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Following A Groundbreaking Pact, Taking The Temperature In Tehran

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Let's continue our coverage of the Iran nuclear agreement has been reached by diplomats in Vienna. The deal is supposed to limit Iran's nuclear capabilities, and in exchange, the U.S. and other foreign powers would reduce sanctions on that country. Iran's foreign minister tweeted this morning that the deal was a triumph of diplomacy, quote, "we all will have won when we all could have lost". Of course, there are skeptics in the U.S. and Iran. To gauge the mood in Iran, we're joined now by Thomas Erdbrink of The New York Times from Tehran. Welcome.

THOMAS ERDBRINK: Good morning.

MONTAGNE: You've been out on the streets, talking to Iranians. What are you hearing?

ERDBRINK: Well, people are naturally very excited by the idea of that sanctions that have constrained Iran's economy and been basically bullying people out of jobs - that these sanctions might be lifted under this agreement that is now supposedly made in Vienna. (Unintelligible) He didn't care whether was Iran's professional dignity was upheld, something that Iranians here think is very important. He said, I just want a job for my three sons 'cause they're all sitting at home, and they're unemployed. Other people told me the opposite. They said look, these Westerners - they were threatening us with war, but they would have never gone to war with us. We should've negotiated even harder. So even though nobody yet knows the details of this agreement that they supposedly made in Vienna, people are gearing up and waiting to hear more to sort of form an opinion.

MONTAGNE: But there are some big benefits that could accrue to people in Iran. Do they see it that way?

ERDBRINK: Absolutely. I think the overall majority of people who are, you know, middle-class, who want their children to have a better life and who, every now and then, want travel abroad for vacation - I think those people - they are very, very pleased. And they are hoping this will actually be the start of Iran sort of reconnecting with the Western world. They want, you know, their country to be more a normal country, instead of always, you know, hammering down on its revolutionary standpoint.

But, of course, even though those people might be the majority, they're not in power in this country. No, those in power are Iran's hardliners. They control the state television. They control the economy. They control the security forces. They have been very vocally critical of a potentially bad deal, as they call it. They want a deal basically on Iran terms, and otherwise, they say, we will not accept it. Now, in coming weeks, as this deal will be sort of checked out by Congress, but also by Iran's parliament, we will see how those hardliners here will respond to it.

MONTAGNE: Well, of course, just briefly - the ayatollah must have given his blessing for a deal, or it could never have happened. Could the hardliners kill it?

ERDBRINK: Well, of course, in theory, that sounds true because negotiators were negotiating upon - you know, with the full authority of the supreme leader. But when the deal comes home and when these details become clear and when it will become clear, how much of Iran's nuclear program actually has to be mothballed or, even worse, has to be taken apart, yeah, you can be sure there will be pushback from these hardliners.

MONTAGNE: All right. Well, we'll be talking more about this throughout the day and days ahead. Thank you very much for joining us.

ERDBRINK: Thanks for having me.

MONTAGNE: Thomas Erdbrink is The New York Times bureau chief in Tehran. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.