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Page last updated at 16:25 GMT, Friday, 13 January 2006

Head-to-head: Iran nuclear crisis

Women hold copy of Koran and sign at earlier nuclear protest near Isfahan, Iran
Iran insists its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes only

As international pressure mounts on Iran over its nuclear programme, ordinary Iranians are debating whether the country is right to continue with its plans.

The BBC News website spoke to two young Iranians with opposing views on the issue.

While one expressed considerable fears that Iran's bid for nuclear power could damage international relations and hinder the country's progress, the other said that Iran had every right to pursue nuclear power.

ARASH, 24, GRADUATE, TEHRAN

Iran is a developing country, this programme should not be a priority.

Iran's oil and gas resources could keep going for up to 60 years. I have heard that Iran has 90 years of gas supplies for the country.

This programme will just create tensions between countries in the area.

I don't think the West is worried about the bomb as much as they are worried about a Middle Eastern county becoming developed, independent and free
Farnaz, Iran/US

In Iran, most people have no access to a free media. Only a small group of people have access to the internet or international satellite channels.

This means most people learn about issues such as nuclear power from state television. They are told what to think.

Most ordinary people support Iran's decision - they argue Iran will lose out if it puts the programme back.

When I talk to local taxi drivers in Tehran on the way to work they all ask: "Why should the US have nuclear power and not us?"

Even when it comes to weapons, most people argue: "If the US and Israel can have nuclear weapons, why can't we?"

But those who are more educated do not agree. They fear Iran's economic situation will worsen, especially with sanctions.

We have sanitation issues, many people lack drinking water and unemployment is very high here.

We need to invest our money in agriculture and business development. Nuclear power is very limiting as ordinary people cannot perform the work.

But I think that government officials cannot leave the programme now, because if they postpone it the international community will say we have been defeated.

I am not optimistic that the West can solve this issue. We have been negotiating with the EU for two or three years and it has not helped.

I think America needs to enter the game and offer some reward or incentive to Iran. This may solve the issue.

Iran is not worried about punishment, most people's attitudes here are: "We're not worried, we had sanctions for years."

After all, I do not think the US or the international community could invade us as well as Iraq.

OMID AZMIRAGHI, 22, GRADUATE STUDENT

I do not necessarily think that nuclear technology is important, but it has become a matter of national pride.

For example, I work in a hospital and when we managed to develop stem cells without external help it made us all very proud.

But now nuclear energy in Iran has become a political issue.

We will carry on with our nuclear plans, I just hope we do not have another war

I do not believe what some people in the international community say. Iran having nuclear technology would not be a threat to Israel. We would never attack them.

I also do not think it is a question of us needing the power - after all we can export electricity. I think it is just a quest for new technology.

Maybe, if we had a different president, the situation would be better.

The international community does not like President Ahmadinejad and some in Iran do not like him. This causes problems.

I think we probably have spent too much on this technology but we cannot stop now. For the past 20 years we have invested a lot of money on nuclear power.

At the moment, many countries are against us, regardless of what we do. The pressure is too high already, even if the United Nations inspects the plant.

It is strange when I watch the international news and it is all about what is happening in Iran, yet we do not go around in the streets here talking about nuclear plans or the threat of war.

I do not think Ahmadinejad will change his mind. We will carry on with our nuclear plans, I just hope we do not have another war.



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