Iranians take to streets of Tehran to demand ‘good nuclear deal’
TEHRAN - A small crowd demonstrated in Tehran on Tuesday, chanting they wanted a "good nuclear deal" with world powers and unveiling what they said were millions of signatures urging that outcome.
The peaceful gathering numbered around 200 men and women and participants said their aim was to support Iran's negotiating team in Vienna.
A deal is due by midnight but officials on both sides -- Iran is talking to the United States, Britain, China, France, Russia and Germany -- have said the negotiations will likely overrun.
"We are here to say that we are here for the negotiating team," Alireza Zakani, a lawmaker, told the crowd at Azadi ("Freedom" in Farsi) Square, according to the Fars news agency.
"Any agreement has to be transparent and the commitments of both sides clear on the day of implementation. We hope to witness the success of our representatives and the nation of Iran."
The petition backing the negotiating team and supporting Iran's "red lines" for the talks will be delivered to the foreign ministry on Wednesday, organisers said.
During nearly two years of negotiations between Iran and the six powers, there have been several demonstrations, though relatively small in scale.
"Our nation has always sought peace. We are ready to sign this agreement but our Islamic dignity should be preserved also," said Hassan Akbari, a Tehran resident.
"But if the other side continues their excessive demands, we are ready to continue our resistance economy to run the country."
His last remark referred to increased reliance by Iran on domestic production and internal markets to limit the impact of international sanctions on its economy.
UN and Western sanctions imposed on Iran's oil and banking sectors have hastened a recession and stoked inflation.
The economy is growing again and inflation has fallen to 15 percent -- from 42 percent four years ago -- but a nuclear deal could accelerate the recovery.
In return for the sanctions being lifted, Iran is being asked to substantially scale down its nuclear activities to make any attempt to develop a weapon -- an ambition it in any case denies -- virtually impossible.