Panasonic has suspended a Canadian supplier after learning they cannot verify if the cobalt provided for batteries used in Tesla vehicles originated in communist Cuba, violating U.S. sanctions against the Castro dictatorship. Panasonic is the exclusive battery supplier for Tesla and has reached out to the U.S. Treasury Department for guidance on the matter.
Panasonic Corp said it was unable to determine how much of the cobalt used in batteries it makes for Tesla cars comes from Cuba, a country subject to U.S. sanctions, and that it had suspended relations with a Canadian supplier as a result of its concerns.
The Japanese electronics maker, the exclusive supplier of batteries to Tesla Inc, made the comments following questions from Reuters about whether the batteries contained Cuban cobalt.
Two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters that some of the cobalt that Panasonic uses to make Tesla’s batteries is mined in Cuba by Canadian supplier Sherritt International Corp.
Panasonic said it was unable to tell how much cobalt sourced from Cuba via its Canadian supplier ended up in the batteries it provided to the U.S. market “due to co-mingling of sources by its suppliers in several phases of manufacturing processes”.
“Panasonic has chosen to suspend its relationship with its Canadian supplier,” a spokeswoman said, without naming the supplier. She added that Panasonic had used cobalt from the Canadian supplier for batteries used in the Tesla Model S and Model X, but only after February this year.
You can expect the usual chorus of “sanctions against Cuba are a relic of the Cold War” to erupt, but as it has been the case every single time before, the complaints are based on ignorance and not on facts.
The fact is sanctions against Cuba’s Castro dictatorship are in place because of their outright theft of billions of dollars worth of property owned by U.S. citizens. Unlike China, or Vietnam, or other communist countries that have expropriated private property, the Castro dictatorship has refused to pay a single penny in restitution for the property they stole. That is why 58 years later, the sanctions remain in place.
But the Castros didn’t just steal American-owned property, they stole the entire island. The cobalt being sold to the Canadian supplier came from a mine that was stolen by the Castro dictatorship from its rightful owner. In both a legal and moral essence, purchasing cobalt from the Cuban regime is trafficking in stolen property.