Washington: A powerful US Congressional
committee has asked Pakistan to take "urgent" steps to
restrict the production of ammonia nitrate, a key component
used in making deadly bombs, and prevent its smuggling into
"Urgent action must be taken to stem the flow of AN
(ammonia nitrate) into Afghanistan," the Senate Armed Services
Committee said in its report on the National Defence
Authorisation Act for the Fiscal 2012.
It noted that ammmonia nitrate is a prime component used
in making IEDs, which have been responsible for killing a
large number of US soldiers in Afghanistan.
In 2010, 268 US service members were killed by IEDs in
Afghanistan, while a total of 101 have been killed since
January this year.
This is not just a problem in Afghanistan, the committee
said, noting that the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat
Organisation (JIEDDO) has reported that, in 2010, there were
more than 1,000 reported IED incidents in Pakistan -- only
Iraq and Afghanistan experienced more IEDs.
The vast majority of these attacks have occurred in the
Federally Administered Tribal Areas where Pakistani security
forces continue operations against insurgent groups.
"The committee believes Pakistan must take several
measures to restrict the flow of ammonium nitrate into
Afghanistan," the report said. Specifically, the committee called on the Obama
administration to engage with Pakistani officials and urge
them to get a legislation passed through their legislature,
which would regulate explosive precursor materials used in
IEDs such as ammonium nitrate and other precursor materials.
Pakistani customs officials should seek to improve
efforts to limit the passage of goods across the border which
are illegal in Afghanistan, like ammonium nitrate; and the
private owners of fertilizer plants and other producers active
in Pakistan should introduce technologies that make it easier
to track, the committee said.
Pakistani authorities need to conduct a public education
campaign on the dangers posed by AN and the value of
alternative fertilizers, such as urea, the report said.
The Senate Armed Services Committee said that ammonium
nitrate continues to flow into Afghanistan. "The vast majority
of this AN flows in from fertilizer factories in Pakistan," it
In 2010, in an effort to stem the flow of this material,
the Afghan government banned the use of AN as a fertilizer.
Despite this effort and vigilance by Afghan National
Security Forces (ANSF), IED incidents and casualties have
continued to increase, the report said.
"The Afghan government appears committed to this fight
and has enacted appropriate legal measures and enforcement
"But ammonium nitrate is still ever-present in
Afghanistan due to smuggling along supply routes from its
neighbours, particularly from Pakistan," the report said,
adding the amounts of AN reportedly ferried into Afghanistan
from Pakistan are staggering.