A week-long gathering of the non-aligned nations began Sunday in Tehran with an appeal to rid the world of nuclear weapons, even as Iran is suspected of building an atomic bomb.
The Non-Aligned Movement is an historic holdover from the Cold War struggle between East and West, one that is currently being hosted by the Islamic Republic.
The 120-member nation entity has developed into an alternative to the United Nations Security Council, whose decisions on nuclear development activities can thus be opposed – or sabotaged – by the group.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said he will attend the gathering, despite being strongly urged by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama not to. Both world leaders warned Ban that his attendance would legitimize the gathering, in complete contradiction of the U.N.'s very own sanctions against Iran.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is also expected to attend. India is an important oil customer of the Islamic Republic and is not a party to the international nuclear non-proliferation treaty.
Iran claims to support the NAM group's previous goal for the ultimate removal of nuclear weapons by 2025. However, Tehran has, if anything, raced to increase its uranium enrichment program, adding thousands of centrifuges to its nuclear plants at Natanz.
The Islamic Republic currently enriches uranium slightly above the 20 percent mark at which it is possible to create an atomic weapon, although Tehran claims it is producing nuclear energy for peaceful domestic purposes only.
International intelligence agencies vehemently dispute that claim. Moreover, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as well as Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khameini have repeatedly vowed to annihilate the Jewish State of Israel, both as recently as this past month in speeches to mark “Qods (Jerusalem) Day.”
Israel has warned that under no circumstances, will it allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon of mass destruction.