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Expert: Iranians In Favor Of Nuclear Deal

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This week the United States and Iran continued talks aimed at an agreement on Iran's nuclear program. Any agreement reached will be controversial in the United States, especially as the campaign year approaches. What about potential ramifications in Iran? Najmeh Bozorgmehr is the Tehran correspondent for The Financial Times and she joins us on the line from Tehran.

Thanks very much for being with us.

NAJMEH BOZORGMEHR: Thank you.

SIMON: So in Tehran, who is in favor and who's suspicious?

BOZORGMEHR: I would say in general, public opinion is very much for a deal. Iranians don't like to see tensions with the outside world and like to see the nuclear crisis over after a decade. The regime as a whole is also for a deal, but there are certainly hard-liners inside the regime who do not like to see a nuclear deal because that can give a boost to moderate forces inside the regime.

SIMON: How would any deal perhaps set the stage for politics in the coming year in Iran?

BOZORGMEHR: It's before parliamentary election next year and the political infighting has already started. If there is a nuclear deal, hardliners do not like moderate forces to confiscate that in their favor and win the majority in the next Parliament. So we are going to see tense political infighting if there is a nuclear deal.

SIMON: You've been speaking to a lot of individual Iranians, I gather. Guide us through what you hear from citizens there in Iran. Are they so eager for an end to sanctions that they want a nuclear deal? Are they - do they think a nuclear deal in the end won't affect them very much? What's the range of opinion?

BOZORGMEHR: As you know, there are not reliable opinion polls in Iran. So I speak from my experience, like, from talking to ordinary people randomly. I've not seen anyone to say he or she's against a nuclear deal. What Iranians do not like to see is Iran surrendering to foreign powers. Iranian nation is, on one hand, proud and doesn't like to be looked down on and it thinks that a nuclear program is a source of national pride. On the other hand, Iranians are pacifists. They do not like to see tensions with the outside world. So they'd like to see a nuclear deal, but they have paid a huge price for that.

SIMON: And the huge price being life under sanctions.

BOZORGMEHR: Yes, life under sanctions and they have to respond to the next generation's that, you have paid this much price for nothing? That should not be the case. And many people believe that this is also - there is a question of Iranian security. If some regional countries have nuclear weapons, not that Iran leaders want nuclear weapons, but that's what people say - if some regional powers have nuclear weapons, why shouldn't Iran have that potential for the future?

SIMON: And this is an opinion that Iranians of all stripes - a lot of Iranians of all stripes have, yeah?

BOZORGMEHR: Yes. Even when I see monarchies, even the sworn enemies of the Islamic Republic, you see that they make very similar comments.

SIMON: Najmeh Bozorgmehr of The Financial Times, speaking with us from Tehran, thanks very much for being with us.

BOZORGMEHR: Thank you for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.