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Iranians Welcome Geneva Nuclear Deal

  • RFE/RL's Radio Farda

Iranian supporters of Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif flash the victory sign as he arrives at Tehran's Mehrabad Airport on November 24.

Iranian supporters of Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif flash the victory sign as he arrives at Tehran's Mehrabad Airport on November 24.

Hundreds of Iranians gathered at Tehran's Mehrabad Airport on November 24 night to give Iran's nuclear negotiators a warm welcome, offering a preview of the jubilant mood and press that followed the interim nuclear deal struck in Geneva.

As part of the six-month deal, some sanctions curtailing Iran's trade in precious metals and petrochemical exports will be lifted, and Tehran will gain access to about $3.6 billion of its frozen foreign-currency reserves.

This led many Iranians who left text and voice messages with RFE/RL's Radio Farda to express hope that the deal will improve their country's struggling economy.

One Iranian man, who did not give his name, said that he expected relief from inflation. "Now that Iran and Europe have reached mutual agreement, we want [our authorities] to help reduce prices. The price of a 10-kilogram sack of rice has risen from $5 to $23, which is unaffordable for an impoverished worker," he said. "A kilo of meat costs $9. A kilo of poultry costs $5. For God's sake, you need to do something about it!"

An Iranian woman said that anyone who was opposed to the deal does not understand what her countrymen have endured because of the international sanctions imposed over Tehran's contentious nuclear program. "I don't understand those who are not happy about this deal. I would like to tell them you know nothing about hardship inside Iran," she said. "Countries that are unhappy about this deal should chill out a bit."

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Another Iranian expressed skepticism, however, saying that if there was any financial benefit "it would all go into [Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei's pockets."

A Tehran resident who gave only her surname, Geranmayeh, said she was expecting to see a wide range of improvements. "The greatest benefit will be peace, the message of peace that was delivered, and the economy is also important," she said. "And I believe that we will see progress in every field in the future."

On November 24, some among the cheering crowd at the airport called for a broader loosening of restrictions, including the release of Mir Hossein Musavi, an opposition leader who is currently under house arrest. "Political prisoners should be freed!" they chanted. "Greetings to [Prophet] Muhammad, the darling of the nation has come home! Ya Hossein, Mir Hossein!"

'Victory In Geneva, Relief In Iran'

Iranian media on November 25 reflected the general mood in Tehran streets.

Nearly every major publication led with news and analysis looking at the domestic and international implications of the deal.

The online edition of the pro-reformist publication "Etemad" ran a commentary lauding Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif's accomplishments in Geneva. The deal, according the piece, "indicates an improvement in the situation concerning the country's domestic policy" and was something that "could not be achieved over the past eight years."

Like "Etemad," the pro-reformist "Sharq" ran photos of Zarif shaking hands with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Geneva. "Ghanun," the parliament's news outlet, published a photo of a triumphant Zarif and his team of negotiators leaving their plane upon arrival.

The state-run publication "Iran" ran the headline: "Overcoming The 10-year Crisis In 100 days," a reference to President Hassan Rohani's short time in office and the decadelong stalemate in nuclear negotiations.

"Victory In Geneva, Relief In Iran," was the headline of a front-page article of Tehran's city newspaper, "Shahrvand." The article expressed hope that the deal would have a positive impact on Iran's economy.

Taking a critical tone, the conservative "Kayhan" newspaper warned that the United States cannot be trusted and pointed out that Kerry had not recognized Iran's right to enrich uranium.

Written by Farangis Najibullah, based on reporting by RFE/RL's Radio Farda