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United Nations World Drug Report 2010 and Iran |

United Nations World Drug Report 2010 and Iran

world-drug-report-2010-iran-iIn 2009, the UN Member States decided to make further and decisive progress, within a decade, in controlling illicit drug supply and demand.

Many illicit drug markets have reached global dimensions and require control strategies on a comparable scale. In that context, there is a need to better understand these transnational markets and the manner in which they operate.

Opiate seizures continue to increase. This applies to both opium and heroin seizures. Morphine seizures, in contrast, declined in 2008. The largest seizures continue to be reported from the countries neighboring Afghanistan, notably the Islamic Republic of Iran and Pakistan.


World Drug Report 2010

Heroin is the most widely consumed illicit opiate in the world. It is derived from opium, which itself can have an illicit use. Of the opium that is not converted into heroin, two thirds is consumed in just five countries: the Islamic Republic of Iran (42%), Afghanistan (7%), Pakistan (7%), India (6%) and the Russian Federation (5%)

heroin-usage-2008In contrast to its high opium consumption levels and despite its proximity to the world’s largest heroin producer, official reports indicate that heroin consumption is relatively low in the Islamic Republic of Iran (14 metric ton for an estimated 391,000 users).

Demand for opium
A large volume of opium is consumed in the Islamic Republic of Iran, approximately 450 mt (metric ton), according to UNODC estimates.


The highest volumes of morphine and opium seizures were reported by Pakistan and the Islamic Republic of Iran, Afghanistan’s immediate neighbors. In 2008, Pakistan (7.3 mt) and the Islamic Republic of Iran (9 mt) seized a combined 16.3 mt of morphine, a staggering 95% of global morphine seizures.


In contrast, Afghanistan only seized 479 kg that same year. Most Iranian and Pakistani morphine seizures occurred close to the Afghan border, perhaps suggesting that if large scale processing is taking place outside Afghanistan, it is staying close to the source. Both Pakistan (27 mt) and the Islamic Republic of Iran (573 mt) effected more than 90% of global opium seizures, but demand for the substance is high in both countries while that of morphine is negligible.


From Afghanistan
Of the estimated 380 mt of heroin produced in Afghanistan, approximately 5 mt stay in the country for local consumption or is seized by local law enforcement. The remaining 375 mt are exported to the world via routes flowing into and through the neighboring countries of Pakistan (150 mt), the Islamic Republic of Iran (105 mt) and the Central Asian countries of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan (95 mt) towards their final destinations in Europe, the Russian Federation and Asia.


In addition to heroin, Afghanistan also exports some 1,000 mt of opium annually to its immediate neighbors (the Islamic Republic of Iran, Pakistan and Central Asia) and further to a global market of some 4 million opium consumers – most of which are in Asia

Flow interception (seizures)
Interception rates vary widely between regions; however, estimated global interception rates are approximately 20% of the total heroin flow worldwide in 2008. The Islamic Republic of Iran leads all countries with 23% of all heroin interceptions. Turkey comes next with 16%, followed by the United States and China, which come in third and fourth with 9 and 8% respectively.


Routes and volumes
The Islamic Republic of Iran’s eastern border with Afghanistan and Pakistan is 1,845 km long and consists of mainly mountainous or harsh desert terrain. There are obvious challenges to achieving even partial control over this area, although 12,000 anti-narcotics police and border guards are reportedly deployed at these long borders. 60 The Balkan route begins in Afghanistan’s southern and western provinces, with shipments destined for both the Afghan-Iran border and the Afghan-Pakistan border.


Most of the heroin flow moves through the Iran-Afghan border. Every year, approximately 105 mt of heroin are smuggled from the Afghan provinces of Nimroz, Hirat and Farah into eastern Islamic Republic of Iran. Possibly due to increased law enforcement efforts at that border, Afghan traffickers are thought to increasingly rely on the Afghanistan-Pakistan-Iran route, estimated to handle an additional 35 mt of heroin. To do this, they must first cross into the Pakistani province of Balochistan and veer east into the Islamic Republic of Iran. Once in the Islamic Republic of Iran, only two borders separate Afghan opiates from mainland Europe.

