By Gordon Duff and New Eastern Outlook of the Russian Academy of Science (Est: 1816)
On the afternoon of August 4, 2020, two explosions occurred in Beirut’s port area. One was small, the other one left a crater 550 feet across and, according to most recent reports, over 100 feet deep, perhaps well over.
Reports on events have been the subject of a massive disinformation campaign, a massive censorship campaign and, as usual, rewriting history, science and physics to fit “alternative facts.” Here, President Donald Trump gets it right and sticks to his guns when challenged.
During a press conference regarding the event, President Donald Trump made the following statement:
“We will be there to help. It looks like a terrible attack.”
He was immediately attacked in the media, across the board, and mention of his answer was banned on Facebook as was the president’s remark. Then the next day in a press conference, President Trump “doubled down” on his answer:
Question: You called this an attack, are you confident that this was an attack and not an accident?
President Trump: “It would seem like it based on the explosion. I met with some of our great generals and they just seem to feel It was. It was not a…some kind of a manufacturing explosion type of event.
This was a…seems to be according to them, they would know better than I would, but they seem to think it was an attack.
It was a bomb of some kind.”
That day, Secretary of Defense Mike Esper stated that he “believed” President Trump was mistaken. Within hours Secretary of Defense Esper walked back his statement. From CNN:
“Washington (CNN) Defense Secretary Mark Esper is downplaying any differences he had with the White House’s assessment as to what caused the deadly explosion in Beirut after his speculation that the blast was likely the result of an accident drew push back from the White House.
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows went even further when asked about Esper’s assessment that the explosion was likely an accident, saying: “From Secretary Esper’s standpoint, he doesn’t know.”
On Tuesday, Trump said that he had spoken to some of ‘our generals’ and that they had assessed the explosion to be a bombing attack.”
The next day, the White House put out a short announcement that Secretary of Defense Esper would not be asked to join the new administration should Donald Trump be reelected in November.
Let us then examine why Trump said what he said, why Esper backed down but also why social media and the MSM are carrying an alternative narrative and now pretend that the President, speaking for the Pentagon and US intelligence agencies, never said what he said.
Trump is no longer attacked, he has simply been “obliqued” by an orchestrated disinformation campaign, but why?
Let’s look at what happened, what everyone agrees upon, and move from there.
The first explosion was small and started a fire in a warehouse. The second explosion, based on the crater size and 3.5 Richter scale reading was equal to 6 kilotons of TNT or at least 12 kilotons of ANFO explosive, a hybridization of ammonium nitrate and heavy fuel oil which can only be exploded with a shockwave, typically using TNT.
These figures come from real explosives experts familiar with nuclear testing. You see, only nuclear explosions typically put out multiple kiloton level blasts and only nuclear weapons experts have any experience whatsoever in studying cratering and blast effects of such explosions.
There are no “conventional explosive experts” who specialize in exploding fertilizer or rocket plants. This job description does not exist nor do any so-called experts.
Key to understanding the story is this, there are hundreds of “facts,” missile sightings, eyewitness and video, plane sightings, eyewitness and many videos, and a series of narratives that closely resemble “big lie” propaganda.
As is the case, if one looks at everything then nothing is settled. Simply put, the disinformation campaign is predicated on this being a blast of 2750 tons of fertilizer abandoned in Lebanon 6 years ago, a story not everyone is comfortable with including sources inside the Lebanese government. We begin with MP, Nohad Machnouk, former Interior Minister, in a story from Mideast Monitor:
“Former Lebanese Interior Minister and current MP, Nohad Machnouk, has become the first senior Lebanese politician to blame Israel for the blast at Beirut Port last week.
During a press conference, Machnouk said Israel was “clearly” responsible for the huge explosion which has killed over 200 people and wounded thousands.
‘This operation in Beirut was carried out by Israel in a clear and explicit manner,” Machnouk said. “It is clear we are looking at a crime against humanity, and therefore no one dares to claim responsibility for it.’
The high-ranking politician served as Lebanon’s interior minister in 2014 and again in 2016. He is a member of ex-Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s Future Movement, the country’s Sunni bloc and opposes the Hezbollah movement. In the aftermath of the explosion, he said: ‘This is the first time since the Phoenician era that we don’t have a port in Beirut.’”
Privately, a former Defense Minister contacted VT an hour after the explosion and credited it to an Israeli attack, first by a sea based small missile, which started a fire and then an air attack from an F 16 which launched, according to the source, a missile with a tactical nuclear warhead, much as described by President Donald Trump, quoting his Pentagon sources.
Similarly, in response to claims this was a fertilizer explosion, a spokesman for Hezbollah, speaking directly to VT Bureau Chief Nahed al Husaini in Damascus made the following observation.
“Fertilizer can’t explode, it burns.”
Thus, we outline our controversy, and the only real fact we can all agree on and that one is hard science, ammonium nitrate fertilizer can’t explode without extreme effort and certainly not under the circumstances as seen in Beirut.
Attempts to “massage” science and technology to conform to disinformation are underway but as yet unsuccessful. The best thing written on this comes from a Lebanese mining engineer writing in response to claims Beirut was a “fertilizer explosion.”
“I have to say I disagree with this gentleman. The moment he hesitated to answer the very first ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question posed to him when asked if a match tossed on a pile of ammonia nitrate would initiate a catastrophic explosion, he hesitated for a few seconds before answering and I knew immediately that whatever he was going to say was may be a bit cloudy and opaque.
I’ve worked in the open pit mining industry all my life as a surveyor and a blasting technician. For my last two years at a large open pit coal operation in the British Columbia foothills, my job was designing the blast patterns and deciding which explosive product to load into the drill holes.
