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UK supplying Iran night vision goggles to combat drug spread

Britain is making a further exception to its national arms embargo to provide Iran with more night vision equipment to help border guards combat drug smuggling from Afghanistan, IRNA reported from London.

Foreign Office Minister Mike O'Brien announced in a written statement to parliament Monday that the export was being funded by the UN Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) and that its office in Vienna has confirmed the application was legitimate.

The government was "satisfied that these goods would only be used for the end-use stated and there is no risk of these goods being diverted for use by the Iranian military," he said in reference to the unilateral arms embargo imposed by the UK.

The night vision goggles are the second to be supplied by the UK after similar equipment also funded by UNDCP was exported three years ago.

The British government had also made an exception to its ban on military equipment that dates back to Iraq's 1980-88 war against Iran by previously providing 1,020 bullet-proof vests for border guards.

In 2000, former cabinet secretary Mo Mowlam signed a drugs cooperation agreement with Iran during a visit to Tehran to attend an international conference on combating drugs.

Government ministers have frequently praised Iran for being responsible for 85 percent of the world's opium seizures. It is estimated that 90 percent of all heroine used by some 300,000 addicts in the UK comes from Afghanistan.

The UK also has the added burden of taking over responsibility for the UN drugs control program in Afghanistan at a time when opium cultivation in that country has reportedly increased by a massive 18-fold since the US-led war to overthrow the Taliban regime.

... Payvand News - 5/20/03 ... --

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