As ever, you can only get a negotiated agreement if both sides to an agreement want to negotiate. There is no sign currently that Iran wants to negotiate. Therefore it is likely to be fairly futile for the West to concentrate on answers like structuring the process (eg by holding talks in Iran-friendly Turkey) or focusing on the content of a deal (eg by insisting that Iran should swap potential nuclear rods for technology).

This discussion will only get anywhere if Iran wants to negotiate. All efforts should therefore be focused on persuading Iran that it has more to gain from negotiations than it has to lose. However unpalatable it may sound, this means addressing some of Iran’s needs in the conversation.

Iran has a desire to belong to that senior club of nations that exercises nuclear power. It also has a need for respect – indeed the 2 needs are intertwined. The real issue for the West in the negotiation is therefore how to meet those needs without Iran actually developing nuclear weapons. Re-phrasing the question in that way may enable the West to make progress.

This is a response to the Wall Street Journal Article ‘West, Iran Take Hard Lines for Nuclear Talks’