Iran’s president: US sanctions could increase flow of illegal drugs

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned Saturday that the United States’ re-imposed sanctions on Iran will not help his country in fighting drug trafficking and will open doors for illegal drugs into western countries, including the United States.

Rouhani made his remarks while speaking from Tehran at an anti-terrorism conference attended by parliamentary speakers from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey, China and Russia. Rouhani said “boycotting Iran undermines our ability to fight drugs and terrorism,” according to Iran’s state-run Tasnim news.

“By making Iran weaker through sanctions, many people will not be safe. Those who do not believe what we say, they had better look at the map,” Rouhani said.

The Iranian president said his country spends millions of dollars each year in the fight against drug trafficking, “the results of which guarantees more health for people from Eastern Europe to Western America and from Northern Africa to Western Asia.”

“I warn all those who boycott, that if our abilities in fighting drugs and terrorism in their origins is undermined, you will not be able to survive the debris of drugs, refugees and bombs and assassination,” Rouhani said.

Iran’s strategic location between Afghanistan and Europe plays a significant role in fighting drug trafficking

Its 900-kilometer common border with Afghanistan “has been used as the main conduit for smuggling Afghan drugs to narcotics kingpins in Europe,” Tasnim reported in May 2018

In 2018, Iran’s anti-narcotics police forces seized more than 330 tons of illicit drugs across the country, Iranian state media reported

According to a United Nations report, Afghanistan is considered a major source of opium, morphine and heroin for Iran, Pakistan , India and Central Asia. It is also the main source of heroin in Europe.

“Increased law enforcement efforts by Iran apparently restricted Afghan opium exports and therefore contributed to the decline of opium production,” the UN report said.

The United States in November officially reimposed penalties that had been lifted as part of the Iranian nuclear deal. The Trump administration added nearly 700 targets, including 50 Iranian financial institutions, to a sanctions list.

Trump administration officials said the reinstated sanctions marked an intensifying effort to strangle Iran’s economy to pressure the regime to change its ways. Any company or country that does business with Tehran will feel the sting of US penalties, they said.