Iranian President Hassan Rouhani celebrated the departure of outgoing American President Donald Trump by calling him a “stupid terrorist” and urging now-President Joe Biden to return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal his former boss, President Barack Obama, negotiated.
Rouhani accused Trump of engaging in “state terrorism” for his decision to approve a drone strike against Major General Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Quds Force, a foreign terrorism unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Iran’s IRGC is a U.S.-designated terrorist organization and Soleimani was personally believed to be responsible for hundreds of American deaths and thousands of severe injuries. Iran is the worst’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism.
As a presidential candidate, Biden said that he would not have approved the strike on Soleimani.
In addition to targeting Soleimani, the airstrike eliminated Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the head of the Iraq-based Hezbollah Brigade, an anti-American militia. The two were meeting in Baghdad, where Soleimani often visited to maintain ties with Iran-backed terrorists in the country.
In his remarks Wednesday, Rouhani defined the attack on Soleimani, not Soleimani’s years of violence, the true terrorism, and expressed hope Biden would revert to policies more friendly to Tehran.
“We had [never before] seen a US president explicitly announcing that he had assassinated a senior military commander who was a guest in a third country,” Rouhani said, according to Iran’s state-run PressTV. “With what this stupid terrorist did, ‘state terrorism’ was inscribed on the forehead of the United States. Today is the end of the political life of the individual who violated international law and [US] obligations for four years.”
The removal of Soleimani from the battlefield — coupled with years of Trump-era sanctions on Iran in response to the Islamic regime’s destabilization activities in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and other regional countries — significantly limited Iran’s ability to operate during Trump’s term. Iran’s economy is also in a dire state, largely due to the regime’s Obama-era spending on adventurism in other parts of the Middle East, prompting multiple waves of protests calling for democracy.
Despite this reality, Rouhani declared Trump’s policy to contain Iran’s belligerence a failure.
“It has become evident to our nation and the whole world that the policy of economic terrorism and maximum pressure has failed 100 percent,” Rouhani said, referring to the U.S. sanctions. “Of course, the Iranian people suffered under the pressure and economic war, but they endured [the hardships] and, through resistance, did not allow the enemies’ goals to be realized.”
Discussing the expected policies of President Joe Biden, Rouhani expressed more flexibility than the regime had prior to his inauguration when officials insisted they would not renegotiate the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or Iran Nuclear Deal. The deal greatly expanded Iran’s economic reach and did not prevent it from ultimately returning to its illegal nuclear weapons program. Much of the windfall from that deal, brokered when Biden was vice president, ended up funding terrorist activity in places like Syria and Iraq. President Trump withdrew from the deal during his tenure, leaving Iran committed in the deal with the remaining European states and China.
Iranian officials prior to his inauguration suggested that Biden would enact an “unconditional” return to the agreement. Rouhani instead suggested that “the ball is in Washington’s court” and that Tehran would be willing to listen.
“If they (American statesmen) sincerely return to the law and show their honesty in practice, we will also fulfill our own commitments,” Rouhani said. “Trump is gone but the JCPOA is alive. All the attempts of American extremists, regional reactionaries and the Zionists were for the JCPOA to die, but today the JCPOA is alive. Trump and his dark record are history, but the JCPOA is still alive.”
“Today, thanks God, Trump’s black page will be closed forever, and we say thanks God when any oppressor is overthrown,” Rouhani said, addressing a cabinet meeting in Tehran on Wednesday.
Other Iranian officials also expressed an apparent eagerness to return to the nuclear deal Wednesday, contradicting repeated insistence that Iran would not consider a renegotiation of the agreement.
“We make decision [sic] and take reciprocal action considering Biden’s moves vis a vis the nuclear deal. We have repeatedly demanded the US to return to the nuclear deal and this return should be complete and without preconditions, that is to say, no issue related or unrelated to the nuclear deal should be put forward for discussion,” Takht Ravanchi, Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, said this week.
To punctuate the end of the Trump era, Iranian officials announced sanctions Wednesday against several senior Trump administration officials, including Trump himself, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and former National Security Advisor John Bolton. The individuals sanctioned — meaning they are limited in traveling to and doing business in Iran — appear on the list for “committing terrorist crimes, promoting and supporting terrorism … and for violating basic rules and fundamental principles of international law,” the Iranian Foreign Ministry claimed.
The government of China similarly sanctioned Pompeo and other high-ranking Trump officials Wednesday, minutes after Biden became president.