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Russians Want to Buy a U.S. Uranium Processing Company

Senior Members of Congress Weighing In: Nyet!

Four Members of Congress have penned a terse warning letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner expressing “great concern” about the propose sale of an American-owned uranium processing facility to an entity with ties to the Russian government.

Urging the President to block the sale through the CFIUS process, senior Members of Congress stated in the letter (below) that “the take-over of essential nuclear resources by a government-owned Russian agency, as would occur under the proposed transaction, would not advance the national security interests of the United States.”

For friends and colleagues outside the beltway, CFIUS (pronounced sifius) is DC-speak or shorthand for the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States.  Located at the Department of the Treasury, CFIUS was created during the Ford Administration.

CFIUS members review proposed transactions, such as this Russian one,  that could result in control of a U.S. business by a foreign person.  One of the critical items considered is whether such a transaction could adversely impact U.S. national security. So, as you can gather, foreign companies are not a fan of the CFIUS process.

For those of us that enjoy this line of regulatory work, these cases quite interesting from both a legal and policy standpoint. Suffice it to say, foreign companies are not amused when they need to ascertain if the proposed sale is a “covered transaction.”

You may not hear about it much in the mainstream news, but this proposed sale is worth a look.  A serious issue, this particular transaction has all the makings of good political theatre.  Recall, the Dubai ports matter in 2006?  It is an election year, and given Russian relations with the Tehran mullahs, it may generate more than its fair share of news stories.

Seems like the State Department may need to invest in a new reset button.

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