Iran’s SCO Accession Beneficial to Region

Iran’s SCO Accession Beneficial to Region  Iran’s SCO Accession Beneficial to Region

A senior Indian expert in international affairs maintains that Iran's full membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization will benefit not only Central Asian nations but also South Asia.

In an interview with IRNA, Manish Vaid, a researcher with the Indian think tank Observer Research Foundation at New Delhi, said, "Iran as a regional power which has rich hydrocarbon reserves can help consolidate energy markets, while facilitating one of the SCO's objectives of energy cooperation in the region.

"Iran can take forward several SCO projects related to energy, trade and connectivity, benefitting significantly both South Asia and Central Asia, offering mutual benefits to all."

On Iran's gains from its accession to the SCO, he said, "Iran has long sought membership in the SCO, but the group kept the country waiting until it reached an agreement with the US, Europe and other key international players on its nuclear program. Therefore, its full membership in the SCO will help Iran to reorganize and strengthen its trade and economic ties with Central Asia and the member countries.

"Iran would gain in terms of trade and connectivity investments such as the Chabahar Port, particularly after joining this grouping. Investments sought with China and Pakistan would also help."

***Geopolitical Leverage

The SCO platform would help given the common geo-strategic interests between Russia, China and Iran, while serving as a geopolitical counterweight to the US, the analyst noted.

Founded in 2001, the SCO is a Eurasian political, economic and military cooperation organization. Iran submitted its request to join the bloc in 2008. The international punitive restrictions over Tehran's nuclear program that had kept the issue off the table were removed under Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers. The deal was signed in July 2015 and implemented last January.

The issue of Iran's admission was expected to be raised at the latest summit of the SCO, which was held in Tashkent on Thursday and Friday. However, Bakhtiyer Khakimov, the Russian special envoy to the SCO, said the member states failed to put the matter on the agenda.

"Russia's position is definitely in favor of launching the process of Iran's admission to the SCO without dragging it out as much as possible," Interfax quoted him as saying on Thursday.

"But there are technical nuances as to when the process should be launched. We failed to reach an agreement with our colleagues this time, but the work continues," he said without elaboration.