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Iran is Now an Official Member of the SCO

Iran has joined the SCO (Shangaï Corporation Organisation). Iran’s membership was officially recognised for the first time during the July 4 leader’s summit.  This move will integrate Iran on the global stage and is a step away from its isolationary position.  


What is SCO?

The Shanghaï Cooperation Organization (SCO) is an intergovernmental organisation created in 2001 by China and Russia . It consisted  of eight member countries: China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India, and Pakistan. The membership grew to nine with Iran’s integration into the group. 


The SCO's primary purpose is to encourage cooperation and stability among its member countries. This security would include areas such as a country's trade, strength of the economy and cultural exchange. The organisation's goal is to increase its members' regional security by addressing issues like extremism, terrorism, and separatism.


The SCO  gives its members a platform to partake in advantageous dialogue, build mutual confidence, and build strong cooperation through various mechanisms, including summits, ministerial meetings, and working groups.


Iran’s membership

Iran had previously wanted to join the SCO in 2005, but political obstacles meant they were only considered an “observer member”. These political obstacles were sanctions put in place by the United Nations because of Iran’s nuclear policies. 


Iran would not comply with the International Atomic Energy Board’s nuclear safeguards. The UN Security Council then imposed sanctions on the country in hopes of pushing the country to comply with the terms. 


In 2015, Iran signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Western powers led by the United States of America. This plan put restrictions on Iran’s nuclear programmes but would allow for sanctions against the country to be appeased. The United Nations nuclear sanctions were lifted on 16 January 2015. 

Following this ease in sanctions, the journey to joining the SCO had begun. The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, said on the subject of Iranian membership in the SCO “We believe that after Iran’s nuclear problem was solved and United Nations sanctions lifted, there have been no obstacles left.”


In 2018, President of the United States, at the time, Donald Trump, withdrew from the JCPOA.

However, in the coming years, Iran’s membership was seriously considered. In 2020, the SCO announced Iran would be able to integrate into the SCO.  This membership  would be Iran’s first step in opening itself to a membership bloc of this kind since its revolution in 1979, strengthening its international ties. 


On July 4, this year, membership was made official. During a SCO leaders’ summit, led by Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, Iran’s President, Ebrahim Raisi, took part as a SCO member. This new membership will strengthen the SCO’s and Iran’s international position.

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