The issue at the heart of Iran's approach to negotiations, argues Alastair Crooke, is not the nuclear program itself, but whether the United States and Israel are ready to accept Iran as a preeminent power in the Middle East.
It was pure drama: The leaders of the United States, Britain and France stepped onto the stage at the G-20 meeting in Pittsburgh last week to unveil Western intelligence that showed Iran had a second nuclear fuel enrichment facility under construction, a fact Iran had declared to the International Atomic Energy Agency the preceding Monday.
The Western leaders implied that their revelation was devastating for Iran as a credible player. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates subsequently pronounced Iran to be "boxed in" and "in a very bad spot now." But anyone who listened to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's interview with Time magazine the day of the presentation, and to subsequent Iranian statements, will be clear that Iran, at least, does not see itself as boxed in.