China is looking to enhance military cooperation with recent fully-fledged member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), Iran.
Speaking at the 11th Moscow Conference on International Security yesterday, China’s Defence Minister Li Shangfu said that Beijing was keen to bolster military ties with Tehran and other SCO members and observer states.
“We will continue to strengthen the mechanism of security cooperation within the SCO, actively deepen defense collaboration with the organisation’s newest member Iran, as well as Belarus, which will soon become a SCO member,” Russia’s official TASS news agency quoted Li as saying.
The defence minister also emphasised that China is prepared to hold joint drills with other countries and to enhance international cooperation on arms control: “Beijing is ready to hold joint military drills and exercises with all countries, as well as find a larger space to hold drills and strengthen international cooperation in the field of arms control and non-proliferation [of nuclear weapons].”
Last month Iran became the newest member of the SCO, joining China, Russia, India, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan. The SCO Charteroutlines the intergovernmental organisation’s commitment to the collective security of member states, especially in regards to” joint counteraction to terrorism, separatism and extremism in all of them manifestations.”
The Jerusalem Post noted that it was the first time the Islamic Republic has joined a regional pact since itsfounding in 1979. “This will grant Iran a freer hand to openly trade arms with Russia and China, and other SCO countries, which results in Iran’s expanding its influence and aggression in the region. The West needs to carefully consider the repercussions of this significant strategic development,” the article warned.
Iranian Ambassador to Russia, Kazem Jalali, praised the Moscow conference, saying: “It is a weighty exhibition in which the Islamic Republic of Iran has a good presence in this exhibition with its many companies. Very good topics were raised in the international security conference.”