We used ANFO, a mixture of ammonia nitrate and diesel fuel. The AN stands for ammonia nitrate and FO stands for fuel oil or diesel fuel. We used a product called HANFO or what is called heavy anfo. It was called heavy anfo because it had a higher concentration of diesel fuel in its mixture, hence the term Heavy anfo.
Both anfo and heavy anfo have to be used in dry holes. If the holes are wet, the diesel component would wash out and the ammonia nitrate by itself would not ignite.
In those instances we would line the drill holes with plastic liners and then load the anfo or heavy anfo into the plastic liners. If it still proved too wet, we went to a very expensive product called Magnafrac. It was a slurry based emulsion that was more or less water proof, but still, if left to sit too long, the slurry would decompose and fail to ignite.
Heavy anfo has a higher power factor than regular anfo. That means more bang for the buck or more explosive energy. The name of the game was always to blast the most amount of rock with the least amount of actual product loaded. This is called the powder factor. The lower you can keep the powder factor and still break the host rock, the cheaper the cost. Anfo cheapest, hanfo, more expensive, Magnafrac very expensive which drove the powder factor up. The goal was to maintain a balance.
I’ve handled all of these products, loaded them, helped the blast crew tie the pattern in with DET cord and basically pulled the trigger. We used blasting wire connected to a blasting machine like you see in the old movies where the bad guys are trying to blow up railroad tracks. In the early 90’s, the wire and blasting machine was replaced with a much more efficient system we called non-electric blasting.
There was no electric charge produced to run down the yellow blasting wire to the DET cord and initiate the blast.
What was used was a product called ‘shock tube’. It was a small diameter hollow plastic tubing about 3 or 4 millimeters in diameter that had a very small powdery dusting of an explosive called ‘pentlandite’ a type of your basic TNT. It was called shock tube for a reason because it was non-electric. It is basically a fundamental shock wave generator, (shock tubes) either compressed air-driven or detonation-driven). It produces a ‘blast shock wave’. This is the lead shock wave that then in turn initiates the DET cord, then the explosive.
To initiate the detonation there was a small, for lack of a better word, I will say clacker, that you could step on. The non electric energy released when the clacker was stepped on was sufficient to ignite the very minute amount of powdered explosive in the shock tube that ran and initiated the DET cord which of course ran into each drilled hole filled with the actual explosive product used in the blast pattern itself.
Now here is where the rubber meets the road. Up until now we are talking inert elements and components that combined or by themselves couldn’t blow up a box of Kleenex.
The key to all this were the 500 gram TNT detonators placed at the bottom of each drill hole at the bottom of the explosives. We generally used 2 500 gram TNT detonators per hole.
That is where the ignition took place. Now listen carefully, it takes a TNT detonation to initiate or ignite a load of Anfo, Hanfo or Magnafrac. What I mean by that is that for Anfo to detonate, it needs the violence of a TNT initiation before it itself will actually detonate. I’ve watched Anfo catch fire and burn numerous times.
It won’t explode, it will just burn. And if it doesn’t have the diesel fuel mixture it won’t even do that. Ammonia Nitrate is a commercial fertilizer. The company employees were each given two twenty Kilo bags of Ammonia Nitrate every spring to fertilize their lawns. It will quite literally turn a brown lawn a vibrant green over night. That practice was discontinued in about 1993, at least at the mine I was employed at during that time span.
An automobile or truck perhaps running at speed, exploding and slamming into a mound of anfo etc. might be able to deliver the explosive force necessary to detonate the explosive product. Or the shock wave required. (or a missile or bomb)
We used to make the ammonia nitrate prills off mine site at a facility that was used by the explosive company that provided all the explosive product to our site. This is a huge, explosive company that is global in scope. And I will add that in all my time working with them and handling the various products, they/we used, they had a stellar safety record.
I’ve probably missed a lot and/or left out some information but this is all that I can recall to mind without having to refer to my various texts and notes.
So were there pumps, in this storage facility, was there fuel oil saturating the ammonia nitrate that gradually was absorbed over time?”
That answer is simple, if ammonium nitrate was stored in Warehouse 12 as some claim, it was fertilizer and could never explode.
The rationale for carrying this broad explanation with more than a bit of unnecessary detail is simple, it can be checked at any university that has a program for mining engineers, reviewed by any chemist and certainly any explosives expert, even those with no familiarity with nuclear weapons.
Beirut has a hole the size of a nuclear crater and destruction at levels unimaginable.
An American president has said Beirut was hit with a bomb that left a 500 foot crater. The US has no such conventional weapon. The Mark 84 penetrator will leave a 50 foot wide crater 36 feet deep, around 6200 square feet.
The crater in Beirut is approximately 700,000 square feet in area.
Thus, we reiterate, Trump said bomb, Esper said accident then Esper announced officially that he really doesn’t have a clue what he is talking about.
What can we prove? Fertilizer, like so many people have in their garages and sheds, isn’t going to blow us all to kingdom come.
We can prove only a fool would listen to the mainstream media.
We can also prove something happened that is impossible. What would Occam’s Razor tell us?
Gordon Duff is a Marine combat veteran of the Vietnam War that has worked on veterans and POW issues for decades and consulted with governments challenged by security issues. He’s a senior editor and chairman of the board of VT, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”
Gordon Duff posted articles on VT from 2008 to 2022. He is a Marine combat veteran of the Vietnam War. A disabled veteran, he worked on veterans and POW issues for decades.
Gordon is an accredited diplomat and is generally accepted as one of the top global intelligence specialists. He manages the world’s largest private intelligence organization and regularly consults with governments challenged by security issues.
Duff has traveled extensively, is published around the world, and is a regular guest on TV and radio in more than “several” countries. He is also a trained chef, wine enthusiast, avid motorcyclist, and gunsmith specializing in historical weapons and restoration. Business experience and interests are in energy and defense technology.