To beat Russia, unwind Uranium One

Readers may recall the Uranium One deal with Russia.  Then–secretary of state Hillary Clinton's State Department approved a deal giving Russian interests control of 20 percent of the United States' uranium supply after the Clinton Foundation received $145 million from the shareholders of Uranium One.

In light of Russia's naked aggression against Ukraine, now would be an excellent time to unwind this unholy transaction and retrieve our interests.  The minerals are on U.S. soil, in Gillette, Wyoming.

The issue parallels the issue of importing oil from Russia.  Bloomberg is reporting that "export restrictions on [Russia] the world's top supplier of nuclear fuel has the potential to disrupt the U.S. power industry."  The Biden administration likely wants to keep these imports to avoid price increases for energy, in this case electricity.

Reporters for Reuters have reported:

The United States relies on Russia and its allies Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan for roughly half of the uranium powering its nuclear plants[.] ...

Washington and its allies have imposed a series of sanctions on Moscow in the past week as Russian forces pushed deeper into neighboring Ukraine, though the sanctions exempt uranium sales and related financial transactions.

The National Energy Institute (NEI), a trade group of U.S. nuclear power generation companies including Duke Energy Corp DUK.N and Exelon Corp EXC.O, is lobbying the White House to keep the exemption on uranium imports from Russia, the sources said.

The same Reuters reporters also report:

There is no uranium production or processing in the United States currently, though several companies have said they would like to resume domestic production if they can sign long-term supply contracts with nuclear power producers. Texas and Wyoming have large uranium reserves.

Considering the various sanctions that have been imposed, considering that BP has been forced to "offload" its 20% stake in Rosneft, previously valued at $14B (£10B), and abandon its two seats on the board following pressure from the British government, it would be eminently reasonable for the U.S. to retrieve its interests.  If this causes the Russians to stop exports of uranium, there may be some economic pain for the U.S.  However, this would be offset by the fact that the U.S. would be sending less money to Russia to fund the war, and by the development of domestic capacity in this industry of strategic importance.  And if Russia pre-emptively stops the export of uranium, then there would seem to be no reason at all for the U.S. not to unwind the Uranium One deal.

William Marbury is the pen name of a lawyer who works in the arts.

Image via Public Domain Pictures.

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