• Joining the International Fertilizer Association’s product security plan, which opens Fatima to outside IFA auditing.
• Signing a military-to-military cooperation agreement May 6 that commits the U.S. and Pakistan to sharing information about IEDs. The draft sat unsigned for months.
One of Gen. Barbero’s last acts as director of the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization was to travel to Pakistan in May to sign the framework and assess Fatima's motives.
“There was a strategic decision that this is in our interest, Pakistan and we need to cooperate,” he concluded. “That’s my assessment, that they are sincere.”
Nadeem Hotiana, a spokesman for the Pakistani Embassy, said: “Fatima Fertilizer has been working overtime to address all the concerns, and all concerned are being kept briefed by the Fatima Fertilizer, including the U.S.”
About 80 percent of all IEDs in Afghanistan use homemade explosives as the main charge, of which 47 percent contain fertilizer with calcium ammonium nitrate and 45 percent another substance, potassium chlorate, according to the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization.
“We have seen a reduction of the percentage of [calcium] ammonium nitrate that we’ve seized,” Gen. Barbero said. “The number of IEDs are down, but it is pretty anecdotal at this point.”
In Indiana, Gen. Barbero said, he spoke with the governor upon his return from Pakistan.
Mr. Pence still does not believe Fatima has gone far enough. Last month, he ordered the state not to be the conduit in the municipal bond market, where Fatima would pay a lower interest rate because bond proceeds are tax-free to the lender.
He said the Defense Department cannot guarantee that none of Fatima's fertilizer products will end up as bombs.
“Without assurances from our Defense Department that the materials which have been misused by the enemy in Afghanistan will be permanently removed from production by Fatima Group in Pakistan, I cannot in good conscience tell our soldiers and their families that this deal should move forward,” Mr. Pence said.
Officials in Posey County, Ind., disagree and still want the plant. Local news reports said the county plans to sponsor the bonds through its own economic development agency.