Dutch authorities vigilant about fertiliser bomb threat

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The Netherlands has long been aware of the danger that terrorists might use fertiliser to build bombs, as occurred in the recent attack in Oslo.

Industry representatives and the Dutch environment ministry signed an agreement in 2007 with measures to guarantee the safe storage of fertiliser raw materials and to trace them if they threaten to fall into the wrong hands.

The justice ministry says a number of government bodies are working together closely to prevent attacks involving home-made explosives. They include the National Coordinator for Counterterrorism, the infrastructure and environment ministry, the national intelligence service AIVD and the military intelligence service MIVD. Other organisations involved are the army’s bomb disposal service, the national police, the Netherlands Forensic Institute, the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, and the Joint Taskforce Counter-IED. Regular meetings are also held with major chemicals producers and sector organisations.

In 2010, a police hotline was set up to enable citizens to report suspicious transactions involving chemicals that might be used to produce explosives or drugs. The Netherlands Forensic Institute is developing a database for the armed forces and the police to facilitate a ‘fast, smart and mobile’ search for information about home-made explosives. 

The Norwegian authorities are currently investigating the methods used by Anders Behring Breivik - the suspect in Friday’s double terror attack - and the exact composition of the explosives he used. The Dutch justice ministry says it is not yet clear whether European rules for the trade in chemicals that can be used in explosives need to be tightened.

The European Union is also working on an action plan to combat illegal explosives. One objective is to prevent fertiliser being used in bombs by lowering its ammonium nitrate content.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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