Iran joins China, Russia in Shanghai Cooperation Organization

Iran has been upgraded to permanent member status in the Eurasian alliance, of which Turkey is also a partner.

Iran officially joined a Chinese-based alliance of Eurasian states on Friday.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization admitted the Islamic Republic of Iran as a permanent member at the organization’s summit in Tajikistan, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization works to ensure security, trade and other forms of cooperation across Eurasia. China, Russia, India, Pakistan and several former Soviet countries in Central Asia are members. Turkey, among others, is also a dialogue partner of the group.

The alliance is governed by consensus, and its bodies lack the legal status to enforce decisions, making it function more like a forum. Iran first became interested in joining in the early 2000s. China was reluctant at the time due to international pressure on Iran’s nuclear program, according to a September report from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Iran was previously an observer member of the organization.

Iran has close relations with both China and Russia. In March, Iran and China signed an economic cooperation deal. Russia and Iran align on a number of issues, including support for the Syrian government in the civil war. Both China and Russia are parties to the Iran nuclear deal.

This year’s Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit will focus on fighting COVID-19 and other areas for collaboration between the states, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency.

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