In my June 29, 2018 article, “Energy Security, Russia, and National Strategy,” which can be viewed on the Disobedient Media site, I provided an analysis for how America should respond to the nuclear-related energy policies of Russia.  Uranium One constitutes a severe challenge to the United States.  The real threat posed by the Uranium One scandal may be summarized in twenty points:

  1. The Uranium One scandal, as it is commonly presented, is a subterfuge that hides the real crime.  The Uranium One scandal is part of a larger plan to effect Russian dominance in the Middle East and in Africa.  This perilous course was facilitated, knowingly or unknowingly, by foreign and American actors of great position.
  2. 11% of the uranium delivered to U.S. reactors in 2016 was produced in the United States and 89% came from other countries; this means that Russia’s acquisition of Uranium One, which controls about 20% of U.S. uranium production, gives Russia control of only 2.2% of U.S. power-plant requirements.
  3. American uranium supply was never the primary prize.  The three dominant producers of uranium ore are Kazakhstan, which supplies 39.3% of the world’s needs; Canada, which supplies 22%; and Australia, which supplies 9.3%.  In contrast, America has recently supplied just 2.1% of world production.
  4. On September 7, 2007, Russia signed a nuclear cooperation deal with Australia.  This agreement was signed by the head of Rosatom (Russia’s state monopoly for nuclear energy) and by Australia’s Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer the same Alexander Downer whose night of drinking with Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos, in 2016, kicked off the Russian collusion inquiry by instigating the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation.
  5. Alexander Downer was an early and ardent supporter of the Clinton Foundation, obligating tens of millions in Australian taxpayer money to the purported charity.
  6. The Australian nuclear cooperation agreement with Russia was ratified in 2010, though it had been opposed by the Australian Federal Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Treaties and by noted Putin critic, Gary Kasparov, among others.  However, exports of uranium to Russia from Australia were subsequently stopped due to sanctions imposed by the Australian government after Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
  7. The Russian-Australian nuclear cooperation agreement came after UrAsia Energy’s acquisition of extensive uranium rights in Kazakhstan.  UrAsia Energy obtained Kazakhstani uranium assets from Kazatomprom, the state concern of that country, following UrAsia owner Frank Giustra’s and Bill Clinton’s 2005 meeting with Kazakhstan’s President, Nursultan Nazarbayev (Frank Giustra is a major Clinton Foundation donor, giving at least $100 million to the foundation, including the associated Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership).  UrAsia Energy was acquired by Uranium One in 2007; Uranium One, and its interests in other major uranium-producing countries, was effectively acquired by a subsidiary of Rosatom in 2010.
  8. Bill Clinton, as a politically active, former U.S. President, was a primary intelligence target for Russia.  Of particular relevance to Russian state intelligence operations would have been Clinton’s frequent use of Jeffrey Epstein’s 727, for 26 flights between 2001 and 2003.  (In 2008, Epstein was convicted of soliciting an underage girl for prostitution.)
  9. During Epstein’s plea negotiations, his lawyers wrote to the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Southern District of Florida; Epstein’s lawyers contended, “Mr. Epstein was part of the original group that conceived the Clinton Global Initiative, which is described as a project ‘bringing together a community of global leaders to devise and implement innovative solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges.’”  Epstein is a reported contributor to the Clinton foundation.
  10. It is probable that Russian state intelligence viewed the Clinton Foundation as a front organization, whose supporters and staff could be coopted or turned to serve Russian purposes, with or without the target’s knowledge or acquiescence. 
  11. Russia almost certainly attempted to repurpose Bill Clinton’s post-presidential activities and the Clinton Foundation’s actions, to support Russia’s nuclear ambitions in Kazakhstan, in the CFIUS process, and, quite possibly, in Australia.  (CFIUS is the U.S. government interagency group, which includes the Department of State, which permitted Russia to take control of Uranium One during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State.)
  12. What is Russia’s purpose in amassing uranium rights worldwide?  The answer is control of the Middle East and parts of Africa.
  13. Russia is building nuclear plants in Egypt (4 reactors), Iran (2 reactors, in addition to current facilities), and Jordan (2 reactors planned).  Saudi Arabia will soon select a provider to build 16 nuclear reactors: Russia is a leading contender.  Nigeria has just approved plans to buy 2 Russian reactors.  Russia is also building 4 reactors in Turkey, 2 reactors in Bangladesh, 4 in India, and has plans to build 2 reactors in Ghana.
  14. The need for ample supplies of uranium for Russia is therefore a necessity in their view, for Russia seeks to control the fuel cycle for all nuclear power plants that it builds.
  15. What will Russia’s domination in the provision of nuclear power in the Middle East and in adjacent regions accomplish?
  16. By leveraging its role as a leading purveyor of reactors and fuel, and by setting its client state, Iran, which is Shiite, against the other concerned Middle Eastern countries, which are Sunni, Russia will control the political dynamics for the entire region.  Planned nuclear facilities and operations in Sunni states are viewed by such countries as vital to their long-term survival: Sunni states fear greatly the prospect of an Iran that could one day possess nuclear weapons, mounted on its missiles.  Thus, Russia may pit one side against the other, in support Russia’s diplomatic, military, and economic objectives.
  17. In 2017, Russia and Syria agreed that Russia may expand its naval facility at Tartus, Syria, permitting greater regional power projection.  A growing Russian nuclear-power presence in the Middle East will only enhance Russia’s ability to coerce militarily or through other means.
  18. This Russian presence in states throughout the region will permit increased support of Hezbollah, either directly or through Russia’s surrogates, Iran and Syria.  Russia may be expected to further enable this terrorist group, to promote Russia’s ends.
  19. Russian scientists, engineers, managers, and universities, affiliated with its nuclear industry, will penetrate and coerce elites in the noted countries.  This will influence national choices made in the affected nations.
  20. Therefore, Russia may usurp America’s role as the area’s dominant outside power and may be expected to use other levers such as the provision of natural gas and weapons to fortify its new position.  Russia, however, must not be allowed to increase its footprint in nations not currently under its yoke. A concerted, multiphasic response by America is necessary.

Richard B. Levine was Director of Policy Development on the NSC Staff under President Ronald Reagan; after six years at the White House, he became the first Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Technology Transfer and Security Assistance, serving under three Secretaries of the Navy. He is the recipient of two Presidential letters of commendation and the Department of the Navy’s highest civilian decoration, the Distinguished Civilian Service Award. Mr. Levine received his baccalaureate, with honors, from the Johns Hopkins University. He holds an MBA from Harvard.

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