acquired 20% of US uranium reserves in 3 transactions from 2009-2013while Mrs. Clinton was Sec. of State and her husband was collecting
millions in donations from people connected with Uranium One. This
created US dependency on Russia: US gets one fifth of its electrical
power from nuclear plants but relies on foreign countries for 80% of
uranium it needs to run the plants.
the untold storybehind that story is one that involves not just the
Russian president, but also a former American president and a woman who
would like to be the next one.At
the heart of the tale are several men, leaders of the Canadian mining
industry, who have been major donors to the charitable endeavors of
former President Bill Clinton
and his family.
Since uranium is considered a strategic
asset, with implications for national security, the deal had to be
approved by a committee composed of representatives from a number of
United States government agencies.Among the agencies that eventually
signed off was the State Department, then headed by Mr. Clinton’s wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton.
a statement, Brian Fallon, a spokesman for Mrs. Clinton’s presidential
campaign, said no one “has ever produced a shred of evidence supporting
the theory that Hillary Clinton ever took action as secretary of state
to support the interests of donors to the Clinton Foundation.” He
emphasized that multiple United States agencies, as well as the Canadian
government, had signed off on the deal and that, in general, such
matters were handled at a level below the secretary. “To suggest the
State Department, under then-Secretary Clinton, exerted undue influence
in the U.S. government’s review of the sale of Uranium One is utterly
baseless,” he added.
the Uranium One deal was approved, the geopolitical backdrop was far
different from today’s.The Obama administration was seeking to “reset”
strained relations with Russia.The deal was strategically important to
Mr. Putin, who shortly after the Americans gave their blessing sat down
for a staged interview with Rosatom’s chief executive, Sergei Kiriyenko.
“Few could have imagined in the past that we would own 20 percent of
U.S. reserves,” Mr. Kiriyenko told Mr. Putin.
after Russia’s annexation of Crimea and aggression in Ukraine, the
Moscow-Washington relationship is devolving toward Cold War levels, a
point several experts made in evaluating a deal so beneficial to Mr.
Putin, a man known to use energy resources to project power around the
path to a Russian acquisition of American uranium deposits began in
2005 in Kazakhstan, where the Canadian mining financier Frank Giustra
orchestrated his first big uranium deal, with Mr. Clinton at his side.
two men had flown aboard Mr. Giustra’s private jet to Almaty,
Kazakhstan, where they dined with the authoritarian president, Nursultan
A. Nazarbayev. Mr. Clinton handed the Kazakh president a propaganda
coup when he expressed support for Mr. Nazarbayev’s bid to head an
international elections monitoring group, undercutting American foreign
policy and criticism of Kazakhstan’s poor human rights record by, among
others, his wife, then a senator.
days of the visit, Mr. Giustra’s fledgling company, UrAsia Energy Ltd.,
signed a preliminary deal giving it stakes in three uranium mines
controlled by the state-run uranium agency Kazatomprom.
the Kazakh deal was a major victory, UrAsia did not wait long before
resuming the hunt. In 2007, it merged with Uranium One, a South African
company with assets in Africa and Australia, in what was described as a
$3.5 billion transaction. The new company, which kept the Uranium One
name, was controlled by UrAsia investors including Ian Telfer, a
Canadian who became chairman. Through a spokeswoman, Mr. Giustra, whose
personal stake in the deal was estimated at about $45 million, said he
sold his stake in 2007.
the company’s story was hardly front-page news in the United States —
until early 2008, in the midst of Mrs. Clinton’s failed presidential
campaign, when The Times published an article revealing the 2005 trip’s
link to Mr. Giustra’s Kazakhstan mining deal. It also reported that
several months later, Mr. Giustra haddonated $31.3 million to Mr. Clinton’s foundation.
the 2008 articlequoted the former head of Kazatomprom, Moukhtar
Dzhakishev, as saying thatthe deal required government approval and was
discussed at a dinner with the president (Bill Clinton), Mr. Giustra insisted that it
was a private transaction, with no need for Mr. Clinton’s influence with
Kazakh officials. He described his relationship with Mr. Clinton as
motivated solely by a shared interest in philanthropy.
