The New York Times carries an opinion piece from Javad Zarif, Iranian ambassador to the United Nations. Zarif argues substantially that there need be no crisis, that things really can be dealt with satisfactorily in a collegiate way, addressing the concerns of the west and the needs of Iran.
I'm leaning towards Iran here. Nuclear proliferation is a dodgy thing, and one to be watched. However, it's difficult to think that Iran poses more of a nuclear threat viz. terrorists sourcing nukes there than, for example, some of the former Soviet satellite states. Iran is a huge, fairly well developed country, that has a lot to show others in the region about how societies can be run. There are pretty bad things going on there as well, but as I blogged yesterday, the USA ranks alongside Burma in the jailing of reporters stakes, so there's no beacon of virtue there.
Many of the Soviet satellite states already have nukes. Many of them are far more repressive than Iran. Many of them are more anti-American than Iran. And many of them are absolutely corrupt. Yet they are not threatened by America - why is this?
Here's a conspiracy theory - maybe the really really corrupt states are 'buy-offable', and the enrichment of leaders can make them pliable and controllable. Iran, being less corrupt and more ideological (or simply ideological) cannot be bought. Maybe that is the problem. Maybe this is all about control, and those who cannot be controlled (irrespective of their human rights records, their political ideology if any, or their crimes) are designated enemies - axis of evil types, like Iran and North Korea. Larger countries, like European countries and China, are controllable through the financial markets. Rogue states are those that simply do not agree, and as they cannot be dealt with through bribes disguised as aid, or financial market powers, they are dealt with through the international theatre, generating international concern for their inherent threats.