Friday, October 29, 2004


Reader N, who identifies himself as a retired EOD officer, amplifies his earlier comments on the contents of the bunker filmed by 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.

Yes, it could have been RDX, HMX or any number of 1.1D explosives. It is difficult to see as they were filming inside the bunker and were dependant on the light coming through the door. I believe that the number 239 right next to the 1.1D placard raises serious issues with the position stated by Mr. David Kay. It could very well be that the Iraqi Army, largely trained in the old days by the Brit's, utilized the UN system of identifying and storing ordnance/explosives. The 239 number could have been placed on the drum by the manufacturer as well. We know the French have supplied them with ordnance and the French utilize the UN system! The UN number 239 is nitro starch, a rather slow detonation speed of 16,000 fps. This makes it a good choice for blasting, a filler for ordnance, or a booster for other slower explosive charges like ANFO( Ammonium Nitrate Fuel Oil).

If they had these huge quantities of HMX and RDX, why does this clip from channel 5 also show boosters and dynamite in the same bunker? These numbers quoted by the IAEA for the HMX and RDX are so large you would have entire bunkers filled with nothing but HMX and RDX.

If per the clip, it was dynamite (and not TNT or wrapped nitro starch as I previously stated); I can't imagine why anyone would place dynamite with any of your other explosives, especially not an expensive and IAEA monitored explosive like RDX and HDX. Dynamite needs constant attention, especially in hot climates. The nitroglycerin will leech out of the stick and form highly dangerous crystals. Dynamite must be constantly rotated to keep it from leeching. If I were an IAEA inspector, I wouldn't want to go into a bunker in Iraq where I knew dynamite was stored with the HMX, if you know what I mean! Leeching dynamite is a large enough problem in this country, but Iraq with the heat and questionable maintenance issues?

Boosters, why would boosters be placed in the same bunker with HMX? HMX and RDX certainly don't need boosters. Every time I wanted a boosting charge for blasting I would have to violate the IAEA seal to get at the booster charges. What was described as boosters on the film and what I saw was something that one would utilize for blasting purposes. Boosters are placed inside something like Ammonium Nitrate which detonates at 3,300 to 8,200 FPS (See the below link) and is utilized for blasting. Boosters contain things like Pentolite which detonates at 24,500fps. I think that what we may be looking at on that channel 5 clip is a bunker filled with explosives that are most commonly utilized for boosting other explosives for blasting purposes and/or just straight explosives more commonly utilized for blasting or fillers for ordnance.

It's one heck of a coincidence that the number 239 is right next to that 1.1D placard; 239 is the UN symbol for nitro starch; and this 1.1D placard 239 is shown in the clip in a bunker with other obvious booster charges!

His main points then are:

  • the material is visually ambiguous and identifying it as HDX is inconsistent with the labeling, at least in his opinion
  • the other material in bunker appears to be non-UN controlled explosives and he wonders why these are also behind UN seal

The gist of the argument against is whether an ambiguous substance found together with ordinary explosive should be identified as HDX. The main arguments for its identification as HDX is the presence of the UN seal and David Kay's identification of the material as such. The presence of the UN seal, assuming it is genuine is two-edged however,  considering the presence of ordinary explosive behind it.

More from reader N, who was an EOD officer.

Additional information on the Channel 5 clip concerning the IAEA HMX explosives. The number 239 next to the 1.1 D placard on the drums is very difficult to explain away. Storing boosters (other explosives) with IAEA monitored RDX and HMX behind sealed doors doesn't pass the common sense test. Why would anyone place useable explosives (the boosters) behind a door that they can't enter. They wouldn't do it. Explosive items like the boosters are highly valued items in that part of the world. In the U. S. and the Western world one might say just throw those other explosives in with the IAEA monitored RDX and HMX, we don't really need them now. I don't see them mingling these explosives which for all practicable purposes would be written off..

Concerning safety and storage compatibility, I just wonder if the IAEA might not have dictated to the Iraqis that NO other explosive items be stored with the RDX and HMX explosives. Compatibility and safety issues were huge problems for our soldiers in Bosnia who were entering explosive bunkers where various explosives can't be stored with other explosive items. A worst case example that occurred in Bosnia was storing blasting caps (primary explosives for initiating a charges) in the same vicinity as the detonating explosives (secondary explosives). It is dangerous business entering into an ordnance bunker not knowing what is contained in that bunker which raises another issue.

The IAEA must have a list of all ordnance contained within a IAEA monitored explosive bunker! Explosive items have a shelf life and some need to be destroyed as they become dangerous with age. Why would the IAEA seal off a bunker that contains other explosive items not monitored by the IAEA and not be knowledgeable of all the items in the bunker for safety purposes?