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Iran Becomes Full Member of Shanghai Cooperation Organization

By Nigar Bayramli July 6, 2023

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Iran’s membership was announced during the 23rd summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization on July 4, 2023. / Tehran Times

Iran has officially joined the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), becoming the group’s ninth permanent member, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian confirmed.

Iran was officially elected as a member at the 23rd Summit of the SCO Council of Heads of State, held virtually on July 4 and hosted by India.

“Becoming SCO member was an important step in pursuing stronger ties with neighbours and enhance relations with Asian nations,” Amir-Abdollahian wrote on Twitter.

The Iranian top diplomat thanked the President Ebrahim Raisi administration's active diplomacy, and insisted that Iran will "strive to promote cooperation" and "reap the benefits" of being a full member of the SCO.

Iran’s permanent membership was approved during the 21st Summit of the SCO Council of Heads of State in the Tajik capital Dushanbe in September 2021. The country obtained observer status in the organization in June 2005, and in 2008, applied for full membership.

The SCO is a Eurasian political, economic and security organization and was founded in 2001. The current members of the organization are China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

The observer countries are Afghanistan, Belarus, and Mongolia; the partner countries are Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Türkiye, and Sri Lanka. The SCO summit in Samarkand finalized Iran’s admission and granted dialogue partner status to Egypt, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

On July 4, speaking for the first time as the president of one of the main member countries of the SCO, President Raisi called for the use of national currencies in trade among SCO member states.

“Relying on the experience of the past decades, it is now quite evident that, along with militarism, what forms the basis of the Western domination system has been the dominance of the dollar and, therefore, any attempt to shape a fair international system requires the removal of this instrument of dominance in intra-regional relations,” the president said.

Raisi expressed Tehran’s readiness “to carry out the necessary cooperation to organise the transportation of goods and passengers, increase the access of members to global markets and coordinate transportation policies” within the SCO member countries.

The SCO was established as a multilateral association to ensure security and maintain stability across the vast Eurasian region, join forces to counteract emerging challenges, threats, and enhance trade, as well as cultural and humanitarian cooperation.

Iran's next step is to join the BRICS group of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa that Beijing and Moscow cast as a powerful emerging market and an alternative to the West. Iran formally applied to join the bloc in June 2022.

On July 3, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa invited his Iranian counterpart to attend the summit of BRICS Plus, to be held in Johannesburg in August.

China has by far the largest economy in BRICS, accounting for more than 70% of the group's collective $27.5 trillion economic might. India accounts for about 13%, with Russia and Brazil representing about 7%, according to IMF data. BRICS account for more than 40% of the world's population and about 26% of the global economy.