What Do Iranian Dissidents Think of the Nuclear Deal?

Recently Ed Kilgore noted James Fallows’ article in response the the arguments Leon Wieseltier made against the Iran nuclear deal. If you clicked through and read the Fallows article, you saw that he did more than take on Wieseltier’s arguments. He also did us the service of listing the people/groups who both oppose and support the agreement.

Listed with the groups that support it is an important contingent that we haven’t heard much about in this discussion: Iranian dissidents. Fallows links to an article by Danny Postel that is based on a report from the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran titled: High Hopes, Tempered Expectations: Views from Iran on the Nuclear Negotiations. Here’s a summary:

61 percent of the respondents [most of whom have been political prisoners] believe that reaching a deal on the nuclear issue “should facilitate progress toward greater rights and liberties” and that “the nation’s attention, previously monopolized by the negotiations, could now turn to critical domestic issues, among them, the state of basic freedoms in Iran,” according to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

And here’s a particularly powerful quote:

“Social hopelessness would increase drastically [if the agreement fell through]. People would once again lose their motivation for reforms. … The failure of the negotiations would equal the failure of moderates and the strengthening of the radical camp. … The atmosphere for cultural activities and journalism would become tremendously more difficult. … [A] continuation of sanctions would place the country in a defensive mode … [and] the domestic security organs would increasingly pressure the media and journalists in order to silence any voices of dissent.”

– a journalist in Tehran and former political prisoner (anonymous)

Republicans were fond of criticizing President Obama for not doing more to support the dissidents in Iran during the 2009 Green Movement. Next time one of them talks about how horrible this agreement is, it would be nice if some journalists were armed with this information and asked them about it.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.