On Monday, North Korea issued a stark warning to the US: If you attack us, we will retaliate with nuclear weapons.
Several American cities, including New York, San Francisco, and Honolulu, have response plans for terrorist attacks, including so-called “dirty bombs” containing radioactive material. But few have publicized plans to deal with a real nuclear explosion.
One of the more recent PSA videos is the one below, published in 2014. It opens with a short message from Ventura County public health officer Dr. Robert Levin, then cuts to a little girl with an ominous expression around the one-minute mark.
“Mom, I know you care about me,” she says. “When I was five, you taught me how to stop, drop, and roll … But what if something bigger happens?” The video then flashes to the girl walking down empty streets alone.
The Ventura County Health Care Agency has published several guides on what to do in the event of a nuclear bomb hitting the area. As the girl says in the video above, the agency’s focus is to “go in, stay in, tune in.”
The scenario assumes a terrorist-caused nuclear blast of about 10 kilotons’ worth of TNT or less. Few people would survive within the immediate damage zone, which may extend up to one or two miles wide, but those outside would have a chance.
Brooke Buddemeier, a health physicist and radiation expert at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, previously told Business Insider that he likes Ventura County’s PSAs because they’re simple and easy to remember. “There is a ton of guidance and information out there,” he said, but “it’s kind of too hard to digest quickly.”
Buddemeier said you’d have about 15 minutes – maybe a little bit longer, depending on how far away you are from the blast site – to get to the center of a building to avoid devastating exposure to radioactive fallout. Going below-ground is even better.
“Stay in, 12 to 24 hours, and tune in – try to use whatever communication tools you have. We’re getting better about being able to broadcast messages to cell phones, certainly the hand-cranked radio is a good idea – your car radio, if you’re in a parking garage with your car,” he said.
The protection factor that various buildings, and locations within them, offer from the radioactive fallout of a nuclear blast. The higher the number, the greater the protection.Brooke Buddemeier/Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Buddemeier adds, however, that you shouldn’t try to drive away or stay in your car for very long, because it can’t really protect you. Today’s vehicles are made of glass and very light metals, and offer almost no shielding from damaging radiation.
“All of those hundreds of thousands of people could prevent that exposure that would make them sick by sheltering. So, this has a huge impact: Knowing what to do after an event like this can literally save hundreds of thousands of people from radiation illness or fatalities,” he said.
The administration is putting money toward a border wall, but giving short shrift to America’s other borders.
BY BETHANY ALLEN-EBRAHIMIAN
President Donald Trump’s proposed budget would pour money into a wall on the southern border — while stripping funding from protecting ports against the threat of nuclear attack.The administration’s proposed 2018 budget would halve funding for key counterterrorism programs at another kind of border: The 361 ports dotted across America’s 95,000 miles of coastline. The proposed cuts, leaving just $48 million in grant funding, have alarmed port operators, senators from both sides of the aisle, and counterterrorism experts alike.“I’m seriously concerned that these budget cuts will weaken our ability to detect, prevent, and respond to future attacks,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri), the ranking member on the Senate Homeland Security Committee, last month.After the September 11, 2001 attacks, one of security experts’ greatest fears was that terrorists would acquire nuclear or radiological weapons and use them against the United States. Analysts determined that if a weapon of mass destruction were to be deployed, it would likely be delivered in one of the 12 million shipping containers arriving in ports every year — a flood of cargo seemingly too big to search without disrupting global trade.Determining that ports were “susceptible to large scale acts of terrorism,” Congress established the Port Security Grant Program in October 2002 to fund radiation detection scanners, security systems and maintenance, and training at maritime ports. But even today, worries about port security persist. Former Secretary of Defense William Perry said last month at an event at the Hoover Institute that North Korea may not need the long-range missiles it is currently developing in order to deliver a nuclear payload to American shores. Pyongyang, he said, “might even be able to do terrible damage to the United States by delivering [nuclear weapons] in freighters.”The Trump budget doesn’t just take aim at port security funding — it also would slash the U.S. Coast Guard budget, which provides layers of protection by tracking incoming vessels, scanning for illicit weapons, and making sure foreign ports have adequate security, Additionally, a pair of crack Coast Guard units — the Maritime Safety and Security Teams and the Maritime Security Response Teams — could lose their funding entirely, according to documents obtained by the Associated Press in February. The Response Teams are the Coast Guard’s ace in the