Estonian domestic explosives production needs political green-light
Explosive devices used by the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) could be manufactured in Estonia, but industry experts say political will is needed before any changes can take place.
Currently, explosives are made in Estonia for the shale oil mining sector but discussions have arisen about potential future domestic production for the EDF.
Industry experts told Wednesday's "Aktuaalne kaamera" that creating extra production capacity is possible but requires agreement from policymakers.
The EDF uses explosives in mines and charges but they must be purchased from elsewhere.
However, shortages have arisen as European countries restock their defense supplies after sending aid to Ukraine and demand is rising. Europe's defense industry has also been in decline over recent decades.
"At the moment, there are some delivery problems with these mines, as the subcontractor is in Poland and it is not able to fill them with explosives in time," said Lt. Col. Ainar Afanasjev, commander of the EDF's engineer section.
"As a member of the Defense Forces and an engineer, I would certainly feel more secure if we had the explosives in Estonia ourselves — we wouldn't have to rely on somebody else if we needed more or needed them quickly."
University of Technology lecturer and former pioneer officer Tõnu Tomberg said Estonia's chemical industry has the foundations for production.
"in Ida-Viru County, there is VKG [Viru Keemia Grupp] — that's where nitrogen compounds are made. Toluene, for example, from which TNT is made — it can also be produced here in Estonia. You just have to find the [political] motivation," said Tomberg.
Jens Haug, a board member of Eesti Arsenal OÜ, said VKG has the capacity and could produce "TNT in very large quantities".
But he also emphasized political will is needed and entrepreneurs cannot be counted on to take on all the risk themselves.
"If there were a factory in Estonia now, it would have orders for the next three years," he said.
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Editor: Mait Ots, Helen Wright