11:16 GMT20 June 2021
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The United States must develop programs to combat thriving opium production fueling the insurgency in Afghanistan that actually work after more than a decade of failures, US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) John Sopko said during a Senate subcommittee hearing.

    "We have to do something because the opium is funding the corruption… the opium is funding the terrorists," Sopko told a Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee panel. "We have to come up with some programs and policies that actually work and commit ourselves to them."

    Current programs are poorly coordinated and poorly executed, Sopko said. Opium hectares under cultivation, production, and exports have skyrocketed, he added, although prices have dropped due to the surplus.

    The United States has made a larger effort to disrupt opium production in Afghanistan, but it has had no success, Sopko said. All US and Afghan government interdictions over the last 10 years in Afghanistan are equal to.05 percent of the opium production for this year alone, Sopko said.

    US Forces Commander in Afghanistan Gen. John Nicholson Nicholson announced last November that US and Afghan forces had begun targeting Taliban heroin labs, thereby launching a war on drugs from the sky. Nicholson said the Taliban made about $200 million a year off the narcotics trade with up to 500 drug production labs throughout the country.

    Afghanistan is the world's leading cultivator of poppies, from which opium and heroin are produced. Afghanistan’s opium problem, however, reached all-time highs during the course of the US-led occupation since the ouster of the Taliban in 2001.


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    production, opioids, trade, Opium poppies, US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), John Sopko, Afghanistan, US
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