hole against terrorists, said Cmdr. Paul Frantz, of the Coast Guard’s Office of Deployable Specialized Forces, “designed to respond to the threat or event of a terrorist attack.” This spring, nearly two dozen senators sent Trump’s budget director a letter warning against dismantling the Coast Guard units, warning that it would be “negligent and detrimental to our national security.”When the September 11 attacks occurred, U.S. ports were wide open to possible risks. Years of funding have built up the capabilities of ports around the country to detect potentially nefarious activity, including any smuggled nuclear bombs. According to testimony submitted to a June 2014 Senate homeland security committee hearing, in 2001 Customs and Border Patrol had none of the big scanners — known as radiation portal monitors — that spot radiological hazards. By 2014, it had 1,387 at ports across the country, able to screen 99 percent of incoming cargo, essentially meeting the post-9/11 Congressional mandate that 100 percent of incoming shipping containers be scanned.But these scanners require expensive maintenance and have a lifespan of 10 to 13 years, meaning those deployed after 9/11 will soon need to be replaced. Many ports don’t have the cash. “There’s a lot about the border wall, but we’re borders as well,” said April Danos, director of information technology at the Greater Lafourche Port Commission in Louisiana. The grants enable ports like Lafourche to install pricey security systems they wouldn’t have been able to afford, and to perform costly maintenance to keep systems operational. “Those budget cuts would impact us greatly,” said Danos. “We would not be able to maintain these systems.”The possible gutting of the grant program has port operators around the country up in arms. On June 12, the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) sent a letter calling on eight leading lawmakers to fully fund the grant program, highlighting that it is crucial in “helping seaports harden security and protect these vital transportation hubs and maritime borders.”Congress needs to be reminded that “ports are international borders,” said John Young, director of freight and surface transportation policy at the AAPA, in a phone interview with Foreign Policy. Used in collaboration with local law enforcement, said Young, port security grants “can do anything from fencing to cyber security assessments, to installing cyber equipment to purchasing equipment to help secure ports.”Without the grant money, it’s not clear how ports and operators will be able to fully address ongoing vulnerabilities or identify new ones.“It’s a big deal for us,” said Danos. “The gaps are going to be left wide open.”Chris Hondros/Getty Images
His remarks form part of a series of interviews with American film director Oliver Stone.
The question of whether the human race would survive a potential global nuclear war has tormented the minds of generations, and indeed Stone, who wondered if the Russian president believes the US might emerge victorious if such a conflict were to break out.
“In a hot war is the US dominant?” the American director asked the Russian president.
Putin then proves he has the pulse on Russia’s military strategy and tactics.
As part of the preview, the clip shows Stone and Vladimir Putin in the situation room where the Russian leader demonstrated that he is on top of developments playing out in the Syrian military theater.
“Pilot says he is going to make another attempt,” Putin tells the US director while showing him a live feed from a military jet on a smartphone.
Stone then asks if there’s “any hope of change” in US-Russian relations, which both countries have acknowledged are at the lowest point since the Cold War.
“There is always hope. Until they are ready to bring us to the cemetery and bury us,” Vladimir Putin replied.
Apart from the teaser, Showtime has also uploaded two separate interview segments that touched on Russia-NATO relations and the numerous assassination attempts on the Russian president.
Describing NATO an an instrument of American foreign policy, Putin said the alliance’s members inevitably become US “vassals.”
“Once a country becomes a NATO member, it is hard to resist the pressures of the US. And all of a sudden any weapons system can be placed in this country. An anti-ballistic missile system, new military bases and if need be, new offensive systems,” Putin explained.
Russia, Putin says, is forced to take countermeasures over the ever-increasing NATO threat and armed military build-up on Russia’s borders.
“We have to aim our missile systems at facilities that are threatening us. The situation becomes more tense,” Vladimir Putin said.
In the third clip, published Tuesday by Showtime, Stone claimed he had credible information that the Russian leader survived at least five assassination attempts, which Putin implied were successfully thwarted by his security team.
“I do my job and the Security Officers do theirs, and they are still performing quite successfully,” Putin said, adding, “I trust them.”
Recalling a Russian proverb, Vladimir Putin told Stone that “those who are destined to be hanged are not going to drown.”
“What is your fate sir, do you know?” Stone asked.
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.
At the time, both Rosatom and the United States government made promises intended to ease concerns about ceding control of the company’s assets to the Russians. Those promises have been repeatedly broken, records show.
