DUBAI: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani predicted a “deluge” of drugs, refugees and attacks on West if US sanctions weaken Iran’s capacity 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, terrorism,” Rouhani said in a speech carried live on state television.
Separately, Foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was quoted as saying that United States is selling more arms into Middle East than the region needs, making it a “tinderbox”.
US President Donald Trump pulled 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 health of nations stretching from of Eastern Europe to 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 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.
Iran, a key supporter of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s civil war, has sent military advisers as well as materiel and regional militias to fight militant groups.
“Economic terrorism means creating horror in a country and create fear in other countries that intend to invest there. America’s withdrawal from (nuclear accord) is undoubtedly a clear example of economic terrorism,” Rouhani told a meeting of heads of parliaments of China, Russia, and four other countries.
More than 700,000 undocumented Afghans have returned from Iran this year as the Iranian economy tightens, according to data from UN’s migration agency, and Iranian media said some Afghans were seeking to enter Turkey to reach Europe.