In all, approximately 1,000 mt of opium and 140 mt of heroin flow into the Islamic Republic of Iran via these borders. Most of the heroin, around 30% (105-110 mt) of Afghanistan’s total production, continues to move west/south-west into the Islamic Republic of Iran towards Turkey and further to Europe.

Some of the identified routes running through the Caucasus are:

1. Islamic Republic of Iran – Azerbaijan – Georgia – Black Sea – Ukraine and/or Bulgaria;

2. Islamic Republic of Iran – Caspian Sea – Russian Federation/Caucasus – Black Sea – Ukraine and/or Bulgaria;

3. Afghanistan – Central Asia – Caspian Sea – Azerbaijan/Caucasus.

One kg of heroin is worth around US$2,000- 2,500 in Afghanistan, but rises to US$3,000 on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border and to US$5,000 on the Iran-Afghanistan border. It increases yet again by around 60%, to approximately US$8,000, at the Iran-Turkey border. Based on the estimated flows via this route, Iranian crime groups organizing heroin trafficking from the Afghanistan-Iran border to the Turkey-Iran border stand to pocket some US$450-600 million per year.


In addition to heroin, raw opium (some 1,000 mt in 2008) also flows from Afghanistan to the Islamic Republic of Iran via the above-mentioned routes to feed an established Iranian market. An estimated total of 450 mt65 of opium is consumed each year in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The annual street value of opium consumed in that country is around US$900,000.

Transit Country
The term ‘transit country’ may not adequately apply to the Islamic Republic of Iran, given the ravages of opiates in the country. There are around 1 million opiate users in the Islamic Republic of Iran and approximately 14 mt of heroin and 450 mt of opium are consumed in-country. The Islamic Republic of Iran appears to have one of the highest rates of heroin addiction per capita in the world:

20% of Iranians aged 15 to 60 are involved in illicit drug use, and 9% – 16% inject drugs. But the lethality of heroin is even more direct on the Islamic Republic of Iran’s borders where 3,500 casualties among the border guards are a reminder of the risks taken by law enforcement officials to stem this deadly flow.


The starting material used in the illicit manufacture of methamphetamine in the Islamic Republic of Iran is most likely domestically diverted pseudoephedrine. Since 2006, the first year such reporting was required by the INCB, the Islamic Republic of Iran has reported notable increases in its annual legitimate requirement of the chemical. In just four years, the demand grew to give the Islamic Republic of Iran the fourth highest legitimate requirement in the world.


Not only does this increase the likelihood of domestic diversion, but it also makes the country an attractive target for precursor diversion by transnational organized crime groups. That this may be more than a realistic concern is evidenced by recent reports of two stopped shipments of pseudoephedrine totaling 11 mt, both destined for Ethiopia.

More Statistics
Globally, UNODC estimates that between 155 and 250 million people, or 3.5% to 5.7% of the population aged 15-64, had used illicit substances at least once in the previous year.

Every year from 1996 to 2008, the Islamic Republic of Iran accounted for more than two thirds of annual global opium seizures. For six consecutive years, increasing quantities of opium were seized in this country (from 73 mt in 2002 to 561 mt in 2008), setting the trend for the global total. According to preliminary data, in 2009 seizures stabilized, standing at 579 mt.



3 tons of drugs seized in Iran every day: police
Source: Mehr News Agency, Tehran

Tehran police chief said on Sunday that every day three tons of drugs are seized across the country, 56 percent of which in Tehran province.

“Every day more than three tons of all kinds of drugs are seized all over the country which 82 percent of them are impounded by police forces,” Hossein Sajedinia said.

photos: destroying 300kg of the seized drugs in Arak, Iran

Last year, 1,067 tons of opium were seized in the country, Sajedinia stated.

He said there are 65 zones in Tehran province which are recognized as spots for drug-dealing. He also said there are 400,000 registered drug addicts in Tehran.

Drug use and distribution in a park in Tehran (see more photos)

The police official went on to say that most of the drugs are seized in provinces of Sistan-Baluchestan, Hormozgan, Kerman and Tehran.

Tehran police chief said last year 264 bands of drug dealers were identified and dismantled in the country.

“Also, 717 armed conflicts took place during which 214 bandits were killed and 38 others injured. During the shootings 34 police forces and four Basijis were martyred and 49 others injured,” Sajedinia declared.

