Probe into reports of Aden Ammonium nitrate ordered by Yemen’s attorney general

August 10, 2020

On Friday Yemen’s attorney general has ordered a probe into the situation of thousands of tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored in the seaport for years in unsafe conditions. Prosecutors in southern port city of Aden have been ordered to launch a quick probe into the same. Attorney general Ali Ahmed Al-Awash ordered an investigation in his letter to chief appeal prosecutor of Aden. The probe is to be launched to determine the extent of truth and reality of reports released recently that 130 containers of ammonium nitrate are left abandoned at seaport for many years now. This is the same chemical that caused the devastating explosion in Lebanon’s capital Beirut last week.

The probe orders are an aftermath of story published on Friday by Yemeni journalist Fatehi Ben Lazerq, the editor of the Aden Al-Ghad news website and newspaper. The report said that approximately 4,900 tonnes of ammonium nitrate which is stored in 130 containers, is lying unattended at port for past three years. The story was strongly denied by Yemen Gulf of Aden Ports Corporation, a government body that runs Aden seaport. The corporation denied storing of the hazardous chemical at seaport. It also said that what the report is referring to are actually old seized shipments of 140 containers of the organic compound urea – which is used as an agricultural fertilizer just like ammonium nitrate. The corporation has further said that the compound is not “explosive or radioactive”. But urea nitrate has been used in making bombs across the world. One such instance is the detonated bombs in the 1993 World Trade Center bombings.

Lawmakers from Yemen have jointly demanded an immediate investigation on Friday regarding the alleged storage of ammonium nitrate at the seaport. Ali Hussein Ashal, a member of the Parliament of Yemen, has sent a letter to the government in which he has requested clarity on presence of 130 containers of fertilizer left abandoned in Aden seaport. The letter also asks the clear reasons for importing the materials.

Though corporation has said that fertilizer urea is not explosive, the Saudi-led coalition and the internationally recognized government has classified urea fertilizer under explosive material category. Experts also maintain that it could be used by Houthis terrorist organization which is backed by Iran, for military purposes. This could be a leverage to Houthis resulting in banning Yemeni seaports from importing without permission.

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