Afghanistan now nearly 'a narcotics state'

The United States says poppy production in Afghanistan has tripled since in 2003.Stephen Thorne / AP file
/ Source: The Associated Press

More than three years after a pro-U.S. government was installed, Afghanistan has been unable to contain opium poppy production and is “on the verge of becoming a narcotics state,” according to a presidential report.

The report said the area in Afghanistan devoted to poppy cultivation last year set a new record of 206,700 hectares, more than triple the figure for 2003.

The Afghan narcotics situation, “represents an enormous threat to world stability, said the report, issued Friday.

It listed opium production at 4,950 metric tons, 17 times more than second place Myanmar.

Opium poppy is the raw material for heroin.

The massive study, covering the illicit narcotics situation in 2004 in virtually all countries, was transmitted to the Congress by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on behalf of President Bush.

Colombia remains a major drug country, the report said, despite impressive progress against narcotics trafficking.

Colombia's efforts praised
It credited Colombia’s public security forces with preventing hundreds of tons of illicit drugs from reaching the world market through interdiction, spraying of coca and poppy crops and manual eradication.

The United States has been a major counterdrug partner of Colombia, having contributed billions of dollars to the effort since 2000.

Colombia is the source of over 90 percent of the cocaine and 50 percent of the heroin entering the U.S. the report said. It is also a leading user of precursor chemicals and the focus of significant money laundering activity.

In Afghanistan, the United States military deposed the Taliban government in November 2001, and President Hamid Karzai has been in charge since then with strong American backing.

“Dangerous security conditions make implementing counternarcotics programs difficult and present a substantial obstacle to both poppy eradication efforts by the national government and to international efforts to provide related assistance,” the report said.

Also contributing to the situation is the destruction resulting from 25 years of conflict, the lack of legitimate income streams, and the limited enforcement capacity of the national government, the report said.