Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah threatened in the past to destroy Israel by causing a massive explosion in the port of Haifa using ammonia tanks that he said would be like a “nuclear” explosion. In addition Hezbollah allegedly sought to acquire ammonium nitrate via Syria since 2009 and tried to infiltrate the agriculture ministry in Lebanon to do so, according to leaked diplomatic cables.
The archival footage has been circulating in the wake of the massive explosion in Lebanon that killed more than 100 and injured 4,000 and has left hundreds missing. It illustrates Hezbollah’s terrorist strategy of targeting civilians for mass murder, despite the organization’s claim that it is “resisting” Israel by defending Lebanon.
A source quoted in a cache of leaked diplomatic cables and other reports noted that Hezbollah’s supply of some explosive material had been cut off over the last decade. Hezbollah also allegedly sought to get the ammonium nitrate via Syria, bringing in thousands of tons of it from Homs. Hezbollah sought to dominate the agriculture ministry in Lebanon since 2009 to get a hold of the material.
In February 16, 2016 Nasrallah also said that ammonia is stored in Haifa and that there are 15,000 tonnes of gas Haifa and that explosions there might cause the deaths of tens of thousands of people. “the expert added that this is exactly like a nuclear bomb. In other words Lebanon has a nuclear bomb. This is not an exaggeration.” Nasrallah laughs as he says this in the video, noting that Hezbollah refrained from striking the ammonia in the 2006 war.
Nasrallah told his audience that with several missiles his terror group could set off the ammonia with the same impact of a nuclear weapon. He said he had consulted experts and that 800,000 people would be affects and tens of thousands killed. In February 2017 he made another speech mentioning ammonia stored in Haifa. On Al-Mayadeen TV he said that a decision was made ‘several days ago that the ammonia storage tanks must be emptied.” He claimed it was because the “resistance” had talked about the storage tanks.
“Moreover there is a ship that brings the ammonia, and distributed it to the Haifa facility and I said that the Haifa facility is the equivalent of a nuclear bomb, but the ship that carries ammonia to occupied Palestine is like five nuclear bombs,” Nasrallah said in 2017.
The footage of the speeches which has come to light after the explosion of ammonium nitrate that was stored improperly for years in the port of Beirut suggests that Hezbollah studied the use of ammonia as an accelerant that would multiply exponentially the power of its missiles. It may be that Hezbollah studied the warehouse in Beirut and the ships that deliver this chemical. Ammonium nitrate is commonly used in fertilizer but can be used in explosives as well.
Hezbollah’s comments in 2016 and 2017 suggest it consulted experts about how to cause mass death using other means than just missiles and how to strike at strategic or other infrastructure. That it considered using missiles to target a boat or destroying a ship by other mean suggests the level of terror threats that it has come to. 2016 was the height of the Iran deal era and it also illustrates that despite the US seeking to work with Iran and cases against Hezbollah’s drug trafficking even being slowed down in the US, the organization did not moderate but was actively thinking of ways to kill tens of thousands of people.
US officials in 2008 also tracked a shipment of 400 metric tons of ammonium nitrate from an Iranian firm called SAD Import and Export, which the US said was a “cover name used by Iran’s Defense Industries Organization. Iran’s Bank Saderat facilitated the transaction.” According to the report the nitrate went to Oman in October 2008.
The reports show that Hezbollah was well aware of ammonium nitrate as an explosive and that it sought to import it and also to potentially use it as a terrorist weapon.