Five new revelations in the Russian uranium case
Evidence gathered by an FBI undercover informant conflicts with several media reports as well as statements by Justice Department officials concerning the connections between a Russian nuclear bribery case and the Obama administration’s approval of the sale of Uranium One to Russia’s state-owned Rosatom nuclear company.
Here are five revelations from those documents reviewed by The Hill:
Russia saw its purchase of Uranium One as part of a strategy to dominate global uranium markets, including making the United States more dependent on Moscow’s nuclear fuel.
Documents the informant gave the FBI clearly show that the purchase of Uranium One was seen by Russia and its American consultants as one tool in a strategy to “control” the uranium market worldwide. In the United States, that strategy focused on securing billions of new uranium contracts to create a new reliance on Russian nuclear fuel just as the Cold War-era Megatons to Megawatts program, which recylced Soviet nuclear weapons into fuel for American nuclear power plants, was ending.
Uranium One did export some of its U.S. uranium ore.
News organizations, including The Washington Post, continue to report none of Uranium One’s product left the U.S. after Russia took control. In fact, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) approved an export license for a third-party trucking firm to export Uranium One ore to Canada for enrichment, and that some of that uranium ended up in Europe, NRC memos show. Uranium One itself admits that as much as 25 percent of the uranium it exported to Canada ended up with European or Asian clients through what is know in the industry as “book transfers.”
The FBI informant, Douglas Campbell, does have information to share with Congress about Rosatom’s Uranium One purchase.
Justice officials have suggested in recent stories that Campbell has little on Uranium One because his work forced on nuclear bribery involving a different Rosatom subsidiary. While it’s true Campbell’s undercover work focused on criminality inside the Rosatom subsidiary Tenex, he did gather extensive documents about Rosatom’s efforts to win approval to buy Uranium One.
The FBI did have evidence that Rosatom officials were engaged in criminality well before the Obama administration approved Rosatom’s purchase of Uranium One.
Evidence that a foreign company is involved in criminality can disqualify it from Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) approval to buy a sensitive U.S. asset. And Campbell helped the FBI record the first criminal activity by Rosatom officials inside its Tenex arm in November 2009, nearly an entire year before the CFIUS approved Rosatom’s purchase of Uranium One.
Justice officials trusted Campbell enough to keep him working undercover for six years and to pay him more than $51,000 once the convictions were secured.
A check obtained by The Hill shows the FBI paid Campbell an informant fee of more than $51,000 in January 2016, shortly after the last convictions in the Russian nuclear bribery case were made.