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Afghan drug production – greater threat to peace than terrorism

September 05, 2011, 4:34 UTC+3

A major group of drug police officers arrived in Kabul to attend the second regional anti-drug conference between Russia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan

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KABUL, September 5 (Itar-Tass) —— The drug production in Kabul is a threat to peace and security, probably even a greater threat than modern terrorism, the chief of the Russian State Anti-Drug Committee and the director of the Federal Service for Control of Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Circulation, Viktor Ivanov, told Russian reporters upon arrival in Kabul on Sunday.

A major group of drug police officers arrived in Kabul to attend the second regional anti-drug conference between Russia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan (the Central Asian anti-drug quartet).

The participants in the conference “intend to discuss in earnest the heroin production situation in Afghanistan and to pool efforts in the struggle with this evil,” Ivanov noted. About 90 officers from the drug watchdogs of several countries and high-ranking UN, NATO officials and ambassadors from several countries accredited in Afghanistan will participate in the conference.

Ivanov also noted that “a behind-closed-doors round of discussions will be held on Monday morning to exchange opinions on the measures proposed to step up the struggle against the drug production in Afghanistan.” “Then several bilateral meetings will be held and I will meet with the leadership of the Afghan Drug Control Ministry,” Ivanov noted.

“Russia is deeply interested to build up the struggle against the drug production in this country, because Russia is not only an Afghan heroin consuming country, but also a distributing country due to some circumstances,” he pointed out.

“Russia is unfortunately ranked second after Europe in the consumption of heroin delivered to our country from Afghanistan,” Ivanov stressed. “This happens due to the geographic vacuum, which has formed between the borders of Afghanistan and Russia due to underdeveloped borders after the collapse of the Soviet Union,” he elaborated.

“Russia traffics 10 billion doses of Afghan heroin annually. Some 150 billion doses of this evil are annually produced and stocked in Afghanistan,” Ivanov noted, adding that “some 16 million Afghan heroin addicts number in the world, including two million heroin addicts in Russia.”

“For Afghan drug barons, which gain enormous profits from the production and distribution of this poison, this is a very profitable business, which flourishes amid a harsh poverty in Afghanistan,” the chief of the Russian drug watchdog said. “Some 250,000 peasant families cultivate poppy in Afghanistan that is to say 2.5-3 million people from 28 millions living in the country,” he said.

The conference will be held right after the four-party summit between the presidents of Russia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan on September 2 in Dushanbe. This fact underlines the topical nature of the development in regional anti-drug cooperation, the Russian watchdog noted. The agenda of the second meeting of the Central Asian anti-drug quartet will be formed on the basis of the decisions taken at the Dushanbe summit. The conference will discuss information cooperation, planning and joint search operations against the ringleaders and members of the gangs, which control the drug trafficking from Afghanistan through Central Asian countries to Russia.

“The struggle with this evil will more efficient, if the member-countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the Collective Security Treaty Organisation join it,” Ivanov believes.

Russia already offered to the world community the action plan to destroy the drug production in Afghanistan codenamed Raduga-2 (Rainbow), in which many countries interested and stated about their intentions to implement this action plan engaging all the capabilities of the UN Security Council.

Russia calls for “a higher status of the Afghan drug production problem to the level of a threat to international peace and security,” Ivanov remarked. The conference will issue a joint statement of the chiefs of the drug watchdogs from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Russia and Tajikistan.

The first joint meeting of the Central Asian anti-drug quartet was held on December 8, 2010, in Moscow under the chairmanship of Viktor Ivanov. The chiefs of the drug watchdogs from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan participated in the meeting. Officials from the Russian Foreign Ministry, the UN, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation and the United States were invited as observers to the meeting. The Moscow meeting developed a mechanism of cooperation for information exchange, search operation in a country at the request of the law enforcement agencies from another country. These meetings were decided to hold annually.

The drug watchdogs of Russia and Afghanistan are developing efficient cooperation recently. On March 16, 2009, the countries signed an intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in the struggle against illegal circulation of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and their precursors. The agreement became the first Russian-Afghan intergovernmental document, which laid a legal basis for anti-drug cooperation between the law enforcement agencies of the countries.

From October 2010 to February 2011 the Russian drug watchdog and the drug police of Afghanistan and the US carried out four special operations in the Nangarhar Province against the drug production. Four drug-making laboratories, 1,499 kilograms of highly-quality heroin, 297 kilograms of opium, 4,450 kilograms of morphine, 450 liters of acetic anhydride and 75 kilograms of ammonium were destroyed.


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