if to underscore the point, five months later Mr. Giustra held a
fund-raiser for the Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative, a
project aimed at fostering progressive environmental and labor practices
in the natural resources industry, to which he had pledged $100
million.The star-studded gala, at a conference center in Toronto,
featured performances by Elton John and Shakira and celebrities like Tom
Cruise, John Travolta and Robin Williams encouraging contributions from
the many so-called F.O.F.s — Friends of Frank — in attendance, among
them Mr. Telfer. In all, the evening generated $16 million in pledges,
according to an article in The Globe and Mail.
of this would have been possible if Frank Giustra didn’t have a
remarkable combination of caring and modesty,of vision and energy and
iron determination,” Mr. Clinton told those gathered, adding: “I love
this guy, and you should, too.”
But what had been a string of successes was about to hit a speed bump.
Arrest and Progress
June 2009, a little over a year after the star-studded evening in
Toronto, Uranium One’s stock was in free-fall, down 40 percent. Mr.
Dzhakishev, the head of Kazatomprom, had just been arrested on charges
that he illegally sold uranium deposits to foreign companies, including
at least some of those won by Mr. Giustra’s UrAsia and now owned by
the company tried to reassure shareholders. Its chief executive, Jean
Nortier, issued a confident statement calling the situation a “complete
misunderstanding.” He also contradicted Mr. Giustra’s contention that
the uranium deal had not required government blessing. “When you do a
transaction in Kazakhstan, you need the government’s approval,” he said,
adding that UrAsia had indeed received that approval.
privately, Uranium One officials were worried they could lose their
joint mining ventures. American diplomatic cables made public by
WikiLeaks also reflect concerns that Mr. Dzhakishev’s arrest was part of
a Russian power play for control of Kazakh uranium assets.
the time, Russia was already eying a stake in Uranium One, Rosatom
company documents show. Rosatom officials say they were seeking to
acquire mines around the world because Russia lacks sufficient domestic
reserves to meet its own industry needs.
was against this backdrop that the Vancouver-based Uranium One pressed
the American Embassy in Kazakhstan [which reported to Mrs. Bill Clinton], as well as Canadian diplomats, to
take up its cause with Kazakh officials, according to the American
want more than a statement to the press,” Paul Clarke, a Uranium One
executive vice president, told the embassy’s energy officer on June 10,
the officer reported in a cable. “That is simply chitchat.” What the
company needed, Mr. Clarke said, was official written confirmation that
the licenses were valid.
American Embassy ultimately reported to the secretary of state, Mrs.
Clinton. Though the Clarke cable was copied to her, it was given wide
circulation, and it is unclear if she would have read it; the Clinton
campaign did not address questions about the cable. What
is clear is that the embassy acted, with the cables showing that the
energy officer met with Kazakh officials to discuss the issue on June 10
a company controlled by the Chinese government sought a 51 percent
stake in a tiny Nevada gold mining operation in 2009, it set off a
secretive review process in Washington, where officials raised concerns
primarily about the mine’s proximity to a military installation, but
also about the potential for minerals at the site, including uranium, to
come under Chinese control. The officials killed the deal.
is the power of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United
States. The committee comprises some of the most powerful members of the
cabinet, including the attorney general, the secretaries of the
Treasury, Defense, Homeland Security, Commerce and Energy, and the
secretary of state. They are charged with reviewing any deal that could
result in foreign control of an American business or asset deemed
important to national security.
Russians are easily winning the uranium war, and nobody’s talking about
it,” said Mr. Katusa, who explores the implications of the Uranium One
deal in his book. “It’s not just a domestic issue but a foreign policy
ARMZ, an arm of Rosatom, took its first 17 percent stake in Uranium One
in 2009, the two parties signed an agreement, found in securities
filings, to seek the foreign investment committee’s review. But it was
the 2010 deal, giving the Russians a controlling 51 percent stake, that
set off alarm bells. Four members of the House of
a letter expressing concern. Two more began pushing legislation to kill
the deal. [Democrats controlled the House of Representatives in 2010,
for the record. For those who still think there's a difference between
Democrats and Establishment Republicans].