The New York Times’s examination of the Uranium One deal is based on dozens of interviews, as well as a review of public records and securities filings in Canada, Russia and the United States. Some of the connections between Uranium One and the Clinton Foundation were unearthed by Peter Schweizer, a former fellow at the right-leaning Hoover Institution and author of the forthcoming book “Clinton Cash.” Mr. Schweizer provided a preview of material in the book to The Times, which scrutinized his information and built upon it with its own reporting.
Whether the donations played any role in the approval of the uranium deal is unknown. But the episode underscores the special ethical challenges presented by the Clinton Foundation, headed by a former president who relied heavily on foreign cash to accumulate $250 million in assets even as his wife helped steer American foreign policy as secretary of state, presiding over decisions with the potential to benefit the foundation’s donors.
In 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.
American political campaigns are barred from accepting foreign donations. But foreigners may give to foundations in the United States. In the days since Mrs. Clinton announced her candidacy for president, the Clinton Foundation has announced changes meant to quell longstanding concerns about potential conflicts of interest in such donations; it has limited donations from foreign governments, with many, like Russia’s, barred from giving to all but its health care initiatives. That policy stops short of a more stringent agreement between Mrs. Clinton and the Obama administration that was in effect while she was secretary of state.
Either way, the Uranium One deal highlights the limits of such prohibitions. The foundation will continue to accept contributions from foreign sources whose interests, like Uranium One’s, may overlap with those of foreign governments, some of which may be at odds with the United States.
When 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.
Now, 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 world.
“Should we be concerned? Absolutely,” said Michael McFaul, who served under Mrs. Clinton as the American ambassador to Russia but said he had been unaware of the Uranium One deal until asked about it. “Do we want Putin to have a monopoly on this? Of course we don’t. We don’t want to be dependent on Putin for anything in this climate.”
The 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.
Within 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.
If 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.
Still, 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 had donated $31.3 million to Mr. Clinton’s foundation.
(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.”)
Though the 2008 article quoted the former head of Kazatomprom, Moukhtar Dzhakishev, as saying that the deal required government approval and was discussed at a dinner with the president, 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.
As 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.
“None 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
By 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 Uranium One.
Publicly, 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.
But 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.
At 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.
It was against this backdrop that the Vancouver-based Uranium One pressed the American Embassy in Kazakhstan, as well as Canadian diplomats, to take up its cause with Kazakh officials, according to the American cables.
“We 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.
The 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 and 11.
Three days later, a wholly owned subsidiary of Rosatom completed a deal for 17 percent of Uranium One. And within a year, the Russian government substantially upped the ante, with a generous offer to shareholders that would give it a 51 percent controlling stake. But first, Uranium One had to get the American government to sign off on the deal.
Among the Donors to the Clinton Foundation
The Power to Say No
When 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.
Such 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.
The national security issue at stake in the Uranium One deal was not primarily about nuclear weapons proliferation; the United States and Russia had for years cooperated on that front, with Russia sending enriched fuel from decommissioned warheads to be used in American nuclear power plants in return for raw uranium.
Instead, it concerned American dependence on foreign uranium sources. While the United States gets one-fifth of its electrical power from nuclear plants, it produces only around 20 percent of the uranium it needs, and most plants have only 18 to 36 months of reserves, according to Marin Katusa, author of “The Colder War: How the Global Energy Trade Slipped From America’s Grasp.”
When 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 Representatives signed a letter expressing concern. Two more began pushing legislation to kill the deal.
Senator 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.”
“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
American 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.
“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 as reactor fuel,” the letter said.
Still, the ultimate authority to approve or reject the Russian acquisition rested with the cabinet officials on the foreign investment committee, including Mrs. Clinton — whose husband was collecting millions in donations from people associated with Uranium One.
Before 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, the foundation was required to publicly disclose all contributors.
To 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.
But a review of tax records in Canada, where Mr. Telfer has a family charity called the Fernwood Foundation, shows that he donated millions of dollars more, during and after the critical time when the foreign investment committee was reviewing his deal with the Russians. With the Russians offering a special dividend, shareholders like Mr. Telfer stood to profit.
His donations through the Fernwood Foundation 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.
The Clinton campaign left it to the foundation to reply to questions about the Fernwood donations; the foundation did not provide a response.
Amid 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.
The $500,000 fee — among Mr. Clinton’s highest — was paid by Renaissance Capital, a Russian investment bank with ties to the Kremlin that has invited world leaders, including Tony Blair, the former British prime minister, to speak at its investor conferences.
Renaissance 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.”
Renaissance 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.
A 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 deal.
