Kazakhstan on SCO Expansion

by Nathan Hamm on 5/15/2006

Kazakhstan is opposed to expanding the Shanghai Cooperation Organization for the time being.

“Kazakhstan finds it necessary to temporarily refrain from SCO enlargement through permanent members and observers, because the organization lacks the legal basis regulating the procedures for admitting new members. It also has no set criteria for granting observer status,” Kazakh Foreign Minister Kasymzhomart Tokayev said at a regular meeting of the council of the SCO member states’ foreign ministers in Shanghai on Monday, 15 May.

Tokaev also connected Kazakhstan’s reluctance to expand the SCO to his government’s non-proliferation stance. Two SCO observers have nuclear weapons, while a third is acting like it is trying to obtain them. Tokaev did not point any fingers, but he did strongly indicate that it is not so much that Kazakhstan wants to keep India or Pakistan out as it is Iran that concerns his government.

“It is principally important not to give cause for speculations about SCO gradually turning into some kind of a ‘nuclear club’ of anti-Western orientation,” Tokayev said in this respect.

On top of that, he reiterated his government’s advocacy for strengthening nonproliferation regimes and that Kazakhstan supports permanent consultations between SCO members and observers on nonproliferation issues.

Though I haven’t paid too close attention, there seems to have been quite a bit more ink than usual spilled of late proclaiming the SCO as some kind of durable, anti-Western alliance–a new Warsaw Pact of sorts. I know it’s nothing new for me to say it, but times like this should be an indication that whatever kind of organization the SCO is or will be, it currently has pretty shallow roots.

P.S. I hope that Ambassador Bhadrakumar cries a little at this news.

UPDATE: See this Kommersant story for another split in the SCO and also the suggestion that Russia and China plan to invite Iran to join but have not consulted with the other members. Uzbekistan’s foreign minister seems less than keen on having Iran join.

Also, kind of related, is the AP’s report that Turkmenistan has authorized construction of a seismological station on its Iranian border to monitor for underground nuclear tests.


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– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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