NATO ignores Afghanistan ‘heroin bomb’: Russia

January 19, 2010

MOSCOW (Bloomberg) -- NATO’s failure to stamp out cultivation of poppies in Afghanistan has led to the creation of a “heroin bomb” that killed 100,000 people last year, said Viktor Ivanov, head of Russia’s Federal Drug Control Service.

More than eight years after U.S.-led forces toppled the Taliban regime, Afghanistan produces 92 percent of the world’s opium and heroin, Ivanov said at a televised press conference.
“Unfortunately NATO didn’t do anything to eradicate drugs and it seems it didn’t really plan to,” Ivanov said in Moscow on Monday. “The narco-pressure on our country is growing. Drugs are being injected through our unprotected borders.”
Russia, located on the transit route between Central Asia and Europe, has become the world’s third largest market for illegal drugs in the past decade. The country, which fought its own war in Afghanistan in the 1980s, supports the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s mission by allowing military supplies to cross its territory.
“We have to recover nine years of almost complete inaction in Afghanistan,” Pino Arlacchi, a former head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, said at the press conference. “Narcotic production in Afghanistan is the basic infrastructure of insurgency and terrorism.”
Arlacchi, a representative for Italy in the European Parliament, is the vice-chairman of the European Union legislature’s delegation to Afghanistan. While the EU has the financial resources to fight Afghanistan’s drug trade, it lacks a strategy and political will, he said.
‘Imitation War’
Before it’s sold as heroin on European street corners, the value of Afghanistan’s opium production is less than $500 million, or a third of what the EU spends every year in the country, according to Arlacchi.
Ivanov, who served with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in the Soviet KGB, said the NATO forces in Afghanistan were waging an “imitation war on drugs.” The U.S. managed to help eradicate 75 percent of Colombia’s coca crop in 2008, while only 3 percent of Afghanistan’s opium plantations were wiped out the same year, according to Ivanov.
The first step in raising awareness would be for the UN Security Council to categorize Afghanistan’s drug production as a “threat to world peace,” Ivanov said.