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Iranians Debate Nuclear Program, Standoff with the West

As the fear of an American attack on Iran becomes stronger, people in Tehran support their president's decision to continue developing its nuclear energy program. NewsHour correspondent Margaret Warner reports on how Iranians view the nuclear issue.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    But, first, nuclear views in Iran, and to Margaret Warner, who is just back from Tehran.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    Last-ditch efforts to find a compromise to avert sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program hit a bump today, when Tehran abruptly put off a meeting with the Europeans.

    Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, was scheduled to meet in Vienna with Javier Solana, the foreign minister of the European Union. Some sources close to the Tehran government said, the Iranians today were holding out for a meeting in which they could negotiate directly with the foreign ministers from the E.U. countries.

    Iran defied an August 31 U.N. Security Council deadline to freeze uranium enrichment as a precondition for negotiations over the entire program. Iran says it is ready to negotiate, but with no preconditions.

    Here's what I found on my recent trip to Iran about the internal debate there over the nuclear standoff with the West.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    Here at the Martyrs Cemetery in south Tehran, the memories of war are still fresh. Every Thursday, on the eve of the Muslim holy day, families come to honor their sons killed in the Iran-Iraq War, and to tend their graves.

    Golshad Azimi son was killed when he was 23. Despite her loss to the war that ended 18 years ago, she thinks Iran's government should hang tough over the right to pursue nuclear technology, even at the risk of conflict.

  • GOLSHAD AZIMI, Iranian Citizen (through translator):

    I don't have any more sons to go to war, but I myself would go to the war.

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