Sanctions against Iran were imposed by the United States and Europe to punish the government and try to effect policy change, but of course ordinary Iranians were hit too.
Now, with those sanctions in the process of being lifted, CNN found an optimistic mood among Iranians, who were proud of their country and looking forward to closer international relations and opportunities. Here are portraits from in and around Tehran, from the street, from workplaces and even a ski resort to introduce a few Iranians and their thoughts.
Nasser Nourzadeh was happy that the future would likely create more jobs for Iranians. “It’s going to be good for the young people, also we have lots of things for the Europeans and the foreigners, that’s why they are coming.”
Sanctions had an effect, he said, but not a critical one. “They didn’t stop our lives.”
And proudly, he knew exactly what he would like to export now the barriers are down: “Iranian kindness!”
A college student
Shabham Shahrezayee was looking forward to new possibilities as she took a break from college studies at a ski resort outside Tehran.
A book publisher
“Some sort of scintillating atmosphere has been created,” said Sadegh Samii of the lifting of sanctions, “but whether it materializes to reality in financial terms, I doubt it very much right away.” The sanctions themselves affected the country “very badly” in terms of lack of money, liquidity and communications, Samii said. And for himself, “We lost a helluva lot of opportunities and income because of the sanctions.”
Times will change, though not immediately, he predicted.
“Iran will be absolutely the gem of the region, undoubtedly very soon. Give it five years.”
Ali Hayati, playing his guitar in a bazaar, appreciated that the sanctions had gone. “It’s got an effect on my life, but I will do all the things I did before the sanctions,” he said resolutely.
Asked his favorite thing about the U.S., he replied “blues music” and then added that that was “African-American” not just American. As for U.S. politicians, he seemed curious, wanting to ask Kerry and Obama what was different now, why did they make the nuclear deal that led to the lifting of sanctions?
The lifting of sanctions will make life a lot easier for Reza Arbabian, the founder of tech startup Sheypoor, with smoother access to payment systems that are so vital for an online marketplace. Google ads disappeared when the sanctions came in, he said, along with the services of many big sites that stopped doing business with Iran. There were some ways around the sanctions, but now the paths will be smoother. “We have much more freedom online,” he said.
Asked his favorite thing about the United States, Arbabian paused to think. “There are no limitations,” he said. “They go after big things.” “They have big goals”
A confectionary maker
Farzaneh Nazari is looking forward to having greater ease of access to all manner of things around the world, and has a particular hankering over specialized pastry tools available in the United States that she could now use.
She said she wants the world to enjoy Iranian hospitality and culture and that the ending of sanctions be just a step along the way.
“I really want to have a great relationship with every country so we can solve these problems,” she said.