Uranium One, Shep Smith And Jonah Goldberg

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 9 months ago

There’s been a bit of a kerfuffle going on over the accusations of treason against the purveyors of the deal that sent ownership of Uranium to Vladimir Putin.  Jonah Goldberg is up first.

My real objection is to the way people on late-night shout shows and talk radio blithely and irresponsibly throw around claims that our national security was gravely damaged, or insinuate that treason has been committed. It’s neither of those things. Sebastian Gorka’s repeated invocation of the Rosenbergs is dangerous, demagogic, and dippy.

As Shep notes, the uranium the Russians bought can only be sold . . . in America to American facilities. We weren’t giving ammunition to an enemy (an enemy usually only for the purposes of the Uranium One story, by the way) to kill us with nuclear weapons. Russia already has vastly more Uranium than we do. The U.S. has 1 percent of the global reserves of uranium. Russia has 9 percent. So when you hear radio talkers screaming about how Hillary Clinton gave the Russians TWENTY PERCENT!!!!!! of America’s precious uranium supply, they’re talking about one-fifth of one percent of a fairly common metal (Australia has 29 percent of the known uranium reserves).

In fact, one way you can tell if a commodity is rare is by looking at its price. Gold today is at a bit under $1,300 per ounce. Rhodium, mostly used in things like catalytic converters is around $1,400 per ounce. Platinum (which I always thought until this morning was more expensive than gold) is around $1,000 bucks per ounce. Uranium? It sells for less than $25 bucks – per pound.

To underscore his derision, he embeds a video by Shep Smith who relies mainly on MSM reporting and then displays his own derision for the scandal.

So let’s take a shallow dive into the facts – a deep dive will likely lose most readers.  We are no longer enriching weapons-grade Uranium or Plutonium (or creating Tritium, but I’ll get to that in a moment).  Even the Reliable Replacement Warhead program doesn’t do that.  Despite this conflated and rambling entry at Global Security, the program to date consists mainly of calculations performed to demonstrate that what we have will still work despite decay.

At some point in the future the piper will come playing and he must be paid.  We can only kick the can down the road for so long.  Before that happens, if we have any sense at all, we will have begun a new weapons program.  When that happens, the price and availability of raw material matters.  What Jonah cited is yellowcake, not weapons grade material.

This material must be enriched a great deal to fissile isotopes like U-235 (not fissionable, like U-238) or Pu-239.  That requires industrial and reactor operations (separation and transmutation).  We don’t get a pound of weapons grade material for every pound of yellowcake removed from the earth.  In fact, we don’t get very many at all.

Furthermore, this enrichment must occur just to be able to operate commercial nuclear reactors, and I consider their operation vital to national security (try living in America without the electricity supplied by commercial nuclear power).  Most fuel assemblies loaded into commercial nuclear reactors today are enriched to 4% – 5% by weight U-235.  Fuel assemblies aren’t light.  Each one typically contains just below half a metric ton of enriched Uranium (0.45 – 0.5 MTU).  Hundreds get loaded into commercial nuclear reactors every year.  For this enrichment to occur to make operational feasible, we must have many more pounds of yellowcake than what we get out as fissile or fissionable material in commercial nuclear reactors.

There is no indication that Putin would stop with his current level of ownership, or that he wouldn’t find some way to abscond with the raw material via nefarious means.  Moreover, with any ownership, one can begin to control pricing and certainly stands to make a handsome profit.  Why else would Putin want ownership?

Andy McCarthy seems to admit some level of accuracy to what Goldberg says by replying that “when Jonah says, “The Uranium One story is crap,” I take him to be talking about the story as it is being related by a number of commentators, as if it involved a major national-security crisis. (Note that Jonah is careful to acknowledge that an investigation of the Uranium One transaction might be warranted.) It is true that hyperbole about national security and treason is not helping people’s understanding of what this is about. Uranium One has never primarily been a national-security controversy. It is a corruption controversy with some national-security aspects, which are related to domestic energy supply, not nuclear weapons.”

