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Sunday, July 27, 2008
Tehran hosts NAM meeting today
Tehran Times Political Desk
TEHRAN, July 26 (MNA) -- Tehran will be hosting the 15th meeting of Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) foreign ministers later today amid efforts to end Iran’s long-running standoff with the West over its nuclear program.
The 118 member states, 15 observer members, and eight international and regional organizations will be attending the four-day meeting.
The Non-Aligned Movement is a major supporter of Iran’s efforts to access peaceful nuclear technology.
Form the beginning of the nuclear row between Iran and the West, NAM has issued several statements in support of Tehran’s nuclear activities at international venues, most notably at IAEA Board of Governors’ meetings.
The Non-Aligned Movement is an organization of states which are not aligned with or against any major power bloc.
The organization’s objective, as stated in the Havana Declaration of 1979, is to ensure “the national independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, and security” of its member states in their “struggle against imperialism, colonialism, neo-colonialism, racism, Zionism, and all forms of foreign aggression, occupation, domination, interference or hegemony.”
Since its establishment in 1955, NAM has repeatedly condemned the proliferation of nuclear weapons and has directed its efforts toward full nuclear disarmament.
However, NAM members believe that all nations have the right to access civilian nuclear technology according to international law and that no country should be pressured to relinquish its inalienable right to peaceful atomic energy.
During international negotiations over Tehran’s nuclear activities, the Non-Aligned Movement has drawn attention to Iran’s voluntary cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency and its efforts to gain the trust of the international community by clearing up ambiguities surrounding its nuclear activities.
The NAM representatives at the IAEA Board of Governors have repeatedly asserted that pressuring Iran to rein in its uranium enrichment work is “illogical”.
They have frequently called for Iran’s nuclear dossier to be returned to the UN nuclear watchdog and warned that any strike on Iran’s nuclear installations would be a blatant violation of international law, the IAEA Statute, and the United Nations Charter.
NAM represents nearly two-thirds of United Nations’ members and comprises 55 percent of the world population, mostly in developing countries.
It includes India, Ghana, Pakistan, Algeria, Libya, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Indonesia, Cuba, Colombia, Venezuela, post-1994 South Africa, Iran, and Malaysia.
Brazil has never been a formal member of the movement, but shares many of the aims of NAM and frequently sends observers to the Non-Aligned Movement’s summits.
On July 19, Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili held talks in Geneva with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana over ending Iran’s long-running nuclear standoff with the West.
U.S. Undersecretary of State William Burns also participated in the negotiations. It was the highest level of diplomatic contact between Iran and the United States in 30 years.
Representatives from the four other permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany also attended.
Russia, China, the United States, Britain, France, and Germany last month offered Iran an updated package of incentives that would be provided in return for a halt to Tehran’s uranium enrichment program.
The package, which is a follow-up of an original proposal in 2006, offers nuclear cooperation and wider trade in aircraft, energy, high technology, and agriculture.
The Islamic Republic has also presented its own package of proposals on ways to address international challenges, including the threat of nuclear proliferation, and Iranian officials have said they have found common ground between the two separate packages.
Iran has repeatedly ruled out suspending uranium enrichment as a precondition for talks with the major powers and has said it will hold talks “only on common points”.
After the July 19 meeting, some countries within the sextet said Iran had two weeks to reply to the offer to rein in its nuclear work in return for a halt to new steps toward more UN sanctions.
Last Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Tehran had two weeks to respond seriously to a proposal made by the six powers or face “punitive measures”.
The United Nations has so far imposed three rounds of sanctions on the Islamic Republic including travel and financial curbs on Iranian individuals and companies and an asset freeze on Iran’s largest bank, Bank Melli.
The Non-Aligned Movement has also expressed support for global efforts to make the Middle East a nuclear weapons-free zone.
After Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert admitted that the Zionist regime has stockpiled nuclear warheads, the 118-nation Non-Aligned Movement issued a statement warning that Israel’s nuclear arsenal poses a major threat to Middle East security.
NAM has called for the Zionist regime to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and to allow the IAEA to inspect its nuclear installations