Opium crops in Jalalabad (RAWA photo)

Afghan opium crop 'largest recorded'

AP, September 10, 1999
By Robert H. Reid

VIENNA, Austria (AP) - Opium production soared to record levels in Afghanistan this year, increasing the world's supply of the illicit crop by 60 percent, despite assurances from the country's Taliban rulers that they are combating narcotics, the United Nations said Friday.

Once refined into heroin, the crop will find its way to markets in Western Europe and the United States unless countries bordering Afghanistan can intercept shipments, the U.N. International Drug Control Program said.

In its annual opium survey, the U.N. agency, which is headquartered in Vienna, said Afghanistan's total production of raw opium for 1999 was estimated at a record 5,000 tons - more than double last year's harvest of 2,300 tons.

That brought this year's total estimated production of illicit opium worldwide to about 6,600 tons, an increase of about 60 percent over last year, the drug control program said. Afghanistan now accounts for 75 percent of the world's raw opium. Other major producers are Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Pakistan and Colombia.

"UNDCP has been very successful in working together with a number of countries towards reducing production of illicit drugs,'' the executive director of the drug control program, Pino Arlacchi, said. ``Unfortunately, this has not been the case in Afghanistan, and the results are there for all to see."

Arlacchi called for strengthening the capabilities of countries which border Afghanistan to interdict opium exports.

Afghanistan Biggest Producer, distributor of hard drugs: UN

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