US 'ignored advice' on Afghan drugs

Russia says US did not act on information on location of narcotics laboratories and major poppy growers in Afghanistan.

    Experts say more than 90 per cent of the heroin circulating in Europe comes from Afghanistan [EPA]

    Russia has accused the United States of failing to act on information from a Russian anti-drug official about the location of many narcotics laboratories in Afghanistan.

    Victor Ivanov, the head of Russia's federal drug control agency, said he provided US officials in Kabul, the Afghan capital, with the co-ordinates of 175 laboratories where heroin is processed several months ago.

    "For some reason they are unable to carry out any operations to destroy these laboratories, because there is a delay from the military side,'' Ivanov told The Associated Press news agency on Thursday.

    He said he also suggested going after the major landlords in Afghanistan's poppy growing region by submitting their names to the United Nations for sanctions.

    "It wouldn't be difficult to trace them," he said.

    Ivanov was in Washington for a meeting of a commission on tackling drugs, set up by the US and Russian presidents to improve co-operation.

    Flood of heroin

    Russia has said that the US and Nato refusal to implement poppy eradication programmes in Afghanistan is contributing to a flood of Afghan heroin into Russia.

    US officials have argued that destruction of poppy fields would drive Afghan farmers into the ranks of the Taliban.

    Ivanov said he discussed the issue with Richard Holbrooke, the US special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, and other officials, but he was left frustrated that they provided no evidence that poppy eradication would strengthen the Taliban.

    "It sounded not like constructive discussion but a manifestation of stubbornness,'' he said.

    "I cannot say they are not listening. They are listening very carefully and attentively. But unfortunately, there are no results."

    The US Drugs Enforcement Administration would not comment, saying it does not confirm or deny
    information shared by other nations.

    Russia claims that drug production in Afghanistan, the world's largest supplier of opium, has increased considerably since the US-led invasion that overthrew the Taliban government in 2001.

    It says smugglers freely transport Afghan heroin and opium north into Central Asia and Russia, which Ivanov says has two million opium and heroin addicts, and onward to Western Europe.

    Nato has urged Moscow to contribute to the war effort in Afghanistan by training more counternarcotics agents and providing helicopters to the Afghan government's air force.

    SOURCE: Associated Press


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