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Official: Cultivation of Opium in Afghanistan 50-Folded since US Invasion

MARJAH, Helmand province, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan - Corporal Mark Hickok, a 23-year-old combat engineer from North Olmstead, Ohio, patrols through a field during a clearing mission April 9. Marines with Company B, 1st Tank Battalion, learned basic route clearance techniques from engineers like Hickok, who are deployed with 1st Combat Engineer Battalion. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. John M. McCall)
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TEHRAN – Secretary-General of Iran’s Drug Control Headquarters Brigadier General Eskandar Momeni said that opium production in Afghanistan has undergone a 50-fold increase since the US-led invasion of the country in 2001.

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“Production of opium in Afghanistan has 50-folded since the US occupation of the country and it has increased from 200 tons to 9,000 tons,” General Momeni said in the central city of Qom on Tuesday.

He described the cultivation of opium in Afghanistan as one of the most important reasons for drug addiction in Iran, saying, “650 tons of narcotics have been discovered in Iran since the start of the current year (March 21).”

General Momeni had earlier announced that 800 tons of trafficked narcotics were annually discovered and seized in the country, adding that a major portion of these cargoes was destined for Europe.

“Annually, over 800 tons of drugs are discovered in Iran a major part of which is due to be used (by traffickers) for transit towards Europe,” General Momeni told reporters in Alborz province near Tehran.

He added that Iran spent over 11% of its gross national product for direct and indirect expenses on a campaign against illicit drugs, and expressed concern that the US sanctions against Iran which pressure the country economically would leave negative impacts on Tehran’s anti-narcotics efforts.

General Momeni said that international meetings and forums held to increase fight against drugs would not resolve any problems, noting:

“As we fight, the world should also play its role in this regard because the young Iranians fight (drugs) to protect the life of other countries’ youth but other countries do not help this fight and rather rock the boat.”

Iran is at the forefront of the fight against drug trafficking and thousands of Iranian police forces have been so far lost their lives to protect their country from the danger of drugs.

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