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Iran's charm offensive at NAM summit thwarted by Syria, nuclear work

Iran's effort to prove that international isolation efforts have failed was undermined by discord with the UN and Egypt over its nuclear work and continued support for Syria's President Assad.

By Staff writer / August 30, 2012

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks during the 16th summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in Tehran, August 30.

Hamid Forootan/ISNA/REUTERS

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Istanbul, Turkey

Iran's bid to break free of US-led efforts to isolate it took form today as Iranian leaders convened a two-day summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Tehran.

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With United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and dozens of world leaders and government ministers in attendance, Iran's supreme religious leader rejected use of nuclear weapons as an "unforgivable sin" and lambasted the US, Western powers, Israel, and the "spread of the instruments of hegemony."

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told the conference that the UN Security Council – which has imposed four sets of sanctions against Tehran over its nuclear program – had an "illogical, unjust, and completely undemocratic structure and mechanism," which is a "flagrant form of dictatorship ... whose expiration date has passed." 

He also noted that decades ago, Iran was the first to propose a nuclear-free Middle East, and said, according to an official translation: "Nuclear weapons neither ensure security, nor do they consolidate political power, rather they are a threat to both security and political power."

Iran today assumed the rotating leadership of the 120-member group of countries, which consider themselves unaligned with any major power bloc. The conference is being officially portrayed by Tehran as proof that it is the US and Israel – not Iran – that are isolated over Iran's nuclear program. The US actively tried to discourage Mr. Ban and NAM member nations from traveling to Iran for the conference. 

Khamenei hailed an "opportunity that might never arise again," because the world was in "transition" to a new world order. "Our view is that the control room of the world should not be managed by the dictatorial will of a few Western countries," he said. 

RELATED – Iran sanctions 101

UN mars Tehran's charm offensive

Stringent US and European Union sanctions have targeted all aspects of Iran's economy, including banking transactions and oil sales to third countries, and the Islamic Republic has been hit in recent years by a covert war of assassinations of nuclear scientists, espionage, mysterious explosions, and computer viruses aimed at slowing Iran's nuclear progress, all of which Iran blames on the US and Israel.

But this appears to have had little impact on Iran's ability to bring NAM members to Tehran.

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