It is deceptively easy to find out what Iranians think about this nuclear dispute. When we travel around the city, we have no government minder and need no permission to go around and interview people on the streets. Only once since I've been here has a policeman come up to ask us what we are doing. One look at our accreditation kept him at bay.
But the real hurdle comes when the camera comes out, when people realize we are a Western television crew, and even more so, when they find out we are from CNN. Iranians are incredibly friendly and insightful people, but it can be difficult to get them to open up on camera. That said, you have to look at the nuances to get a real sense of what's going on here.
When we were last here a few months ago, everyone we spoke to, from the rich to the poor, from the moderates to the conservatives, told us they believed in their country's right to a civilian nuclear program. They felt insulted that the world wanted to withhold the chance from Iran to have nuclear energy produced by its own scientists. And there was a huge undercurrent of nationalist pride in the fact that Iranian scientists had figured out how to enrich uranium, that they would never have to be dependent on others to do that.
But now, with a new United Nations mandate to stop the program by the end of the month and in the immediate aftermath of the month-long conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, fear is creeping in to the Iranian streets.
In the past few weeks, I've been to all parts of Tehran.
In the blue-collar south, there remains defiance against the West. I was told repeatedly at a car parts market that Iran has endured sanctions before and can endure them again.
But in the north, university students spoke openly to us about their fear of the economic hardships Iran could soon face. Iran's youth make up the majority of Iran's population. The median age is 25. And there are large groups of college graduates who have no jobs. Inflation here keeps going up, so the economic situation is ripe for things to get dramatically worse if sanctions are imposed.
Iranians I've spoken to are aware that theirs is a government looking to flex its muscles, looking to gain international clout. And they know all of that is part of Iran's defiance against the West over the nuclear issue.
But now, international affairs could soon hit home in a very real way. Jobs could be lost. Prices could skyrocket. Gas could become too expensive for some to buy. And this prospect will prove to be the biggest test of domestic support for Iran's official position to continue its nuclear program. Are Iranians willing to follow their government and seemingly fight for this right whatever may come?