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News Archives : News : Regional
Northern Alliance Afghanistan's main opium producer: UN
Oct 05 2001 23:04 IST

VIENNA, Oct 5 (AFP) - The opposition Northern Alliance has become Afghanistan's major opium producer after a Taliban clampdown on poppy-growing slashed world production by around 60 percent, a UN official told AFP Friday.

The Alliance, which has won American support in its battle against the Taliban, produced 150 metric tonnes of opium this year, according to Mohammad Amirkhizi, senior policy adviser at the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention.

"They always produce between 120 and 150 tonnes," he explained. "But in previous years that production was insignificant because production was so high in Taliban areas.

"This year, because the Taliban has implemented the ban and no drugs, or almost none, were produced in the Taliban area, although they produced the same amount it is now significant."

The Northern Alliance is the main opposition force to the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, which the United States has accused of harbouring Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect in the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US.

Afghanistan produced 75 percent of opium worldwide in 1999 and 70 percent in 2000. This year the country only produced 10 percent of the world's opium, slashing global production by around 60 percent, Amirkhizi added.

UN surveyors in Afghanistan measured poppy fields in farms throughout the country to gain the figures.

In 1999 Afghanistan produced a record level of 4,600 metric tonnes of opium. Only four percent of that was produced in the Northern Alliance section.

In 2000 Northern Alliance territory produced just four percent of Afghanistan's 3,300-metric-tonne opium harvest.

"In July 2000 the Taliban informed us that they are going to issue a ban and they told us that they are going to enforce it effectively, and we can only say that now the results are clear, the ban was implemented by them very effectively," said Amirkhizi.

"We welcome that very much, and we have been in contact with the Northern Alliance territory and asking them to also take measures to ban the production, and the response that we have received from them has been very positive."

US government intelligence released data Wednesday that suggested Taliban rulers were directly profiting from the opium trade in spite of their public denunciations of drug trafficking.

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