The Associated PressTEHRAN (AP) — While opinions differ across Tehran’s Grand Bazaar about the ongoing tensions between the United States and Iran over its unraveling nuclear deal, there’s one thing those in the beating heart of Iran’s capital city agree on: American sanctions hurt the average person, not those in charge.
From an English-language teacher hoping for peace to an appliance salesman who applauded U.S. President Donald Trump as a “successful businessman,” all said they suffered from the economic hardships sparked by reimposed and newly created American sanctions. The Iranian rial’s collapse has eaten into the savings of a retired bank clerk, while a young man with a shock of bleached-blond hair says those his age want to leave the country.
Iranians spoke to The Associated Press on Tuesday, a day after authorities acknowledged the country had broken through the limit placed on its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by the 2015 nuclear deal. Trump pulled the U.S. out of the deal a year ago.
Tensions between Tehran and Washington have seen the U.S. rush an aircraft carrier, nuclear-capable B-52 bombers, F-22 fighters and thousands of additional troops to the Middle East. While Iran says it doesn’t seek war, it recently shot down a U.S. military surveillance drone. Iran also now acknowledges an “intentional” disruption to GPS coordinates in the country by authorities, interfering with position data used by the U.S. military for airstrikes and drone flights.
Under the nuclear deal, Iran agreed to have less than 300 kilograms of uranium enriched to a maximum of 3.67 percent, which can be used for power stations but is far below weapons-grade levels of 90 percent. Both Iran and the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog agency confirmed Monday that Tehran had broken through that limit.
While that represents Iran’s first major departure from the accord, it still remains likely a year away from having enough material for a nuclear weapon. Iran insists its program is for peaceful purposes, but the West fears it could allow Iran to build a bomb.
Iran also has threatened for weeks to push its enrichment closer to weapons-grade levels on July 7 if Europe doesn’t put forth a new deal to protect Tehran from U.S. sanctions. As the stockpile and enrichment rises, the estimated year narrows.
“There should be some negotiations. Both parties should talk in a friendly manner,” said Nahroba Alirezei, a 35-year-old English-language teacher. “They should think about the Iranian people and the Iranian society and the American society. Young people should not suffer more than this.”
On Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov urged Iran to “show restraint, not yield to emotions.” China expressed regret, while French President Emmanuel Macron urged Iran to reduce its stockpile.
In a joint statement, the foreign ministers of Germany, France and Britain and the European Union’s foreign policy chief said that “we have been consistent and clear that our commitment to the nuclear deal depends on full compliance by Iran.” They urged Iran to reverse the move “and to refrain from further measures that undermine the nuclear deal.”
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted that Iran will comply with the deal to the same extent that European signatories implement their economic commitments.
Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani criticized the increasing U.S. military presence in a televised speech.
“They think they can just come and occupy a country by sending four warships to the region,” Larijani said. He also warned other countries in the region not to join any U.S. coalition against it, saying: “If they rally against us, they will have to pay the price for it.”Speech