If 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 cooperation as Mr. Putin relinquished the presidency — if only for a term — to Dmitri A. Medvedev.
“The assumption was we could engage Russia to further core U.S. national security interests,” said Mr. McFaul, the former ambassador.
It 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.
Two 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. Because of the secrecy surrounding the process, it is hard to know whether the participants weighed the desire to improve bilateral relations against the potential risks of allowing the Russian government control over the biggest uranium producer in the United States. The deal was ultimately approved in October, following what two people involved in securing the approval said had been a relatively smooth process.
Not 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.
“This deal had generated press, it had captured the attention of Congress and it was strategically important,” said Richard Russell, who served on the committee during the George W. Bush administration. “When I was there invariably any one of those conditions would cause this to get pushed way up the chain, and here you had all three.”
And 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, and as a presidential candidate she had advocated legislation to strengthen the process.
The 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.”
Mr. 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.
Anne-Marie 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.
“Russia was not a country we took lightly at the time or thought was cuddly,” she said. “But it wasn’t the adversary it is today.”
That 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 that repeated changes in corporate ownership over the years led to French, South African, Canadian and, finally, Russian control over mining rights on his property.
“I hate to see a foreign government own mining rights here in the United States,” he said. “I don’t think that should happen.”
Mr. Christensen, 65, noted that despite assurances by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that uranium could not leave the country without Uranium One or ARMZ obtaining an export license — which they do not have — yellowcake from his property was routinely packed into drums and trucked off to a processing plant in Canada.
Asked about that, the commission confirmed that Uranium One has, in fact, shipped yellowcake to Canada even though it does not have an export license. Instead, the transport company doing the shipping, RSB Logistic Services, has the license. A commission spokesman said that “to the best of our knowledge” most of the uranium sent to Canada for processing was returned for use in the United States. A Uranium One spokeswoman, Donna Wichers, said 25 percent had gone to Western Europe and Japan. At the moment, with the uranium market in a downturn, nothing is being shipped from the Wyoming mines.
The “no export” assurance given at the time of the Rosatom deal is not the only one that turned out to be less than it seemed. Despite pledges to the contrary, Uranium One was delisted from the Toronto Stock Exchange and taken private. As of 2013, Rosatom’s subsidiary, ARMZ, owned 100 percent of it.
Correction: April 23, 2015 An earlier version of this article misstated, in one instance, the surname of a fellow at the Hoover Institution. He is Peter Schweizer, not Schweitzer.
An earlier version also incorrectly described the Clinton Foundation’s agreement with the Obama administration regarding foreign-government donations while Hillary Rodham Clinton was secretary of state. Under the agreement, the foundation would not accept new donations from foreign governments, though it could seek State Department waivers in specific cases. It was not barred from accepting all foreign-government donations.
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, though it could seek State Department waivers in specific cases. The foundation was not barred from accepting all foreign-government donations.
Hillary and Putin RussiaWhile then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton decided whether to allow the sale of a company holding 20 percent of America’s uranium capacity to the Russian government, tens of millions of uranium investor dollars were received by the Clinton Foundation – not to mention a $500,000 speaking fee received by Bill Clinton from a Kremlin-affiliated bank.
“Why isn’t the House Intelligence Committee looking into the Bill & Hillary deal that allowed big Uranium to go to Russia, Russian speech,” Trump tweeted. “… money to Bill, the Hillary Russian ‘reset,’ praise of Russia by Hillary, or Podesta Russian Company. Trump Russia story is a hoax. #MAGA!”
“The 2010 deal for a majority stake of Canadian-based Uranium One – which required approval from Clinton’s State Department and eight other federal agencies – and its plausible connection to major donations to the Clinton Foundation was exposed by author Peter Schweizer in his book Clinton Cash and confirmed in a 3,000 word, front-page story by the New York Times,” WND reported. “Former Uranium One chairman Ian Telfer was among several individuals connected to the deal who made donations to the Clinton Foundation.”
“The donations flowed as the Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One in three separate transactions from 2009 to 2013,” WND’s Art Moore explained. “Snopes and other ‘fact checkers’ who insist there was no quid pro quo have argued that most of the donations were made in 2008 – before Hillary Clinton became secretary of state. But she was running for president at that time.”
The covert dealings reportedly began more than a decade ago and continued on for years afterward.
