About 3,500 tonnes of ammonium nitrate go missing every year

Discussion in 'Internal Security' started by Ganesh2691, Aug 7, 2012.

  1. Ganesh2691

    Ganesh2691 Regular Member

    Mar 4, 2012
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    About 3,500 tonnes of ammonium nitrate go missing every year

    NEW DELHI: At a time when ammonium nitrate has become the preferred ingredient for bombs, the Pune serial blasts being the latest example, close to 3,500 tonnes of the chemical goes missing from Indian ports every year. And while the home ministry is working on a system to track sale of ammonium nitrate to stop it from falling into wrong hands, it is unlikely to solve the problem of spillage at ports.

    According to sources in the security establishment, India imports close to 3.5 lakh tonnes of ammonium nitrate for industrial use. Almost all of this import is done in bulk through the sea route at Vishakhapatnam port. Legally, importers are not questioned on up to 1% spillage of the substance as it is assumed that in bulk transfers, such spillage is unavoidable.

    "This is the loophole that is prone to exploitation where unscrupulous elements may sell the chemical to unverified sources during transportation out of ports. Even 1% spillage translates to 3,500 tonnes going missing. To make a bomb, you need not more than a kg of ammonium nitrate," said an intelligence official.

    This spillage has assumed critical importance in view of jihadis increasingly preferring ammonium nitrate in their terror attacks. The problem is compounded by the relative ease in assembling these explosives, with ready help from bomb making manuals on jihadi websites.

    According to sources, the spillage takes place when the chemical is loaded on to trucks at the port and transported to godowns where it goes for bagging. "Bagged ammonium nitrate is not imported for reasons of cost-effectiveness, but it's taking a toll on security," said the official.

    The government has taken serious note of ammonium nitrate falling into hands of terrorists and has recently included the chemical under the 1884 Explosive Act. The change in the law means any substance with more than 45% of ammonium nitrate would be considered an explosive.

    It is now working on a system to track the explosive. The home department through ministry of commerce has roped in the National Institute of Smart Government to prepare an explosive tracking system that will map ammonium nitrate leakage in the supply chain.

    Called sales tracking, the system involves recording the details of the purchaser of the material at all stages of the supply chain. The purchaser details are backed up with an authenticated ID proof.

    It's a system widely followed by most of Europe and the US. In the 2011 Norway terror strike, the name of Anders Behring Breivik, the self-styled terrorist who first exploded a mixture of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil near government quarters in Oslo and then went on a killing spree with a gun, had been flagged by the sales tracking mechanism implemented throughout the European Union. However, the Norwegian intelligence did not act on the alert.

    The government had earlier discussed use of 'taggants' in ammonium nitrate that would allow an investigating agency to track the source of the ammonium nitrate used in a terrorist act. However, that would increase the cost of fertilizers and other ammonium nitrate based products.

    Apart from this, the government has also been working on tracking ammonium nitrate on the web through spy software developed by the DRDO. It's a standard practice in international security set-up to couple such software with explosive tracking systems for fool-proof analysis of intelligence.

    About 3,500 tonnes of ammonium nitrate go missing every year - The Times of India

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