Iran Supreme Leader greets an audience in Tehran, December 16, 2020

Iran’s Supreme Leader has renewed his role of “bad cop”, v. President Rouhani’s “good cop”, on talks with the incoming Biden Administration.

Ayatollah Khamenei used a ceremony, marking the upcoming first anniversary of the US assassination of top military commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, to assail America, President-elect Joe Biden, and his advisors.

Khamenei began by pledging, “Avenging the Murder of General Soleimani is Certain”. He said of the killing on January 3 of Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the head of the Iran-backed Iraqi militia Kata’ib Hezbollah:

The unforgettable funerals of Martyrs Soleimani and Abu Mahdi in Iraq and Iran, which were attended by millions, were the first severe slap to the U.S. However, the more severe slaps to come are “expelling the U.S. from the region” and “subduing the shallow dominion of the Front of Arrogance”….

Of course, revenge will be taken on those who ordered the murder and those who carried it out, and this revenge will certainly be taken at the right time.

Rouhani said on Monday that the Biden Administration could re-enter the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and the 5+1 Powers (US, UK, Germany, France, Russia, and China), from which the Trump Administration withdrew in May 2018, “within an hour.”

He linked Iran’s return to the deal’s provisions with the lifting of comprehensive US sanctions, imposed in November 2018 and extended this year: “If the 5+1 Powers fulfil all their commitments tomorrow, we’ll also fulfil ours.”

See also Rouhani: No Preconditions on US Return to Iran Nuclear Deal

But Khamenei started from a far different point, “My firm recommendation is not to trust the enemy. The hostility is not just from Trump’s America, which supposedly some could say would end when he leaves, as Obama’s America also did bad things to the Iranian nation.”

The Supreme Leader said, “If the sanctions can be lifted, we should not delay even one hour…If the sanctions can be lifted in the right, wise…and dignified way, this must be done.”

However, he emphasized the countering of sanctions rather than a negotiated end to them:

The Trump Administration, pursuing its “maximum pressure” approach up to its departure on January 20, added new sanctions on Wednesday. The Treasury punished companies based in China and the UAE for trade with Iranian petrochemical concerns.

In his last public appearance was on November 24, the Supreme Leader signalled to the Biden Administration that it should not expect the resumption of negotiations. Referring to his acceptance in autumn 2013 of discussions with the US, after he was presented with a dossier about Iran’s dire economic situation by President Rouhani, Khamenei assessed, “We tried to remove the sanctions through negotiations one time, but it was fruitless.”

But Rouhani played “good cop” the next day:

Iran and the United States can both decide and announce that they will return to the terms of January 20, 2017 [the day of Biden’s inauguration]. This can be a great solution to many issues and problems, and completely change the course and conditions. Then we can continue taking the next steps on different issues.

He restated the offer on December 8, while jabbing at Donald Trump: “That illiterate businessman scribbled a paper & withdrew from the nuclear deal. The next one can take a paper to sign so as to return.”

See also UPDATED Iran President’s “Good Cop” v. Supreme Leader’s “Bad Cop” on Talks with Biden Administration