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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 February 2007, 15:14 GMT
Viewpoint: Iranians speak out
Four Iranians inside Iran respond to questions about their country's nuclear programme - and their president's handling of international concern surrounding it.

DO YOU APPROVE OF IRAN'S NUCLEAR PROGRAMME?

Reza Noroozpour, journalist, Tehran: Yes, absolutely. I think Iran deserves to have a peaceful nuclear programme; and this doesn't mean it is going to have a nuclear bomb. Iran doesn't need a bomb. What it does need is a clean and endless source of energy. We know that Iran's oil and gas resources will be finished within 50 years, so we shouldn't sit back and watch ourselves get gradually poorer and weaker.

Tehran street scene. Photo: Phillip Schmandt
Some Iranians complain that sanctions hurt them not their leaders

Eftekar Hashemi, teacher Isfahan: Yes. Absolutely. Not only do I approve of it; I am proud of it. It is based on the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and it is for peaceful purposes only. We need to win the trust of the international community over the peaceful nature of the programme, then obstacles against it will disappear.

Ali Reza, financial consultant, Tehran: No, as a matter of fact I don't trust Iran's ambitious regime. I am sure they don't want it for the country's development. They want to have a bomb to create the kind of atmosphere that existed in the Cold War.

Shirin Soltani, school teacher, Shiraz: Yes, but under international supervision.

DO YOU THINK THIS PROGRAMME IS DRIVING IRAN INTO CONFRONTATION WITH THE WEST?

Reza Noroozpour: I don't think so. There has been a lot of media spin against Iran in western countries, but the West knows that Iran is the most stable and democratic country in the region.

Don't forget, Iran is also militarily the most powerful country in the region, both in technology and experience.

The West has no official reason to object to Iran's peaceful nuclear programme.

What really bothers them is the thought of a powerful Iran which can produce nuclear fuel independently. This would make other countries in the region rely on Iran.

Eftekar Hashemi: No. Iran does not want conflict with the West. But it seems that the US and other western powers are trying to show that it does.

Ali Reza: Yes. But unfortunately this war will have no winners and the people of Iran will be the biggest losers.

The US and its allies should think of better ways of trying to achieve their goal. They could lift economic sanctions and give people easy access to free information, for example through satellite TV. This would be the best way of fighting this regime.

Economic sanctions just make people poorer. They hit the middle and the lower classes which make up nearly 90% of the population.

They mean people are too busy thinking about how to make ends meet, to worry about changing the regime.

Shirin Soltani: Iran went through a lot of difficulties during the war against Iraq and it is highly unlikely people want to go through that again.

Everything has changed; people are more aware of what is going on politically.

Iran itself is interested in negotiation but if the US or western countries want to trigger war, that is unacceptable.

I think Iran will continue with its nuclear programme until it is threatened, and then it will eventually back off.

IS PRESIDENT AHMADINEJAD'S STYLE DAMAGING FOR IRAN ?

Reza Noroozpour: It is not a case of Mr Ahmadinejad's style. He has his own style.

Whether I like it or not, the important thing is peaceful nuclear energy for Iran.

Eftekar Hashemi: It seems he has not succeeded in fulfilling his promises on the economy or on international diplomacy. Not yet, anyway.

Ali Reza: His style is damaging Iran and hurting innocent people. It also makes hardliners in the regime more powerful - as do the US-led policies toward Iran.

The hardliners need an enemy and the Americans' policies help create one for them.

Shirin Soltani: I think some of the things he says are damaging and make Iranians look stupid.

WHAT IS THE EFFECT OF PRESIDENT AHMADINEJAD'S RHETORIC AGAINST ISRAEL?

Reza Noroozpour: Mr Ahmadinejad didn't question the historical basis of the Holocaust, he just asked the West and the media certain questions about it.

He said if the Holocaust was true it was a European crime, not a Muslim or an Arab one; so why should the Palestinians pay for it?

He said the West, the real perpetrators of this crime, should deal with the consequences of the Holocaust, and not leave it to Muslims or Arabs.

Eftekar Hashemi: People live their own lives and these international conferences don't really affect them.

Ali Reza: Obviously his comments create the image of an evil Iran in the West, and a good Iran in the East for the man in the street who doesn't understand politics. Mr Ahmadinejad relies on the support of the man in the street.

Unhappily our national interest lies in the hands of western countries and a president who cares about everything apart from our national interest.

Shirin Soltani: I think the Holocaust is none of the President's business, nor that of us Iranians.

We have enough problems of our own without going back into history and digging up something that doesn't concern us.






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