National Security and Crony Nuclear Capitalism
10:30 AM, Jan 31, 2012 • By HENRY SOKOLSKI
Not just DOE, but the only other U.S.-based commercial uranium enricher using European centrifuge technology, LES, based in New Mexico, has endorsed this legal interpretation. As a result, DOE recently contracted with LES to supply Watts Bar with fresh uranium fuel to make power and weapons tritium.
Given the number of lawyers in Washington and the keen interest some officials have to favor USEC, it’s possible our government might try to walk this legal contract back. Even if it did, though, using USEC as a source of fresh fuel for Watts Bar would be unnecessary. Why? It turns out DOE has more than adequate military reserves of low and highly enriched uranium, from which it could draw upon for this purpose. This too is a point the DOE’s own analysis spotlights.
What then can USEC plead to justify more government largesse? A simple answer is what unfortunately is now at play—member loyalty to the House speaker and other congressional colleagues who have constituents in or near Pinkerton, Ohio. That might not be as dignified a case for more federal bailouts for USEC as one based on national security but at least it’s an honest shot and one you would hope would be much easier for a majority of Congress and a public tired of corporate cronyism to shoot down.
Henry Sokolski is executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center and editor of The Next Arms Race (forthcoming).