P.K. Abdul Ghafour, Arab News
Published — Tuesday 1 May 2007
Last Update 1 May 2007 3:00 am
JEDDAH, 1 May 2007 — Saudi Arabia yesterday issued new regulations curbing the sale of industrial and agricultural chemicals that can be used to make explosives. The move comes days after the arrest of 172 terror suspects planning to carry out attacks on oil facilities, military bases and public figures.
The decision that bans the sale of various nitrate compounds in the solid form for three years was taken by the weekly Cabinet meeting, chaired by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah. Farmers are allowed to use only liquid chemicals as fertilizers.
“The Cabinet banned the use of ammonium, calcium, potassium and magnesium nitrates as well as their byproducts in solid/granule/powder forms for three years for agricultural purposes,” the Saudi Press Agency said, quoting a Cabinet decision.
The decision allowed the import of the chemicals in their solid form for medical, industrial and scientific purposes only. “The Ministry of Agriculture will nominate four Saudi companies to be the sole importers of these materials, and they will sell them to licensed farmers,” the Cabinet said.
The Cabinet instructed the King Abdul Aziz City of Science and Technology and Saudi universities to conduct studies on dangerous imported chemicals that are used for agricultural purpose, find alternatives and approve locally-made materials.
On Friday, the Interior Ministry said police had seized weapons including rocket-propelled grenades and automatic rifles, as well as computers and SR20 million in cash from seven terrorist cells.
The Cabinet emphasized the need for fighting terror and urged the media, Islamic scholars and society to play their parts against terror.
“The Kingdom will continue to confront the policies aimed at transforming the region into breeding grounds of terrorists, generating terrorist ideas and allowing the media to promote terrorist activities,” the Cabinet said.
The Cabinet commended the country’s security forces for their pre-emptive strike on terrorist cells, thus foiling their plans to carry out attacks. “Everybody must be vigilant and immediately report any suspicious terrorist activities,” the Cabinet said while commending the support of Saudis in this respect.
Interior Minister Prince Naif has been quoted as saying in the media that the security forces will continue their efforts to stamp out terrorism. “We cannot say that we are done with these deviants. But efforts will continue. The eyes...are wide open and efforts are under way to cleanse our country of every evil,” he added. Prince Naif called upon militants to surrender.
“If young men who were in the process of joining terror cells but had not been involved in any crimes surrender to the ministry and provide whatever information they have, then this would be considered a step toward returning to the truth,” the minister said.
The Cabinet meeting heard a report from the minister of economy and planning on the Kingdom’s efforts to achieve UN Millennium Development Goals. Saudi Arabia has achieved nine of 11 specific goals 10 years before the deadline.