عکس خبری/ امحاء بیش از 300 کیلوگرم انواع مواد مخدر در اراک
اراک – خبرگزاری مهر: مراسم امحاء بیش از 300 کیلوگرم انواع مواد مخدر در اراک صبح امروز یکشنبه برگزار شد.

عکس/ امیر قادری

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Israel ‘cuts Palestinian water’

Israel ‘cuts Palestinian water’

A girl stands next to a water tank near Nablus, West Bank. Photo: October 2009

Some Palestinians only get 20 litres of water a day, Amnesty says

Israel is denying Palestinians access to even the basic minimum of clean, safe water, Amnesty International says.

In a report, the human rights group says Israeli water restrictions discriminate against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

It says that in Gaza, Israel’s blockade has brought the water and sewage system to “crisis point”.

Israel says the report is flawed and the Palestinians get more water than was agreed under the 1990s peace deal.

‘Basic need’

In the 112-page report, Amnesty says that on average Palestinian daily water consumption reaches 70 litres a day, compared with 300 litres for the Israelis.

Israel must end its discriminatory policies, immediately lift all the restrictions it imposes on Palestinians’ access to water
Donatella Rovera
Amnesty International

It says that some Palestinians barely get 20 litres a day – the minimum recommended even in humanitarian emergencies.

Amnesty says that Israel denies West Bank Palestinians to dig wells, and has even destroyed cisterns and impounded water tankers.

At the same time, the report claims, Israeli settlers are enjoying swimming pools and green gardens.

In Gaza, Israel refuses access to many of the building materials needed to renovate the ailing water system, the document says.

It adds that Israel uses more than 80% of the water from the Mountain Aquifer – the main source of underground water in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

“Water is a basic need and a right, but for many Palestinians obtaining even poor-quality, subsistence-level quantities of water has become a luxury that they can barely afford,” Amnesty’s Donatella Rovera said.

“Israel must end its discriminatory policies, immediately lift all the restrictions it imposes on Palestinians’ access to water.”

Ms Rovera also urged Israel to “take responsibility for addressing the problems it created by allowing Palestinians a fair share of the shared water resources”.

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said the report was factually inaccurate, accusing the Palestinians of mismanaging water resources.

He also rejected the claim that Israel was preventing Palestinians from drilling for water.

The spokesman said Israel had approved 82 such projects but the Palestinians had only implemented 26 of them.

Global News Blog » Blog Archive » Who is funding the Afghan Taliban? You don’t want to know

Global News Blog

Beyond the World news headlines

12:40 August 13th, 2009

Who is funding the Afghan Taliban? You don’t want to know

Posted by: GlobalPost
Tags: Global News, , , , , , ,

U.S. soldiers (L) and an Afghan policeman keep watch near a building which is held by the Taliban in Logar, south of Kabul August 10, 2009. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

The article by Jean MacKenzie originally appeared in GlobalPost. This is part of a special series by GlobalPost called Life, Death and The Taliban. Click here for a related article Funding the Pakistani Taliban.

KABUL — It is the open secret no one wants to talk about, the unwelcome truth that most prefer to hide. In Afghanistan, one of the richest sources of Taliban funding is the foreign assistance coming into the country.

Virtually every major project includes a healthy cut for the insurgents. Call it protection money, call it extortion, or, as the Taliban themselves prefer to term it, “spoils of war,” the fact remains that international donors, primarily the United States, are to a large extent financing their own enemy.

“Everyone knows this is going on,” said one U.S. Embassy official, speaking privately.

It is almost impossible to determine how much the insurgents are spending, making it difficult to pinpoint the sources of the funds.

Mullah Abdul Salaam Zaeef, former Taliban minister to Pakistan, was perhaps more than a bit disingenuous when he told GlobalPost that the militants were operating mostly on air.

“The Taliban does not have many expenses,” he said, smiling slightly. “They are barefoot and hungry, with no roof over their heads and a stone for their pillow.” As for weapons, he just shrugged. “Afghanistan is full of guns,” he said. “We have enough guns for years.”

The reality is quite different, of course. The militants recruit local fighters by paying for their services. They move about in their traditional 4×4s, they have to feed their troops, pay for transportation and medical treatment for the wounded, and, of course, they have to buy rockets, grenades and their beloved Kalashnikovs.

