After more than a decade of sanctions and growing isolation, Iranians are hoping for an end to the nuclear dispute and better international relations. But the price of peace cannot be too high.
"The nuclear talks are the main topic right now," says Shahryar, and gazes pensively at the twinkling lights of nighttime Tehran.
Over dinner, he and his friend Pardis have been following the news on the talks in faraway Vienna using Twitter, which is actually banned in Iran.
Shahryar is willing to talk about the situation, even though Iranians rarely discuss politics with strangers. In the protected anonymity of the city's Bam-e Tehran Park, high above the city's rooftops, the 29-year-old doesn't mince words. "The sanctions hit us hard," he says. High unemployment and rising prices make life difficult in particular for simple workers, he adds.
"I even heard that we can no longer import certain pharmaceuticals because of restrictions in the financial sector," Pardis says. "That's why many sick people don't get the treatment they need." They both hope for a deal in Vienna that would end such problems.
"We want to be able to trade directly with Europe and the US at last," Reza chimes in. Seated at a neighboring table, the businessman from northwestern Iran says the international sanctions force him to make detours via China or Russia. He says he would like to visit a trade fair in Germany in the fall: "We want to have good relations with the whole world once again."
Not at all costs
Like the overwhelming majority of Iranians, Reza hopes for an accord in Vienna, though not at al costs. "We're prepared to radically reduce our nuclear program, and make it subject to strict controls," he says.
But there must be some guarantee that in turn, all sanctions are lifted, he says, and not merely suspended. "After all, Barack Obama won't be in office much longer," he argues. "Many of his possible successors have already threatened not to recognize an agreement with us."
However, Reza believes there will in fact be a deal. "The talks have been going on for so long that no side can really afford to go home without an outcome," he says.
Then perhaps more tourists would come to Iran, muses Hamid. The 32-year-old runs a small travel agency and shows visitors the Grand Bazaar and the Shah's Palace in Tehran as well as world cultural heritage sites like Persepolis and Isfahan.
Fewer tourists have made their way to Iran over the past few years than he had hoped for, he says. "There is so much to see and do here," he says, adding that Iranians are really hospitable. "But because of the poor political relations, people don't even think to go on a vacation in Iran."
Hope for domestic reform
Niloufar has high hopes for far more than agreement in Vienna.
"The religious police followed me on my way out there to Bam-e Tehran," the 21-year-old at the neighboring table says. She is wearing light blue leggings and a coat the country's guardians of public morals would clearly deem to be too short.
She says she barely got away from them, and is hiding here, waiting for her parents to bring her clothing that conforms to the Islamic Republic's strict dress code. "We women in particular simply can't live free lives here in Iran," she says. Maybe that will change, Niloufar she adds, once "the county's foreign policy and economic problems have been solved."
Nazanin doesn't want to wait that long. The 31-year-old would like to get her PhD in the US and experience the freedom there, but most importantly, she wants a degree from an Ivy League university that would boost her career opportunities.
It's not easy to get a visa for the US, however. Before the Iranian revolution, there were direct flights to the US, and Iranians didn't need a visa. That much Nazanin knows from her parents.
"Today, my Iranian passport is barely worth a thing," she complains, adding that most western embassies instantly refuse Iranians without a good job and a well-filled bank account.
But the young woman is optimistic that agreement at the Vienna talks might just change that.
"I am convinced that there will be an agreement," she says. "The time has come for relations between our country and the rest of the world to improve."