Since attaining observer status in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in 2005, Iran has been one of the observer countries that have sought full membership in the SCO. Iran showed its desire to become full member of the SCO clearly with a speech made by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the summit held in Shanghai on 15 June 2006. Although its first official attempt to become a full member of the SCO was denied in 2008, Iran’s continuing interest in becoming a member has kept it waiting with the hope that changes in the international environment may someday turn to its advantage. Since then, a number of changes occurring across the Central Asia and Middle East regions show potential for creating opportunities for SCO observer states to attain full membership. This article analyzes the repercussions of developments in the international environment on Russia’s and China’s stances toward enlargement of the SCO, along with the changing parameters of the Middle East region in the wake of the Arab Spring, with a focus on their implications for Iran’s potentialfor achieving full membership in the SCO. These changes in the international environment are evaluated from a realist perspective and a framework based on the SCO’s brief historical development and its enlargement policy.
Date of Publication
Noi, Aylin Ünver. “Iran and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in the Changing International Environment.” Indian Journal of Asian Affairs, vol. 25, no. 1/2, 2012, pp. 43–58.