PM Diab Withdraws Statement About The Ammonium Nitrate

Rami Rizk

Caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab quickly went back on a statement he made just the day before about the estimated amount of ammonium nitrate that caused the Beirut Port explosion on August 4th.

On Wednesday, his office released a statement indicating that he was “relying on unofficial information attributed to the FBI,” and that he had not received an official report from the FBI.

Just the day before, Diab stated that the FBI report revealed that only about 500 tonnes of ammonium nitrate caused the port explosion. “Where did the (other) 2,200 tonnes go?” he questioned, speaking to reporters.

Diab, who resigned in the wake of the devastating blast, was recently charged with negligence leading to the death of hundreds and injury to thousands.

In an interview with CNN, he said that he thought the timing of the explosion was very “suspicious” since it occurred hours after a probe into the ammonium nitrate was launched.

He revealed that on the evening of August 3rd, the day before the explosion, he tasked the ministers of public works and justice with conducting a probe into the dangerous chemical that had been stored at Beirut Port for years.

After the blast, a former justice minister, General Rifi, testified to lead-investigative judge Fadi Sawan that the ammonium nitrate belonged to Hezbollah and that it “was sent to Lebanon by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards for the benefit of Hezbollah.”

He also stated that part of it was used by the Syrian regime and another part was sent by Hezbollah to its groups in Cyprus, Kuwait, Germany, and other countries.

Additionally, an investigative report published by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) reported that European intelligence sources believe the size of the explosion was the result of 700 to 1,000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate.

Yet again, some experts have doubts that the explosion was merely caused by ammonium nitrate in the first place. “There should have been a catalyst because, otherwise, it wouldn’t all have exploded together,” said Italian explosives expert Danilo Coppe.

With Lebanon’s president refusing an international and neutral investigation, the mystery surrounding the blast seems to steer further away from clarification and getting instead more confusing with conflicting reports.

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