Non-Aligned Movement leaders should take a stand against Western sanctions at a Tehran summit later this week, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said Sunday, adding that many NAM members backed Iran's nuclear programme.
"The NAM... should seriously confront unilateral sanctions of certain nations against some members of the NAM," Salehi said in a speech opening days of preparatory meetings for the summit on Thursday and Friday.
He noted that "so far, the NAM has condemned these measures."
Salehi added that "we take this opportunity to thank the NAM for its support" backing Iran's "legitimate rights" to nuclear activities.
Iran is subject to severe US and EU sanctions aimed at crippling its oil exports to pressure it to roll back nuclear activities that many Western governments suspect is aimed at acquiring an atomic weapons "break-out" capability.
Iran denies any such ambition, insisting its programme is exclusively for power generation and medical purposes. It says the suspicions are unfounded, and dismisses as illegal six UN resolutions calling on it to suspend all uranium enrichment.
Three other NAM members states are also subject to Western sanctions: North Korea, over its own nuclear programme that has created bombs; Syria, over its brutal offensive against opposition groups; and Zimbabwe, over political violence and human rights abuses.
Iran, which is taking over the rotating three-year NAM presidency from Egypt, says its hosting of the summit is evidence it is not as internationally isolated as its arch-foe the United States has sought to portray it.
Tehran especially wants the NAM summit to take its side in the high-stakes showdown with the United States and its Western allies over its nuclear activities.
"Regarding our peaceful nuclear programme... we have always said that we are only seeking our legitimate rights" to nuclear energy as permitted under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, Salehi said.
He said Iran was seeking NAM support to have those "rights" upheld regardless of the repeated demands by the UN Security Council that its activities be curtailed.
"We are seeking a just solution and not solutions based on the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) and other UN entities' double standards. We take this opportunity to thank the NAM for its support in this regard," Salehi said.
However, the NAM -- representing nearly two-thirds of the members of the United Nations -- is made up of countries with diverse political goals and interests.
It was far from clear whether they would unanimously sign a NAM document supporting Iran in its confrontation with the UN Security Council.
The NAM, born at the height of the Cold War as a grouping of nations wanting to be independent of Washington and Moscow, counts 120 members, overwhelmingly developing nations in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Latin America.