Iraq MPs demand bomb detector be axed after UK ban

Sat Jan 23, 2010 7:45pm GMT

By Muhanad Mohammed

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi lawmakers demanded on Saturday that security forces stop using a device used widely for detecting explosives which the British government says does not work.

Three major suicide bombings have killed at least 300 people in Baghdad since mid-August, and Iraqis have questioned how the attackers got trucks, buses and cars packed with explosives through the Iraqi capital's numerous checkpoints.

Iraq has spent millions of dollars on the sensors used by soldiers and police at checkpoints to detect explosives in cars, and one Iraqi official said they were effective devices which had been tested before use.

However, Britain's Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said on Friday it would ban exports to Iraq and Afghanistan of the ADE651 device, which is marketed by British company ATSC.

"Tests have shown that the technology used in the ADE651 and similar devices is not suitable for bomb detection," it said in a statement, adding that the British Embassy in Baghdad had raised its concerns with the Iraqi authorities.

"We have offered cooperation with any investigation they may wish to make into the how the device came to be bought for their military as bomb detection equipment," it said. "We will be making an order ... banning the export of this type of device to Iraq and Afghanistan."

A department spokeswoman said a police investigation was underway into the device, adding: "It doesn't work as bomb detection technology." Police said they had arrested on suspicion of fraud a 53-year-old man from Yeovil in western England, where ATSC has its registered office.

"The force became aware of the existence of a piece of equipment around which there were many concerns, and in the interests of public safety, launched its investigation," local police said in a statement.   Continued...

<p>Iraqi's Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki gestures as he speaks during a conference in Baghdad January 22, 2010. REUTERS/Iraqi Government/Handout</p>
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