Iran embraces ban on poppy cultivation in Afghanistan

April 5, 2022 - 21:0

TEHRAN- The secretary general of Iran’s Drug Control Headquarters has vowed to support any reduction in poppy cultivation in neighboring Afghanistan.

Eskandar Momeni made the remark on Tuesday in response to Afghanistan's proclamation of a ban on poppy production.

Momeni stated that Iran will wait to see if the ban is implemented.

“Based on the UN figures, in the year 2000 production of narcotics in Afghanistan was less than 200 tons and some 7,000 hectares of land was used to cultivate poppy. But, with the presence of the U.S. and NATO countries and their support, the production of narcotics surged 50-fold to more than 9,000 tons in less than two decades,” he explained.

“Americans left great chaos in Afghanistan. Based on existing evidence, Americans and NATO aircraft smuggled drugs and fueled the cultivation [of poppy]. Not only they backed and promoted the cultivation of poppy, but they also offered technical and technological assistance and supplied high-yielding and improved seeds that led to the production of a huge amount of narcotics in Afghanistan,” Momeni added. 

He said that the U.S. utilized narcotics to instill fear in the region, resulting to the current scenario in which Afghanistan accounts for more than 90% of global opium production, according to UN and Taliban data.

Afghanistan is the world's largest grower of poppies, the source of sap that is processed into heroin, and its output and exports have skyrocketed in recent years.

The Taliban have issued a directive prohibiting the production of opium poppy, in an attempt to allay foreign worries over drug control in the war-ravaged country.

“As per the decree of the supreme leader of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, all Afghans are informed that from now on, cultivation of poppy has been strictly prohibited across the country,” the group’s supreme leader Haibatullah Akhunzada said on Sunday.

The decree was read out by government spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid at a gathering of reporters, foreign diplomats and Taliban officials.

"If anyone violates the decree the crop will be destroyed immediately and the violator will be treated according to the sharia law," it added.

Iran has been the primary victim of Afghanistan's poppy farming. Over the last four decades, it has lost almost 4,000 security agents in the fight against drug dealers.

Traffickers mostly exploit Iranian territory as a transit route to transport opium and heroin to Europe.

The U.S. and NATO have accused the Taliban of the sharp rise in the production of drugs in Afghanistan, a charge refuted by the Taliban.

Reportedly, during their two decades in Afghanistan, U.S. and NATO forces attempted to reduce poppy growing by paying farmers to plant other crops such as wheat or saffron.

Some claim the Taliban, which controlled the key poppy-growing districts and made hundreds of millions of dollars from the trade, foiled their efforts.

Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Salam Hanafi denied that the Taliban aided in the growth of poppy plants during their insurgency.

“How come it was exported all over the world when they (U.S.-led forces) had full control over Afghanistan,” Hanafi said on Sunday.


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