- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 16, 2012

The U.S. has told the U.N. chief that he would send a “very strange signal” to the world if he were to attend a conference of non-aligned states in Iran this month, the State Department said Thursday.

Tehran is hosting the Non-Aligned Movement Summit on Aug. 30-31, and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has not yet said if he will attend.

“We just find it interesting, if he does choose to go, that he would go in the context of all these violations of U.N. obligations that Iran is engaged in now,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

Her remarks echoed calls last week by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said Mr. Ban’s attendance would lend legitimacy to a government that “represents the greatest danger to world peace.”

Iranian leaders are gearing up for the arrival of thousands of summit delegates from dozens of countries that consider themselves to be not aligned with or against any of the world’s major power blocs.

Consisting mostly of Central and South American, African and Asian nations, the Non-Aligned Movement includes Cuba, North Korea, Syria and Iran, which is enduring several international sanctions over its nuclear program.

The movement was founded during the early-1960s in what was then Yugoslavia. Its major players during the early years, which coincided an era of foreign affairs largely dominated by Cold War posturing by the United States and the Soviet Union, included India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, and then-Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser.

It was designed to create a forum for international matters clear of U.S. and Soviet dominance, but in recent years the movement has provided a soapbox for nations at odds with the U.S. and the U.N., although the movement is made up of U.N. members.

The movement met in Havana, Cuba, in 2006, and held a conference in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, in 2009.

The decision to hold this year’s summit in Iran has irked some world leaders.

“The fact that the meeting is happening in a country that’s in violation of so many of its international obligations and posing a threat to neighbors sends a very strange signal,” Mrs. Nuland said.

“This is an organization that we’re not a member of,” she said. “Our point is simply that, you know, Tehran, given its number of grave violations of international law and U.N. obligations, does not seem to be the appropriate place.”