United States' Vulnerability to Coercion by China in the Rare Earths Market   [open pdf - 928KB]

From the thesis abstract: "This thesis looks at the importation of rare earth elements which are considered vital to the security of the United States (U.S.) and are used to manufacture products for the U.S. defense industry. The purpose of this thesis is to answer the primary research question: Has the U.S. allowed itself to be placed in a position within the world economy which makes it vulnerable to coercion by another world actor, such as a foreign nation or super corporation? In order to answer the research question it was first necessary to identify why rare earth elements are so critical to key strategic programs within the defense industry. An additional analysis of where the world's rare earth mineral reserves are located and which nations are mining rare earths would identify weaknesses or strengths within the global supply chain. The supply chain for which the U.S. receives their rare earth elements and processed products was then tracked and analyzed in order to identify any vulnerability. Once a possible vulnerability was identified the research explores whether the U.S. Government had taken steps to mitigate the risks to the defense industry. The research shows that there is vulnerability in the U.S. supply chain for rare earth elements due to a single source supplier that is not a nation allied to the U.S. Solutions to this problem are currently being addressed by both the U.S. Government and the defense industry. A second and possible third source for rare earth minerals is currently on track to be operational by FY2013."

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