517. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Zambia1

1032. Ref: Embtel 1045.2 Please point out again to Kaunda that action proposed by him would be far more harmful to Zambia than to Smith regime. It is obvious that alternate overland transportation routes are inadequate meet Zambia’s needs. US is not rpt not in position extend assistance on scale GRZ would require if Kaunda stops copper shipments through Rhodesia. Present US commitment is assist British in meeting emergency POL shortage. No existing combination current outward transportation capacities and limited port facilities is currently adequate to ship entire Zambian copper production. A premature escalation of economic sanctions is therefore not in Zambia’s own self-interest.

If Kaunda nevertheless determined to move in the direction indicated, agree you should try to persuade him to refrain from specifying any particular quantity of copper so as to leave room for greatest possible flexibility.

While continuing to support British position you should not commit US to measures beyond those already taken by USG and announced.

We have already asked for bids on charter aircraft for POL lift and hope complete arrangements soon. Will telegraph latest developments on this point. Unable to give estimates at this moment on quantity of copper that could be moved on airlift as now planned after allowing for space for empty drums but believe quantity would be small. Will cable separately additional estimates on this point.

FYI: Recent Department analyses indicate full Zambian rescue operation likely cost about $150 million. Funds are not available. As indication magnitude US contribution you have been informed we currently thinking in terms $2 million. End FYI.

More guidance follows. If you can delay conversation with Kaunda even for hour or two, would be preferable. If this impossible, proceed on basis foregoing guidance.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, FT 11–2 RHOD. Secret; Flash. Drafted by Mann and Mulcahy; cleared by Williams, Solomon, and McElhiney; and approved by Mann. Repeated to Dar-es-Salaam, Leopoldville, London, and Salisbury.
  2. Telegram 1045 from Lusaka, December 22, reported that President Kaunda was planning to stop all copper shipments through Rhodesia if by noon on December 24 Smith had not revoked a 5 pound surcharge on coal exported to Zambia. (Ibid.)