90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Here and Now with Robin Young
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Fertilizer Bombs Continue To Challenge U.S. Military

A Pakistani man carries sacks of fertilizer to smuggle into neighboring Afghanistan at Pakistani border town of Chaman. The U.S. government believes that most of the bombs killing its troops in Afghanistan are made with a chemical fertilizer produced by a single company in Pakistan and American officials have launched an intense and so far unsuccessful push for regulation. (AP)

A Pakistani man carries sacks of fertilizer to smuggle into neighboring Afghanistan at Pakistani border town of Chaman. (AP)

Hundreds of U.S. troops in Afghanistan have been killed by improvised explosive devices. The Pentagon spends billions trying stop IEDs, which cost only about $40 to make and are little more than plastic jugs filled with explosive ammonium nitrate fertilizer.

“What you’re looking at is fertilizer with an accelerant which could be sugar or sawdust. The blasting cap is often fashioned out of a ballpoint pen or Christmas lights,” military reporter Greg Jaffe told Here & Now‘s Sacha Pfeiffer.

The fertilizer is manufactured in Pakistan, and so far U.S. military officials aren’t having much success at stopping its flow across the border into Afghanistan. An owner of one of the fertilizer plants in Pakistan says farmers need the fertilizer and the amount that falls into insurgents’ hands is less than 1 percent of his production.

Guest:

  • Greg Jaffe, Washington Post military reporter

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

October 30 2 Comments

How Athletes Are Getting ‘Faster, Higher, Stronger’

Mark McClusky says for elite athletes today, pushing boundaries and breaking records is all about "the aggregation of marginal gains."

October 30 12 Comments

A Computer Model Forecasts Ebola’s Future Path

With the virus in Africa, the U.S. and Europe, experts have created a computer model to predict where it could go next.

October 29 Comment

Reporter Crosses Into Syria To Tell Stories Of Fighters

Holly Williams of CBS discusses some of the people she's interviewed, including women soldiers on the frontlines.

October 29 9 Comments

How Far Have We Come Since The Financial Crisis?

Or are we already going backwards? We ask Michael Lewis, author of books including "Flash Boys" and "Liar's Poker."