165. Telegram 42685 From the Department of State to the Embassy in Turkey1 2

Paris pass Cusack


  • Opium Production


  • A. State 2886; B Ankara 1265; C. Ankara 1537

For the Ambassador from the Under Secretary

Ref A instructed Ambassador to make renewed effort to obtain GOT concurrence to destroy opium crop now in ground. Embassy was informed that if this course of action not successful, White House had concurred in proposal for companies to initiate preemptive purchases of 1970 crop, coupled with GOT agreement to stop poppy production after 1970 harvest. In view of need to proceed without further delay with programming concerning Turkish opium production, we are updating and expanding upon instruction contained in Ref A.
The basic points around which and because of which we have designed our fallback position involving the greater purchases by our pharmaceutical firms are as follows:
For years the Turkish Government has reported to the International Narcotics Control Board as the total Turkish opium production a figure which represents the total legal sales contracts for opium rather than the total production and the total production has exceeded this reported figure by a wide margin. A large proportion of the difference has gone into illicit channels, mostly to France and from there in the form of heroin to Western Europe and the United States. To give an idea of the size of the problem the Bureau of Narcotics estimates that this year, the Turks having offered 76 tons of opium to pharmaceutical firms, there may be as much as 130 tons produced in addition.
A large part of the problem comes from lack of adequate controls in Turkey. Instead of collecting from each farmer an amount of opium based on an estimate of yield i.e. the total production, the Turkish authorities apparently collect only that amount required to fill the orders from legitimate purchasers abroad.
The Bureau’s current estimate is that there are sizable opium stocks now in Turkey and that these, combined with [Page 3] the 1970 harvest, will be sufficient, if not diverted either by crop destruction or preemptive buying, to supply the growing heroin market.
It is clear to us that it is much too late to contemplate seriously the possibility of the Turks instituting for the 1970 crops more stringent controls over the allocations of acreage for poppies and the production and collection of gum opium. What we need to do now is to put into effect a plan to collect all the opium in Turkey whether these be present stocks or future production. It is obvious, therefore, that the greater the future production the harder will be our task.
It is imperative that the Prime Minister understand that the heroin problem in the United States is growing at a frightening rate, that this Government is determined to stop its introduction into our country, and that there is consequently no problem between our two governments as important to USG as this one. If the Government of Turkey takes the position that it cannot and will not destroy the present crops before they are harvested then we urgently seek the Government of Turkey’s effective cooperation along two lines: (1) that no more plantings be authorized including the plantings usually put in the ground in the summer and harvested in the fall and (2) the government including the TMO and the law [Page 4] enforcement agencies make a maximum effort to collect all the opium in Turkey for sale to our pharmaceutical firms. In this connection officials of Mallinckrodt, S. B. Penick and Merk, Sharpe and Dohm have agreed to increase their orders-previously made last fall-to a point where they will equal whatever we estimate to be the total opium available. These firms have been most cooperative in this connection but they cannot, of course, collect the opium. That can only be done by Turkish authorities.
If you have not yet received the appointment you have been seeking with the Prime Minister you should request one on an urgent basis stating that you do so on the urgent instructions of your Government. If the Prime Minister states he is unable to plow under the present crop you are authorized to present the fallback position described above and you are further authorized to put this position to Demirel as strongly as you consider required to gain his agreement.
Our currently authorized offer of $5 million grant commodity import program is to generate lira to enable GOT make payments and cover costs of destruction of current crop. Under fallback such costs not incurred. However, AID willing consider CT recommendation use assistance funds to ease economic dislocations [Page 5] associated with cessation of planting if this will facilitate positive GOT decision.
As you know, I shall be visiting Turkey on April 23 after the Chiefs of Mission Conference in Tehran and I would like to receive from you as soon as possible your best advice as to how I might advance our objectives. I am prepared to take any steps that might be useful in this regard. Specifically, I would like your opinion as to whether it might not be useful for me to describe our drug problem to President Sunay making clear to him the enormous importance we attach to suppressing the heroin trade and to enlisting his assistance.
This instruction has been prepared in the light of the President’s view that heroin problem is of highest priority importance.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files1970-73, INCO-DRUGS TUR. Confidential; Priority; Limdis. Repeated to Paris for Cusack. Drafted by Hartley and Schwartz on March 20; cleared by Davies, Cash, Ingersoll, AID, and William Watts of the NSC staff; and approved by Richardson.
  2. The Department instructed Ambassador Handley to put into effect a plan to collect Turkey’s opium output to prevent diversion to the heroin market.