Iran is hosting a party for 120 countries next week—and UN chief Ban Ki-moon announced yesterday that he's going, reports the New York Times. Ban's decision to attend the summit of the Cold War-era Nonaligned Movement in Tehran—along with such luminaries as North Korea and Sudan's war crimes-indicted leader—leaves the US and Israel turning various shades of purple. Egypt's new leader Mohamed Morsi also recently announced he'll attend, adding to regional tensions.
"The secretary-general is fully aware of the sensitivities of this visit," says a spokesman for Ban, who says skipping would be "a missed opportunity." Iran just so happens to currently hold the group's rotating presidency, though it would have the world think that hosting the summit is a coup that repudiates the Israeli-American effort to cast it as a regional pariah. "A case is being made that it is not the 'global community' that has problems with the Islamic republic," says an Iran expert, "but merely a US-led-and-pressured coalition of countries."