Opposition of Beijing, Nuclear Concerns Scuttle Tehran’s Bid for Full SCO Membership

Opposition of Beijing, Nuclear Concerns Scuttle Tehran’s Bid for Full SCO Membership

While in Tajikistan on March 24, Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottak declared that Tehran had submitted an official application to become a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). The announcement launched a wave of speculation about whether the other SCO countries would agree to elevate Tehran's status. By mid-April, it had become evident that Iran's application did not at present enjoy the required unanimous consent of the other full SCO members.

Iran became a formal observer nation at the July 2005 SCO summit, but Tehran has eagerly sought to upgrade its status since then. India, Mongolia, and Pakistan are the other SCO observers, while Afghanistan and Turkmenistan have de facto special status, somewhat below formal observer status. China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan have remained the only full members since the SCO was formed in 2001.

Foreign Minister Mottaki was in Dushanbe to consult with his Afghan and Tajik counterparts in preparation for a planned summit among Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan to establish an Economic Council of the Persian-Speaking Union. The Iranian foreign minister said that the Tajik government supported Tehran's SCO membership application. Tajikistan will host the SCO's annual leadership summit this summer.

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