“The origin of the deal traced back to 2005, when mining financier Frank Giustra traveled with Bill Clinton to work out an agreement with the government of Kazakhstan for mining rights,” Moore added. “Giustra has donated $31.3 million to the Clinton Foundation. [Then,} in June 2010, shortly after the Russians announced their intention to acquire a majority stake in Uranium One, Bill Clinton personally received a speaking fee of $500,000 from a Kremlin-tied Russian investment bank connected to the uranium deal.”
It was also noted by the Times that contributions given to the Clinton Foundation were not made public, according to Canadian tax records. This was a direct violation of an agreement that Clinton signed with the Obama administration when she assumed the role as secretary of state – which stated that she must disclose all donations made from abroad.
Furthermore, it was disclosed last week by the Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group that John Podesta – the campaign chairman for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign – likely opened himself up to a Russian “influence campaign” – an arrangement that was devised to modify his views to coincide with those held by the Kremlin.
“Podesta possibly violated federal law when he failed to fully disclose his membership on the executive board of an energy company that accepted millions from a Vladimir Putin-connected Russian government fund,” WND reported.
Giving Russia the edge
Hillary Clinton’s maneuverings while secretary of state reportedly turned the axis of nuclear power to Russia’s advantage.
“After Rosatom finally secured 100 percent of Uranium One in 2013, the Russian-government news website Pravda declared: ‘Russian Nuclear Energy Conquers the World,’” Moore pointed out. “The acquisition of uranium-mining stakes stretching from Central Asia to the American West made Rosatom one of the world’s largest uranium producers and brought Putin closer to his goal of controlling much of the global uranium supply chain, the New York Times said.”
Once approval from the U.S. government was secured, Putin was recorded in a staged interview with Rosatom Chief Executive Sergei Kiriyenko, who expressed the sheer magnitude of the deal.
“Few could have imagined in the past that we would own 20 percent of U.S. reserves,” Kiriyenko told Putin, according to WND.
This coincided with the famous boast uttered by the former first lady regarding U.S. relations with Russia.
“The agreement came as the Obama administration – led by Hillary Clinton’s State Department – famously was seeking to ‘reset’ strained relations with Russia,” Moore recounted. “Because uranium is considered a strategic asset that has implications for national security, the agreement had to be approved by a panel of representatives from a number of United States government agencies, including the State Department.”
The U.S. government and Rosatom made vows to each other in order to lessen tensions regarding ceding control of the company’s assets to the Russians – yet the Times reports that the promises were broken numerous times.
“[Even though it cannot be proven that the donations had a direct impact on the uranium deal’s approval,] the episode underscores the special ethical challenges presented by the Clinton Foundation, headed by a former president who relied heavily on foreign cash to accumulate $250 million in assets – even as his wife helped steer American foreign policy as secretary of state, presiding over decisions with the potential to benefit the foundation’s donors,” the Times noted.
Brian Fallon, the spokesman for Clinton’s 2016 campaign, defended the questionable negotiations.
“[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,” Fallon expressed during the campaign season last year – according to the Times – insisting the Canadian government and other U.S. agencies were also required to sign off on the problematic deal. “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.”
Feeling uneasy about leaked reports, the Clintons were forced to change their tone.
“The appearance of undue influence, however, prompted the Clinton Foundation to announce changes – including limiting donations from foreign governments and barring Russia from giving to all but its health care initiatives,” Moore indicated.
This, however, did not line up with the Clinton Foundations future dealings.
“[The Clinton Foundation continued to] accept contributions from foreign sources whose interests – like Uranium One’s – may overlap with those of foreign governments, some of which may be at odds with the United States,” reported the Times, which received information about the significance of the deal from Clinton’s U.S. ambassador to Russia at the time, Michael McFaul.
“Should we be concerned?” McFaul asked before answering his own question, according to the Times. “Absolutely. Do we want Putin to have a monopoly on this? Of course we don’t. We don’t want to be dependent on Putin for anything in this climate.”
Bill Clinton behind the scenes
Canadian mining financier Giustra had former President Bill Clinton strategically at his side to orchestrate his first major uranium deal – an arrangement that began Russia’s acquisition of American uranium deposits in Kazakhstan back in 2005, the Times reported.
Schweitzer stressed why Clinton’s role in the deal was so important, noting that Giustra wanted to have a large uranium concession in Kazakhstan, yet the Canadian could not get it from Nursultan Nazarbayev – the nation’s repressive dictator.
“Bill Clinton shows up, declares at a press conference that Nazarbayev is a wonderful leader, should actually lead an international human rights organization,” Schweizer explained. “And lo and behold, a couple of days later, Nazarbayev gives Frank Giustra this uranium concession. A few weeks after that, Bill Clinton’s Clinton Foundation gets more than $30 million from Frank Giustra.”
