Wary of long-term threat, UN experts urge keeping weapons ban on Taliban, al-Qaida

Wary of long-term threat, UN experts urge keeping weapons ban on Taliban, al-Qaida

Wary of the potential long-term threat to the Afghanistan peace process posed by the Taliban and remnants of the al-Qaida network, United Nations experts have recommended maintaining the weapons embargo placed on those groups and their sympathizers.

"The flow of arms into, within and from Afghanistan has always been seen as a long-term cause of insecurity and instability in the Central Asian region," says a just-released report by the five-member Monitoring Group on Afghanistan, which was set up last July by the Security Council in resolution 1363.

Noting the existence of weapons of mass destruction and potential means for their delivery, the experts also stress that effective arms control measures need to be put in place by Afghanistan's neighbours and then monitored at the regional and international levels.

The report recommends that UN monitoring teams be deployed to verify that all known terrorist training facilities in Afghanistan are inoperable.

"The presence of these facilities, if reused by factions at odds with the Interim Administration, continue to present a threat to peace and security not only to Afghanistan but to the region as a whole," the report warns, pointing out that despite reported coalition action against these bases, the scope of damage inflicted on them and their general status remains unknown.

As for the continued cultivation and trafficking of illicit drugs, the experts stress that the Interim Administration - in conjunction with regional neighbours, the UN and other institutions - must fight the problem and that international monitors can verify that former drug production facilities are closed.