Hard-line Iranian students had announced their plans in advance: They would gather outside the Iranian parliament with 30 placards bearing 30 questions intended to challenge the government over its nuclear framework agreement with the United States and five other world powers.
But when they gathered Tuesday, there were barely more students than placards.
In an indication that conservative opposition to the nuclear deal may be dissipating, only about 100 students from Tehran University and religious seminaries turned out for the protest, which called out the government of President Hassan Rouhani for making concessions to “untrustworthy enemies.”
Police cordoned off the demonstrators, who were subjected to jeers and taunts from passersby.
“Why are you in such a hurry to criticize the negotiation team?” one man demanded of demonstrator Wahid Azizi, a 23-year-old industrial engineering student. The deal, the man said, “is not signed and sealed” yet.
Azizi demurred. “In the released statement it is stipulated, ‘Iran has agreed ...’ " he said.
Still, in an interview, he said the students were demonstrating in the hope of forestalling a final agreement. “If, in the coming months before June, we could make people fully informed about the details of the nuclear statement, they will not allow the negotiation team to sign it,” he said. “People are only aware of the general outlines and those who are jubilant are not aware of the details."
Although there have been no polls indicating the level of public support for a nuclear deal, demonstrations in support of it have been vastly larger than Tuesday’s protest against it. Iranians have grown weary of international sanctions and are eager to see the country’s economy growing again.
One demonstrator, seminary student Mohammad Jafari, 28, said he was waiting to hear what Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei would say about the framework agreement. “It is up to his eminence,” he said, “but people are free to speak their minds. It’s a democracy, and if people decide to accept the nuclear framework, we accept."