Iran not to join SCO this year

Politics Materials 21 February 2009 10:53 (UTC +04:00)
Iran not to join SCO this year

Azerbaijan, Baku, Feb. 20 / Trend , D.Ibrahimova, T.Jafarov / Iran will not be constant member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) because its admission can lead to the disputes between the countries inside the organization and cause opposition with the United States.

The Foreign Minister of Iran Manouchehr Mottaki told in an interview with RIA Novosti that Teheran hopes to join SCO this year. Currently Iran is the observer country in this organization together with India, Pakistan and Mongolia.

"I think that Iran will not be admitted to SCO, since it will bring to conflict with the United States," Norwegian expert on Central Asia, Nicklas Swanstrom, told Trend . It will bring many disputes to the organization, which it does not need now. 

SCO, established on June 15, 2001, is the permanent intergovernmental international organization, which brings together Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, the Russian Federation, Tadzhikistan, Uzbekistan.

The basic goals of the Shanghai organization include strengthening mutual confidence and friendly relations between the participating countries; assistance to their effective collaboration in the political, commercial and economic, scientific and technical and cultural spheres, and also joint guarantee and maintenance of peace, security and stability in the region.

Experts consider that Iran, most probably, will not be member of SCO this year. Iran's joining SCO will lead to the aggravation of the relations between this organization and United States.

If Iran joins SCO, the relations with the USA will aggravate because the relations between Iran and the United States are stressed, and even despite that Obama "lengthened hand" to Teheran, the improvement in the relations are unlikely possible soon, Swanstrom, director of Caucasus and Central Asia studies program at Institute for Security&Development Policy, told Trend in a telephone conversation. 

Iran and the USA broke the diplomatic relations in 1980 after the Iranian students seized the embassy of the United States in Iran. Since then, there has been no round of bilateral negotiations between the two countries. After thirty-year diplomatic "silence", Barack Obama became the first President, who spoke of possibilities for cooperation between Washington and Teheran. The USA accuses Iran of development of nuclear program for creation of nuclear weapons, while Teheran insists on the exceptionally peaceful character of its development.

"Washington strongly influences on Astana, and the initiative can be blocked exactly through Astana," Russian political scientist Vladimir Yevsey told Trend .

"On the nuclear problem, it's a good question. Formally, it does not create an obstacle to membership. On the other hand, several of the smaller members might be nervous about how letting Iran in would be viewed in the US and Europe," Neil MacFarlane, expert on Central Asia, told Trend .

SCO is a regional organization, and its expansion due to the states beyond the region is impossible.

In the essence, this is the organization of the countries of Central Asia, said Yevsey, adding that China, which is the leading force of SCO, looks at it as the regional organization and does not consider it out of Central Asia.

"Currently the organization itself is not prepared to proceed to further extension because the integration process in the region of Central Asia is sufficiently weak in view of strong contradictions," said Yevsey, senior scientific worker of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations Russian Academy of Sciences.

In Kyrgyzstan there are problems with the electricity. Naryn River, which feeds water for Uzbekistan, passes through the territory of Kyrgyzstan, for which it is necessary to construct a hydro power station. It needs to establish a reservoir to build the station and, as a result, this will lead to the decrease of water flow to Uzbekistan. Fearing to remain without the water, Tashkent speaks against the building of new power stations in the territory of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, and as a result, difference exists between these countries.

The SCO member countries will be against Iran's entrance to the organization, since they fear that Iran will become "stronger military power," said Iranian expert on Russia and Caucasus, Bakhram Amirahmadian.

Consent of all countries is necessary for Iran's entrance to the organization. Currently the opinions on Iran's entrance to SCO disperse; only Tajikistan supports Iran's entrance to the organization.

According to Yevsey, Kazakhstan will not go in support of Iran's membership to SCO in view of the fact that it is due to head OSCE and it clearly listens to the opinion of the West.

On the possibility side, the real question is whether the two major powers in the SCO (Russia, China) want to have another major player there, MacFarlane, expert at Chatham House, said.

The alerted attitude of Russia towards Iran, probably, will lead to the fact that Moscow will not support Teheran in its initiative. Establishing warmer relations with the United States is a more priority question for Russia.

"Russia must solve the question of development of missile defence system in Europe with the United States," Amirahmadian told Trend in a telephone conversation. The observers consider that the United States will give up development of missile defence system in exchange for the fact that Russia will not support Iran.

The previous U.S. Administration planned to, by 2013, place ten interceptor missiles in Poland, and also radars in the Czech Republic under the pretext of protection from the supposed missile threat from Iran. Russia fears that these systems will threaten its security, and as a reciprocal step, it is ready to place Iskander missile complexes in Kaliningrad region.

The current American Administration highlighted its intention to adhere to the previous plans of Washington on missile defence system, but at the same time, expressed its preparedness to consult with Moscow on deployment of missile defence system in Europe, and also it stated that it wants to "refresh" relations with Moscow.

V.Zhavoronkova, R. Agayev (Moscow) contributed to the article.

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