Iran’s Rouhani says sanctions may lead to drugs, refugee, bomb ‘deluge’

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DUBAI: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani predicted a “deluge” of drugs, refugees and attacks on the West if US sanctions weaken Iran’s ability to contain them.

“I warn those who impose sanctions that if Iran’s ability to fight drugs and terrorism are affected … you will not be safe from a deluge of drugs, asylum seekers, bombs and terrorism,” Rouhani said in a speech carried live on state television.

Separately, Foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was quoted as saying that the United States is selling more arms into the Middle East than the region needs, making it a “tinderbox”.

US President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of a multilateral nuclear deal with Iran in May and reimposed sanctions on Iran’s vital oil industry last month.

Drug trafficking is a serious challenge for Iran as it borders Afghanistan – the world’s largest opium producer – and Pakistan, a major transit country for drugs.

“We spend $800 million a year to fight drugs which ensures the health of nations stretching from of Eastern Europe to the American West and North Africa to West Asia. Imagine what a disaster there would be if there is a breach in the dam,” Rouhani said.

In 2012, Iran accounted for two thirds of the world’s opium seizures and one fourth of the world’s heroin and morphine seizures, a UN report published in 2014 showed.

“We have been just as determined in the fight against terrorism … sacrificing hundreds of valuable troops and spending millions of dollars annually,” Rouhani said.

“We don’t expect the West to pay their share, but they should know that sanctions hurt Iran’s capacity to fight drugs and terrorism,” Rouhani added. —Agencies

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