Tehran closed down for a few days last week as 27 presidents, two kings and emirs, seven prime ministers, nine vice presidents, two parliament spokesmen, five special envoys and many other senior politicians from 120 nations arrived for the summit of the Non Aligned Movement. The organization was founded in 1961 for countries which supported neither the West nor the Soviet Union in the cold war. That war has ended, but the group continues and for the next three years Iran will hold the chair.
The government lavished a lot of attention on the summit. One foreign newspaper said that from watching state television, ‘You would think the country was hosting the Olympics.’ It was worth it. With so many dignitaries, including Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, everyone knows Iran is not totally isolated over the nuclear dispute with the West. And Tehran’s version of events rang out clear: Iran is not developing nuclear weapons, and it is her people who are being attacked.
Ayatollah Khamenei said his country’s motto was: ‘Nuclear energy for all, nuclear weapons for none’ and again stressed Iran would never develop nuclear weapons (an ‘unforgiveable sin’) but would also never give up the right to develop nuclear technology. Then in the front row of the hall were the families of the four nuclear scientists murdered in recent years. Outside were the bombed out cars used in the killings. It is not difficult for everyone to get the message: Iran is the victim, not the aggressor.
This is more though than Iran having an international stage for her narrative of events. Tehran also wants to use her time in the chair of the Non Aligned Movement to challenge the status quo of the Security Council of the United Nations, which Ayatollah Khamenei accused of being a ‘defunct relic’ with a ‘bullying manner.’ Iran is calling on the United Nations to become more democratic and let a representative of the Non Aligned Movement have a seat on the United Nations. Given that Ban Ki-moon has admitted the UN needs some reform, this is clearly an issue that isn’t going to go away.
Two issues from this summit stand out for prayer. The first is the ongoing dilemma of the nuclear dispute. The number of guests in Tehran shows how important it is for this to have a peaceful solution. The second is the future of the UN. That will affect us all.
• For Iran’s leadership of the Non Aligned Movement to have positive results.
• Peaceful solution to nuclear dispute.
• Wise reform of the UN.