49 Commonwealth Government to Lord Cranborne, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs

Cablegram 550 CANBERRA, 25 August 1941


Your telegram No. 598 New Caledonian nickel ore. [1]

For the following reasons we agree that contemplated instruction to Sautot [2] should go forward- (1) It is desirable that Free French should be identified with United States and British Empire policy on Japanese economic measures.

(2) It deprives Japan of an important strategical material and will bring New Caledonian policy into line with Commonwealth Government policy.

(3) We believe that failure on part of New Caledonian authorities to take firm stand may invite Japanese pressure.

We are now purchasing all nickel matte produced by three furnaces and this should enable any production of ore by Japanese mines to be purchased by Le Nickel.

You are no doubt aware that the 5,000 tons referred to in your telegram is within limits of 24,000 tons previously approved by United Kingdom Government and Free French headquarters for issue of licences for export to Japan. Reservation was made however that revocation of licences could be made at any time.

It would be of interest to us to learn whether any embargo has been imposed on export of iron ore obtained from Japanese owned mines in Malaya. If you are still permitting export then the Japanese will very likely acquaint Sautot of this fact. [3]

1 Dispatched 23 August. On file AA: A981, Trade 87, iii. It suggested that the Commonwealth Govt endorse the proposal of the Free French authorities in London to impose a total embargo on the export of New Caledonian nickel to Japan.

2 Free French Governor of New Caledonia.

3 Craliborne replied on 20 September that the U.K. Geer was keeping the question of iron ore exports from Malaya to Japan under review, but that the matter turned on U.S. policy on similar exports from the Philippines. See cablegram 644 on the file cited in note 1.

[AA:A981, TRADE 87, iii]