The government of Iran has formally applied to become a member of BRICS, an international group of emerging economies. Goldman Sachs analyst Jim O’Neill coined the acronym in 2001, which stands for Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.
“BRICS countries have played a vital role in practicing true multilateralism and promoting unity and strength among developing countries,” a statement from the Iranian Embassy wrote. “Iran stands ready to offer all its resources and advantages, including energy reserves, human resources and scientific achievements, to help the BRICS countries achieve their goals.”
In a separate announcement, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that Argentina had followed suit, also sending an application to join the group of nations.
While attending a forum at last week’s BRICS summit, both Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Argentinian President Alberto Fernandez expressed their desire and readiness to become full members of the organization.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin met on the sidelines of the leaders’ summit of Caspian Sea littoral states in Ashgabat. pic.twitter.com/1xtEg24jrU
— Iran International English (@IranIntl_En) June 29, 2022
In response to the two new applications, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian said in a press conference that the fate of BRICS and the world’s emerging economies had been intertwined since its inception. China, which holds this year’s BRICS chairmanship, has advocated for expanding the group’s membership. Chinese analysts have stated that the application of the two countries is an instance of “true multilateralism” and not “ideological confrontations” that emphasize the “true” solidarity of nations and not division.
Secretary-General of the World Financial Forum and Director of the Center for BRICS and Global Governance Feng Xingke said that aside from Iran and Argentina, more and more countries are showing interest in joining BRICS. According to him, this showcases the group’s appeal to emerging economies looking for an avenue for development.
Given the BRICS group of nations is not a treaty, the five founding members must discuss matters regarding the application of new members. Whether application of the countries will first enter observer status or undergo other protocols to ascend membership will depend on the decision of the five, Feng explained.
As it stands, the countries within BRICS represent around 40% of the global population, accounting for 25% of the worldwide economy, 18% of the world’s trade, and 50% of the entire planet’s economic growth.
Despite not being open to new members in recent years, the group has offered an efficient and widely successful BRICS Plus mechanism that allows members and non-members to communicate in addressing global development challenges.
“While the White House was thinking about what else to turn off in the world, ban or spoil, Argentina and Iran applied to join the BRICS,” Zakharova wrote on the messaging platform Telegram, commenting on the applications of Iran and Argentina to BRICS.
BRICS and a New Power Triangle
Most defense commentators and analysts see Iran as an integral player in the Russia-China grouping against the United States and the West. The US departure from the Iran Nuclear Deal, also referred to officially as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), has undoubtedly deteriorated Washington’s relationship with Tehran while pushing the latter closer to Beijing and Moscow.
In 2021, during the tenure of Former Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Iran and China inked a 25-year deal known as the “strategic accord,” which intends to bolster the two countries’ economic, defense, and security relations.
Rouhani’s successor, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, has also expressed his willingness to deepen ties with China. Notably, China has been purchasing oil from Iran at a discounted rate, a direct defiance of sanctions imposed on the country over the past three years.
🇧🇷🇷🇺🇮🇳🇨🇳🇿🇦 On March 22, Russia's FM Sergey Lavrov met with the Moscow-accredited ambassadors from the #BRICS nations.
The participants discussed:
— BRICSRussia2020 (@BRICSRussia2020) March 23, 2022
Similarly, Iran and Russia are expected to sign an identical agreement of strategic accord. During a diplomatic visit to Russia in January 2022, Raisi presented a draft of a 20-year cooperation agreement between Tehran and Moscow.
Tehran intends to strengthen economic and trade relations with Moscow, which already had a record high of $3.5 billion in bilateral trade last year. It also eyes further economic cooperation under the Eurasia Economic Union, an economic integration union led by the Russian Federation.
Aside from economic gains, China and Russia benefit from having a partner in the Middle East that will resist and potentially undermine the US influence. Authorities and the media in Iran already claim that a new “power triangle” has been formed to stand up against the West.
“In the new world order, a triangle consisting of three powers – Iran, Russia, and China – has formed in Asia. This new arrangement heralds the end of the inequitable hegemony of the United States and the West,” spokesman of the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee of the Iranian parliament, Mahmoud Abbaszadeh-Meshkini, said.