find out if he was intentionally misled.

“Uranium One did not need a specific NRC license to export U.S. uranium,” Barrasso said. “Instead, Uranium One only needed to be, and later was, listed as a supplier on a transport company’s NRC export license.”

Svinicki said the NRC would address Barrasso’s concerns and “depict it in context and more accurately than the responses you have received.” Svinicki also sat on the NRC during the Obama administration, but was a Bush administration appointee.

The Uranium One deal gave Russian interests control of one-fifth of U.S. uranium production capacity at the time, and became an anchor around the Clinton campaign in the 2016 election.

As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton sat on a federal board that made recommendations on approving foreign business deals. Though her campaign rejected accusations donations to the Clinton Foundation played any role in the matter.

The New York Times covered the deal extensively in 2015, noting how donations poured into the Clinton Foundation from individuals connected with the deal. TheNYT also noted how Russians were able to export U.S. uranium without an NRC-approved export license.

The Hill reignited the controversy in October when it reported that the Uranium One deal was the target of a Russian bribery scheme.

FBI agents also “obtained an eyewitness account — backed by documents — indicating Russian nuclear officials had routed millions of dollars to the U.S. designed to benefit former President Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation during the time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton served on a government body that provided a favorable decision to Moscow,” The Hill reported.

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