Tehran is proposing that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a Eurasian-focused multilateral bloc, should establish a maritime security mechanism. The initiative, first put forward in April, comes as Iran faces rising tensions with the US in the warm waters to its south. But the SCO has rarely focused on maritime issues. Various members of the bloc also have competing naval strategies. These dynamics will likely make a new maritime security mechanism difficult to realize.
Iran’s water challenges
Iranian Defense Minister Mohammad Reza Ashtiani unveiled the proposal for a maritime security mechanism at a meeting in India of SCO Defense Ministers in late April. Of note, although Iran in Sept. 2022 signed an agreement to become a full member of bloc, its accession is still a work in progress. Thus, Ashtiani at least formally participated in the gathering as a representative of an observer state.
The suggested “Shanghai Maritime Security Belt” would be used to protect waterways and trade among SCO members. The exact specifics of the Iranian proposal are unclear. But Ashtiani emphasized that...
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