Few nations are likely to celebrate President Donald Trump’s electoral defeat like Iran – a punching bag for the government over the past four years and the target of Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign, which has sought to isolate Tehran on the world stage and cause its economy to collapse.
Iran has struggled with Trump’s sanctions, which, in conjunction with the coronavirus pandemic, have rocked the country’s economy. Tehran has already resorted to violence to combat social unrest, and another four years of Trump would have been a formidable challenge.
But the president has not yet left the Oval Office. Axios reported on Sunday that the government is coordinating with Israel and several Gulf allies to launch a new sanctions campaign aimed at paralyzing Iran and making it difficult for Biden to ease the pressure or return to the faltering nuclear deal in January.
Nevertheless, Iranian officials have continued to resist. The Iranian leadership celebrated the chaos of last week’s elections, citing Trump’s repeated false claims of victory and fraud as proof of the rottenness at the heart of American democracy.
When the winner was determined, both Iranian leaders said they were looking to the future and that Tehran would not be intimidated, regardless of who was in the White House.
On Sunday, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif appealed to Iran’s neighbors to cooperate with Tehran again and to reduce their dependence on the United States: “A sincere message to our neighbors: in 70 days the trump card will be gone. But we will stay here forever,” he wrote on Twitter, which is banned in Iran.
“To rely on outsiders to provide security is never a good gamble,” he added. “We reach out to our neighbors for dialogue to resolve differences. Only together can we build a better future for all”.
Axios reported that the Trump government hopes to impose a new series of sanctions on Iran every week until January 20 when Biden is due to take power. The sanctions, according to two Israeli sources informed of the efforts, target Iran’s ballistic missile program, its support for terrorist groups and its human rights abuses.
The government believes that these measures will be more difficult for Biden to reverse than sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear activities. Washington Newsday has contacted the Biden campaign and asked for comments on the reported plan.
Observers have warned that the remaining two months in office will give Trump a window of opportunity to escalate the situation with Iran, either by increasing sanctions or through military action.
Iranian officials vacillated between pushing for a lifting of sanctions and the stubborn promise to survive anything the U.S. throws at them.
On Sunday, President Hassan Rouhani said that the Iranian people would resist all American efforts to force a surrender. “Washington’s policy of maximum pressure is doomed to failure,” the president said. He added: “Iran has always respected its international obligations and considers constructive interaction with the world as its strategy.
Iran’s State Department spokesman, Saeed Khatibzadeh, said in an interview published on Monday that Tehran is calling for the lifting of sanctions and hopes that the US will return to the kind of dialogue that brought about the nuclear deal under President Barack Obama.
“The difference between Biden and Trump is obvious, but we are waiting for practical steps to be taken,” he said. “The United States must repent. That means first, admitting its mistakes and second, ending the economic war against Iran. Thirdly, they must mend their ways and meet their obligations and, as a fourth step, make good the losses,” Khatibzadeh added.