Bill and Hilary Clinton’s underhanded dealings to cash in were then clarified.
“[Bill Clinton undercut] American foreign policy and criticism of Kazakhstan’s poor human rights record by, among others, his wife, then a senator,” the Times stated.
A series of arrangements then took place that highlight the problematic negotiations between the U.S. and Russia.
“Giustra’s fledgling company, UrAsia Energy Ltd., signed a preliminary deal with Kazakhstan giving the company stakes in three uranium mines controlled by the state-run uranium agency Kazatomprom,” Moore informed. ”UrAsia merged in 2007 with Uranium One, a South African company with assets in Africa and Australia, which soon began purchasing companies with assets in the United States. By June 2009, Uranium One’s stock had dropped 40 percent, but Russia, lacking domestic uranium reserves, was eyeing a stake in the company. That’s when Uranium One pressed the U.S. Embassy in Kazakhstan, which was under Hillary Clinton’s authority, to talk with Kazakh officials about clearing the way for a deal. American cables show the U.S. Embassy energy officer met with Kazakh officials, and three days later, a wholly owned subsidiary of Rosatom completed a deal for 17 percent of Uranium One. Within a year, Russia sought a 51 percent controlling stake. The only obstacle to the deal was that the U.S. government, namely the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, had to sign off on it.”
It was further noted by the Times that when a Chinese government-owned company pursued a 51-percent stake in a small gold mining operation in Nevada back in 2009, the attempted acquisition triggered a covert Washington probe. Officials were reportedly concerned that the proximity of the mine to a U.S. military installation, which likely contained minerals, including uranium – might come under Chinese control.
According to Schweizer, a potential deal killer soon set in.
“When the Uranium One deal was under way,] a spontaneous outbreak of philanthropy among eight shareholders in Uranium One [took place], Schweizer noted. “These Canadian mining magnates decide now would be a great time to donate tens of millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation.”
The reasoning behind the negotiations was then clarified.
“The national security issue at stake in the Uranium One deal was not primarily about nuclear weapons proliferation, but about American dependence on foreign uranium sources,” Moore emphasized.
Marin Katusa, who authored The Colder War: How the Global Energy Trade Slipped from America’s Grasp, said that even though America receives 20 percent of its electricity from nuclear plants, it generates only about a fifth of the uranium that it needs.
“The Russians are easily winning the uranium war, and nobody’s talking about it,” Katusa told the Times. “It’s not just a domestic issue, but a foreign policy issue, too,” Katusa explained.
Ceding control to the Russians
A letter showing fears about the U.S. losing power to the Russians via the Uranium One deal was written by four members of the House of Representatives.
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wy.) and two other House members started pushing legislation to kill the deal.
“[The Uranium One deal] would give the Russian government control over a sizable portion of America’s uranium production capacity,” Barraso expressed to Obama.
It was noted that a major decision-maker in the deal was Obama’s former secretary of state.
“Still, the ultimate authority to approve or reject the Russian acquisition rested with the cabinet officials on the foreign investment committee, including Mrs. Clinton – whose husband was collecting millions in donations from people associated with Uranium One,” the Times stated.
The Times was told by an insider who had information about the Clinton Foundation’s fundraising operation – on condition of anonymity – that money was used to buy influence.
“Why do you think they are doing it – because they love them?” the informant sarcastically posed.
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States started its review two months afterward, but it was disclosed that a massive coverup soon ensued.
“Did the committee weigh the U.S. desire to improve bilateral relations with Russia against the potential risks of allowing the Russian government control over the biggest uranium producer in the United States?” Moore pondered. “That information has never been disclosed, but the deal was approved in October after, the Times said, citing two people involved, ‘a relatively smooth process.’”
Benefited from associations with the Obamas and Clintons
Hamid Jafar is the founder and chairman of the Crescent group of companies, according to the Crescent Petroleum website. However, as Alan Jones and Mary Fanning write for the CSP, Hamid Jafar “is the brother and the business partner of Dr. Jafar Dhia Jafar—the Baghdad-born nuclear physicist who masterminded Saddam Hussein’s nuclear weapons program.”
In other words, the company has links to terror. Jones and Fanning write that David Kay, a “U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991–1992” who returned to Iraq after 2003, says that Dr. Jafar told him, “You can bomb our buildings. You can destroy our technology. But you cannot take it [nuclear technology] out of our heads. We now have the capability.”
