Iran becomes full-time SCO member- What does this mean?

Iran had acquired observer status in the SCO bloc in June 2005. It had applied for full membership of the bloc first in 2008 and then again in 2010 but both times it was not successful. 

Created On: Sep 23, 2021 13:28 IST
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi

Iran has become a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). The decision to admit the nation as a full-time member of the bloc was announced during the 21st SCO leaders summit in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Chinese President Xi Jinping, who addressed the summit virtually, confirmed Iran's permanent membership of the SCO on September 17, 2021.

Iran was so far participating in SCO meetings as an observer nation, a status that it had acquired in June 2005. It had applied for full membership of the bloc first in 2008 and then again in 2010 but both times it was not successful. 


This would be the first time that Iran becomes a full member of a major regional bloc since its 1979 revolution. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomes Iran’s full membership in the bloc.

Iranian President's statement

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi termed the approval as a “diplomatic success” during his speech at the two-day SCO summit in Tajikistan’s Dushanbe. This was the first appearance of Iran's new president, hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi at an international platform. He had taken the oath of office in August 2021, succeeding Hassan Rouhani. 

He called the SCO summit "one of the few" opportunities for dialogue to ensure real peace and cooperation at the regional level. He also spoke about Iran’s vast potential in terms of energy, population, geopolitics, transportation, human resources, and culture, spirituality and civilization.

He also spoke about strengthening bilateral cooperation, especially in the field of economy is an important factor in improving the strategic role of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in the global economy. He noted that the international system is changing towards the polarization and redistribution of power in favor of independent states. 

Raisi also denounced “unilateralism” by the United States and called for a concerted effort to fight sanctions during his speech. 

What does this mean?

Iran's inclusion as a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization would mean linking Iran to the economic infrastructures of Asia and its vast resources.

Iran, which is currently facing harsh US sanctions, could stand to gain politically and economically from the SCO membership. It could also gain significant access to the Central Asian region, which can be the possibly market for the export of Iranian goods

While US sanctions may still potentially prove to be roadblocks, it will not halt Iran's economic progress, as per experts. Iran is looking to expand its pre-existing cooperation agreement with Russia. It had also signed a 25-year comprehensive cooperation agreement with China in March 2021. 

When will Iran formally join SCO as a full member?

Iran will formally join the SCO bloc after the conclusion of the technical and legal process, which could take up to two years.

About SCO 

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is a political, economic and security alliance. It accounts for about one-third of the world’s land and over 40 percent of the world's population and 20 percent of global GDP. 

It is the successor of Shanghai Five, which was a pact that was signed in 1996 between China, Russia, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. The leaders of the SCO member nations and Uzbekistan met in Shanghai to announce a new organisation in June 2001 to deepen political and economic cooperation. 

The bloc was formally established in the following year with the signing of the SCO charter, which entered into force in September 2003. The organisation's members increased to eight with India and Pakistan joining in June 2017. It allows the participation of several countries as observer nations or partners. 

SCO Member states (excluding new member Iran):  China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan. 


The United States has imposed sanctions against Iran in response to its nuclear program and support. Iran and the world powers have conducted roughly six rounds of talks to restore the 2015 nuclear deal, which would see the lifting of US sanctions.

However, the talks surrounding the nuclear deal have been on hold since late July, ever since Ebrahim Raisi took over the presidency. The new Iran President finally sought to renew the nuclear negotiations on September 21st and called on the United States to fulfill its promises to end sanctions under the 2015 nuclear accord.

In his recorded speech at the UN General Assembly, Raisi said, "The Islamic Republic considers useful talks whose ultimate outcome is the lifting of all oppressive sanctions." He reiterated Iran's stance that nuclear weapons "have no place in our defense doctrine and deterrence policy." 

US President Joe Biden, also stated in his maiden UN speech, that the United States is ready to return to the 2015 nuclear accord from which his predecessor Donald Trump withdrew. He also showed interest in turning a page on US-Iranian relations by assuring that the US would return to “full compliance” with the nuclear deal that was negotiated during his previous stint as Vice President, under former President Barack Obama's administration. 

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एग्जाम की तैयारी के लिए ऐप पर वीकली टेस्ट लें और दूसरों के साथ प्रतिस्पर्धा करें। डाउनलोड करें करेंट अफेयर्स ऐप


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