Monday, September 10, 2012

16th NAM Summit: Support for Iranian Nuclear Energy Program

The group of 120 developing nations – Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) – held its summit in Teheran (Iran) recently. It claimed the participation by such a large number of nations in the summit proved that the United States had failed to isolate it from the rest of the world.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh attended the summit, which was preceded by crucial bilateral talks with Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The NAM Summit was merely an attempt by Iran to garner legitimacy for a regime that is getting increasingly unpopular at home and isolated globally. As is typical of many autocracies, the Islamic Republic has grown addicted to grandiose international gatherings to reclaim some of its lost sheen and prestige. This is unlikely to work as foreign approbation is never a substitute for legitimacy at home.

The Indian performance at the NAM summit was particularly disturbing. UN Secretary General and the Egyptian President stood up for their convictions but Prime Minister Manmohan Singh failed to even articulate a coherent position based on the imperatives of Indian national interest. This was not really surprising as increasingly Indian domestic political demands have imposing significant costs on the management of India's external relations. India has very little in common with the majority of the members of NAM, and New Delhi is forced to extol the virtues of NAM. The world has changed, Indian foreign policy priorities have changed and yet some of the best and brightest in the Indian foreign policy establishment want to resurrect non-alignment.

Despite what some might suggest, NAM was only of limited utility to India even during the heydays of the Cold War. It became overtly hostile to the West as it lined up to support Moscow on issue after issue during the Cold War. For India, this much touted Third World solidarity was of little use during major times of crises. Yet New Delhi persists with its fascination with NAM even as the leaders of Venezuela, Zimbabwe and Sudan continue to add luster to the glowing credentials of NAM.

Joint Statement
The Teheran Summit ended by issuing a statement. Different topics like collective peace and security, antiterrorism campaign, nuclear issue and emphasis on rights of countries within the framework of nuclear non-proliferation treaty NPT and stressing elimination of nuclear weapons, the need for changing the current structure of the UN, preservation of the right of sovereignty and territorial integrity of countries, non-interference in internal affairs of other countries, the issue of Palestine and mechanisms for world management were discussed at Teheran Summit.

The final statement of the summit contains important chapters including political and economic crises of the world, the issue of Palestine, the right of use of peaceful nuclear energy as well as lasting world peace. The statement, as the outcome of expert discussions in the meeting of experts and foreign ministers participating in the NAM summit, highlights the shaping of a just, comprehensive, transparent and effective system for a joint international management with the participation of all countries within the framework of their interests.

Situation in Middle East
Occupation of Palestine and the Zionist regime's continuous crimes which is one of the main reasons of the critical situation in the Middle East was the other axis of Teheran summit statement. In this regard, the statement underlines that a solution to this crisis requires putting end to occupation, restoration of the indispensible right of self-determination for the Palestinian people and establishment of an independent state with the holy Quds as capital.

Emphasis on global elimination of nuclear weapons, participation of countries in global governance and unanimity on resolving regional crises especially Syria are among important issues which were raised on the first day of Teheran summit by Iran.

Pointing to the nuclear issue, the statement describes production and stockpiling of nuclear weapons as a serious threat to humanity noting, “Nuclear-armed countries should fulfill their commitments within the framework of article 6 of NPT within a specific time.”

The content of Teheran statement shows that the Teheran Summit pays attention to the present and future but it stresses the fundamental principles of NAM.

This comprehensive glance shows that although the initial approach of the movement in the international arena was political, today it has noticed different aspects of participation in world management which means opportunity for cooperation and use of various economic, commercial capacities and cultural interactions among NAM members.

In fact, the NAM is looking for opportunities to play an independent role in decision-making and world policy-making.

Western Media Hype
The successful holding of the NAM summit showed that unlike the western media hype, Iran not only was not isolated and passive but made the NAM atmosphere dynamic and turned it into the scene of expressing various viewpoints resulting in effective and comprehensive results through positive thinking.

The Teheran convergence showed that the NAM members with their ample capacities and possibilities play their real role to counter challenges like insecurity, war and hegemony; since the world nations are still thirsty for justice, peace and security and disgust domineering powers.

From this viewpoint the NAM is also a symbol of global efforts to achieve peace, security and development in the world. There is no doubt that in view of the multitude of the NAM members which comprise two third of the world countries, the movement deserves an international role on the basis of NAM thoughts. Certainly achieving this goal in the present world is in need of a new management and international structure.

A realistic glance at the causes of the world issues shows that many problems such as wars, insecurity, poverty and the like stem from excessive ambition and monopoly of hegemonic powers that are seeking to dominate the world wealth and resources. This monopoly has spread to scientific domain like access to peaceful nuclear technology.

Support for Iran’s Nuclear Energy Program
The final communiqué expressed support for Iran’s nuclear energy program, rejected the United States’ unilateral sanctions against the Islamic Republic, and called for greater efforts to support the Palestinian cause. The need to combat Islamophobia and racism throughout the world as well as global nuclear disarmament were some of the other key issues mentioned in the document.

In the closing ceremony, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad hailed the resolution as “effective and historic” and expressed his gratitude to all of the participants of the summit, which he said had a very important message for the entire world.

Impact of US Sanctions
Iran, has understandably highlighted Western interference in West Asia as part and parcel of a “global oppression system”. The next NAM summit will be hosted in 2015 by another staunchly revolutionary country, Venezuela, which means that the institution could remain entrenched in a firmly anti-American mould in the foreseeable future. Venezuela is the leader of the Bolivarian revolution in Latin America against US hegemony. As the host with presiding power, it can influence the overall direction and focus of the NAM by placing American neo-colonialism as the central concern in all meetings and forums of the institution.

Iran has hit out at the US, saying the holding of the 16th NAM Summit in Teheran proves the "failure" of America's "threat and sanction" policy against the oil-rich country. The anti-Iran policies of the US-led Western nations are doomed for failure.

The presence of heads of states and high ranking delegations of NAM member countries in Teheran as important "under such critical conditions arising from developments in the Middle East and North Africa and its coincidence with Islamic awakening movement" in the region.

Need of Hour
NAM’s members should reinterpret its contours in the context of a multipolar world. Moreover, NAM will have to move beyond verbal condemnations of Western “humanitarian interventions” and invasions and devise grand strategies for self-protection as a group from nefarious designs emanating from all powerful quarters, including not only the US but also potentially China or other great powers. In addition, to win wider public approval and to revitalize grassroots support, NAM has to adopt standards of accountability of member states towards their respective societies.

An international institution that keeps hitting out at foreign aggression, but which is blind to internal democratic deficiencies among its own member states, cannot have a solid social base, which matters in a world where nonstate actors are so pivotal. NAM’s future lies in the hands of expectant younger generations in demographically bulging parts of Asia, Africa and Latin America. Delivering economic and political justice to these people must never slip from the radar of state elites gathering in Teheran with the intent of panning the tyranny of great powers.

The Teheran Summit was an occasion for deep introspection among its 120 member states about the identity of the group and its mission in a multipolar world.

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