223. Telegram 6166 From the Embassy in Iran to the Department of State1 2

[Page 1]

Department for S/NM and NEA


  • Narcotics: Drastic Reduction in Iranian Poppy Cultivation in 1973.

Summary: GOI has decided to reduce authorized area for poppy cultivation in 1973 to 10 percent of 1972 level. End summary

Action requested: Department consider congratulatory message from appropriate US official, when GOI publicly announces decision.

Ministry of Cooperatives has informed us that GOI will authorize cultivation of only 2,000 (two thousand) hectares of opium poppies in crop year 1973, as compared with 20,000 (twenty thousand) hectares in 1972. Decision has not yet been published in official gazette, or otherwise publicly announced, but we understand that it is final.
Decision taken because amount of opium in storage from legal cultivation and smuggling seizures is [Page 2]surplus to needs of registered addicts by almost one year’s supply. This implies, although we have not confirmed it, concomitant tacit decision not to lower age of eligibiblity for registration, as occasionally discussed.
Reducation decision applies only to 1973 crop year, but it shows willingness and ability of GOI to make drastic cuts in opium production whenever indicated. Since all legal growers are members of state-sponsored cooperation, GOI has means already at hand to enforce cuts and minimize effect on farmers’ income. We understand GOI is considering ways of using cut to dramatize to neighbouring producing countries its long-standing position that it will reimpose complete production ban when neighbors able to reciprocate.
Once GOI has publicly announced decision, we believe it would be useful for appropriate US official to issue statement or send message congratulating GOI on decision and expressing hope that progress by neighboring countries in halting illicit poppy cultivation will soon make it possible for GOI to implement its declared intent to reimpose total ban when smuggling threat from neighbors eliminated.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, SOC 11–5 IRAN. Confidential. Also sent to BNDD. Repeated to Kabul, Islamabad, and Ankara. One Department official, identified only as “MAGM”, wrote to “JCM” on October 12: “I have reservations on this one. The Iranians are making no sacrifice and are taking no risk comparable to that taken by the Turks. This cutback is only for one year; there is nothing to suggest that Iran will not resume full cultivation once the surplus is used up. It could be useful to pat them on the back to remind them of our interest and encourage any inclination to hold down poppy cultivation in the future, but this cutback isn’t worth a public announcement at the high levels of the USG comparable to the President’s statement on the Turkish ban.” (NEA/IRN, Office of Iran Affairs, Lot File 75D410, Box 8, SOC 11–5, Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, Iran 1972)
  2. The Embassy relayed the Iranian Government’s decision to reduce authorized 1973 poppy cultivation to ten per cent of the 1972 level.