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GOP Lawmakers Hope to Halt Uranium Mine Deal

Four senior Republican lawmakers yesterday pressed the Obama administration to squelch a proposed deal that would give the Russian state-run atomic energy firm Rosatom control of a Wyoming uranium mine and processing site, the Washington Times reported (see GSN, Sept. 22).

The potential deal would give Atomredmetzoloto, a branch of Rosatom, a 51 percent share of Uranium One USA Inc., operator of the the Powder River Basin site in Wyoming. The Russian entity currently holds 23.1 percent of the Canadian-based firm's common stock, according to a company fact sheet.

The transaction, announced on Aug. 31 and slated for completion in 2010, must still receive backing from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the interagency Foreign Investment in the United States Committee.

Rosatom has "shown little if any inclination to effectively address the widespread and continuing corruption within Russia, particularly its energy sector," Representatives Spencer Bachus (Ala.), Peter King (N.Y.), Howard McKeon (Calif.) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.) stated in a letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

The lawmakers also noted to the Russian firm's work on Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant and cooperation with scientists in Myanmar. Both nations are suspected in Washington of seeking nuclear-weapon capabilities.

Uranium One USA Senior Vice President Donna Wicher said last month "that none of the uranium produced in the U.S. will be used by Rosatom to fuel the Iran reactor."

Still, the lawmakers' concerns persisted.

"Although Uranium One USA officials are reportedly skeptical that the transaction would result in the transfer of any mined uranium to Iran, we remain concerned that Iran could receive uranium supplies through direct or secondary proliferation," their letter states (Eli Lake, Washington Times, Oct. 5).

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