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Originally published Saturday, October 23, 2010 at 10:39 PM

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Russian official faults U.S. on Afghan heroin labs

The head of Russia's federal drug-control agency says the U.S. has failed to dismantle heroin-processing laboratories in Afghanistan despite specific information he has given American officials about the facilities.

WASHINGTON — The head of Russia's federal drug-control agency says the U.S. has failed to dismantle heroin-processing laboratories in Afghanistan despite specific information he has given American officials about the facilities.

"For some reason, they are unable to carry out any operations to destroy these laboratories because there is a delay from the military side," Victor Ivanov told The Associated Press through an interpreter in a recent interview.

Ivanov, who was in Washington, D.C., for a meeting of a commission on drugs set up by the U.S. and Russian presidents to improve cooperation, says that months ago he provided U.S. officials in Kabul with the coordinates of 175 laboratories where heroin is processed.

He says U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency officials there have told him they are awaiting U.S. military approval to take down the labs.

The DEA declined to comment beyond saying it does not confirm or deny information shared by other nations.

Russia long has complained that the U.S. and NATO refusal to put in place poppy-eradication programs in Afghanistan is contributing to a flood of Afghan heroin into Russia. U.S. officials have argued that destruction of poppy fields would drive Afghan farmers into the arms of the Taliban.

Russia claims drug production in Afghanistan has increased exponentially since the U.S.-led invasion that overthrew the Taliban government in 2001. It says smugglers freely transport Afghan heroin and opium north into Central Asia and Russia and onward to Western Europe.

Ivanov has said Russia alone has 2 million opium and heroin addicts.

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