He’s wrong, and it’s almost a waste of time and air to say that Goldberg and Smith are wrong since they are such lightweights on the matter.  We need a reliable and inexpensive source of raw nuclear material for nuclear security, and we also need universities to continue to have and fund nuclear engineering programs.  Without commercial nuclear power, there will be no nuclear engineers, and without nuclear engineers there will be no nuclear weapons program.  Without nuclear engineers and reactors, there will be no Tritium for weapons, which is created by activation of Lithium, because we won’t be able to create the high neutron flux necessary to make enough Tritium.  In order to have these reactors to create the Tritium, we need enriched nuclear fuel.

This is all vital to our national security.  There is no further discussion necessary over this question.  Better said, there isn’t even a question about it.  This isn’t primarily about a scandal, and secondarily about appurtenant national security issues.  This is about a scandal that runs so far, deep and wide that certain people would sell out the national security of nation for small payoffs.

Here’s a suggestion for Andy McCarthy.  Stay in your own lane.  Here’s a note to Shep Smith.  You’re a good mouthpiece for your progressive buddies, but some of us know you to be a buffoon and clown, just a talking head who uses unction and a suit to convince people you’re something other than a carnival actor.

Here’s a note for Jonah.  All it takes is a little understanding of nuclear science – and I have more than a little understanding – and human nature to know that this is more serious than you indicate in your silly commentary.  The next time you decide to play the court jester over some issue, stop and reconsider if you’re tempted to couple yourself to a buffoon like Shep.

If you want to comment on engineering, then go get a degree in engineering.  You are unqualified by training, experience or education to make decisions like this on technical matters and issues of national security.  It’s like watching a first grader challenge Alvin Plantinga to a debate on concepts of rationality and epistemic warrant.  Or watching my granddaughter try to field strip a 1911.  When you couple yourself to moronic prose and moronic people, you play the moron.

God help us all when people like Shep Smith and Jonah Goldberg are the “experts” on national security.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks


Comments

  1. On November 16, 2017 at 8:33 am, mike said:

    So, the Russians can manipulate elections to their whim. They can infiltrate the DNC, NSA and control European politics / but the US watchdogs for shipping yellow cake around and out of the country are somehow better than all of Russia combined. Clinton apologist logic on display.

  2. On November 16, 2017 at 8:39 am, Carl B. said:

    Be a cold day in hell before I listen to – or believe – a single solitary word uttered by the Mississippi Queen or Jonah Goldbrick.

  3. On November 18, 2017 at 6:08 pm, Bill Meyer said:

    My only quibble with the post is the “If you want to comment on engineering, than go get a degree in engineering”. That line of thinking has given us our growing rule by technocrats…the tyranny of the so-called experts. Public policy in the land of the free, is supposedly through consent of the governed. And we’re always being told “You’re not qualified” to weigh in or comment on some issues. I don’t have a degree, but I’m a smart cookie and can read and reason. Other than that, thanks, Capt.!

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment


You are currently reading "Uranium One, Shep Smith And Jonah Goldberg", entry #18065 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Nuclear and was published November 15th, 2017 by Herschel Smith.

If you're interested in what else the The Captain's Journal has to say, you might try thumbing through the archives and visiting the main index, or; perhaps you would like to learn more about TCJ.

