TRADE: Hard Rocks For Hard Cash

Hard Rocks For Hard Cash

How strapped for cash is the Soviet Union? So strapped that Moscow bent its long-standing opposition to apartheid last week by agreeing to sell $5 billion of diamonds over the next five years through an international cartel controlled by South Africa's De Beers Consolidated Mines. A Swiss subsidiary of De Beers will handle the sales and thus permit Moscow to deny that it is dealing directly with South Africa.

The agreement boosted De Beers' efforts to strengthen its domination of the worldwide market for uncut diamonds. De Beers already controls 80% of the global trade, and the deal could pressure any...