As the talks in Lausanne between the international community and Iran over its nuclear program enter their final day, millions of Iranians await with bated breath the outcome to the long running dispute between their country and much of the rest of the world. After 12 years of negotiations, four U.N. Security Council resolutions and unprecedented international sanctions, Iranians feel that a peaceful resolution is at last within grasp, opening up the country to economic progress, and their lives to the promise of normal interaction with the world.
Iran is celebrating the Norouz holiday that marks the beginning of the Persian New Year, a time of the year when Iranians traditionally visit family and friends, but this year all of these visits have been dominated by the nuclear talks in Lausanne. “I’ve travelled to Kermanshah to visit family for Norouz, but in every house we’ve been until today everyone is watching either BBC or other satellite news channels all day long to see what’s happening at the talks, they even stay up far into the night to make sure they hear about an agreement if it happens in the midnight like the Geneva deal,” says Kianoosh Pedroud, a 30-year old civil engineer who has a construction company in Tehran. “They all hope, just as I do, that if there’s a deal and sanctions are lifted there will be much more investment in the country and the economy will bounce back. I know my company needs to get more contracts this year to survive,” Pedroud says, adding that only if he can make his business successful he can at last start a family.
Even though newspapers are not being published due to holidays, Iranian media, from the state run TV to news agencies and websites are reporting on the talks almost non-stop, and Iranians on social media from twitter and Facebook to Viber and other smartphone apps are in a constant discussion on the negotiations, posting the latest developments to each other as soon as they occur. “It’s almost impossible to escape the nuclear talks, everyone we visit or meet seems to be speaking about it all the time,” says Saeed Keshvardoost, a steel merchant in Tehran’s bazaar who has high hopes that if the sanctions are lifted his sales will increase significantly.
Anticipation of a deal has been building since the new Iranian president Hassan Rouhani took office in 2013 but if the two sides fail to reach an agreement it could cause widespread disillusionment in Iran, “Everyone is waiting for something to happen, and God knows we need it, these last years have been a disaster, everything has gone from bad to worse, if a deal happens at least things will start to get better again though it might take some years,” says Keshvardoost, “but if it doesn’t I think people will lose hope, they will be left bewildered about what will happen next.”