26th MEU (10)
Abu Muqawama (12)
ACOG (2)
ACOGs (1)
Afghan National Army (36)
Afghan National Police (17)
Afghanistan (679)
Afghanistan SOFA (4)
Agriculture in COIN (3)
AGW (1)
Air Force (34)
Air Power (9)
al Qaeda (83)
Ali al-Sistani (1)
America (17)
Ammunition (78)
Animals (35)
Ansar al Sunna (15)
Anthropology (3)
Antonin Scalia (1)
AR-15s (179)
Arghandab River Valley (1)
Arlington Cemetery (2)
Army (72)
Assassinations (2)
Assault Weapon Ban (27)
Australian Army (6)
Azerbaijan (4)
Backpacking (2)
Badr Organization (8)
Baitullah Mehsud (21)
Basra (17)
BATFE (78)
Battle of Bari Alai (2)
Battle of Wanat (18)
Battle Space Weight (3)
Bin Laden (7)
Blogroll (2)
Blogs (16)
Body Armor (18)
Books (3)
Border War (10)
Brady Campaign (1)
Britain (38)
British Army (35)
Camping (4)
Canada (2)
Castle Doctrine (1)
Caucasus (6)
CENTCOM (7)
Center For a New American Security (8)
Charity (3)
China (10)
Christmas (10)
CIA (27)
Civilian National Security Force (3)
Col. Gian Gentile (9)
Combat Outposts (3)
Combat Video (2)
Concerned Citizens (6)
Constabulary Actions (3)
Coolness Factor (2)
COP Keating (4)
Corruption in COIN (4)
Council on Foreign Relations (1)
Counterinsurgency (216)
DADT (2)
David Rohde (1)
Defense Contractors (2)
Department of Defense (143)
Department of Homeland Security (21)
Disaster Preparedness (3)
Distributed Operations (5)
Dogs (12)
Donald Trump (18)
Drone Campaign (3)
EFV (3)
Egypt (12)
El Salvador (1)
Embassy Security (1)
Enemy Spotters (1)
Expeditionary Warfare (17)
F-22 (2)
F-35 (1)
Fallujah (17)
Far East (3)
Fathers and Sons (2)
Favorite (1)
Fazlullah (3)
FBI (28)
Featured (180)
Federal Firearms Laws (18)
Financing the Taliban (2)
Firearms (999)
Football (1)
Force Projection (35)
Force Protection (4)
Force Transformation (1)
Foreign Policy (27)
Fukushima Reactor Accident (6)
Ganjgal (1)
Garmsir (1)
general (15)
General Amos (1)
General James Mattis (1)
General McChrystal (43)
General McKiernan (6)
General Rodriguez (3)
General Suleimani (7)
Georgia (19)
GITMO (2)
Google (1)
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar (1)
Gun Control (1,019)
Guns (1,500)
Guns In National Parks (3)
Haditha Roundup (10)
Haiti (2)
HAMAS (7)
Haqqani Network (9)
Hate Mail (8)
Hekmatyar (1)
Heroism (4)
Hezbollah (12)
High Capacity Magazines (13)
High Value Targets (9)
Homecoming (1)
Homeland Security (1)
Horses (1)
Humor (20)
ICOS (1)
IEDs (7)
Immigration (83)
India (10)
Infantry (4)
Information Warfare (2)
Infrastructure (2)
Intelligence (23)
Intelligence Bulletin (6)
Iran (169)
Iraq (379)
Iraq SOFA (23)
Islamic Facism (61)
Islamists (91)
Israel (18)
Jaish al Mahdi (21)
Jalalabad (1)
Japan (2)
Jihadists (80)
John Nagl (5)
Joint Intelligence Centers (1)
JRTN (1)
Kabul (1)
Kajaki Dam (1)
Kamdesh (9)
Kandahar (12)
Karachi (7)
Kashmir (2)
Khost Province (1)
Khyber (11)
Knife Blogging (4)
Korea (4)
Korengal Valley (3)
Kunar Province (20)
Kurdistan (3)
Language in COIN (5)
Language in Statecraft (1)
Language Interpreters (2)
Lashkar-e-Taiba (2)
Law Enforcement (3)
Lawfare (7)
Leadership (5)
Lebanon (6)
Leon Panetta (2)
Let Them Fight (2)
Libya (14)
Lines of Effort (3)
Littoral Combat (8)
Logistics (50)
Long Guns (1)
Lt. Col. Allen West (2)
