Speaker: Iran Incurs Heavy Costs in Fight against Drugs
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Iran’s parliament speaker said his country has borne the brunt of combat against narcotics trafficking from Afghanistan to the West, and that it has been a major victim of acts of terrorism.
“Iran has incurred heavy spiritual and financial costs in fighting against trafficking of narcotics from Afghanistan to Europe, and has also paid a heavy price for counter-terrorism,” Ali Larijani said on Sunday in a meeting with Hannes Swoboda, head of a five-member delegation from the European Parliament, in Tehran.
The delegation of European Parliament lawmakers arrived in Tehran on Saturday for a four-day visit.
Larijani also described Europe as an old trade partner for Iran, and added that economic relations between the two sides serve the interests of both Iranian and European nations.
The European official, for his part, said Iran is a leading and influential country in the region and expressed the hope that the two sides would effectively cooperate on sensitive issues such as economic and trade transactions, fight against narcotics, as well as counter-terrorism.
In recent decades Iran has been hit by drug trafficking, mainly because of its 936- kilometer shared border with Afghanistan which accounts for about 90 percent of the world's opium production.
The United Nations has estimated in the past that opium trafficking accounts for up 15 percent of Afghanistan’s gross domestic product, but the figure is expected to rise as international military and development spending declines with the NATO withdrawal at the end of 2014.
Iran is on a major transit route for drugs being smuggled from Afghanistan to Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and the country's war on drug-traffickers has claimed the lives of nearly 4,000 Iranian police forces over the past 34 years.
Since the victory of the Islamic Revolution in 1979 nearly 17,000 Iranians have been killed in terrorist attacks across the country, most of them at the hands of the MKO terrorist organization which the EU removed from its list of terrorist organizations in 2009.
According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Iran is netting eight times more opium and three times more heroin than all other countries in the world combined.