Dr. Jafar is currently CEO of Crescent’s URUK Engineering & Contracting subsidiary, although his brother claimed for years that he had “no business relationship” with Dr. Jafar, according to Jones and Fanning.
These are the business ties of a company in charge of shipping containers out of a port with close proximity to an Air Force base, a submarine base, and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Yet despite the risks, the mainstream media continue to look the other way on the Gulftainer scandal.
Two years in the making, the detailed analysis by the Rand Corp.’s Center for Terrorism Risk Management Policy paints a terrifying picture not only of the possibility of such an attack but of its immediate and long-term effects on Southern California, the nation and the global economy.
“It would be bad enough if a terrorist organization were ever able to get a nuclear device inside the boundaries of the United States,” said Michael A. Wermuth, director of Rand’s homeland security research. “But this report shows that an attack of this scale can have far-reaching implications beyond the actual point of the attack itself.”
If the attack led to the closure of all U.S. ports as a security measure, the report says, the ripple effect would be global since the value of imports and exports from American ports represents about 7.5% of world trade activity.
Additionally, the study says, 2 million to 3 million people might need to relocate because the nuclear fallout would contaminate a wide swath of the region. And the destruction of port area refineries, responsible for a third of the gas west of the Rockies, could create critical shortages of gasoline.
“It would take years to recover economically” from such an attack, Wermuth said. “It would take any number of years before some of the area close to ground zero could be rebuilt, and some of it would not be habitable for 20 years.”
The report is the latest to address concerns about the vulnerability of the nation’s ports nearly five years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Wermuth emphasized, however, that the study was not meant to predict that such an attack was likely.
Rather, he said, it was to analyze the potential consequences of a terrorist event “so all the various entities, both government and private, can see how dependent the broader economy is on a geographically specific part of the economy.”
Rep. Jane Harman (D-Venice) echoed Wermuth’s comments about the scenario.
“The report does not estimate the likelihood of such an attack,” said Harman, the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee and a member of the Committee on Homeland Security.
But it does underscore “the need to radically improve security at our ports,” Harman said, calling the ports “a gaping hole in American security for years.”
The Obama administration three years ago accused the Russians of violating the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty by developing and testing the prohibited cruise missile, and officials had anticipated that Moscow eventually would deploy it. Russia denies that it has violated the INF treaty.
“We know that this is an old issue. The Russians have been building and testing these things in violation of the INF treaty going back to the Obama administration,” an official told Reuters, asking to remain anonymous to speak freely.
“The issue now is the things are deployed and it’s an even greater violation of the INF treaty,” the official added to Reuters.
The deployment may not immediately change the security picture in Europe, but the alleged treaty violation may arise when Defense Secretary Jim Mattis attends his first NATO meeting in Brussels on Wednesday. It also has stirred concern on Capitol Hill, where Sen. John McCain, the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, called on the Trump administration to ensure U.S. nuclear forces in Europe are ready.
“Russia’s deployment of nuclear-tipped ground-launched cruise missiles in violation of the INF treaty is a significant military threat to U.S. forces in Europe and our NATO allies,” McCain, R-Ariz., said in a statement Tuesday. He said Russian President Vladimir Putin was “testing” Trump.
The New York Times, which was first to report the missile deployment, said the Russians have two battalions of the prohibited cruise missile. One is at a missile test site at Kapustin Yar and one was moved in December from the test site to an operational base elsewhere in the country.
The State Department wouldn’t confirm the report.
“The administration is undertaking an extensive review of Russia’s ongoing INF treaty violation in order to assess the potential security implications for the United States and its allies and partners,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.
Russia said early Wednesday it is committed to honouring its international obligations, including in relation to missiles, responding to the report.
“Russia has been and remains committed to its international commitments, including to the treaty in question,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a daily telephone briefing.
“Nobody has formally accused Russia of violating the treaty,” he said.
Trump’s White House is in a difficult moment, with no national security adviser following the forced resignation Monday night of Michael Flynn. He is accused of misleading Vice President Mike Pence about contacts with a Russian diplomat while President Barack Obama was still in office.
Russian ship report off the coast of Delaware
John Tierney, executive director of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, said strategic stability on the European continent is at stake.
Sen. Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican, sees little reason for the U.S. to continue adhering to the INF treaty, in light of Russia’s violations. He has recommended building up U.S. nuclear forces in Europe, which currently include about 200 bombs that can be delivered by aircraft. The U.S. withdrew land-based nuclear-armed missiles from Europe as part of the INF deal.
