Chinese Controlled Rare Earths Supply is Essential to U.S. Defense

NCPA Calls for Faster Development of Domestic Rare Earths

(Dallas, TX) — China’s stranglehold on the world’s rare earth supply threatens American defense systems and technologies that rely on rare earth phosphors, metals, alloys and magnets to function, according to a new National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) report.

“With rare earths, the piper calls the tune and China is the piper.  Our dependence on China’s good will with the world’s rare earth supplies is dangerous from both a national security and an economic perspective,” said author and NCPA Adjunct Scholar Jeffery A. Green. “Modern economies and militaries require rare earths to function properly. China planned for this and is using it.  Development of alternative, domestic rare earth supply chains is long overdue.”

A range of highly advanced defense systems, including in laser designators, jet aircraft engines and missiles, depend on rare earths for their unique functionality. China produces more than 94 percent of the world’s rare earth oxides, virtually 100 percent of all commercially available rare earth metals, and more than 90 percent of the rare earth alloys.

“Only when the Department of Defense and elected officials recognize the inherent problems with our dependence on China for almost the entire rare earth supply chain, can we reconstitute the capability to meet defense demands,” said NCPA Senior Fellow H. Sterling Burnett. “We are facing potential shortages of these crucial materials in the very near future.”

Full text of The Defense Implications of Rare Earth Shortages:


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