861.6176/7–1548: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in the United Kingdom


2748. For Douglas.1 Best information available Dept is that USSR has purchased this calendar year over 100,000 tons natural rubber. Our best estimate is that purchases represent about a three-year supply, based present rates consumption in USSR. Have made urgent inquiry to all US posts in position to assist to determine what percent total purchases have not yet been shipped.

Suspect USSR anticipates extension US export controls to participating countries along lines called for by ECA Act2 and presumes that logical result would be to cut off supplies natural rubber since it is one of few important industrial raw materials which USSR must secure from outside Soviet orbit.

On basis these facts, seems to us highly important to explore possible steps to prevent USSR from receiving rubber she has purchased.

Since principal source probably Singapore, request you discuss Bevin3 willingness of UK to attempt to work out with us means for withholding rubber not already shipped, provided this turns out to be substantial proportion of total purchases.

If deemed necessary and useful will explore possibility that Munitions Board can make additional purchases for US stockpile to cover cancelled contracts.

Appreciate problem of justifying cancellation to USSR. Might take line that purchases are so out of relation to previous requirements as to suggest major stockpiling which could only have disturbing effect on general market situation. Both because of increased take this year [Page 555] and decrease in demand in subsequent years it seems essential to orderly marketing of rubber to prevent this type of abnormal operation.4

Would appreciate your suggestions as to whether this situation may be of any value to us in connection with Berlin.

  1. Lewis W. Douglas, Ambassador in the United Kingdom.
  2. Title I of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1948, Public Law 472, April 3, 1948, 80th Congress, 2nd Session (62 Stat. 137).
  3. Ernest Bevin, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
  4. Telegram 3365, July 24, from London, not printed, reported that the British Foreign Office regretted that it could not take action on the American suggestion because the purchases of rubber were in accordance with the British-Soviet trade agreement of 1947; the rubber purchases were considered ordinary commercial transactions; the British had no information that the Soviets were building up an unusual rubber supply; and the British needed to continue purchase of Soviet grains (861.6176/7–2448).