Up until quite recently, most experts thought that drug money accounted for the bulk of Taliban funding. But even here opinion was divided on actual amounts. Some reports gauged the total annual income at about $100 million, while others placed the figure as high as $300 million — still a small fraction of the $4 billion poppy industry.

Now administration officials have launched a search for Taliban sponsors. Richard Holbrooke, U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, told a press conference in Islamabad last month that drugs accounted for less of a share of Taliban coffers than was previously thought.

“In the past there was a kind of feeling that the money all came from drugs in Afghanistan,” said Holbrooke, according to media reports. “That is simply not true.”

The new feeling is that less than half of the Taliban’s war chest comes from poppy, with a variety of sources, including private contributions from Persian Gulf states, accounting for much of the rest. Holbrooke told reporters that he would add a member of the Treasury Department to his staff to pursue the question of Taliban funding.

But perhaps U.S. officials need look no further than their own backyard.

Anecdotal evidence is mounting that the Taliban are taking a hefty portion of assistance money coming into Afghanistan from the outside.

This goes beyond mere protection money or extortion of “taxes” at the local level — very high-level negotiations take place between the Taliban and major contractors, according to sources close to the process.

A shadowy office in Kabul houses the Taliban contracts officer, who examines proposals and negotiates with organizational hierarchies for a percentage. He will not speak to, or even meet with, a journalist, but sources who have spoken with him and who have seen documents say that the process is quite professional.

The manager of an Afghan firm with lucrative construction contracts with the U.S. government builds in a minimum of 20 percent for the Taliban in his cost estimates. The manager, who will not speak openly, has told friends privately that he makes in the neighborhood of $1 million per month. Out of this, $200,000 is siphoned off for the insurgents.

If negotiations fall through, the project will come to harm — road workers may be attacked or killed, bridges may be blown up, engineers may be assassinated.

The degree of cooperation and coordination between the Taliban and aid workers is surprising, and would most likely make funders extremely uncomfortable.

One Afghan contractor, speaking privately, told friends of one project he was overseeing in the volatile south. The province cannot be mentioned, nor the particular project.

“I was building a bridge,” he said, one evening over drinks. “The local Taliban commander called and said ‘don’t build a bridge there, we’ll have to blow it up.’ I asked him to let me finish the bridge, collect the money — then they could blow it up whenever they wanted. We agreed, and I completed my project.”

In the south, no contract can be implemented without the Taliban taking a cut, sometimes at various steps along the way.

One contractor in the southern province of Helmand was negotiating with a local supplier for a large shipment of pipes. The pipes had to be brought in from Pakistan, so the supplier tacked on about 30 percent extra for the Taliban, to ensure that the pipes reached Lashkar Gah safely.

Once the pipes were given over to the contractor, he had to negotiate with the Taliban again to get the pipes out to the project site. This was added to the transportation costs.

“We assume that our people are paying off the Taliban,” said the foreign contractor in charge of the project.

In Farah province, local officials report that the Taliban are taking up to 40 percent of the money coming in for the National Solidarity Program, one of the country’s most successful community reconstruction projects, which has dispensed hundreds of millions of dollars throughout the country over the past six years.

Many Afghans see little wrong in the militants getting their fair share of foreign assistance.

“This is international money,” said one young Kabul resident. “They are not taking it from the people, they are taking it from their enemy.”

But in areas under Taliban control, the insurgents are extorting funds from the people as well.

In war-ravaged Helmand, where much of the province has been under Taliban control for the past two years, residents grumble about the tariffs.

“It’s a disaster,” said a 50-year-old resident of Marja district. “We have to give them two kilos of poppy paste per jerib during the harvest; then we have to give them ushr (an Islamic tax, amounting to one-tenth of the harvest) from our wheat. Then they insisted on zakat (an Islamic tithe). Now they have come up with something else: 12,000 Pakistani rupee (approximately $150) per household. And they won’t take even one rupee less.”

It all adds up, of course. But all things are relative: if the Taliban are able to raise and spend say $1 billion per year — the outside limit of what anyone has been able to predict — that accounts for what the United States is now spending on 10 days of the war to defeat them.