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Five Ways Nuclear Deal Could Change Iranian Lives

Holding a poster of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif to celebrate the nuclear agreement, in Tehran on July 14
Holding a poster of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif to celebrate the nuclear agreement, in Tehran on July 14
Ahmad Shayegan

PARIS — With celebrations from the streets to social media, Iranians have broadly welcomed Tuesday's deal between their country and the six major world powers to curb Iran's nuclear program in exchange for a lifting of international economic sanctions. Still, there are differing views about how the accord will actually affect the lives of the people in Iran, from the economic impact to questions of diplomacy, security and society at large.


Iran has long been seen by many as a pariah in the international community, and the accord holds the potential to change the very standing the nation holds in the world. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called the deal a "triumph of diplomacy," and there were numerous pictures of street celebrations in Tehran in immediate response to the deal. Voice of America"s Persian service showed footage Wednesday of Iranians shouting "condolences" to both Israel and the hardline Iranian newspaper Kayhan — meaning this was a defeat not only for the historical Zionist enemy that lobbied Washington against talking to Iran, but also for "hardline" Iranian opponents of détente between Tehran and the West.


Jubilant street scenes aside, comments on websites and social media — as well as calls in to radio and TV broadcasts — indicate Iranian optimism was overall more sober, and the likely effects for people's own individual futures still quite unclear. Some noted the lasting harm Iran's confrontational foreign policy and erratic economics had done in the past 15, 20 or 30 years. One Twitter user Saman O said it would take a "lot more" than the end of sanctions to change life in Iran, and the inflow of cash and foreign businesses would likely provoke an immediate increase in state corruption.

Still the release of frozen assets and other reverberations to the unwinding of sanctions left some Iranians wondering whether now was finally a good time to sell long-held real estate property in Tehran, and others looking forward to the relatively cheaper cost of foreign travel.


In economic terms Iran's regime would likely be the first beneficiary of a gradual lifting of sanctions, though trickle-down effects would inevitably benefit the public. The Prague-based, Persian-language Radio Farda reported on a list of persons and firms due to be taken off the Western sanctions list. They include banks, state-affiliated and private firms (although, is anything really private in Iran?), and prominent members of the Iranian nomenklatura like the revolutionary-guards generals Mohammadreza Naqdi, Mostafa Najjar and Yahya Rahim-Safavi, as well as entities like the Revolutionary Guards navy and the national flagship airline Iran Air.

So, if ordinary Iranians were cautiously optimistic, those in big business — more often than not connected to the state — could be downright gleeful.

The journalist Vahid Pourostad tweeted a report from Iran's Tasnim news agency, about "Iranian business delegations due to visit the United States this fall." The head of Iran's international trade agency Mohammadreza Sabz'alipur was cited as saying that authorities would announce conditions on who could go.

Yet in spite of the economic opportunities opening up for Iranians and Western firms, some measure of opposition is expected to continue inside Iran, notably from the most conservative elements. Conservative Islamic reactions have so far been cautious and non-confrontational, though some outlets were telling people not to celebrate. Others mentioned the "fine print" in the deal that could give them something to work on later. The daily Resalat cited parliamentarian Fathollah Hosseini as saying that the legislature would soon be double-checking the text of the pact with nuclear policy "red lines."


Despite the strict religiosity of its leaders, Iranians have steadily grown more secular and thirstier for personal freedoms over the past two decades. There is no immediate evidence that the nuclear deal, and a diplomatic rapprochement with the West, will lead to real social changes. Still commentator Ahmad Hakimipur wrote in the reformist daily Aftab-e Yazd that the deal was expected to "unlock" internal problems and "we shall see some very important events" inside Iran. Beyond the economics, he wrote, Iranians expect "other openings in social, political and cultural spheres." The deal, he adds, is a "prelude" to satisfying Iranians' "other needs."

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

How Vulnerable Are The Russians In Crimea?

Ukraine has stepped up attacks on the occupied Crimean peninsula, and Russia is doing all within its power to deny how vulnerable it has become.

Photograph of the Russian Black Sea Fleet headquarters with smoke rising above it after a Ukrainian missile strike.

September 22, 2023, Sevastopol, Crimea, Russia: Smoke rises over the Russian Black Sea Fleet headquarters after a Ukrainian missile strike.

Kyrylo Danylchenko

This article was updated Sept. 26, 2023 at 6:00 p.m.

Russian authorities are making a concerted effort to downplay and even deny the recent missile strikes in Russia-occupied Crimea.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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Media coverage in Russia of these events has been intentionally subdued, with top military spokesperson Igor Konashenkov offering no response to an attack on Russian Black Sea Fleet headquarters in the Crimean city of Sevastopol, or the alleged downing last week of Russian Su-24 aircraft by Ukrainian Air Defense.

The response from this and other strikes on the Crimean peninsula and surrounding waters of the Black Sea has alternated between complete silence and propagating falsehoods. One notable example of the latter was the claim that the Russian headquarters building of the Black Sea fleet that was hit Friday was empty and that the multiple explosions were mere routine training exercises.

Ukraine claimed on Monday that the attack killed Admiral Viktor Sokolov, the commander of Russia's Black Sea Fleet. "After the strike on the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, 34 officers died, including the commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. Another 105 occupiers were wounded. The headquarters building cannot be restored," the Ukrainian special forces said via Telegram.

But Sokolov was seen on state television on Tuesday, just one day after Ukraine claimed he'd been killed. The Russian Defense Ministry released footage of the admiral partaking in a video conference with top admirals and chiefs, including Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, though there was no verification of the date of the event.

Moscow has been similarly obtuse following other reports of missiles strikes this month on Crimea. Russian authorities have declared that all missiles have been intercepted by a submarine and a structure called "VDK Minsk", which itself was severely damaged following a Ukrainian airstrike on Sept. 13. The Russians likewise dismissed reports of a fire at the headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet, attributing it to a mundane explosion caused by swamp gas.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has refrained from commenting on the military situation in Crimea and elsewhere, continuing to repeat that everything is “proceeding as planned.”

Why is Crimea such a touchy topic? And why is it proving to be so hard to defend?

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