Iranian Parliament speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf said on Friday that his country plans to join the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). According to Ghalibaf, Tehran would take its first steps to join the organization of nations from Eastern Europe and Western and Central Asia in two weeks.
Ghalibaf made the remarks following a meeting with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin during a three-day trip to Moscow. During his trip, the parliament speaker also held talks with members of Russia’s State Duma and discussed economic matters with senior government officials.
Formed in 2014, the EAEU enables joint policies on issues such as macroeconomics, transportation, industry, customs and antitrust regulations and allows for the free movement of goods. Its members include Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Moldova, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia.
Western states have expressed concern Iran could take advantage of the coastal trade with Russia and other countries afforded by the EAEU to bypass U.S. sanctions and advance its nuclear program. Russia has helped Tehran expand and upgrade its nuclear program in the past.
Iran, which is in the midst of a deep economic crisis due to the sanctions and the coronavirus pandemic, which has hit the country particularly hard, suffers from severe inflation. The country signed an economic cooperation agreement with Beijing last year.