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Gathering Rare Ores

Gathering Rare Ores: The Diplomacy of Uranium Acquisition, 1943-1954

Copyright Date: 1986
Pages: 318
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  • Book Info
    Gathering Rare Ores
    Book Description:

    This is a comprehensive study of one of the most startling examples of dollar diplomacy--the effort of the United States and the United Kingdom to monopolize the free world's supply of uranium and thorium during and immediately following World War II.

    Originally published in 1986.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5824-8
    Subjects: General Science, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-1)
  5. 1 Discovering the Need
    (pp. 3-14)

    In the summer of 1939 uranium was not an item which made much impression upon international affairs, world trade, or the public in general. Radium, with which it is usually associated when mined, was far better known for its use in scientific research and medical facilities. The ceramics industry did employ uranium to produce red and orange hues in its products, yet only about 100 tons of the metal were consumed the world over each year. Nearly 80 percent of this came from a mine at Shinkolobwe in Katanga Province of the Belgian Congo. When the threat of war increased...

  6. 2 The Cornerstone: Agreement with Belgium
    (pp. 15-41)

    The decision formally to approach the Belgian government in exile was taken at a meeting of the Combined Policy Committee on 17 February 1944. Among those present were U.S. Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, Bush, Conant, and from Britain, Field Marshal Sir John Dill and Sir Ronald Campbell. Harvey Bundy, an American lawyer, and an Englishman, W. L. Webster, shared the secretarial responsibilities. Negotiations were to be carried on by the American ambassador in London, John G. Winant, and by Sir John Anderson, British chancellor of the exchequer, chief overseer of uranium policy for his country and possessor of...

  7. 3 Efforts at Preemption: Brazil, The Netherlands, and Sweden
    (pp. 42-71)

    Assured access to Belgian ore greatly eased the position of General Groves and the Combined Development Trust, but it did not cause them to relax their efforts. The success of the Belgian negotiations, the size of the contract, and the depth of the cooperation achieved instead encouraged them to contemplate more sweeping arrangements. The goal now became twofold: to fuel the research program being conducted in North America and to gain world-wide control of all substantial supplies of uranium as a means of deterring development of the bomb by others. Uranium was thought to be a rare entity and even...

  8. 4 Price, Politics, and Pride: Further Negotiations with Belgium
    (pp. 72-96)

    Several of the ore procurement accords reached during the war and immediately following its close in Europe contained promises which lacked clear definition. In the case of Article 9 of the agreement with Belgium, specifically designed wording papered over differences of perception or desire which, had they been pursued to their full development, might have forestalled any signature of an agreement at all. The will to agree had been present, however, and the working out of the arrangements was left to the future.

    Yet it could not be postponed indefinitely. The Congo was by far the allies’ best current supply...

  9. 5 Reluctant Anglo-American Collaboration
    (pp. 97-133)

    Successful completion of agreements which assured the United Kingdom and the United States purchase or control of the chief known sources of uranium and thorium in the free world did not mean that supply problems were at an end. United States officials constantly feared that all shipments combined would be insufficient for American research and production needs. The British and Canadians wished to speed their own programs; other countries, especially Belgium and France, also envisioned development of nuclear research programs. Yet such proliferation meant diffusion of scarce materials, pressure for exchange of information, increased danger of security leaks, and possibly...

  10. 6 The Difficulties of Sharing
    (pp. 134-157)

    Though themodus vivendiwas the product of painstaking diplomatic work, it was more a papering over of divergences than a monument to a meeting of minds. In the long run its ability to function would be impaired as much by differences between the U.S. congress, state department, and military as by those between the United Kingdom and the United States. These first variances stemmed from multiple factors, including the “red scare” hysteria. Not least among them was the heritage of the manner in which the Manhattan Project, the uranium hunt, and promises of information sharing had been kept primarily...

  11. 7 Much Effort, Limited Gain: Continuing Global Negotiations
    (pp. 158-190)

    The debates and divisions which arose over information sharing among the closest of allies at the end of the war signalled the possibility that other wartime arrangements might come unstuck. Careful negotiation between the British and Americans was required simply to maintain the spirit and principle of the preemption accords. The ability of those accords to provide needed materials quickly proved doubtful. Yet new potential sources kept appearing which in turn required examination and negotiation. At the same time, increasing numbers of countries were launching atomic research programs and requesting information, raw materials, and expensive equipment. By the end of...

  12. 8 Raising the Compensation: The Belgian Export Tax
    (pp. 191-224)

    Wisely or not, the West in the years following the German and Japanese surrenders rested its defense and security primarily upon the atomic bomb. As sole Western possessor of the bomb during this period, the Americans found themselves in a unique position in terms of responsibility to produce the bomb, guarding the safety of their friends and allies, and in their dependence upon the cooperation of one of the smallest of the powers. That cooperation, moreover, rested more upon the will and understanding of two men, Paul-Henri Spaak and Edgar Sengier, than upon the diverse political establishment and popular will...

  13. 9 Atoms for Peace, Atoms for War
    (pp. 225-246)

    One wonders what the emotions of Charlie Steen were when his test drill finally broke in the arid, brown and red Lisbon Valley in Southern Utah. Anger, resentment, frustration, discouragement are all good possibilities, for he had been prospecting several years without success. Steen had hoped to locate yellow carnotite, the ore in which uranium was expected to be found, yet the core his drill brought up was black. He threw it in his jeep anyway. Too broke even to own a working geiger counter, he did not know until he encountered a friend with a healthy counter that his...

  14. 10 Preemption and Monopoly in Retrospect
    (pp. 247-262)

    An account of the British and American hunt for uranium begins and ends most appropriately with discussion of accords with Belgium. The Belgian Congo connection was at the heart of the search which led negotiators to all continents except Antarctica. The issues of information sharing, proliferation of knowledge, security of the West and of the Congo mines, reservation of ores for future national use, distrust of Germany and Russia, and price, as well as the roles of a multi-national corporation and the ore itself, were involved in these central agreements. If over the decades since the outbreak of the second...

  15. NOTES
    (pp. 263-286)
    (pp. 287-292)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 293-303)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 304-304)