When word of the Iranian plot to assassinate Saudi Ambassador to the United States Adel al-Jubeir hit the news, many reacted with skepticism. For some western observers, the fact that an Islamic regime cooperated with Mexican drug traffickers, and the seemingly clumsy nature of the whole operation, cast doubt on the validity of the Obama administration’s claims. Amid the intense debate on Iranian intent and given past US intelligence failures and Iranian denials, this conclusion may appear inevitable. But is it?
Iran is located on one of the most important opium transit corridors, between producers in Afghanistan and consumers in Europe and beyond. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that nearly 60% of Afghanistan’s opium is trafficked across Iran’s border, and a large portion is seized by the Iranian government.