IED Report Released to Congress: Reevaluating Our Approach To Chemical Security?
On November 14th, 2017, the National Academy of Sciences published a report titled “Reducing the Threat of Improvised Explosive Device Attacks by Restricting Access to Explosive Precursor Chemicals”. This report identifies precursor chemicals and controls that can possibly prevent the IED next attack. Although IED attacks have been less frequent than other attacks in the United States, IEDs still remain a tireless domestic threat.
The nature of the changing counterterrorism IED landscape is tough to legislate, but proactively focusing on countermeasures before an incident arises should be a priority for Congress. This study will influence the formulation of other laws including the Chemical Facility Anti- Terrorism Standards (CFATS) and the Ammonium Nitrate Security Program (ANSP), both implemented by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and up for reauthorization within the year. But how will this report change our approach to chemical security? And what have we learned from past programs?
The study recommends the following to Congress:
The committee emphasizes the essential role of Congress in developing and implementing appropriate risk-reducing control strategies. Whether by
addressing questions of federalism,
defining the responsibilities of federal agencies,
holding fact-finding hearings to articulate welfare interests and policy objectives,
or adequately funding collaborative public-private work, Congress provides foundational opportunities for the executive branch to implement effective and efficient control strategies across administrations.
Congress can be particularly instrumental in ensuring that crisis-driven interests do not unduly influence new laws or regulations, and can play a role in each of the six recommendations to enhance the nation’s domestic and international risk-reduction programs. (referring the Ammonium Nitrate Registration Program)
Further, when discussing the private sector’s voluntarily efforts:
"The federal government should provide additional support for voluntary measures, activities, and programs that can contribute to restricting access by malicious actors to precursor chemicals used to manufacture IEDs."
The larger issue here is how can Congress blend the "carrot and stick" approach into a program that is not overly burdensome, can reduces threats and is able to measure its own effectiveness? Over the next couple of weeks I will go into detail on the above challenges and detail different approaches to this national security problem.
In the meantime, the committee will host a public stakeholder meeting on November 29th from 2:00 PM EST to 3:15 PM EST in Washington, DC.
Note, for Agricultural and UAN folks:
“The decision to include urea ammonium nitrate (UAN) solution in Group A represents the only departure from a strict application of the committee’s ranking principles. UAN is considered a relatively new product with limited geographical distribution, but commercially available. There is a well- documented history of explosive production from analogous urea-nitrate salt solutions used in Iraq. While UAN has not been used historically to produce explosives, the ease of producing various explosives from nitrating urea solutions, as seen in Iraq, support the notion of UAN as a future threat and justified its inclusion in Group A.”
*Note. Images were taken from the “Reducing the Threat of Improvised Explosive Device Attacks by Restricting Access to Explosive Precursor Chemicals report.