Iran has become the ninth full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), upgrading its previous status as an observer of the Eurasian security and economic development bloc.
The accession took place on Tuesday during a virtual meeting of SCO leaders, organized by India, which holds the rotating presidency.
Iran has been a participant at summits since 2005 and applied for full membership in 2021. Last November, Tehran’s parliament ratified a draft law on joining the alliance.
“The authority and influence of our community keep growing stronger. The interest of other nations and international structures towards its activity is increasing,” Russian President Vladimir Putin remarked during the session. “They trust us and want our friendship and cooperation.”
Putin hailed Iran’s swift progress to full SCO membership. The goal of the forum is now to “help our colleagues integrate into the multifaceted work” done by it, he added.
The SCO, formed in the 1990s as the Shanghai Five, initially comprised China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan. Uzbekistan joined in 2001, leading to the name change, and the most recent round of enlargement in 2017 saw India and Pakistan join.
On Tuesday, Belarus is expected to sign a memorandum on accession, a necessary step for an observer country to become an SCO member. Minsk applied for the procedure last year during a summit in Uzbekistan.
Aside from Belarus, Afghanistan and Mongolia currently have observer status, while over a dozen nations are viewed by the SCO as dialogue partners.