The Reagan administration plans to buy up to 5.2 million pounds of cobalt for national defense and to sell all the government's surplus silver. The General Services Administration wants to stockpile cobalt, a metal imported from abroad and deemed vital for the production of aircraft engines.
The US will use income from the controversial sale of 140 million ounces of silver as well as tin and other surplus commodities to buy cobalt and strategic materials.
Cobalt will be the first strategic material to be acquired under President Reagan's program to upgrade the US stockpile of commodities needed for defense and industrial production in the event of war.
The silver plan calls for the sale of 15 million ounces this current financial year, 52 million ounces in each of the next two years, and 21 million ounces in the 1984 financial year. News of the proposed sale, which must be approved by Congress, sent silver prices sharply lower on the Lo ndon and New York markets.