151. Telegram 188129 From the Department of State to the Embassy in Turkey1 2

For the Ambassador


  • Opium Production
USG up to and, specifically including President profoundly concerned over damage to national welfare caused by heroin addiction and determined to take all measures necessary to curb importation of this drug into US. Since 80 percent of heroin in this country estimated to originate from Turkish opium refined in France, termination of poppy cultivation in Turkey would go long way toward stopping illicit traffic. Request therefore that you orally convey following message from President to Prime Minister leaving no doubt re importance of GOT cooperation to US-Turkish relations. (Oral approach preferable to written which could be reminiscent of 1964 “Johnson letter” and which, if leaked into press, would [Page 2] make success our efforts much more doubtful.)
BEGIN MESSAGE FROM PRESIDENT: President is deeply troubled by growing problem of heroin addiction in US. As Prime Minister will appreciate, availability of this drug to our nations youth especially harmful to future of our country. Our laws and enforcement authorities alone cannot cope adequately with problem; what is needed is curbing of flow of heroin into US.
President realizes that Prime Minister has appreciated both necessity of curbing opium production on humanitarian grounds and declining market for legal opium. President also aware of Demirel’s commitment made to Ambassador Hart in June 1967 to eradicate poppy cultivation in three to four years and of progress being made under $3 million AID loan signed in September 1968 to restrict production. However, problem in US is sufficiently [Page 3] serious to have caused this Administration to take world-wide look at those areas and countries both growing opium and refining opium into heroin and to consider what further steps could be taken. Following proposal is only part of approach we are making to a number of countries, including France, which refines most of illicit Turkish production. END OF PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE.
We understand that nine provinces in Turkey have presently been authorized to plant poppies for harvest spring and summer of 1970 and that GOT has announced reduction of number of provinces to seven for planting in fall of 1970. When, consonant with four-year timetable, GOT announces termination of production following 1972 harvest, Turkish opium will still be available to illicit trade for another three years, and even longer if farmers have stocks at that time. Problem in US is sufficiently [Page 4] serious that President strongly urges Prime Minister to require farmers who have planted poppies this fall to plow under their crop and not plant again. President realizes full well this step will cause problems for Prime Minister and has authorized you to discuss with him nature of these problems as well as what USG might do to assist. Advantages of this approach would be ease of enforcement, since cultivation of poppies easy to detect and diversion of legal production into illicit channels difficult to control.
You are authorized to say President has no doubt that acceptance his proposal would be a real act of courage; it is precisely because of the courage for which they are famous, as well as for their many other qualities, that President has long admired the Turks.
You should also make clear to Demirel that President intends to pursue this subject during Prime Ministers Washington visit.
We would like to receive as soon as possible after your talk with Demirel your recommendation as to any US course of action which would ensure his compliance with the President’s request. FYI: We are contemplating approximately $5 million additional loan to help Turk Government compensate farmers for plowing under 1970 crops. In the meantime Mr. John Ingersoll, Director of Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs will visit Turkey late this month with view to helping you in any way in your negotiating with Turkey. END FYI.
We believe it most useful for Embassy to establish a Task Force on Opium Problem, headed by DCM and including BNDD representative, AID and those Turkish officials [Page 6] with whom you work most closely. John Ingersoll, on basis his experience other countries should be helpful to you on this matter.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files1967-69, INCO-DRUGS 17 US. Confidential; Priority; Limdis. Drafted by Schwartz, Cash, and Charles R. Hartley (NEA/UR) on November 4; cleared by Rockwell and Kissinger; and approved by U. Alexis Johnson, Brown (S/S) and Kissinger.
  2. The Department transmitted a message from President Nixon to Turkish Prime Minister Demirel that expressed concern about international heroin trafficking and its domestic effects within the United States.