The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Belgium (Cowen)

top secret
No. 11

Sir: The National Security Council issued a directive (NSC–29 of August 26, 1948)1 relating to the security of industrial operations in foreign countries producing materials of strategic importance to the United States and its Allies. It is stated in the directive that (1) the national security of the United States requires that all practicable and appropriate measures be taken for the protection against sabotage of such foreign industrial operations and (2) the Secretary of State coordinate and direct all U.S. Governmental activities to promote achievement of this objective. A special inter-agency committee was established to prepare and keep up to date a list of those foreign industrial operations on which action should be taken under NSC–29.

The inter-agency committee recently added cobalt in the Belgian Congo to the list. For this reason, consideration is now being given to the question of the vulnerability to sabotage of operations involving the production of cobalt in the Belgian Congo, and the need for comprehensive surveys to determine the adequacy of local industrial security procedures with respect to this material of strategic importance to the United States. It is believed that, to be of full value, any surveys already undertaken or to be undertaken in this connection must:

Ascertain, if possible, the presence and strength of Soviet agents.
Determine whether effective industrial procedures are in force to minimize the vulnerability of the production and shipment of the strategic materials to sabotage or subversive activities.

You are requested to discuss this matter along the lines indicated with the appropriate Belgian authorities, emphasizing that our object in bringing the subject to their attention at this time is prompted by our concern in preventing, in so far as possible, the disruption of supplies of strategic materials to the United States and its Allies in time of war or crisis.

You should then inquire whether:

Any security surveys of the Belgian Congo cobalt industry have been made by the Belgian authorities or are known to them to have been made by other government authorities or by private concerns. (If such surveys have been conducted, inquiry should be made as to the availability of reports.)
Industrial security surveys of the industry mentioned in (a) above are contemplated in the foreseeable future by the Belgian authorities, or by others known to them.
In the event surveys have not been conducted and are not contemplated, the Belgian authorities would be willing to perform such security surveys and thereafter make their findings and recommendations available to the Government of the United States.
If surveys have not been conducted, are not contemplated, and the Belgian authorities are not able and/or willing to make such surveys alone, they would have objection to the conduct of such surveys by the Government of the United States or on its behalf, or jointly by the Governments of Belgium and the United States.
If no objection is interposed by the Belgian authorities to the conduct of security surveys by the United States of the industry concerned, any outstanding complications or difficulties can be foreseen which would make the conduct of such surveys by the Government of the United States impracticable or impossible.2

Very truly yours,

For the Secretary of State:
Henry A. Byroade
  1. “Security of Strategically Important Industrial Operations in Foreign Countries”. It was adopted at the 19th meeting of the National Security Council, Sept. 2, 1948 (NSC Action No. 104) and approved by the President on Sept. 4, 1948. It was superseded by NSC 163/1, dated Oct. 24, 1953, which bears the same title. Neither is printed.
  2. Such surveys of the cobalt operation at Jadotville and the uranium mine at Shinkolobwe, both operated by the Union Minière du Haut-Katanga, were conducted by U.S. representatives on the scene. For further documentation on such matters, see volume I.