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File photo

WASHINGTON, Feb 28: A Pakistani firm has invented a new formula to make fertilisers that cannot be converted into bomb-making materials, diplomatic sources told Dawn.

The firm, Fatima Group, has succeeded in making non-lethal alternatives to ammonium nitrate, a key ingredient in the fertilisers it makes. Fertilisers with ammonium nitrate, however, can easily be converted into bomb-making ingredients.

“Such a long-term solution would be a true scientific breakthrough,” Lt-Gen Michael Barbero, the head of the Pentagon’s Joint Improved Explosive Device Defeat Organisation, said in a statement.

A US television network, CNN, reported on Thursday that the United States and Pakistan reached an agreement last week to make fertilisers with non-explosive materials.But diplomatic sources told Dawn that an agreement could only be reached after the new material is tested. The sources said that US experts would soon visit Pakistan for testing the new material with experts from the Fatima Group, Pakistan’s major fertiliser manufacturer.

Representatives of the group visited Washington last week and met senior officials from the Pentagon, the State Department and also some US lawmakers.

CNN reported that Gen Barbero met the group’s representatives while they were in Washington and urged them to take steps to control fertiliser inventories.

“The meeting itself was a step forward since the Pakistani government previously had stopped the US military from talking directly to the company,” CNN reported.

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