Iran burns 100 tons of illicit drugs

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iran burned at least 100 tons of illicit drugs Wednesday, some in a Tehran ceremony attended by officials and foreign dignitaries, to highlight what it says are its unsupported efforts to stem the flow of narcotics across its territory to Europe.

Officials at the burning, an annual occurrence marking the UN International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, accused the West of failing to back it in interdicting drug traffic that they said was driven by European addicts.

Iran lies on a major trafficking route between Afghanistan and Europe, as well as Persian Gulf states where the confiscation of large amounts of narcotics is common.

Gen. Ahmad Reza Radan, a top Iranian police commander, criticized the West for its lack of cooperation with Iran, saying that Western nations deny Tehran equipment needed to fight drug trafficking.

Radan said more than 3,700 Iranian troops have been killed and 12,000 others injured in the fight against drug trafficking in the past three decades.

"If it was not Iran's will to fight drugs, then by today European countries definitely must have rounded up their young drug addicts in their streets," he said.

"Iran is at the front line of fighting narcotics, but countries involved not only don't provide assistance to us, they refuse to provide the basic equipment such as sniffer dogs and electronic equipment."

Iranian officials in the past have threatened to allow the transit of illegal drugs through its territory to Europe if the West continues its non-cooperation or criticizes Iran for its practice of executing drug traffickers.

European countries and allies say they are active in the region, including in Iran's neighbors, trying to battle the opium trade and the flow of other drugs

Iranian authorities have taken several steps to stop trafficking, including the building of dikes and trenches along large portions of its roughly 560-mile (900-kilometer) border with Afghanistan, the world's largest producer of opium, the raw material for heroin.

Radan said Iran seized more than 500 tons of various narcotics in the last Iranian calendar year, which ended March 20.

Iranian authorities have previously said that some 2,500 tons of narcotics enter Iran from neighboring Afghanistan, a quarter of which are consumed domestically. Some 500 tons are seized by Iranian police and the remaining 1,300 tons transited through the country.

Some 50 of the tons burned Wednesday were burned in Tehran, and another 50 in other cities.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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