Hillary Clinton Sold 20 Percent of America’s Uranium to Russia-Mostly Fiction!
Summary of eRumor:
President Donald Trump has repeated the claim that Hillary Clinton sold 20 percent of America’s Uranium to Russia while secretary of state on the campaign trail and while in office.
Claims that Hillary Clinton sold 20 percent of America’s uranium capacity to Russia are mostly false. But Clinton played a role in the deal’s approval process, and stakeholders of the uranium transaction made financial contributions to the Clinton Foundation while its approval was in flux.
President Trump deflected questions about his campaign’s or administration’s possible ties to Russia during a lengthy press conference on February 16, 2017. The president accused the Obama administration of mishandling Russia and pointed out that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine unfolded on President Obama’s watch. The president then pivoted to Hillary Clinton, repeating an old accusation from the campaign trail that she had sold 20 percent of the country’s Uranium to Russia:
We had Hillary Clinton try to do a reset. We had Hillary Clinton give Russia 20 percent of the uranium in our country. You know what uranium is, right? It’s this thing called nuclear weapons. And other things. Like lots of things are done with uranium. Including some bad things.
But nobody talks about that. I did not do anything for Russia. I’ve done nothing for Russia. Hillary Clinton gave them 20 percent of our uranium. Hillary Clinton did a reset, remember, with the stupid plastic button that made us all look like a bunch of jerks?
Then, on March 28th, Trump again turned to the Clinton-Russia uranium claim after reports surfaced that a Senate committee would question Jared Kushner, a senior White House advisor and son-in-law of the president, about meetings that he had with the former chairman of Russia’s largest state-run bank, which faces U.S. sanctions:
Trump was referring to a series of transaction from 2009 to 2013 in which a division of Rosatom, the Russian state’s energy conglomerate, purchased a controlling stake in the Toronto-based company Uranium One. Because Uranium One had holdings spanning the world, from Southeast Asia to the American west (it controlled 20 percent of American uranium production capacity), the deal made Russia the foremost controller of the uranium supply chain in the world.
Because the sale had national security implications, it had to go through a series of approvals. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), heads of various federal agencies (including then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton) making up the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States, the Federal Trade Commission, and President Obama, CNN reported in 2010:
The NRC must approve the transfer of the NRC license for its Irigaray-Christiansen Ranch recovery facility in eastern Wyoming, McIntyre said. “Generally, we look at whether the new ownership would have the technical expertise and the financial wherewithal to maintain the site and clean up when operations cease,” he said.
Further, the sale needs to be reviewed by the Committee on Financial Investment in the United States, an inter-agency panel that advises the president on any transaction that could jeopardize U.S. national security. Committee officials declined to discuss the sale, saying they are prohibited by law from disclosing such matters.
And the sale may require approval of the Federal Trade Commission because it involves a stock transaction, and the Federal Communications Commission because one of the sites has a radio license, the NRC said.
Of course, Hillary Clinton voted to approve the sale, along with President Obama and other agency heads. At the time, as Trump has noted, the Obama administration was in the midst of a “Russia Reset” in which there were active steps being taken to unfreeze relations between the country. And it has been noted that uranium along the border Kazakstan appeared to be Russia’s focus of the deal, the Globe and Mail reported in 2010:
But that is precisely the deal’s strength, says the Moscow official behind the deal. Vadim Zhivov, CEO of the Russian uranium miner ARMZ, argued that Kremlin involvement would bring greater stability, security and profitability to Uranium One’s extensive operations in Kazakhstan, considered the world’s largest source of readily accessible uranium.
“Given Russia’s long-term relationship with Kazakhstan, an 8,000-kilometre land border and a long history of good relations with [them] I think the Russian Federation is the least likely player to be affected by any political changes that will happen there, and it will be important for any company doing mining operations there to have a state partner,” Mr. Zhivov said.
So, the idea that Hillary Clinton personally sold, or personally approved the sale of Canada’s second-largest Uranium producer to Russia’s state-run energy conglomerate is misleading at best. Clinton played a role in the approval process, but she hardly made the sale, and it’s not clear what she could have done to stop the transaction.
However, the uranium issue has continued to dog Hillary Clinton. The right-wing oppositional research firm the Hoover Institute uncovered proof in 2015 that the Clinton Foundation took in millions of dollars from officials at the center of the Russian uranium deal. The report appeared in the book “Clinton Cash,” and on the front page of the New York Times in 2015:
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. Members of that group built, financed and eventually sold off to the Russians a company that would become known as Uranium One.
Beyond mines in Kazakhstan that are among the most lucrative in the world, the sale gave the Russians control of one-fifth of all uranium production capacity in the United States. 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.
As the Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One in three separate transactions from 2009 to 2013, Canadian records show, a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation. Uranium One’s chairman used his family foundation to make four donations totaling $2.35 million. Those contributions were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors. Other people with ties to the company made donations as well.
And shortly after the Russians announced their intention to acquire a majority stake in Uranium One, Mr. Clinton received $500,000 for a Moscow speech from a Russian investment bank with links to the Kremlin that was promoting Uranium One stock.
Clinton critics have pointed to the fact that the Clinton Foundation took in millions of dollars from key players in the Russian uranium deal, and that Clinton was personally paid $500,000 to deliver a speech in Moscow after the acquisition was announced, as proof of corruption and profiteering. At the very least, it’s hard to argue that it was bad judgement for the Clintons to accept money from anyone involved in the deal.
When it comes to the specific claim that Hillary Clinton sold 20 percent of America’s uranium to Russia, however, that proves mostly false. She played a role in the approval process, but she didn’t have veto power, and she didn’t broker the deal.