US sanctions, politicization affecting intl. coop. in fight against drug trafficking: Lotfi

TEHRAN, Jun. 26 (MNA) – Director-General of International Relations Office of Drug Control Headquarters of Iran said that the US sanctions, politicization, and selective approach have adversely affected the concept of international cooperation in the fight against drug trafficking.

Being a neighbor to the biggest producer of drugs in the world has caused the Islamic Republic of Iran to shoulder a heavy burden as one of the main routes for drug transport.

Iran is at the forefront of the fight against drug trafficking and thousands of Iranian forces have been so far martyred to protect the world from the danger of drugs. Despite high economic and human costs, the Islamic Republic has been actively fighting drug trafficking over the past decades.

Iran has spent more than $700 million on sealing its borders and preventing the transit of narcotics destined for European, Arab, and Central Asian countries.

The war on drug trade originating from some regional countries has claimed the lives of nearly 4,000 Iranian police officers over the past four decades.

According to reports, in 2018 alone, Iranian forces carried out 1,557 operations against drug traffickers, seizing approximately 807 tons of different types of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.

Tehran has always asked for international help in such operations, noting that the other countries, especially European states, should take responsibility and play a positive role in this fight or face its threats themselves.

The issue of drugs is a global scourge and there is the need for wide-scale cooperation at the international level so as to tackle this problem. Therefore, the Islamic Republic of Iran has adopted an interactive approach with the global community concerning the issue of drugs and has virtually indicated that it spares no efforts in enhancing cooperation with other countries and international organizations in the campaign against illicit drugs.

On this basis, Iran has always voiced its resolve for countering illicit drugs and reducing its harms at the global level. Iran's performance in countering drug trafficking has been effective in maintaining the security of different regions of the globe.

On the occasion of ‘International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking’, which is observed annually on 26 June, we reached out to Dr. Amir Abbas Lotfi, Director General of International Relations Office of Drug Control Headquarters of the Islamic Republic of Iran to know more about Iran’s role in the fight against drug trafficking.

Here are the comments that he shared with Mehr News Agency.

“The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is the United Nation specialized agency dealing with drugs and crimes. Based on UNODC annual report, more than 70 percent of opiates global seizure is made by Iran Law Enforcement Agencies,” said Lotfi.

“During the past Iranian year (beginning 20 March 2019), Iran’s drug seizure has been exceeded more than 950 tons of different types of narcotics and psychotropic substances,” he added.

Lotfi went on to say, “This number shows a 20 percent increase as compared to the last year’s corresponding period. It also indicates a kind of achievement and a new record for Iran Law Enforcement Agencies due to the fact that it was the first time throughout the history of Iran ‘s fight against world drug trafficking.”

“This was consisting of 808 tons of opiates (opium, heroin, and morphine) and almost 17 tons of methamphetamine (crystal). It’s noteworthy; this year’s methamphetamine seizure shows more than 200 percent increase since the last year,” he said.

“Iran is the main partner to the UNODC’s policy and programs in West Asia. Also due to the tremendous endeavors that Iran made in this way, UNODC executive directors repeatedly called Iran as a flag-bearer of international fight against drugs,” the Iranian official noted.

Lotfi continued, “Those have been said, we acknowledge that global problems merit global solutions. Therefore, we are of the view that the international community and every party to international conventions should do its role, based on the principle of ‘shared responsibility’ to create a better future and drug-free world.”

“UNODC is a UN specialized agency dealing with drugs and crimes. The anti-drug international regime is based on three international conventions, which the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) as a quasi-judicial body is acting like a guardian and monitoring international compliance toward these three conventions. Iran has established strong ties with UNODC,” he said.

“Its office in Tehran has started its work since 1999 and implemented four rounds of partnership joint programs with the relevant government bodies,” Lotfi added.

The Iranian official went on to say, “This year (2020), we will finalize the fourth program and by 2021, we will enter the fifth phase of the program.”

“As I mentioned earlier, coping with humanitarian challenges like drug abuse and smuggling are relied on international cooperation," he stressed.

“Unfortunately, sanctions of the US, politicization, and selective approach have adversely affected the concept of international cooperation in this sphere along with other humanitarian issues,” Lotfi added.

Interview by Zahra Mirzafarjouyan     

News Code 160023


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