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India stands to gain from historic Iran deal

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Washington: India, which has drastically reduced its oil imports from Iran under US pressure, stands to gain from the historic accord reached between Tehran and six world powers to limit its nuclear program in return for lifting sanctions.

But before India, which imports 70 percent of its oil supply, turns back on the taps of Iranian oil, President Barack Obama has to sell the deal to a hostile Republican Congress that has 60 days to review it.

Obama has vowed to veto any legislation that may scuttle what he described as “a comprehensive, long-term deal that will verifiably prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon”.

Asserting that “it would be irresponsible to walk away from this deal”, Obama said he would “welcome a robust debate in Congress on the details of this deal” even as he warned that “I will veto any legislation that prevents the successful implementation of this deal.”

“Because of this deal, Iran will not be able to produce highly enriched uranium or weapons-grade plutonium, the raw materials necessary to build a bomb,” Obama said in an open letter to the American public explaining “what this deal means and how it works”.

Under this deal, Iran will reduce its stockpile of enriched uranium by 98 percent, remove two-thirds of its installed centrifuges — the machines necessary to produce highly enriched uranium – and store them under constant international supervision, he said.

“Under this deal, Iran will modify its nuclear reactor in Arak so it cannot produce weapons-grade plutonium — and all spent fuel from the reactor will be shipped out of the country indefinitely,” Obama said.

Asserting that “This deal is not built on trust – it’s built on verification”, he said international nuclear inspectors will have access to Iran’s nuclear program – “where necessary, when necessary”.

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Image Source: www.newindianexpress.com

“As Iran implements this deal, it will receive gradual relief from sanctions. If it violates any aspect of this deal, sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy will snap back into place,” he said.

According to the White House, the sanctions would begin lifting once the UN Security Council endorses the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) as the agreement is called, “simultaneously with the IAEA-verified implementation of agreed nuclear-related measures by Iran”.

So it’s still some more time before Iranian oil starts flowing freely again to India, which has reduced its oil imports from Tehran to 10-11 million tonnes in 2014-15 from 21.20 million tonnes in 2009-10. (IANS)

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Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran Hold Meeting To Counter Trafficking of Opiate

The United States has spent more than $8 billion in the past 17 years to assist Afghanistan in eradication efforts.

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Opium
An Afghan man works on a poppy field in Jalalabad province. VOA

Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran have pledged to increase cooperation and information-sharing for effectively combating the trafficking of Afghan opiates.

War-shattered Afghanistan remains the world’s largest producer of opium, though the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime noted in its latest survey the opium cultivation decreased by 20 percent in 2018 due to a severe drought and reduced prices.

The illegal opiates are largely smuggled to international markets through Pakistan and Iran.

Need for more initiatives 

Afghan, Pakistan and Iranian counternarcotics officials concluded their two-day UNODC-facilitated interaction Wednesday in Islamabad, where delegates underscored the need for more efforts against the massive flow of illicit drugs.

Participants at the “Triangular Initiative” meeting called for timely sharing of information and conducting simultaneously interdiction operations along their shared largely porous borders.

oPIUM CULTIVATION
In this April 11, 2016, photo, farmers harvest raw opium at a poppy field in the Zhari district of Kandahar province, Afghanistan. VOA

The forum was established in 2007 with a mission to promote regional cooperation to reduce the poppy cultivation, trafficking, and consumption of drugs in the region and beyond.

Officials acknowledged that despite Afghanistan’s political tensions with Pakistan and Iran anti-drugs cooperation largely continues.

Renewed attitude 

Cesar Guedes, UNODC representative in Pakistan, noted the three countries attended the Islamabad meeting with “a revived attitude and role”, raising prospects for more effective counternarcotics efforts in 2019.

“More needs to be done because the level of [Afghan opium] production has also increased. They need really to coordinate closer in their joint efforts,” he told VOA

Guedes also called for increased international assistance, saying Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran alone cannot curb the menace of drugs.

opium
FILE – Afghan farmers collect raw opium as they work in a poppy field in Khogyani district of Jalalabad east of Kabul, Afghanistan, May 10, 2013. VOA

“This has to be done in the framework of shared responsibility. All the countries, producers, consumers and transit need to join the effort,” he said.

Despite many challenges facing the government, the head of the Afghan delegation said authorities have taken significant steps to eradicate drug trafficking.

US assistance 
Director General for Policy Planing at the Afghan Ministry of Narcotics, Mohammad Osman Frotan, said 89 percent of poppy cultivation this year has taken place in the Afghan provinces most hit by insurgent activities. He said counternarcotics authorities during 2018 have seized more than 433 tons of different types of drugs, and arrested and prosecuted almost 4,000 suspects.

Also Read: Pakistan In U.S. Blacklist For Religious Freedom Violations

The United States has spent more than $8 billion in the past 17 years to assist Afghanistan in eradication efforts. But the effort has failed to stop opium production, which increased to record highs and stood at an estimated 9,000 tons in 2017. Critics blamed insecurity, rampant corruption and patronage by influential Afghans for the unprecedented growth. (VOA)