Key Results of UNODC Cooperation on Drug Supply Reduction in the Islamic Republic of Iran (2005-2010)
During 2005-2010, UNODC has provided Iranian police officers with drug and precursor control kits, drug-detecting dogs and specially designed vehicles for dog transport. Intensive specialised training sessions have also been provided. To assist the government in improving airport control, UNODC has procured and installed body-scanning equipment in several airports in the Islamic Republic. To strengthen intelligence-led investigation capacities, UNODC began to provide technical and secretarial support to the Joint Planning Cell initiative, which was established in Tehran under the framework of the Triangular Initiative - a UNODC brokered strategic regional response to the global security challenge of the Afghan opium.
In November 2009 - January 2010 the two main UNODC drug supply reduction projects underwent an independent external evaluation. Conclusions were highly encouraging. The evaluators consider the role of UNODC as critical in promoting dialogue and building trust and bridges at the bilateral, regional and international level. National counter-narcotics capacities were enhanced as a result of UNODC technical assistance and cooperation. This led to better profiling systems, increased cargo inspections and improved seizure capabilities. The provision of training was also reported to be highly beneficial for the usage of equipment and acquisition of specialized skills. The evaluators urged further improvement of drug control capacities, including increased efforts to promote intelligence sharing and joint operations, to establish border liaison offices, to hold Drug Liaison Officers conferences, as well as to set up the first pilot drug-detecting dogs breeding centre.
The findings of the evaluators were confirmed by factual evidence. Achievements during 2009 included the unprecedented seizure of 970 kg of amphetamines in Iranian airports. Drug detecting dogs were instrumental to the seizure of 35 tons of various, mostly opiates, drugs by the end of April 2010. In May 2010, precursor control training and closer regional cooperation resulted in the seizure, in the port of Bandar Abbas, of 16,000 litres of acetyl chloride coming from China and destined for Afghanistan. Simultaneous operations under the umbrella of the Joint Planning Cell led to the seizure of 1,050 kg of opium, 448.5 kg of heroin and 541 kg of hashish as well as the arrest of 61 drug traffickers. Beyond these figures, of primary importance is the promising success of the first ever joint cross-border operations between the Islamic Republics of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, which resulted from a series of periodic trust-building gatherings facilitated by UNODC in the framework of the Triangular Initiative.
UNODC drug supply reduction activities further enhanced national counter-narcotics capacities and strengthened cross-border cooperation. The geographical focus of traffic control work was the eastern border and adjacent areas, including routes from eastern to central Iran. As a pilot activity, in 2008 Iranian officers were provided by UNODC with drug and precursors control kits to be used for in-situ tests. Drug-search equipment was also selected and procured according to standards that met Iranian requirements while complying with international sanction restrictions. Some 30 drug-detecting dogs were also brought to the country between 2008 and 2010 for use in anti-smuggling operations. Intensive specialised training was provided to support these undertakings. Five specially - designed vehicles for dog transportation have been delivered to the Anti-Narcotic Police by December 2010. A second phase of the programme, focusing on western and northern Iran, is ready to be launched and will be implemented in the framework of the new country programme once a firm governmental commitment and donor support are secured.
As part of its supply reduction activities, the I. R. of Iran is working to improve airport control capabilities. To complement this effort, UNODC has provided body-scanning equipment compliant with both Iranian and international specifications for international airports in the country. The process included procurement, installation and training of personnel.
Cross-border cooperation in drug supply reduction was mostly related to the neighbouring countries of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Within the context of the Triangular Initiative, and following an agreement reached by the concerned Ministers in October 2009, the three countries decided to establish Border Liaison Offices (BLOs). Similar offices have been set up on both sides of the border, manned by the national law enforcement agencies concerned. In the case of the I. R. of Iran, concerned agencies are the Anti Narcotic Police (lead agency), the Border Police, and Customs. The offices are in regular contact with each other, and conduct joint operations.
Establishment of the BLOs started in September 2009 with the selection of premises and assignment of personnel to liaison offices located in strategic locations in southern Khorasan province, near the Afghan border, and along the Sistan-Baluchestan border with Pakistan. During the sixth and most recent expert meeting under the Triangular Initiative, held in Tehran in May 2011, an agreement was reached on communication requirements, including equipment and its compatibility, level of communications (Headquarters, regional and tactical) and responsible units.