Iran Warns of Global Threat as Afghanistan’s Drug Production Surges

Mon Dec 04 2023
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TEHRAN: Iran’s Secretary-General of the Drug Control Headquarters, Iskander Monini, has raised concerns over the increasing threat posed by Afghanistan’s surging drug production. Monini dismissed the Taliban’s assertions of a reduction in poppy cultivation, asserting that the statistics indicate a notable surge in such cultivation in Afghanistan.

Monini labeled the escalating production of industrial narcotics in Afghanistan as not only a serious concern for Iran but a global threat. Monini’s comments, reported by Iranian media on Sunday, underscore the persistent challenges in curbing the narcotics trade emanating from Afghanistan.

He deemed the Taliban’s claim of reducing poppy cultivation as “unacceptable,” emphasizing the lack of clear prospects for diminishing drug production in the neighboring country.

Taliban Claims Decrease in Poppy Cultivation in Afghanistan

Contrary to the Taliban’s statements, Hafiz Zia, the spokesperson for Iran’s Drug Control Headquarters, asserted that poppy cultivation had been eliminated compared to 2020. In 2020, 56.2% of Helmand province’s land was reportedly under cultivation, but by 2023, it had purportedly reduced to just 0.4%.

The Taliban, under the leadership of Hibatullah Akhundzada, had issued an order in April of the previous year banning the production of poppies in the country. However, Monini’s remarks suggest a disconnect between the Taliban’s claims and the ground reality, as echoed by the UNODC report indicating a decrease in poppy cultivation from 233,000 hectares in 2023 to 10,800 hectares.

The conflicting narratives have led to heightened tensions, with Iranian authorities consistently rejecting the Taliban’s assertions. The spokesperson for Iran’s Drug Control Headquarters had previously noted that the income of Afghan farmers from poppy cultivation and narcotic production had tripled in the past year, further emphasizing the challenges in curbing the narcotics trade emanating from the region.

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