Iran’s Kayhan Newspaper Says Only ‘Infiltrators’ Would Talk to Biden
With Iranian officials expressing optimism of renewing Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and easing international sanctions after the United States presidential election, some hardliners are opposing any negotiations with Washington.
Hossein Shariatmadari, the veteran 72-year-old editor of Kayhan, a low-circulation but influential daily financed by the office of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, has characterized negotiations with America as “sedition” and suggested that only “infiltrators” would negotiate with Washington.
“All those who keep talking about negotiations with America despite all the damage we have sustained as a result of the United States arrogance and blackmailing, reveal the extent of their stupidity,” Shariatmadari wrote an editorial published Thursday, November 26. Stupidity was, however, “the most optimistic characterization of these individuals,” he continued, as “what they do is more likely to be described as treason and imposing poverty on the nation.”
Shariatmadari opposed Iran’s 2015 nuclear agreement, known as the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), from which President Donald Trump withdrew the US in 2018 before imposing draconian sanctions that have sent the Iranian economy into a three-year recession. With President-elect Joe Biden’s defeat of Trump in this month’s US election, President Hassan Rouhani has emphasized a path back to the JCPOA, with Tehran returning its nuclear program to the JCPOA limits and the US easing sanctions.
The Kayhan editorial contrasts sharply to statements by Rouhani and Khamenei over international negotiations. Rouhani on Thursday expressed joy over the outcome of the US election, and said that “those who imposed sanction on Iran were disgracefully defeated…and soon will be dumped into the dustbin of history.”
In his editorial, Shariatmadari demanded that Iran enrich uranium to 20 percent – from the current 4.5 percent, itself beyond the JCPOA limit of 3.67 percent – as a means of forcing the US to lift sanctions. He also warned of the “possibility of infiltration of the enemy’s agents disguised as advisers.”
In another article, the daily quoted optimistic statements about the next US administration and its impact on Iran’s economy from almost all the reformist newspapers “who have been celebrating the return of the architect of the 2015 nuclear deal,” probably referring to Biden’s choice as National Security Advisor of Jake Sullivan, who was instrumental in behind-the-scenes talks with Iran leading to the JCPOA.
Hardliners among Iran Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) are also unhappy at statements from Rouhani. The top story of Javan daily newspaper on Thursday pointed out that after calling the Americans “troublemakers” back in 2018, Rouhani had been waiting for them to return to the JCPOA. The paper attacked the Iranian president for declaring “the end of the United States’ economic war on Iran” as soon as Biden had been declared winner of the US election.
Meanwhile, the reformist press has tended to portray Iran as a top priority for the incoming Biden administration, debating matters like Biden not appointing John Kerry as his Secretary of State. The veteran Kerry, who played a very public role at the time of the JCPOA as then Secretary of State, will be Biden’s envoy on climate change.