Iran Officials React to U.S. Election

President Hassan Rouhani and his supporters were cautiously optimistic that Joe Biden, the projected winner of the 2020 presidential election, could shift U.S. policy on Iran. “We hope the three-year experience will be a lesson for America's next administration to abide by laws and regulations and return to its commitments,” Rouhani said on November 7. In 2018, President Donald Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal that President Barack Obama negotiated in 2015. The biggest initiative—and gamble—of Rouhani’s presidency was reengaging with the United States and negotiating for two years on the nuclear deal. With Iran facing a presidential election in June, Rouhani has little time to salvage the diplomacy. During the campaign, Biden repeatedly pledged to reenter the agreement as a starting point for follow-on negotiations with Iran.

The “world is watching whether the new leaders will abandon disastrous lawless bullying of outgoing regime—and accept multilateralism, cooperation & respect for law,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted on November 8. “Deeds matter most.” 

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei did not immediately react to the result, but anti-Americanism remains a pillar of Iranian foreign policy more than four decades after the revolution. “Our policy is clear and well-calculated, and people coming and going will have no impact on it,” he said on November 3. He also said the political divisions in the United States reflected the “ugly face of liberal democracy” and its “moral decline.” Trump will be put on the “ash heap of history” while the “proud Iranian people stand tall,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh tweeted on November 8.  


The following are reactions from Iranian officials to the U.S. presidential election. 


President Rouhani in a cabinet meeting on November 8: “The harmful, incorrect policies of the U.S. government in the last three years has been condemned by not only peoples around the world, but also the American people in the recent elections.”

Rouhani“Now is the time for the next administration of the United States to make up for past mistakes and return to the path of adherence to international obligations and respecting global regulations.”

“The Islamic Republic of Iran has always adhered to its obligations if all other parties do so in a responsible manner, and we consider constructive interaction with the world as our strategy.”

“With their heroic resistance to the imposed economic war, the Iranian people have proved that the U.S. policy of maximum pressure is doomed to failure.”

“Now is the time to witness the promotion of security and development in the region in the shadow of cooperation and synergy between Iran and its neighbors, and to follow the path of stability and economic growth of the country with as much strength and speed as possible.”

Rouhani during a virtual meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization on November 10: “The U.S. presidential election results shows that a country constantly wielding threats, sanctions and sticks and taking a bullying tone with other nations must be pursuing a misled foreign policy.

“Now the field is clear for new U.S. elected leaders to grasp the message of their people and translate this determination for change into their foreign policies and their ties with other countries and states. Re-embracing adherence to recognized international laws, regulations and obligations, honoring other nations’ rights and compensating the losses incurred are prerequisites to healing the U.S. credibility across the world.”

Rouhani during a meeting of the national coronavirus task force November 7: “We hope the three-year experience will be a lesson for America's next administration to abide by laws and regulations and return to its commitments.”

“Our people have faced economic terrorism for the past three years and shown unparalleled resistance and patience.”

Iran will “continue its resistance and patience until the other side bows before laws and regulations.”  

Rouhani during a cabinet meeting on November 4: “For Tehran, the next U.S. administration’s policies are important and not who wins the U.S. election.”

“We want to be respected, not subject to sanctions. No matter who wins the U.S. election ... For us, policies and principles are important.”


Foreign Minister Zarif in an interview with Iran daily published on November 18: Iran's return to compliance with the nuclear deal “can be done automatically and needs no conditions or even negotiations.”

“If Biden seeks to return to the JCPOA, he will have to fulfill U.S. commitments under the deal and lift the sanctions.”

Biden is a “foreign affairs veteran” who could “lift all of these [sanctions] with three executive orders.”

The US is definitely in no position to set out conditions for us. As a UN member and a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, the U.S. is duty-bound to implement Resolution 2231. If the resolution is implemented, the sanctions will be removed. Iran has announced that in that case, it will resume honoring its commitments under the JCPOA.”

“First, if the US meets its commitments under Resolution 2231, we will fulfill ours under the JCPOA. Second, if the US seeks to join the JCPOA again, we are ready to negotiate the terms and conditions of Washington’s membership in the deal.”

“The next stage that will need negotiating is America's return ... which is not a priority. The first priority is America ending its law breaking and rebelling.”




Zarif in an interview with CBS News on November 2: “If we wanted to do that [renegotiate the nuclear deal], we would have done it with President Trump four years ago.” 

“Under no circumstances" would Iran renegotiate deal. 

“We can find a way to reengage, obviously. But reengagement does not mean renegotiation. It means the U.S. coming back to the negotiating table.”

“I know that Vice President Biden understands that that won't happen [renegotiate the terms of the nuclear deal], and may act differently.” 

President Trump also “is capable of acting differently.”

Supreme Leader Khamenei in a speech on November 3: “The incumbent president, who is supposed to hold the elections, says this is the most-rigged U.S. election throughout history. Who says this? The sitting president who is arranging the elections himself. His opponent says Trump intends to widely cheat. This is American democracy.”

“Our policy is clear and well-calculated, and people coming and going will have no impact on it.” 

“Well, no matter which one will be elected – it will become clear which one will be the winner – there is a completely clear point which is the political, civil and moral decline of the American regime. This will not change with the arrival of either of them.”

“Such an empire [the United States] will not last long. It’s obvious that when a regime reaches this point, it will not live for much longer and will be destroyed.”

“Of course, some of them if they take office will destroy America sooner, and some others if elected will cause America to be destroyed a bit later.”


