Iranian officials and analysts agreed this week that former Vice President Joe Biden would be a better U.S. president for Iran’s interests, although they hastened to add that Iran is fully independent of American influence and would remain invulnerable to pressure from President Donald Trump if he wins re-election.
“The statements by the Biden camp have been more promising, but we will have to wait and see,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told CBS News in an interview on Monday.
Zarif insisted the government of Iran does not have a preference in the U.S. presidential race and said in any event that the actions of the next administration would matter more than words on the campaign trail.
“What is important for us is how the White House behaves after the election, not what promises are there, what slogans are made. The behavior of the U.S. is important. If the U.S. decides to stop its malign behavior against Iran, then it will be a different story no matter who sits in the White House,” he said.
Zarif added that Iran is not interested in “renegotiating” the Obama administration’s nuclear deal, which Trump withdrew from in 2018, but will “find a way to re-engage” if a prospective Biden administration wishes to unconditionally rejoin the deal.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told a cabinet meeting on Wednesday that the outcome of the U.S. presidential election is not a matter of great importance in Tehran.
“Whoever wins the U.S. election is of no significance for us, but it is important that the U.S. return to all international commitments and respect multilateralism,” Rouhani said.
“Our economic decisions have been made over the past few weeks, regardless of what happens in the United States and who is elected,” he declared.
“What is important for us is that the United States respects the Iranian nation. We want respect instead of sanctions. If so, the situation will be different,” Rouhani said.
Iran’s theocratic ruler, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, was even more dismissive of the U.S. election’s outcome.
“In relation to America, our policy is measured and clear and this policy does not change with the coming and going of individuals. Today is the election in America, some talk about who comes and who goes, what happens if this person comes and what happens if that person goes,” Khamenei said in an address carried by Iranian state television.
“Some may think that a government can benefit from submitting to the demands of the United States, but the governments that surrendered to American bullying have suffered the most and their troubles have only multiplied,” Khamenei said.
Iran’s PressTV on Tuesday quoted Daneil Kovalik of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law agreeing with the Iranian Foreign Ministry that a change of U.S. presidents might not bring immediate and dramatic change to American relations with Iran, but Biden would clearly be more amenable to restoring the Iran nuclear deal, which is formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
“I think that Trump will not want to do that. I mean it’s pretty clear where Trump is headed with this. I think he has no intention of re-entering the JCPOA, and though I do think Biden would be more willing to do that, in part because of course it was agreed to, when he was vice president and he has publicly stated that he is open to re-entering the agreement,” Kovalik told PressTV.
“The two parties are pretty much in agreement on foreign policy and its imperial foreign policy. With that said, you know, there’s always some small differences, and given how powerful the US is, small differences can matter… I think that the Iranian ministry is largely right, but there are minor differences and I think in this case Biden will be more open to talk to Iran than Trump,” he said.