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Afghanistan; Iran; Pakistan: Agreement to Halt Drug Traffic

(Nov. 30, 2011) On November 28, 2011, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) praised the three-way pact on drug smuggling signed by officials from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran on November 27. The agreement is designed to increase information sharing in the fight against the drug trade. Ninety percent of the opium in the world is produced in Afghanistan, and it is largely transported through Iran and Pakistan. In addition to the health risks to drug users, the trafficking is a threat to security through the money it provides to insurgent groups. (Senior UN Official Lauds Trialateral Pact to Halt Drug Smuggling from Afghanistan, UN NEWS CENTRE (Nov. 28, 2011); Patrick Quinn, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan Fight Opium Smuggling, AP (Nov. 28, 2011).)

The three countries have been working together to combat drug trafficking under a UNODC-sponsored Triangular Initiative for the last four years. Speaking in Kabul, Afghanistan, UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov stated, “[n]ow is the time for a more result-oriented response to the challenge of drugs, which is based on concrete actions and shared responsibilities.”(UN NEWS CENTRE, supra.)

Under the new agreement, the three countries will increase joint planning, so as to improve their analytical and operational capacity and coordinate cooperative operations. In the years since the Triangular Initiative was undertaken, there have been 12 joint actions leading to the confiscation of several tons of illicit drugs, in addition to a number of key arrests. (Id.) The UNODC is planning a regional program, which will focus on narcotics control. Fedotov argued that past efforts were not sufficient, as opium production is increasing, and he stated that “much more needs to be done. … The joint planning cell must be the engine of the Triangular Initiative. Joint patrols should become routine, not exceptional events.” (Id.)

Iran's Interior Minister, Mostafa Mohammad-Najar, agreed that the problem is growing, stating that “Iran is a transit route and the production of drugs in Afghanistan is on the increase. … The reason is high demand.” (Quinn, supra.) Further dicussions will be held at the Bonn Conference on Afghanistan, planned for the first week of December. (UN NEWS CENTRE, supra.)