By Javad Heirannia

'Biden would seek to reenter JCPOA'

June 14, 2020 - 13:35

TEHRAN – A non-resident fellow at Atlantic Council is of the opinion that if Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden wins the November elections, he will continue pressuring Beijing to contain China but he would seek rejoining the JCPOA, the official name for the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

However, Sina Azodi tells the Tehran Times, the Trump administration “has engaged in a ‘scorched earth’ policy to destroy the JCPOA completely,” 

Following is the text of the interview with Azodi:

Q: What is your analysis of Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic as he is facing reelection in November?

A: In terms of Trump’s performance one should note that Trump initially called it a hoax and disregarded the intelligence warnings about the virus. He then shifted course and tried to tackle the virus. However, in an election year, the performance of economy is a major player and a great factor on the voters’ decisions. With the number of unemployment rising and economy in a “coma”, Trump naturally is pushing to get the economy back and running again. Meanwhile, Biden will try to use Trump’s weak performance to his own benefit. At this stage, even small things such as wearing the mask has become political.  Trump recently mocked Biden for wearing a mask in public - while his chief health officials have repeatedly stated that wearing masks is essential. 

Q: To what extent can the reopening of the economy lead to the deterioration of the situation?

A: The issue of reopening or keeping the economy in an induced coma, is a major dilemma for every political leader. In terms of saving lives and preventing a human catastrophe, it is necessary to take necessary measures to prevent the spread of the virus, but at the same time nations are facing serious financial and economic challenges. In the end however, I think that one cannot be prosperous if they are dead- meaning that preventing the further spread of virus is of more importance than opulence. 

Q: One of the foreign policy approaches of the Trump administration seems to have been taken from Henry Kissinger to contain China. In line with this policy, the U.S. has stepped up operations in the South China Sea. Any comments, please?

 I believe Kissinger’s view on China is more understanding of the situation and Beijing’s view on itself and the world. That being said, the United States sees a great deal of challenge emerging from a rising China. After four decades of massive economic boom, naturally transferred to military might, the U.S. is keen on controlling and ideally pushing back against China. Interestingly, Trump’s China approach falls within Obama’s approach to contain China and prevent its further rise. 

Q: If Joe Biden is elected the next president of the United States, will he change policy toward China? What would be his approach to Iran and the nuclear deal?

A: Approach to China I believe will be the same as Trump. While he may avoid openly poking China by starting trade wars, I believe that the U.S. will continue exercising pressure on China to contain it. On Iran, I think that Biden would seek to reenter the JCPOA- but the Trump administration has engaged in a “scorched earth” policy to destroy the JCPOA completely. Brian Hook, State Department’s Iran point man recently said that there won’t be any JCPOA left, for a Biden administration to come back to. Generally speaking however, I, unfortunately, do not see any fundamental changes in U.S.-Iranian relations because the Trump administration has destroyed any political capital for the pro-engagement political factions in Iran. Essentially, Iranian politicians will have a hard time selling direct talks with the U.S.   

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