How relations between the United States and Iran will take shape under the new Biden administration remains to be seen, but one U.S. general says the two foes are entering a “period of opportunity.”
Gen. Frank McKenzie, who leads the U.S. Central Command, made the remarks to reporters as he flew to the Middle East.
Some analysts had predicted Iran, or its proxies in the region, might lash out in the final weeks of the Trump administration as payback for the tough stance toward Tehran taken by Washington, particularly the killing of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
“Largely, they have been able to tell (their proxies) this is not the time to provoke a war,” McKenzie said. “Not all of that is probably the result of the military component. I’m sure there’s a political calculation in Iran to get to a new administration and see if things change.”
One American deeply familiar with how the Iranian regime operates, told VOA’s Persian News Network (PNN) the Biden administration should not soften its stance until all Americans being held by the government are returned.
“As far as I know, there are at least four Americans in jail in Iran,” said Xiyue Wang, a Chinese American student who was imprisoned in Iran from 2016 to 2019 on charges of espionage. “And they should be returned home before any easing of sanctions imposed on Iran.”
Wang was released in a prisoner swap. He told PNN he thought Biden should “take advantage of leverages provided to him through the maximum pressure policy of the Trump administration.”
“The Biden administration should be patient and be realistic and not rush to return to the JCPOA,” he said, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the 2015 deal in which world powers offered Iranian leaders sanctions relief in return for curbs on nuclear activities that could be diverted into weapons production. Trump withdrew from the plan in 2018.
“(The) Iranian regime arrested us while it was negotiating with the U.S., and even after agreeing to the JCPOA,” he said.