What Iranians think of Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to Congress

Iranian reaction to Netanyahu speech
Iranian reaction to Netanyahu speech

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Tehran, Iran (CNN)Benjamin Netanyahu's speech in front of U.S. Congress was never intended to reach an audience in Iran, but it certainly did.

While Iranian media outlets did not show it live, many people said they would seek out what the Israeli Prime Minister had to say because the negotiations with world leaders on Iran's nuclear program were so important to them.
At the Tajrish market in Tehran, where many people go to shop both for food as well as clothes and everyday items, there was widespread condemnation of Netanyahu's speech among the shoppers.
    "America is trying to reach something with Iran, an agreement," one young man said. "But Netanyahu and Israel are trying to stop it, they are banning us."
    And another man talking about the speech added: "He started five years ago, this attacking. But in this case it is no problem for Iran, what he is talking about."
    The Iranian political establishment seemed to have a similar view. After blasting the speech shortly after it happened on Tuesday, the spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry in Tehran, Marzieh Afkham, said Wednesday that Iran did not care about the speech and was focused on reaching a deal that would benefit the country.
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    Netanyahu speech in 100 seconds

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    On Tuesday, Netanyahu told Congress that one potential deal being discussed between Iran and world powers would pave the way for Iran to obtain nuclear weapons -- and would destabilize not just the Middle East, but the entire world.
    But nuclear technology remains an issue of national pride for many Iranians, who believe their country has the right to develop the technology.
    Afkham says that Iran sees Netanyahu's speech as a campaign maneuver that will drive a wedge between Israel and its Western allies, especially Barack Obama.
    Netanyahu is running for a fourth term as Israel's prime minister in elections on March 17.
    "The continued lies of the Netanyahu regarding the aims and intentions of the peaceful nuclear program of Iran are repetitive and sickening," Afkham said. "With the continuation of the negotiations and the serious will of Iran to remove this artificial crisis, the politics of 'Iranophobia' are facing major problems."
    Mohammad Marandi, a professor for North American studies at Tehran University and an outspoken critic of U.S. policies towards Iran, told CNN he believes the fears over Iran's nuclear capabilities are overblown.
    "In a poll carried out in Iran a month ago, 70 percent of Iranians believe that the nuclear program is completely peaceful," he said, "and in addition to that, the fact that the religious authorities in Iran have given fatwas against nuclear weapons adds to this argument."
    But fatwas -- religious rulings -- will not ease the fears in the West that Iran is secretly planning to develop a bomb. And Iranians in the Tajrish market seem somewhat skeptical that the current talks will produce an agreement.
    "We have lost hope in everything," one woman told CNN. "I don't think it will happen. I don't have belief in anything."
    Others seemed more optimistic. "They have to reach and agreement," another woman said, "because we have many problems here."
    She is referring to the international sanctions that continue to cripple Iran's economy. Unemployment is high, especially among younger people, and there is a lack of foreign investment that makes economic development even more difficult. The people CNN spoke to said lifting the sanctions was the most important issue for them in regards to the current nuclear talks.
    "It is very important to us," one young man said. "Think about it, our country is going to become very different in every kind of thing. In the economy, in politics, it is going to make a lot of difference."
    While people seemed cautiously optimistic, many realize that negotiations still have a long way to go and could ultimately fail, leaving many Iranians facing a bleak and uncertain future.