First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri in tweets on November 7: “1) Finally with the announcement of the results of the #American_Elections, the Trump era and his adventurous and warmongering team has come to an end. Violation of international treaties, from the environment to inhumane economic sanctions against the Iranian people to support for terrorism and racism, were the nature of #Trump's policies.” 

“2) The Iranian nation, which resisted Trump's maximum pressure policy, suffering due to widespread disruption of their livelihoods, lack of access to medicine for patients and the assassination of dear General #Soleimani, will not forget. 

“I hope that we will witness a change in the United States' destructive policies and a return to law and international commitments and respect for nations.” 


Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Khatibzadeh:


Khatibzadeh at a press conference on November 9: “It would be naive to think that it is possible to renegotiate the JCPOA. The deal has been struck and sealed.

“Iran has announced repeatedly that the JCPOA relates to the past and could not be discussed again or renegotiated.”

“The parties to the JCPOA have different commitments, the most important of which has been the commitment to remove the sanctions. Apart from the US’ withdrawal from the JCPOA), the other parties have sadly failed to lift the sanctions as well.”

“We basically have no contact with anybody (US official) about anything other than the issues totally related to the JCPOA, specifically when an (a new) administration has not still taken power in the U.S.” 

“With the ‘Trump security’ illusion gone, one or two of our neighboring countries may come to their senses and realize that they cannot always obtain security by paying money and lobbying, that they cannot always buy weapons and kill Yemeni people by lobbying.”

“Since day one, Iran has been pursuing a constant and well-known policy, and that is good-neighborliness. Iran will not change its policy with the replacement of officials in other countries.”

Khatibzadeh in an interview with Al Alam news network on November 9: “The difference between Biden and Trump is obvious, but we are waiting for practical steps to be taken.”

“As the Leader (Ayatollah Khamenei) said, the United States must repent. This means that it must firstly, admit to its mistakes and secondly, stop the economic war against Iran. Thirdly, it must mend its ways and commit to its obligations and, as the fourth step, compensate (Iran) for losses.”

“Iran is reserving a list of items for which the US administration must account.”

“U.S. has no choice, but to show respect and return to the path of law.”

"The U.S. is not in a position to set conditions for anybody... It has inflicted billions of dollars in damage on the Iranian nation and has quit the JCPOA as a party.”


Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi in an interview on November 11:  “[W]e are not afraid of Trump's stay in White House, nor are we excited about Biden taking power. We make decisions and take measures based on our own interests.”

“Although there are many changes, the way to return to the JCPOA is not closed. Iran did not leave the negotiating table and the P5+1. It was the U.S. who unilaterally withdrew from the JCPOA.”

“If the United States returns to the table of negotiation and JCPOA, all anti-Iran sanctions must be lifted to meet the interests of the Iranian nation.”


Government Spokesperson Ali Rabiei at a press conference on November 10: “Iran's stance toward American leaders is clear. As we have reiterated, we deal with policies not politicians.”

“We will continue our domestic empowerment plan regardless of the decisions that we hope new US administration will make in line with international community and the two sides’ interests.”

“The right of Iranians from the world economy is more than this. We will stand against the United States to realize this right, and Iran will use every opportunity.”

“We hope for the new U.S. leaders to learn from four-year experience. The era of bullying and unilateralism has come to an end and the international issues require reinforcing international cooperation and respecting international regulations and nations’ rights.”

“We hope they have learned that language of force and pressure will not work and have seen that Iran not only did not submit but also it had become stronger in defending its dignity, independence and rights.”

“We hope that the next U.S. administration will stop continuation of previous mistakes and will try to compensate for it. Rejoining the JCPOA and unconditional commitment to all its requirements is the first step in line with correcting these policies.”

“The world is waiting to see how the U.S. administration will terminate a big violation of law, the price of which was paid by Iranians in time of the COVID-19 pandemic.” 


Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani in a tweet on Novemer 8: “The end of #Trump is not a surprise, it is the fate of history. Most #American people reject the failed record of thinking that bullying and coercion is the solution to problems. Does the elected government understand this, that under his picture frame in the White House, instead of 45th President, they should write: "A Lesson for Future Generations.”


Speaker of Parliament Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf in a tweet on November 7:
Ghalibaf tweeted an excerpt from Sura 79 of the Quran about Pharaoh disobeying God. He also included a video of Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary general of Hezbollah, a Lebanese Shiite militia and political party. In the video, Nasrallah claimed that “liberating” Jerusalem from Israeli control would be “a stone’s throw away” if Trump lost the election and the United States withdrew from the Middle East.  

“but he [Pharaoh] denied and disobeyed Allah,
“then turned his back, striving ˹against the truth.
“Then he summoned ˹his people˺ and called out,
“saying, “I am your lord, the most high!”
“So Allah overtook him, making him an example in this life and the next.
“Surely in this is a lesson for whoever stands in awe of Allah.”


Seyed Abbas Salehi, Culture Minister, in a tweet on November 7:
“Trump left.
“Iran remains!

“Tomorrow and the days after will be the same!”


Ambassador to the United Kingdom Hamid Baeidinejad in a tweet on November 7: “Finally, the political life of a man who only spread hatred is over.

“Trump couldn’t make Iran surrender and now his political life has come to an end while wishing for a phone call from Iran.”

The photograph in the tweet was edited to replace the original newspaper headline, “The Shah has left,” from 1979, with “Trump has left.” 


Some of the information in this article was originally published on November 9, 2020.