John Barrasso, a Republican from Wyoming, where Uranium One’s largest
American operation was, wrote to President Obama, saying the deal “would
give the Russian government control over a sizable portion of America’s
uranium production capacity.”"...
[Ed. note: Letters from Establishment Republicans aren't taken seriously by anyone. They're just for show.]
(continuing): "“Equally alarming,” Mr.
Barrasso added, “this sale gives ARMZ a significant stake in uranium
mines in Kazakhstan.”Uranium
One’s shareholders were also alarmed, and were “afraid of Rosatom as a
Russian state giant,” Sergei Novikov, a company spokesman, recalled in
an interview. He said Rosatom’s chief, Mr. Kiriyenko, sought to reassure
Uranium One investors, promising that Rosatom would not break up the
company and would keep the same management, including Mr. Telfer, the
chairman. Another Rosatom official said publicly that it did not intend
to increase its investment beyond 51 percent, and that it envisioned
keeping Uranium One a public company.
nuclear officials, too, seemed eager to assuage fears. The Nuclear
Regulatory Commission wrote to Mr. Barrasso assuring him that American
uranium would be preserved for domestic use, regardless of who owned it.
order to export uranium from the United States, Uranium One Inc. or
ARMZ would need to apply for and obtain a specific NRC license
authorizing the export of uranium for use as reactor fuel,” the letter
Mrs. Clinton could assume her post as secretary of state, the White
House demanded that she sign a memorandum of understanding placing
limits on the activities of her husband’s foundation. To avoid the
perception of conflicts of interest, beyond the ban on foreign
government donations, thefoundation was required to publicly disclose
judge from those disclosures — which list the contributions in ranges
rather than precise amounts — the only Uranium One official to give to
the Clinton Foundation was Mr. Telfer,the chairman, and the amount was
relatively small: no more than $250,000, and that was in 2007, before
talk of a Rosatom deal began percolating.
donations through the Fernwood Foundation [Telfer's family charity in Canada] included $1 million reported
in 2009, the year his company appealed to the American Embassy to help
it keep its mines in Kazakhstan; $250,000 in 2010, the year the Russians
sought majority control; as well as $600,000 in 2011 and $500,000 in
2012. Mr. Telfer said that his donations had nothing to do with his
business dealings, and that he had never discussed Uranium One with Mr.
or Mrs. Clinton. He said he had given the money because he wanted to
support Mr. Giustra’s charitable endeavors with Mr. Clinton. “Frank and I
have been friends and business partners for almost 20 years,” he said.
(Hillary) Clinton campaign left it to the foundation to reply to questions about
the Fernwood donations; the foundation did not provide a response.
Telfer’s undisclosed donations came in addition to between $1.3 million
and $5.6 million in contributions, which were reported, from a
constellation of people with ties to Uranium One or UrAsia, the company
that originally acquired Uranium One’s most valuable asset: the Kazakh
mines.Without those assets, the Russians would have had no interest in
the deal:“It wasn’t the goal to buy the Wyoming mines. The goal was to
acquire the Kazakh assets, which are very good,” Mr. Novikov, the
Rosatom spokesman, said in an interview.
this influx of Uranium One-connected money, Mr. Clinton was invited to
speak in Moscow in June 2010, the same month Rosatom struck its deal for
a majority stake in Uranium One.
Capital analysts talked up Uranium One’s stock, assigning it a “buy”
rating and saying in a July 2010 research report that it was “the best
play” in the uranium markets. In addition, Renaissance Capital turned up
that same year as a major donor, along with Mr. Giustra and several
companies linked to Uranium One or UrAsia, to a small medical charity in
Colorado run by a friend of Mr. Giustra’s. In a newsletter to
supporters, the friend credited Mr. Giustra with helping get donations
from “businesses around the world.”
