nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

Russia and the United States Nuclear Industry

Trump’s Impact on Nuclear Proliferation,  Treating Foreign Policy as a Business, Just Security,  by Tamsin ShawNovember 18, 2020  “…………….Russia and the United States Nuclear Industry

It’s only relatively recently that the public and private U.S. institutions have begun to examine seriously the intricate financial network that lies behind and links Russian nuclear business dealings in the United States. Public perception of these dealings has been dominated by the false Uranium One conspiracy theory. This distraction has diverted attention from the extent to which Russia has established a strong foothold in the US nuclear industry in a way that suggests an aspiration to vertical control.

The grain of truth in the Uranium One story is that in 2010 Canadian company Uranium One, which was responsible for mining 20% of the currently licensed uranium in the United States, made an agreement with JSC Atomredmetzoloto, or ARMZ, the mining arm of Rosatom, giving them a controlling stake (51%). In 2013 Rosatom acquired full ownership. Uranium One continues to mine approximately 10% of that licensed in-situ uranium.

The United States also relies, both for civilian utilities and defense purposes, on nuclear fuel supplied by Russian subsidiary of Rosatom called Techsnabexport (TENEX). No U.S. uranium enrichment facilities are currently in operation. The U.S. company, Centrus has a new centrifuge design but it will likely be over a decade before it goes into action.

Nor does the United States currently have a company that builds commercial nuclear reactors. The only U.S. company now aiming to construct them is Bill Gates’s TerraPower, which is working on what will likely be the next generation of reactors, small modular reactors (SMRs), but again these won’t be commercially viable for a decade. Commercial nuclear reactors were previously designed and built by US company Westinghouse. But on March 24, 2017, Westinghouse declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The sale of that company naturally has serious national security implications. But the story of the sale and of the role that the Trump administration played in it raises many questions.

Trump’s friend and adviser, Tom Barrack, seized on the opportunity presented by the Westinghouse bankruptcy to put together a new version of the Marshall Plan for the Middle East, producing his own document setting out the details. In his March 2017 white paper, Barrack refers to the plan interchangeably as the “Trump Marshall Plan” and the “Trump Plan.” The July 2019 House Oversight and Reform Committee report details the ambitious deal Barrack tried to put together to purchase Westinghouse. Barrack had permission from the highest levels at the White House for a US-led consortium involving Colony Capital, IP3, and financial firms Blackstone and Apollo. Barrack assured Blackstone CEO Steve Schwartzman,

Our GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] allies in Saudi Arabia and the UAE have committed to invest in the Westinghouse acquisition and are willing to concurrently lock in Westinghouse as the primary partner on the 30+ reactors expected to be constructed in their countries in the coming decade.

IP3 officials were very optimistic. President Trump and Jared Kushner had met with MBS on March 14, and IP3 boasted that this meeting prepared the way for a “partnership to acquire Westinghouse between IP3 and Saudi Arabia.” They eagerly arranged meetings with officials in the administration to promote the plan, including then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo, Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn, and top National Security Council (NSC) Staff officials. They also briefed Jared Kushner.

But in January, 2018 it was announced that Canadian company, Brookfield Business Partners, a subsidiary of investing giant Brookfield Asset Management, would purchase Westinghouse. And Westinghouse promptly and unilaterally decided to sever ties with IP3. ProPublica discovered that Kushner was the one who prevented the IP3-led deal from happening, reporting that Kushner “wanted to table the nuclear question in favor of simpler alliance-building measures with the Saudis, centered on Trump’s visit in May, according to a person familiar with the discussions.”

The Westinghouse sale went through on August 1, 2018. Three days later it was announced that Brookfield Properties, another subsidiary of Brookfield Asset Management that had just purchased Westinghouse, would buy Jared Kushner out of his catastrophic real estate deal involving 666 Fifth Avenue.

Who Owns Westinghouse?

The Westinghouse purchase was naturally considered an extremely sensitive deal, deserving scrutiny by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which at the time included Steve Mnuchin, Rex Tillerson, Jeff Sessions, Wilbur Ross and Dan Coats. The committee approved the transaction but with a Nuclear Regulatory Committee (NRC) Requirements Notice forbidding transfer of their licenses and insisting on compliance with all applicable statutory and regulatory requirements. But the NRC filing submitted to CFIUS is fairly thin. It tells us that Westinghouse would be “ultimately controlled” by Brookfield Asset Management, but little about the money behind the deal. According to their 2018 20-F annual report, BBU acquired 44% of the company, while having a 100% voting interest, having put in $405m of equity totaling $920m, with the balance coming from “institutional partners.” The rest of the purchase price was funded with approximately $3b of long-term debt financing. The sources of the equity and financing aren’t disclosed.

Immediately prior to the Westinghouse sale, prominent foreign policy experts Thomas Duesterberg and William Schneider wrote an article expressing serious concerns about the opacity………….https://www.justsecurity.org/73422/trumps-impact-on-nuclear-proliferation/

November 19, 2020 - Posted by | business and costs, politics international, Russia, USA

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: