The Iranian Foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian on Thursday said that Iran had signed a memorandum of obligation to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). By signing the agreement,Iran will attend the 2023 SCO summit to be held in India as a full time member.
By joining the SCO, Iran hopes to come out of its current isolation from the world due to the sanctions imposed on it by the United States. For India, Iran’s entry into the group is of great strategic and economic value as India wants to spread its influence in the Eurasian region via Iran.
With Iran joining SCO as a full time member, it will give impetus to India’s current inter-connectivity drive in the Eurasian region which will run parallel to the Belt and Road Initiative of China.
Why is it relevant for India
- India has been trying for a long time to reach the landlocked Central Asian Republics(CAR).
- Pakistan acts as a hurdle in India’s direct contact with CAR, as the Islamic Republic of Pakistan has denied India the land access to Afghanistan.
- Hence, Iran is an alternative for India to bypass Pakistan and reach Afghanistan.
- For this India has been indulged in the development of various infrastructure project in Iran including the strategic Chabahar Port and the Chabahar-Zahedan Railway Project, that will help India to reach Afghanistan and further to Central Asia.
- With Iran under sanctions from the US, over its alleged nuclear proliferation activities, infrastructure building measures by India have faced many hurdles in Iran.
- With Iran joining the SCO now, India can now increase its outreach in the Eurasian region by better coordination with Iran.
The International North South Transport Corridor(INSTC)
- The International North South Transport Corridor is a multi-modal transit route that will connect India, Iran, Azerbaijan,Central Asia and Russia to transport goods through ship,rail and road.
- The corridor will be an alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative(BRI) for all the Central Asian nations.
- For India the corridor is of great economic importance as India will now be connected to Europe and all central Asian Republics with much ease.
- Iran’s admission into the SCO group will help India to use the transport corridor in a more effective manner.
Iran is a strategic partner of India in west Asia. Its admission to the SCO is beneficial for India as the Group is dominated by China, with whom India has strained relations for long. For Iran, its induction in the group will give a new platform to revive its economy which has been facing a crisis due to US sanctions.