Saturday, April 27, 2013

Iran Blames Foreign Forces for Increased Insecurity, Drug Cultivation in Afghanistan

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran warned that the foreign forces' presence in Afghanistan has fanned insecurity and increased drug cultivation in the war-torn country and the region.

"There is evidence that the total plots of land in Afghanistan under puppy cultivation will triple next year and as a result, we will witness a tsunami of narcotics and drug trafficking that will not only affect Afghanistan's neighboring countries but will also have an impact on the whole region and the world," Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said.

During the "Heart of Asia Ministerial Conference" in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on Friday, Salehi stressed that the withdrawal of outsiders will help solve the existing problems.

As a neighbor to Afghanistan, the Islamic Republic of Iran has a strong conviction that in this regard "a responsible reaction" by the Afghan government and regional countries will safeguard the future of the regional countries against such threats, he added.

Eastern Iran borders Afghanistan, which is the world's number one opium and drug producer. Iran's geographical position has made the country a favorite transit corridor for drug traffickers who intend to smuggle their cargoes from Afghanistan to drug dealers in Europe.

Iran spends billions of dollars and has lost thousands of its police troops in the war against traffickers. Owing to its rigid efforts, Iran makes 85 percent of the world's total opium seizures and has turned into the leading country in drug campaign.

Over the past five years, it has contributed more than $50 million annually to Afghan anti-narcotics efforts, but Iranian police officials maintain that drug production in Afghanistan has undergone a 40-fold increase since the US-led invasion of the country in 2001.

Late in May 2010, UN Secretary General's Special Envoy to Afghanistan Staffan de Mistura acknowledged increased drug production in Afghanistan, and praised Iran's activities and efforts in fighting drug plantation, production and trafficking.

While Afghanistan produced only 185 tons of opium per year under the Taliban, according to the UN statistics, since the US-led invasion, drug production has surged to 3,400 tons annually. In 2007, the opium trade reached an estimated all-time production high of 8,200 tons.

Afghan and Western officials blame Washington and NATO for the change, saying that allies have "overlooked" the drug problem since invading the country nearly 10 years ago.

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