By Mehdi Garshasbi

Taking center stage against narcotics

January 17, 2023 - 17:39

TEHRAN - The fight against narcotics is very expensive due to the complexity of the mafia level of this business, a cost that the Islamic Republic of Iran has been paying alone for years despite the support claims of the international community.

Iran is also known as the first station and the front line of dealing with all kinds of drugs due to its location on the European transit route of Afghan drugs.

Some 1,080 tons of narcotics were discovered in the country over the last Iranian calendar year (March 2021-March 2022), an increase of 14 percent year on year.

Europe is the largest customer of narcotics. According to official and unofficial reports, more than 70 percent of the drugs produced in Afghanistan are sent to European countries for various purposes.

Statistics show that 92 percent of opium drug discoveries are made by and in Iran, which shows the heavy weight of the country to keep not only the region but the world safe.

According to international organizations, Afghanistan has been known as the hub of drug production in the world since 1992 and only three years after the withdrawal of the Soviet Union forces from this country.

Afghanistan, which shares a 945-kilometer border with Iran, produces about seven thousand tons of traditional drugs every year, and this amount is minus industrial materials such as glass and other narcotics.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the production of opium in 2021 has increased by eight percent compared to 2020 in Afghanistan, reaching 6,800 tons, IRNA reported.

Meanwhile, according to official reports of Iranian authorities, in addition to the production of opium, the production of glass has increased in Afghanistan after the Taliban came to power.

The deputy head of the anti-narcotics headquarters has recently said that due to the political and governance changes in Afghanistan as the main hub of opium production, the increase in the production and trafficking of the crystal drug has become a serious concern.

That is while Taliban leader Hibatullah Akhundzada has issued a decree banning the cultivation of poppy and other types of narcotic plants in Afghanistan.

Need for international support

The Iranian officials have emphasized several times that the budgetary and financial capacity of the country are not enough to fight against drugs and this amount of work, and the continuation of dealing with this issue requires international support.

Eskandar Momeni, the secretary general of the anti-narcotics headquarters, announced last week that the bill to amend the anti-narcotics law will be submitted to the parliament.

This issue shows the determination of the government to fight the scourge of drug addiction.

Referring to the international aid to deal with the drug transit network, Momeni said that during these years, the Islamic Republic has been alone in the field of fighting narcotics.

“So far, there has been no support, especially in the financial field, from international organizations to deal with drug transit, and the entire burden of this responsibility is on the shoulders of Iran, which considers itself culturally, religiously, and humanly responsible,” Momeni lamented.

“They not only do not help Iran in this field, but sometimes they throw a spanner in the works.”

During the 65th session of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs which took place in March 2022 in Vienna, Austria, Momeni called on the United Nations to present a comprehensive and effective action plan to curb opium cultivation and production and to address the destructive problem of narcotics.

Criticizing that despite numerous UN documents and the constant emphasis on the principle of shared responsibility, Iran has had the least amount of international support, despite its global anti-narcotics actions, hosting more than a few million refugees and fighting terrorist threats in the region, he noted that it is time for the United Nations to present a comprehensive and effective action plan to curb opium cultivation and production to address the devastating problem of narcotics.

He also addressed the issue of unilateral sanctions against Iran, saying that the actions of some countries in imposing harsh sanctions against Iran, politicizing international cooperation, and disrupting Iran's relentless struggle against international drug networks is a clear violation of international law, human rights, and UN resolutions.

At the end, Momeni made suggestions to the Commission to reduce challenges and enhance international efforts to address narcotics trafficking, including, full financial, technical, and equipment support to countries at the forefront of combating international drug and psychotropic substances trafficking.

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