Here’s what many of you have been waiting for—the Iranian perspective on the nuclear issue. Although schoolwork consumes a significant chunk of my time, I managed to scrape up a bunch of comments from about 20 people ranging in age, economic status, religious beliefs, political stance, and life experience. I apologize, in advance, for awkward translations.
Does Iran have the right to produce nuclear energy?
Mahta, female, age 43, married, mother, occupation: elementary school teacher
It is definitely Iran's right to have nuclear energy. Those applying international pressure to stop our program are doing so because they want to keep us dependent, they don't want us to advance in industry. What about other countries using nuclear energy? Nobody tells them anything.
What are your thoughts on international pressure put on Iran to freeze its program? How should Iran react to such pressure?
Fakhri, female, age 57, widowed, mother, occupation: homemaker
They want us to need them; they want to have everything, and we remain impoverished, underdeveloped, and reliant on them. Nuclear energy is like a razor-sharp knife-it can be used for both good and bad. This knife can save several lives through surgery, or can end a single life through murder. The U.S. is saying that if Iran has this sharp knife, it will use it for murder; but if America has it, it will be used for good. They cannot think of Iran using the knife as a doctor, but instead as a murderer. We don't want nuclear energy for war, we want to use it for positive results.
Iran must stand firm, demanding why the U.S. and others can have nuclear energy, but we can't. It's as if they're saying, "I can have this, but you cannot. If you ever need this, come to us, and we may or may not give it you. But most likely, we won't give it to you."
Now that Iran’s case has been referred to the UN Security Council, the possibility of economic sanctions has come up. What are your thoughts on sanctions?
Reza, male, age 31, single, occupation: businessman
We've been under American sanctions for years, an action that resulted in major losses for the U.S., especially its wheat industry. Iran was a significant importer of American wheat, but since 1979, the U.S. has been forced to sell off its excess supply at much lower rates. In any case, we can bear sanctions; the strings haven't snapped, yet. As Iran's leading trade partner, Germany will suffer most, considering it exports a significant amount of products to Iran, and imports plenty of dry goods. Germany would lose billions of dollars in profits, which is why it's interested in striking a deal in this issue.
Should Iran consider halting its program, in order to avoid economic sanctions?
Nabby, male, age 22, single, university student, major: civil engineering
We should not—in any way—stop, divert, or slightly change our nuclear program just for temporary gains because it is our absolute right to advance in science and technology. It’s a cause worth dying for in war, rather than becoming slaves.
What benefits do you see in nuclear energy? Can Iran go without?
Elaheh, female, age 38, married, mother, occupation: homemaker
When Edison invented electricity, could we have said you cannot use your discovery? That you must go back to lighting candles?
What about confidence-building measures involving activities outside of Iran, such as the Russia’s proposal to enrich uranium on its soil?
Flor, female, age 45, married, mother, occupation: retired high school teacher,
This isn't even a resolution. You're still dependent. All that's needed is for Iran to say something Russia doesn't like, then Russia will cut off the enrichment. This is like cutting off water. It would virtually paralyze us, and impoverish us further. Meaning, they can do whatever they want. We enriched uranium only up to our necessary levels for research, not higher.
Are you concerned that Iran may be at risk of attack by another nation?
Morteza, male, age 50, married, father, war vet, occupation: electrical engineer
No, because attacking Iran will make things harder for them, not for us. An attack will make no difference for us.
What is your opinion on the proliferation of nuclear weapons?
Khaleh Shaffi, female, age 70, occupation: everyone's auntie
We are Muslim, it is haram (prohibited) to kill in masses-we don't have this, we don't want this, and we oppose all who have it.
What are your political views, in general? Who did you vote for in the last presidential election?
Alireza, male, age 18, university student, major: civil engineering
If I hear logical ideas, then I'll agree. For instance, Ahmadinejad's claim that America should build confidence, rather than Iran, since America is the one with nuclear weapons, makes sense.
I voted for Rafsanjani because I wasn't familiar with the other candidates. I didn't want to risk a worse situation than what we went through with him. At first, I didn't like Ahmadinejad, but now I do, and regret not voting for him. So far, he's accomplished at least 50-percent of his promises. The administration now is much better to be up against a force like America; I think we can make a 180-degree improvement because of this.