The announcement of Joe Biden beating Donald Trump in the hotly contested US election has drawn mixed reactions in Iran. Soon after US media declared Biden the winner, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei took to Twitter to downplay its effect on US policy toward Iran and the region.
“Regardless of the outcome, one thing is absolutely clear: the definite political, civil, moral decline of the US regime,” he wrote.
Iran’s envoy to Azerbaijan and former Foreign Ministry spokesman, Syed Abbas Mousavi, issued a statement that emphasized Biden’s policy will be similar to his predecessors.
While Iran’s official stance remains that there is no difference between Trump or Biden, there is guarded optimism that things could change under the incoming president if he revives the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
Earlier Saturday, President Hassan Rouhani, while hailing what he termed “Iranian nation’s resistance” against the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure campaign” against Iran, said he hopes the new government in Washington will turn the page.
“We hope that the next US administration learns from the three-year experience and returns to its commitments,” he said, an apparent reference to Trump’s exit from the nuclear deal in May 2018. In a reconciliatory tone, indicating Tehran was willing to talk, Rouhani expressed hope that the US will “understand that they have been incorrect” in policies toward Iran.
Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Aragchi also made similar comments that asserted “new approaches” may develop in Washington’s policies if Biden comes to power. He said Iran will “adopt appropriate methods and solutions” in accordance with the shift in Washington’s policies toward Iran but cautioned that Tehran will also “counter any threat.”
On the possibility of Biden returning to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal negotiated during his tenure as US vice president, Aragchi said “it is still too early to comment on it.”
The 2020 US presidential election has generated tremendous interest in Iran’s media and the intelligentsia, with some calling it the “most consequential US election for Iranians” in four decades.
Tensions between Iran and the US have escalated since 2018 when Trump announced a unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear deal, followed by reinstatement of sanctions. Iranians are cautiously optimistic that Biden would return to the deal and relax sanctions.
Meanwhile, Joe Biden officially declared victory Saturday, pledging to be a president who will work to mend the nation’s divisions and “make America respected around the world again.”
“The people of this nation have spoken, they delivered us a clear victory, a convincing victory, a victory for we, the people,” Biden told a crowd of supporters at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware. “I pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide, but unify, who doesn’t see red states and blue states, only sees the United States.”
Directly addressing outgoing US President Donald Trump’s supporters, Biden said he understands their disappointment, but indicated now is the time to give each other a chance to move forward together.
“It’s time to put away the harsh rhetoric, lower the temperate, see each other again, and listen to each other again. And to make progress we have to stop treating our opponents as our enemies. They are not our enemies. They are Americans,” he said in his first speech since winning the White House.
Earlier Saturday, Biden was projected to win the crucial state of Pennsylvania, and with a victory there surpassed the necessary 270 Electoral College votes needed to claim the White House, according to The Associated Press and other news organizations.
Biden now holds a commanding 290 delegates after the AP also called the state of Nevada for the president-elect.
The states of Georgia, North Carolina, and Alaska remain outstanding several days after Tuesday’s election, but it is now mathematically impossible for Trump to win re-election without a major change in vote counts.
Biden’s victory makes Trump the first single-term president in nearly three decades. Trump has, however, vowed to pursue legal challenges to vote totals in several states.
The outgoing president refused to concede shortly after every major news outlet in the US called the race for his opponent, instead lashing out defiantly in a statement distributed by his campaign that claimed the election “is far from over.”
“Joe Biden has not been certified as the winner of any states, let alone any of the highly contested states headed for mandatory recounts, or states where our campaign has valid and legitimate legal challenges,” Trump said. “Legal votes decide who is president, not the news media.”
Trump is set to leave office amid a worsening COVID-19 pandemic with the US reporting more than 100,000 daily cases since Wednesday.
More than 236,000 people have died during the pandemic, and Biden sought during his campaign to cast the grim fact as disqualifying Trump from receiving a second term in office.
In addition to the stark health crisis, Biden will now have to contend with uniting an American public that has been sharply divided during the White House race, and could further sink into partisan trenches, particularly with the president’s refusal to concede.
The president-elect said his first task in office will be to bring the spiraling pandemic under control, saying without doing so the US cannot make progress on rebuilding its economy and returning the country to normalcy. Biden will take the first step Monday when he will name a group of leading scientists and experts as transition advisors.
Biden turns 78 two months to the day before Inauguration Day, making him the oldest incoming president in US history.