Senate approves $700 mn to fight opium trade
The US Senate voted to step up Washington's efforts to fight Afghanistan's flourishing production of opium poppies.india Updated: Sep 08, 2006 06:46 IST
The US Senate voted to step up Washington's efforts to fight Afghanistan's flourishing production of opium poppies, setting aside $700 million to fund US Defence Department counter-narcotics measures.
Democratic Senator Charles Schumer, who wrote the measure, said that the revenue generated from Afghan poppies, which are used to produce heroin, is funding a resurgence of the Taliban, the fundamentalist Islamic regime deposed by US-led forces following the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.
"Our soldiers fought long and hard to rid Afghanistan of terrorists and the Taliban. However, if the drug trade continues to surge and consume the nation, their heroic efforts may be undone," Schumer said on Thursday.
"The Taliban draws its strength from the drug trade and in order to prevent them from reclaiming the country, we need to crack down the drugs that fuel their regime," he said.
A recent UN report determined that overall opium production in Afghanistan this year has grown 50 per cent to a record 6,100 metric tonnes.
The country is estimated to supply 92 per cent of the world's opium. The value of the 2006 opium crop in Afghanistan is expected to top $4 billion, up from $2 billion.