Presidential aide blames US-led invasion of Afghanistan for rise in drug production

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian President’s Chief of Staff Mohammad Nahavandian underlined that the US-led invasion and occupation of Afghanistan has resulted in the rise in the production of illicit drugs.

“Attacking Afghanistan took place under the slogan of combatting terrorism, but in practice the production and distribution of narcotics which is one of the main financial resources of terrorism was developed,” Nahavandian said in a meeting with UNDP Resident Representative in Iran Gary Lewis in Tehran on Tuesday night.

He pointed to the problem of narcotics and drug trafficking, and said, “Unfortunately narcotics production has had a considerable growth and created extensive problems not only in Afghanistan, but in the region, including Iran.”

Nahavandian pointed to Iran’s extensive campaign against drug trafficking and the heavy price that the Iranian nation and government pay for it, and said, “The UN should launch a more serious campaign against drug trafficking and those involved in narcotics production and distribution.”

Lewis, for his part, described Iran as the most serious country in anti-drug campaign, and said he is closely familiar with Iran’s extensive anti-drug campaign programs.

“In Iran, unlike most of the countries, the government and people are closely cooperating in their war on drugs, and President (Hassan) Rouhani’s government and his colleagues give me and the UN hope and confidence in this campaign,” he added.

Iran has contributed more than $50mln annually to Afghan anti-narcotics efforts during the last five years.

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.

Last month, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced that Tehran and Kabul have agreed to launch intelligence and operational cooperation in their fight against terrorism and drug trafficking.

President Rouhani’s announcement was made at a joint press conference with his Afghan counterpart Mohammad Ashraf Ghani in Tehran. The two presidents met before the joint press conference earlier today.

“In our talks we agreed on intelligence and operational cooperation between Iran and Afghanistan in fighting terrorism and drug trafficking along borders,” President Rouhani said.

“One of the topics that we followed up in our meeting was security and anti-drug campaign; the problem with narcotics is that its production increases every year and all of us should try to curb and reduce drug production as a first step and then end the problem of narcotics in the region,” he added.

Noting the two states’ plan for joint anti-terrorism and anti-drug campaign, President Rouhani said the two countries need to have closer contacts and coordination and launch joint operations against drug trafficking.

The Iranian president said that Afghanistan needs to work out alternative farming plans to replace poppy cultivation, and said, “Our agricultural jihad ministry is ready to extend help in this regard because there are sufficient lands and water in Afghanistan and Afghans have been hard-working people throughout history.”

He referred to the status quo in Iran-Afghanistan cooperation, and hoped that the two nations could maintain and further expand their extensive cooperation in future.

By Fars News Agency