Important results of the SCO Summit

Date of publication: 11 October 2021
The SCO has launched the process of accepting Iran as a full member of the Organization

Alexander Pasechnik, Head of the Analytical Department

of the National Energy Security Fund

During the jubilee (twentieth in a row) summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Dushanbe, representatives of the Commonwealth states signed a package of several dozen documents on partnership and cooperation, including the launch of the process of Iran’s admission to the organization. The signing of the document was announced on September 17. This is, perhaps, the most important result of the session in conceptual terms — Iran will become a new permanent member of the organization. In addition, Qatar, Egypt and Saudi Arabia have received the status of SCO dialogue partners.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, participating in the summit via video link, said that “Russia has always supported Iran’s full-scale participation in the SCO, because this country plays an important role in the region.” According to V. Putin, Iran’s entry into the SCO will increase its authority. Now the SCO unites eight states: India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Iran’s entry into the SCO will be phased.

It is important for Iran to finally enter the full-scale export of energy resources and expand their production. Participation in the SCO allows us to count on accelerating the realization of these aspirations. But the overall economic development of the country and its oil and gas sector in particular are constrained by US sanctions. At the same time, according to the White House, Tehran has not yet given signals to Washington about its desire to return to the so-called “nuclear deal”. What was stated on September 24 by the head of the US State Department Anthony Blinken during a press conference in the American capital. And he even complained that the US authorities are not particularly optimistic about Iran’s plans to end its nuclear program. At the same time, he noted that the American side is ready to resume “substantive” negotiations with representatives of Iran at any time. So far, the start date of the new negotiation round on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, “nuclear deal”) remains open.

On September 25, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that “the US administration is the author of the JCPOA on the Iranian nuclear program, and God himself told them to be more active in resuming negotiations on the deal.” While the dialogue on the restoration of the JCPOA and the lifting of US sanctions against Iran continues in Vienna, the sixth round ended on June 20. However, the process is “frozen” due to political aspects related to the contextual obligations of the United States and how Washington will comply with them in the future. Although the Iranian Foreign Ministry expects that negotiations will resume in the fall, as the process of forming the Cabinet of Ministers has not yet been finalized in the country in connection with the election of a new president Ibrahim Raisi in June.

The inclusion of Iran in the SCO strengthens the political weight of this country and promises a certain economic synergy. Which is clearly not welcomed by the United States. Which, by the way, have formed a new power alliance with partners that affects the interests of the SCO. So, on September 15, the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom announced the creation of a new trilateral military alliance – AUKUS (Australia, United Kingdom, United States). The purpose of the block is officially declared as “defensive” in the Indo-Pacific region. However, this news was extremely negatively perceived by Chinese diplomacy: the Chinese Foreign Ministry considered it “an attempt to undermine regional stability and exacerbate the arms race, as well as harming international efforts for nuclear disarmament.” The appearance of AUKUS angered not only the PRC, but also greatly alarmed almost all the SCO states. With the exception, perhaps, of India – the country, as you know, participates in the pro-American QUAD association (includes the USA, Australia, India and Japan) – a quadrilateral security dialogue. The main goal of this coalition is to contain China.

But the official agenda of the summit did not focus on AUKUS, the focus of the discussion was shifted more to creative and economic initiatives, prospects for union cooperation in the energy sector. Now the SCO chairmanship has been transferred from Tajikistan to Uzbekistan as planned. During the summit, the leader of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev spoke about the priorities of the organization’s activities during the presidency of the republic. In particular, he is convinced that it is necessary to respond promptly and jointly to common challenges and threats, increase regional economic cooperation, strengthen friendship, good-neighborliness, trust, and deepen cultural and humanitarian cooperation.

In addition, the leader of Uzbekistan proposed to prepare for the next meeting of the heads of state a comprehensive program for the implementation of dialogue, agreements on long-term good-neighborliness, friendship and cooperation for five years. He also noted the need to accelerate the adoption of the SCO industrial cooperation program and expressed readiness to hold an economic forum and industrial innovation week in Uzbekistan next year. “We are taking the initiative to jointly prepare a long–term program of infrastructure development in the SCO space, which could include cross-border projects in the field of energy, communications, and green development,” Mirziyoyev said.



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