France: Behind the Nickel Curtain

Quietly but firmly, the U.S. has taken the unusual step of declaring economic warfare against a company that is supported by a friendly government. The company is France's Le Nickel, whose sales of $53 million make it the world's third largest producer (after Canada's International Nickel and Falconbridge Nickel) of a scarce, strategically important metal. While the two governments are squabbling over the company's activities, the protagonists range far beyond the Quai d'Orsay and Foggy Bottom. They include Fidel Castro, Mao Tse-tung, former French Premier Rene Mayer and those storied bankers, the Rothschilds.

Buying from Cuba. At issue is a...

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