As US counts votes, Iran’s Rouhani signals tough times ahead

In a televised speech, the Iranian leader says the next US president should respect international treaties and laws.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani chairing a cabinet meeting in Tehran on Wednesday [AFP]

Tehran, Iran – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has said it does not matter who wins a surprisingly tight US presidential election and that his country has planned for “difficult conditions” in the future.

In a televised speech on Wednesday, the Iranian leader said whoever the next president in Washington was, he should respect international treaties and laws.

“We want to be respected, not subject to sanctions [by the US]. No matter who wins the US election… What we want is for the US to return to law… to return to international and multilateral accords,” he said in reference to a nuclear deal Iran signed with world powers in 2015.

In May 2018, US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the landmark deal and imposed harsh economic sanctions on Iran.

His Democratic challenger Joe Biden says he will return to the nuclear deal and lift sanctions on Iran in an effort to restart wider negotiations.

Rouhani on Wednesday said if the next US administration chooses to change course, that could change facts on the ground, but that Iran is not holding its breath and would prepare for the worst.

“We have planned based on the assumption that the methods and behaviours of the US will not return to the correct approach,” he said.

“If the Americans come to a realisation … that they must choose another way, so much the better. But if not, our decisions are based on how to run the country if conditions are difficult.”

Since abandoning the nuclear deal, Trump has followed a “maximum pressure” campaign that has blacklisted the entire Iranian financial sector.

The long sanctions have significantly damaged the Iranian economy, leading to sharp currency devaluation and high inflation.

Iran says it will not be pressured to renegotiate the nuclear deal and will adhere to all its commitments once the US lifts all sanctions and returns to the negotiating table.

In a speech on Tuesday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the outcome of the US presidential elections would not affect Iranian policy towards the US.

“Some people talk about what will happen if this or that one is elected. Yes, certain events may happen but they don’t concern us. Our policy is calculated and clear.” he said.

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