440. Memorandum From the Director of the Office of Emergency Preparedness (Lincoln) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • Request for Exception to Prohibition on Sales of Excess Tin from the National Stockpile

On April 9, 1971, the President, in response to an appeal from the Government of Bolivia, directed that commercial sales of stockpile tin be postponed indefinitely.2 There have been no disposals of tin since that time other than non-commercial sales under the AID program (The Indian program which accounted for the bulk of these sales was terminated in December, 1971).3

I now have before me a request from an American metals company for a quantity of tin in exchange for titanium sponge. We are presently acquiring 7,000 tons of titanium for the stockpile under an arrangement whereby payment by us will be in the form of excess materials previously authorized for disposal by Congress. The American firm (a U.S. Steel affiliate) requests that a portion of this payment be in the form of tin (2,000 tons valued at $7 million over a two year period).

I am fully aware of the difficulties previously posed for our foreign relations by the sale of tin. However, I believe that, in this case, the impact on our relations with Bolivia and other tin producing states would be minimal. The sale, which is in effect a barter arrangement, is within the United States. The material would not enter the brokerage [Page 1082] trade, but would be transferred by the recipient directly to U.S. Steel for use in stateside plants.

The price of tin in the United States is presently at a relatively high level, and the amount involved represents less than 1.5% of U.S. consumption (in comparison, the earlier disposal program which triggered the President’s action called for sales of 6,000 tons in one year). Given the relatively small amount of the proposed transfer and the fact that it is a direct transaction outside of the world or even the domestic market, I believe that it could have no more than a remote effect on the world trade in tin.

I would appreciate advice as to whether an exception can be made from the President’s directive which would permit this one-time barter transaction. I recognize that the proposal might first have to be explored with the tin producing states.

G.A. Lincoln
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Agency Files, Box 267, Office of Emergency Preparedness, Volume III 1972-1973. No classification marking. The memorandum is undated but is attached to Kissinger’s March 18, 1972, reply (Document 442), which refers to Lincoln’s February 23 memorandum. See Document 441.
  2. On April 9, 1971, Kissinger sent the following memorandum to Secretary of State Rogers and Lincoln: “The President has decided to rescind his decision to proceed with sales of stockpile tin after April 25, 1971. He has directed that sales of stockpile tin be postponed indefinitely.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Agency Files, Box 267, Office of Emergency Preparedness, Volume II 11/69-12/71) The April 25 date would mark the end of the 90-day deferral period the President agreed to on January 25. See footnote 3, Document 439. The Bolivian Ambassador presumably brought up tin disposals from the stockpile on April 6 at a State dinner with President and Mrs. Nixon in honor of Chiefs of Missions of the Americas (including Canada) and their wives. There is no record in the President’s Diary that the President had another meeting with the Ambassador in April 1971. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Central Files, President’s Daily Diary)
  3. Not further identified.