Capital would not comment on the genesis of Mr. Clinton’s speech to an
audience that included leading Russian officials, or on whether it was
connected to the Rosatom deal. According to a Russian government news
service, Mr. Putin personally thanked Mr. Clinton for speaking.
person with knowledge of the Clinton Foundation’s fund-raising
operation, who requested anonymity to speak candidly about it, said that
for many people, the hope is that money will in fact buy influence:
“Why do you think they are doing it — because they love them?” But
whether it actually does is another question. And in this case, there
were broader geopolitical pressures that likely came into play as the
United States considered whether to approve the Rosatom-Uranium One
doing business with Rosatom was good for those in the Uranium One deal,
engaging with Russia was also a priority of the incoming Obama
administration, which was hoping for a new era of cooperationas Mr.
Putin relinquished the presidency — if only for a term — to Dmitri A.
assumption was we could engage Russia to further core U.S. national
security interests,” said Mr. McFaul, the former ambassador.
started out well. The two countries made progress on nuclear
proliferation issues, and expanded use of Russian territory to resupply
American forces in Afghanistan. Keeping Iran from obtaining a nuclear
weapon was among the United States’ top priorities, and in June 2010
Russia signed off on a United Nations resolution imposing tough new
sanctions on that country.
months later, the deal giving ARMZ a controlling stake in Uranium One
was submitted to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United
States for review.
all of the committee’s decisions are personally debated by the agency
heads themselves; in less controversial cases, deputy or assistant
secretaries may sign off. But experts and former committee members say
Russia’s interest in Uranium One and its American uranium reserves
seemed to warrant attention at the highest levels...
Mrs. Clinton brought a reputation for hawkishness to the process; as a
senator, she was a vocal critic of the committee’s approval of a deal
that would have transferred the management of major American seaports to
a company based in the United Arab Emirates"...
(continuing): "and as a presidential
candidate she had advocated legislation to strengthen the process.
(Hillary) Clinton campaign spokesman, Mr. Fallon, said that in general, these
matters did not rise to the secretary’s level. He would not comment on
whether Mrs. Clinton had been briefed on the matter, but he gave The
Times a statement from the former assistant secretary assigned to the
foreign investment committee at the time, Jose Fernandez. While not
addressing the specifics of the Uranium One deal, Mr. Fernandez said,
“Mrs. Clinton never intervened with me on any C.F.I.U.S. matter.”
Fallon also noted that if any agency had raised national security
concerns about the Uranium One deal, it could have taken them directly
to the president.
Slaughter, the State Department’s director of policy planning at the
time, said she was unaware of the transaction--or the extent to which
it made Russia a dominant uranium supplier. But speaking generally, she
urged caution in evaluating its wisdom in hindsight.
renewed adversarial relationship has raised concerns about European
dependency on Russian energy resources, including nuclear fuel.The
unease reaches beyond diplomatic circles.In Wyoming, where Uranium One
equipment is scattered across his 35,000-acre ranch,John Christensen is
frustrated thatrepeated changes in corporate ownership over the years
led to French, South African, Canadian and, finally, Russian control
over mining rights on his property.
As of 2013, Rosatom’s subsidiary, ARMZ, owned 100
percent of it."
"A version of this article appears in print on April 24, 2015, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: The Clintons, The Russians and Uranium."
NY Times: "Correction: April 30, 2015:" "An article on Friday about contributions to the Clinton
Foundation from people associated with a Canadian uranium-mining company
described incorrectly the foundation’s agreement with the Obama
administration regarding foreign-government donations while Hillary
Clinton was secretary of state. Under the agreement, the foundation
would not accept new donations from foreign governments, thoughit could
seek State Department waivers in specific cases. The foundation was not
barred from accepting all foreign-government donations."
Comment: Regarding so-called
"charitable" foundations, organized crime has traditionally used philanthropy to gain entry into legitimate society. It
doesn't matter if any of the $31.3 million the uranium guy
gave to Bill Clinton's "charity" actually went to "charity." What
matters is the "donation" gives the guy a shield of
"goodness." He's free to commit any global crime he wants because he won't be criticized. Giustra even issued a statement after the above article ran urging media to focus on the poor (like he does): NY Times: "(In
a statement issued after this article appeared online, Mr. Giustra said
he was “extremely proud” of his charitable work with Mr. Clinton, and
he urged the media to focus on poverty, health care and “the real
challenges of the world.”)" Giustra in effect says, stop looking at me, start caring about the poor like I do.