Marine Corps (258)
Marines in Bakwa (1)
Marines in Helmand (67)
Marjah (4)
MEDEVAC (2)
Media (42)
Memorial Day (5)
Mexican Cartels (33)
Mexico (46)
Michael Yon (5)
Micromanaging the Military (7)
Middle East (1)
Military Blogging (26)
Military Contractors (4)
Military Equipment (24)
Militia (5)
Mitt Romney (3)
Monetary Policy (1)
Moqtada al Sadr (2)
Mosul (4)
Mountains (25)
MRAPs (1)
Mullah Baradar (1)
Mullah Fazlullah (1)
Mullah Omar (3)
Musa Qala (4)
Music (16)
Muslim Brotherhood (6)
Nation Building (2)
National Internet IDs (1)
National Rifle Association (61)
NATO (15)
Navy (22)
Navy Corpsman (1)
NCOs (3)
News (1)
NGOs (2)
Nicholas Schmidle (2)
Now Zad (19)
NSA (3)
NSA James L. Jones (6)
Nuclear (57)
Nuristan (8)
Obama Administration (218)
Offshore Balancing (1)
Operation Alljah (7)
Operation Khanjar (14)
Ossetia (7)
Pakistan (165)
Paktya Province (1)
Palestine (5)
Patriotism (6)
Patrolling (1)
Pech River Valley (11)
Personal (58)
Petraeus (14)
Pictures (1)
Piracy (13)
Pistol (2)
Pizzagate (21)
Police (408)
Police in COIN (3)
Policy (15)
Politics (443)
Poppy (2)
PPEs (1)
Prisons in Counterinsurgency (12)
Project Gunrunner (20)
PRTs (1)
Qatar (1)
Quadrennial Defense Review (2)
Quds Force (13)
Quetta Shura (1)
RAND (3)
Recommended Reading (14)
Refueling Tanker (1)
Religion (159)
Religion and Insurgency (19)
Reuters (1)
Rick Perry (4)
Rifles (1)
Roads (4)
Rolling Stone (1)
Ron Paul (1)
ROTC (1)
Rules of Engagement (75)
Rumsfeld (1)
Russia (29)
Sabbatical (1)
Sangin (1)
Saqlawiyah (1)
Satellite Patrols (2)
Saudi Arabia (4)
Scenes from Iraq (1)
Second Amendment (257)
Second Amendment Quick Hits (2)
Secretary Gates (9)
Sharia Law (3)
Shura Ittehad-ul-Mujahiden (1)
SIIC (2)
Sirajuddin Haqqani (1)
Small Wars (72)
Snipers (9)
Sniveling Lackeys (2)
Soft Power (4)
Somalia (8)
Sons of Afghanistan (1)
Sons of Iraq (2)
Special Forces (28)
Squad Rushes (1)
State Department (20)
Statistics (1)
Sunni Insurgency (10)
Support to Infantry Ratio (1)
Supreme Court (5)
Survival (25)
SWAT Raids (54)
Syria (38)
Tactical Drills (1)
Tactical Gear (4)
Taliban (167)
Taliban Massing of Forces (4)
Tarmiyah (1)
TBI (1)
Technology (17)
Tehrik-i-Taliban (78)
Terrain in Combat (1)
Terrorism (95)
Thanksgiving (8)
The Anbar Narrative (23)
The Art of War (5)
The Fallen (1)
The Long War (20)
The Surge (3)
The Wounded (13)
Thomas Barnett (1)
Transnational Insurgencies (5)
Tribes (5)
TSA (18)
TSA Ineptitude (11)
TTPs (1)
U.S. Border Patrol (5)
U.S. Border Security (14)
U.S. Sovereignty (17)
UAVs (2)
UBL (4)
Ukraine (3)
Uncategorized (56)
Universal Background Check (3)
Unrestricted Warfare (4)
USS Iwo Jima (2)
USS San Antonio (1)
Uzbekistan (1)
V-22 Osprey (4)
Veterans (2)
Vietnam (1)
War & Warfare (220)
War & Warfare (40)
War Movies (3)
War Reporting (19)
Wardak Province (1)
Warriors (6)
Waziristan (1)
Weapons and Tactics (60)
West Point (1)
Winter Operations (1)
Women in Combat (21)
WTF? (1)
Yemen (1)

August 2019
July 2019
June 2019
May 2019
April 2019
March 2019
February 2019
January 2019
December 2018
November 2018
October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006

about · archives · contact · register

Copyright © 2006-2019 Captain's Journal. All rights reserved.