TEHRAN: Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani vowed Wednesday to take “any opportunity” to lift US sanctions against Tehran, following President Donald Trump’s defeat by Democratic election rival Joe Biden.
While the outgoing Trump has declared Iran an arch-foe and sought to isolate it globally, president-elect Biden has proposed to offer Iran a “credible path back to diplomacy.”
“Our aim is to lift the pressure of sanctions from the shoulders of our people,” Rouhani said in televised remarks during a weekly cabinet meeting.
“Wherever this favorable opportunity arises we will act on our responsibilities. No one should miss any opportunity.”
“National security and national interests are not factional and partisan issues,” Rouhani added, after conservatives blasted his reformist and moderate coalition for its “over-excitement” for re-engagement with the Islamic republic’s nemesis.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday that the US will sanction any individual or entity cooperating with the Iranian regime will be subjected to Iranian sanctions.
“We remain firmly committed to countering any activity that threatens our national security,” he tweeted, adding: “Our message is clear: If you do business with Iranian proliferators, you risk US sanctions.”
Yesterday, the United States sanctioned members of an illicit Iranian procurement network. We remain firmly committed to countering any activity that threatens our national security. Our message is clear: If you do business with Iranian proliferators, you risk U.S. sanctions.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) November 11, 2020
Decades-old tensions between Tehran and Washington escalated after Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from a landmark Iran nuclear deal in 2018 and reimposed, then reinforced, crippling sanctions.
Those moves torpedoed the deal, Rouhani’s signature foreign policy achievement, and bolstered conservatives who argue that the US cannot be trusted.
The measures have all but deprived Iran of vital oil revenues and isolated its banks, triggering a harsh recession and slashing the value of the rial.
Rouhani acknowledged Biden’s conciliatory remarks during his campaign but said Tehran was prepared for sanctions to remain in place.
“They can choose a new path. And if they do not want to, it is their choice,” he told the cabinet.
He noted that his administration had devised its policies on the assumption Trump would stay in office.
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said last week that the result of the US election would have “no effect” on Tehran’s policies toward Washington.