People who equate Iran and North Korea are relying on American ignorance.
North Korea is a cyst, malign and isolated. It is a loony neighbor who periodically puts dynamite on the roof and threatens to blow up the neighbors unless they bring pizza. The Chinese suspect that a reunited Korea intends to be a nuclear power, that the money and technical know-how has not come exclusively from the workers’ paradise. NK is useful, because it provides a foil/a provider of “stuff” for nuclear mayhem in other regions. NK functions as “not China” “not Russia” “not the US” and “not France” “not Britain” and “not Israel.”
Iran is a regional power, acting with effect in greater Kurdistan, Shia Iraq, Afghanistan, the Gulf and India. It has just parlayed its way onto the table of top nations by acting supremely reasonable. Like Germany, it doesn’t need to go to nuclear weaponry if it keeps its edge in technology. It wants an agreement with inspections to prove to the world that it is not the source of all the nuclear skullduggery in the M.E. It wants a tough deal – because that is the deal that eventually Israel will be expected to sign. If Israel hadn’t thumbed its nose at the international agreements/inspections structure it would likely BE at the table too. But it didn’t want to play by the rules. Now it has to rely on Canada, who isn’t there either, to help complain from outside the door. As long as Iran stays there talking it can demonstrate its value in helping to bring about calm and progress across the region/and can make the case for staying at the top table.