Seeking for many years to become a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Iran’s government tried to overcome the international sanctions and its economic difficulties, which are the result of its international terrorism and its untrusted nuclear program.
Iran also monitored the SCO’s activities from its beginning, and initial investigations to cooperate with the organization began in the summer of 2001.
After deciding a macro level in February 2005, a membership application was submitted by Iran to the Secretariat of the Organization in Beijing and Kazakhstan as its periodic head, and a few months later, in July 2005, Iran was accepted as an observer of the SCO.
Iran also requested permanent membership in the organization in 2008 but its application was postponed due to the Iranian nuclear crisis and the start of the Security Council sanctions process against Iran, given that the SCO considers itself obliged to comply with the United Nations.
Later, in 2010 and then 2014, the SCO passed two resolutions under which a country under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter and its sanctions could not become a major member of the SCO, which meant that Iran, which was under Security Council sanctions and the Chapter VII of the UN Charter, could not become a permanent member of the organization, especially since China and Russia voted to sanction Iran as two influential members of the UN Security Council.
But after the nuclear deal was signed between Iran and the P5+1 major world powers in 2015, this obstacle was lifted, but this time Iran’s call for permanent membership, which was introduced at the same time as Pakistan and India in 2015, faced almost unexpected opposition from Tajikistan due to political considerations, and ultimately unilateral sanctions by the then US President Donald Trump administration were also effective in the delay.
Two subjects that Iran considers gaining with its membership in the SCO are a security umbrella and economic boom by having the opportunity to circumvent the sanctions by Western powers, but the reality says something else.
Although the SCO has a security image, it is not a military alliance like NATO that sees an attack on any of its members as an attack on all member states, so Iran will not benefit from the security umbrella that the organization may create, because the Shanghai Cooperation Organization does not have the necessary cohesion against international issues, and U.S. and NATO policies sometimes create a dichotomous between its members.
On the other hand, although the organization has gradually put economic, commercial, and cultural cooperation on the agenda, it is not a special economic and commercial organization like ASEAN, therefore Iran’s government cannot count on its membership in this organization and expect an economic development.
Iran’s relations with two of the main members of this organization Russia and China were never based on strategic dimensions. These two countries have always used Iran’s government as a lever in their relationship with the West, making Iran’s government a puppet in some strategic events in this region.
Therefore, despite many of the regime’s analysts consider this move as a triumph in front of the Western powers this will not be a replacement for Iran’s government in its relations with the West.
The regime cannot consider its permanent membership in this organization as a ‘no need to negotiate’ to remove the sanctions.
Because despite the claims of many Iranian officials, this organization has no interest that Iran uses this organization as a weapon against the West especially the US. Some of the members in this organization are not showing any interest to cooperate with Iran as the past years suggest.
Iran’s not joining the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is also one of the obstacles that will seriously challenge Iran’s active participation in the treaty.
Iran has no access to the international banking system and is sanctioned and this organization has no effect on these problems.
On the other hand, Russia in the field of gas production and export is a big rival to Iran, and they will not sacrifice their benefits, and this is something natural. Even if Iran benefits from China’s finances during the sanctions, China has benefited from it too, by helping Iran.
China made its financial support from Iran’s money resources in that country and a commitment that if repays did not happen Iran must pay the premium rights.
Another subject that has been discussed about this event is Iran’s possibility of making Set-Offs, but as the many years of the rule of this regime show, they were not able to have even one successful set-off even with the many efforts and negotiations.
The only set-off that has been registered in Iran’s history is the Oil-Technology Set-Off which was from before the 1979 revolution. The reason for that is that Iran has nothing to present, because of an underdeveloped economy and technology, caused by the regime’s failed policies and the destruction of the country’s development.