The Hill 's John Solomon and Alison Spann reported last month that when congress reviewed the Uranium One deal back in 2010, assurances that US uranium would not leave the country was a key requirement before the deal could be approved. The assurances were given stated that no such exports would never occur.Prior to the approval of the sale [of Uranium One], I wrote to then-President Barack Obama registering my strong concerns regarding Russian control over American uranium production facilities and Russia's ability to ship U.S. uranium overseas. I also requested immediate notification should ARMZ file for a license to export U.S. uranium. Based on information that has recently come to light, I now believe the response I received, and the process by which I received it, were both misleading.
On March 21, 2011, former NRC Chairman Greg Jaczko responded to my letter on behalf of then-President Obama stating:
‘At this time, neither Uranium One Inc. nor ARMZ holds a specific NRC export license. In 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 in reactor fuel’
The NRC staff made a similar statement in their recommendation to approve the transfer control of Uranium One to ARMZ, stating:
"before the licensee may export uranium to a foreign country, they must first comply with the NRC's regulations and seek a specific license for such purpose."
Recent reporting by The Hill uncovered that Uranium One was able to export uranium without obtaining a specific export license. Beginning in 2012, Uranium One exported U.S. uranium by ‘piggy-backing’ as a supplier on an export license held by the shipping company, RSB Logistic Services Inc.
“No uranium produced at either facility may be exported,” the NRC declared in a November 2010 press release that announced that ARMZ, a subsidiary of the Russian-owned Rosatom, had been approved to take ownership of the Uranium One mining firm and its American assets.
A year later, the nuclear regulator repeated the assurance in a letter to Sen. John Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican in whose state Uranium One operated mines.
“Neither Uranium One Inc. nor AMRZ holds a specific NRC export license. In order to export uranium from the United States, Uranium One Inc. or ARMZ would need to apply for an obtain a specific NRC license authorizing the exports of uranium for use in reactor fuel,” then-NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko wrote Barrasso.
The NRC never issued an export license to the Russian firm, a fact so engrained in the narrative of the Uranium One controversy that it showed up in The Washington Post’s official fact-checker site this week. “We have noted repeatedly that extracted uranium could not be exported by Russia without a license, which Rosatom does not have,” The Post reported on Monday, linking to the 2011 Barrasso letter.
Memos obtained by The Hill in November confirmed that, in fact, Uranium One yellowcake did manage to escape U.S. shores repeatedly between 2012 - 2014.
As Senator Barrasso notes in his letter, "According to The Hill, not only did Uranium One export U.S. uranium, but it was subsequently exported out of Canada," and concludes “By stating DOE had no role in the matter, the DOE concealed the possibility of subsequent exports and their responsibility in reviewing them."