Iran, which holds the world's second largest gas reserves, has applied to join the BRICS group of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa that Beijing and Moscow cast as a powerful emerging market alternative to the West.

Iran has submitted an application to become a member of the group of emerging economies known as the BRICS, an Iranian official said on Monday.

Iran’s membership in the BRICS group, which includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, “would result in added values for both sides,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh said on Monday.

"The Foreign Minister of Iran [Hossein Amir Abdollahian] announced that the application has been filed, and, in this regard, the Chinese leader [Xi Jinping] invited President of Iran Ebrahim Raisi to take part [in the BRICS Summit], where he delivered a speech," the spokesman said, according to the Ministry press office.

IRNA reports that in his address to the 14th BRICS summit via video link, Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi called on BRICS members to strengthen this global platform for the effective role-playing of independent multilateral institutions in achieving homogeneous development and world peace.

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said separately that Argentina had also applied to join the group.   

Argentina’s President Alberto Fernandez, currently in Europe, has in recent days reiterated his desire for Argentina to join BRICS.

“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,” Ms. Zakharova wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

Russia has long been pushing to forge closer ties with Asia, South America and the Middle East, but it has intensified its efforts recently to weather sanctions imposed by Europe, the United States and other countries over its invasion of Ukraine.

BRICS is the acronym coined to associate five major emerging economies: the Federative Republic of Brazil, the Russian Federation, the Republic of India, the People's Republic of China, and the Republic of South Africa. The BRICS members are known for their significant influence on world affairs.  Since 2009, the governments of the BRICS nations have met annually at formal summits. China hosted the most recent 14th BRICS summit on 24 June 2022 virtually.

The BRICS have a combined area of 39,746,220 km2 and an estimated total population of about 3.21 billion, or about 26.7% of the world land surface and 41.5% of the world population.  Four out of five members are among the world's ten largest countries by population, by area and GDP, except for South Africa which is twenty-third in both.

The term BRIC was coined by Goldman Sachs economist Jim O’Neill in 2001 to describe the startling rise of Brazil, Russia, India, China.  The BRIC powers had their first summit in 2009 in Russia. South Africa joined in 2010.