What do you think? Leave a respectful comment.

U.S. pullout is blow to Iranians who hoped for economic boost

President Trump's withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal was cheered in some quarters, and jeered in many others -- nowhere more so than in Iran, where many saw his move as the final straw. Special correspondent Reza Sayah reports.

Read the Full Transcript

  • Amna Nawaz:

    But first, President Trump's withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal was cheered in some quarters and jeered in others, especially inside Iran.

    The deal was supposed to bring economic benefit, a bounty that hasn't yet arrived. Now Iranians wonder, what's next?

    From Tehran, special correspondent Reza Sayah reports.

  • Reza Sayah:

    Anger in Tehran, much of it aimed at U.S. President Donald Trump.

    These are Iran's hard-liners, the rock-ribbed religious conservatives of the Islamic Revolution. But this is a diverse country, 80 million people, more than half under 40, among them, college-educated modern youth.

    At Tehran's Paradiso Cafe, where Goth girls and grunge guys meet to eat, the walls are adorned with rock and roll memorabilia and the air with American music. Mr. Trump doesn't have any fans here either.

  • Newsha Ghadiri:

    When you see the world's reaction, you see that he's not a good person. The whole world is against him.

  • Reza Sayah:

    For many, Mr. Trump's withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal was the final straw.

    The agreement, signed in 2015 under then-President Barack Obama, appeared to peacefully resolve a decades-long nuclear crisis between Iran and the West. The U.S. and world powers agreed to lift economic sanctions against Iran.

    In return, Iran rolled back its nuclear program, deemed a threat by the West. Ten times, the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog verified Iran's compliance with the agreement. But Mr. Trump said he wanted a better deal to curb what Washington calls Iran's destabilizing activities in the Middle East, and its ballistic missile program.

  • Hamed Mousavi:

    You have to understand there's a lot of mistrust in Iran regarding the United States.

  • Reza Sayah:

    Political analyst Hamed Mousavi says Iran will not negotiate a second deal, when Washington wouldn't abide by the first.

    Why not restrict your missiles? Why not open missile program for inspection?

  • Hamed Mousavi:

    No country in the world is under any obligations to have their missiles inspected.

  • Reza Sayah:

    Washington says Iran is different.

  • Hamed Mousavi:

    OK, but we can say the same thing about them. Right? I mean, does the United States allow inspections on their military sites? You can't expect Iran to limit its military programs when Saudi Arabia is buying billions of dollars of arms, which actually, the United States is selling to them.

    It's not ever based on logic.

  • Reza Sayah:

    The U.S. pullout is a hammer-blow to Iranians who hoped the deal would both boost Iran's economy and improve relations with the West.

  • Navid Yousefian:

    It's something that we all knew, that at some point Trump was going to pull out of the deal.

  • Reza Sayah:

    Navid Yousefian is a Ph.D student at U.C. Santa Barbara. Last year, he returned to Tehran to open See You In Iran, a hostel where he says tourists see the real Iran, not the one normally portrayed in Western media.

    On a U.S. map in the lobby, a note from an American guest reads, "Save the Iran deal."

    What Mr. Trump did cannot help you in your business. Do you agree?

  • Navid Yousefian:

    No. Oh, of course, of course. Tourism is like just one part of the economic sector in Iran. I feel like the effects of this Iran deal exit by Trump is going to affect all different sectors of the economy.

  • Reza Sayah:

    Iran's energy sector may be hit hardest. But the country's young high-tech sector is bracing for impact, too.

    You can't be smiling because you're happy.

  • Mohamamd Reza Azali:

    Deep down, I'm not happy, but I can't do anything else.

  • Reza Sayah:

    Mohamamd Reza Azali and Hamed Jafari are co-founders of TechRasa, a news site that reports on Iran's tech industry. The two say they launched their site because of the interest in Iran's tech scene that followed the nuclear deal.

  • Hamed Jafari:

    Some of them were Iranians who had lived abroad for 30, 40 years. They were just like, we want to come back, contribute, help the community here.

  • Reza Sayah:

    Azali and Jafari say the impending return of U.S. sanctions hurts. Nevertheless, Iran remains an attractive market.

  • Hamed Jafari:

    It's a gold mine. It's the last untapped emerging market.

  • Reza Sayah:

    Not everyone here is feeling resilient and defiant. To many Iranians, Mr. Trump's decision was a huge blow. Many here are tired of more bad news, tired of a struggling economy, tired of waiting for things to get better.

    Some statistics say unemployment is at 40 percent. The cost of living is up. The value of Iranian currency is cratering.

  • Mojtaba Keshavarz:

    Day by day, it's more hard.

  • Reza Sayah:

    Mojtaba Keshavarz sells Persian carpets. New U.S. sanctions will hurt exports, he says, but he doesn't blame Washington for all of Iran's struggles. He says decades of official corruption and oppression by Iran's government are to blame, too.

  • Mojtaba Keshavarz:

    Before revolution, we were drinking on the streets and praying at home. Now we pray in the streets and drink at home. You see, this is the deal, change for different — but no hobbies, no life.

  • Reza Sayah:

    What's the solution? How do things get better? Shall I turn off the mic?

    (LAUGHTER)

  • Mojtaba Keshavarz:

    You know, we don't have so freedom to talk about everything. And this is not our business. I don't care about government? Who wants to come? Ahmadinejad, Khamenei, who? But they must care about people.

  • Reza Sayah:

    The man who has to answer to the people is Hassan Rouhani, the moderate president who promised that a now endangered nuclear deal would deliver a better economy that has yet to arrive.

    Voters reelected him last May. This past January, his government faced angry street protests from people fed up by a flatlining economy. And now his stiffest test, how to reassure a restless population, hold back hard-line opponents at home, and fend off increasingly emboldened enemies abroad.

    Analyst Saeed Laylaz says, if Iran can get guarantees of oil exports and benefits from Europe, Iran will salvage what's left of the agreement, and Rouhani will keep enough support to rescue his presidency.

  • Saeed Laylaz:

    They will support the regime. Be sure. I am sure about that. They understand situation. Iran did its best in atomic deal. The responsibility at the moment is inside of the United States. And you will see that people will support the regime and the government.

  • Reza Sayah:

    But, for now, what many Iranians say they won't support is a new round of negotiations with Washington, and the Trump administration. Few here are in the mood.

    I'm Reza Sayah for the "PBS NewsHour" in Tehran.

Listen to this Segment

The Latest