Iran’s President-elect Ebrahim Raisi, a known radical and staunch supporter of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s nuclear ambitions, has sent a loud and clear message to US President Joe Biden- Tehran will not negotiate over its ballistic missile programme, nor will it end support to regional militias.
Even before assuming power, Raisi has stuck to a hardline foreign policy. The Iranian President-elect knows just how desperate Biden is for a return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, or what is formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). So, Raisi doesn’t want to concede anything while compelling Biden to return to the 2015 deal.
In fact, Iran has been already turning quote aggressive in its actions. Recently, some Iranian ships were believed to be headed toward Venezuela supposedly to conduct an arms transfer. But when the US started hinting that it wants to return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which was scrapped by former US President Donald Trump in 2018, the ships changed course.
Biden has been trying hard to appease Iran. Last week, for the Iraq war resolution, the US House of Representatives voted to repeal a war resolution that authorised US military activity in Iraq. This was really a gift to Iran by the Biden administration, as Tehran can now use its proxies in Iraq to carry out offensive actions against the Arabs and the Israelis.
For Biden, returning to the Iran nuclear deal is really an uncontrollable obsession. The incumbent US President has inherited the mandate to revive JCPOA from his former boss, Barack Obama.
It is no secret that Biden continues to operate in the shadow of the Obama-era and the former US President influences Biden very strongly. Now, Obama himself had a very strong leaning towards Iran and the 2015 nuclear deal, with a former Iraqi lawmaker going as far as speculating that Obama had a “Shi’ite background” in an attempt to explain his willingness to work with Iran.
Iran’s President-elect Ebrahim Raisi also understands Biden’s inner desire to resurrect the 2015 nuclear deal. So, he wants to squeeze as much leverage out of the United States as he possibly can. In his first press conference, Raisi said, “The U.S. is obliged to lift all oppressive sanctions against Iran.”
About the nuclear deal negotiations, Raisi said, “We support the negotiations that guarantee our national interests. … America should immediately return to the deal and fulfil its obligations under the deal.”
Iran’s President-elect wants the US to return to the 2015 nuclear deal and also demands a full rollback of sanctions. At the same time, he has made it amply clear that Tehran will not make any concessions whatsoever. This is exactly what Obama had given Iran in 2015 and the Shi’ite nation wants to go back to the same era.
There is now a strong consensus on the issue in Iran. The outgoing Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was moderate and not in agreement with Ayatollah’s hardline position. But Raisi, an ultraconservative enjoys the backing of the Iranian Supreme Leader. Therefore, Tehran has evolved into a radical regime with the Iranian President-elect, Supreme Leader and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on the same page.
Iran knows Biden wants to return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal at any cost. But he is facing a lot of pressure from within the US, as well as from US allies like Saudi Arabia and Israel. In fact, Biden wants the Iran nuclear deal so badly that he has also jeopardised Washington’s relations with Saudi Arabia. The Shi’ite nation however will keep nudging Biden for a return to the 2015 nuclear deal.
With Raisi’s accession to power, Iran is going to turn far more radical and this is not good news for the US. The US will now be squeezed by Tehran for a meek surrender in terms of the Iran nuclear deal negotiations.