The treaty has special significance in the recent history of arms control agreements. Signed in December 1987 by President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, it has been credited with helping accelerate an end to the Cold War and lessening the danger of nuclear confrontation. It stands as the only arms treaty to eliminate an entire class of U.S. and Russian weapons — nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles of intermediate range.
The Obama administration had argued for maintaining U.S. compliance with the treaty while urging the Russians to halt violations. At the same time, the Pentagon developed options to counter Russian cruise missile moves, some of which would have involved bold military action.
At his Senate confirmation hearing in February 2014, Ash Carter, who headed the Pentagon until last month, said disregard for treaty limitations was a “two-way street,” opening the way for the U.S. to respond in kind. He called Russia’s violations consistent with its “strategy of relying on nuclear weapons to offset U.S. and NATO conventional superiority.”
The President-elect “wants every country to be responsible for its own development and this is an attitude we can relate to,” he told reporters at a news conference, reiterating Russia’s criticism of President Barack Obama’s administration, NATO and the European Union.
“Donald Trump has unique views that differ from the views of his predecessors, both Democrats and Republicans,” Lavrov said. “And at the core of it is the interest of United States as Donald Trump sees it. When we hear that his main focus is fighting terrorism, of course we will support it because this is actually what our American partners have been missing up until now.”
Russia has also come to the fore in U.S. politics amid allegations that it hacked American institutions including the Democratic National Convention. Outgoing CIA director John Brennan said Sunday that Trump lacks a full understanding of the threat Moscow poses to America.
While being broadly positive about the relationship with the new administration, Russia’s top diplomat did sound an ominous note on NATO escalation at Russia’s borders, especially the Baltic states.
“If the NATO forces do not see any other place for themselves aside from the Russian-Estonian border, it means their Intelligence services are not doing a good job as they don’t see what is happening in other areas,” Lavrov said.
“I hope our cooperation in regards to the Syrian crisis and fighting terrorism will be more successful than the one we had with President Obama’s administration,” Lavrov said.
Russia is a major backer of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, who the United States opposes, and has helped tip the balance of the war in the president’s favor.
Lavrov made a point of mentioning Secretary of State-designate Rex Tillerson’s comment at last week’s Congressional confirmation hearing that “Russia is a threat but Russia is not unpredictable.” That statement is important, said Lavrov.
Lavrov also referred to the alleged of Russian hacking of U.S. organizations, saying the claims were “false.”
“We’ve seen some poor accusations that don’t hold water, that since have been shrugged off by the British and their American counterparts who tried to jeopardize the new administration,” Lavrov said.
Lavrov also took a swipe at what he called “the messianic obsession of the west” with exporting its values, such as democracy.
Russia isn’t trying to export anything, especially not values, he said, adding that the concept of a unipolar world was “obsolete” because there are “many centers of power.”
Citing “multiple” unnamed US officials with direct knowledge of the meeting, CNN said the intelligence chiefs presented a two-page synopsis on the potential embarrassment for the incoming president along with their classified briefing on Friday on alleged Russian interference in the presidential election.
President Barack Obama was also briefed on the issue on Thursday.
CNN gave no details of what the so-called compromising information is, but said knowledge of its existence in Russian hands originally came from a former British MI-6 intelligence operative hired by other US presidential contenders to do political “opposition research” on Trump in the middle of last year.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation had been given the information in August, more than two months before the November 8 election, according to CNN.
“What has changed since then is that US intelligence agencies have now checked out the former British intelligence operative and his vast network throughout Europe and find him and his sources to be credible enough to include some of the information in the presentations” to Trump, CNN said.
The existence of the information on Trump in Russian hands has been rumored since before the election.
The rumors gained support when the then Democratic leader in the Senate, Harry Reid, said in a letter to FBI Director James Comey a week before the vote: “It has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government -– a foreign interest openly hostile to the United States, which Trump praises at every opportunity. The public has a right to know this information.”
Asked about this in a Senate hearing Tuesday, Comey refused to confirm or deny that his agency was investigating such links.
US intelligence has concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an operation to meddle in the US election to hurt the campaign of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton with embarrassing hacked emails, and then to boost Trump when they thought he had a chance to win.
Trump has repeatedly dismissed the conclusion that Moscow influenced the election while expressing the need to smooth over bilateral relations deeply strained during the Obama presidency.