National Security

Iranian Foreign Minister: Biden a ‘More Promising’ Candidate

Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif / Getty Images

Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Tuesday that the Biden ticket is his country's "more promising" option in the 2020 presidential election.

"The statements by the Biden camp have been more promising, but we will have to wait and see," Zarif told CBS News.

Zarif said he would not renegotiate the Iran deal with a Biden administration but hopes it would "act differently" from the Trump administration.

During the Obama administration, Biden and top Middle East hands supported increased engagement with Tehran. Obama's presidency also brought the Iran nuclear deal—and many fits and starts in the bilateral relationship between the United States and Israel.

Many current top Biden advisers have had similar qualms about the Trump administration's Iran policy, in which the United States has moved closer to Israel and engaged with Gulf countries.

Despite criticisms, Trump's moves have helped Israel retain its cutting-edge defense capabilities while normalizing ties between the Jewish state and Muslim-majority countries such as Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Sudan. Those same countries have also increasingly condemned Iran and the Palestinian Authority.

At the same time, Iran continues to fare badly under the administration's crippling maximum pressure campaign. The Iranian rial hit an all-time low last month, and Iranian officials admit that U.S. sanctions have caused the country "serious damage."

In recent weeks, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and special Iran envoy Elliott Abrams have ramped up efforts to freeze Iranian trade, taking new aim at the country's oil industry.

In spite of Zarif's "wait and see" claim, the FBI reports that Tehran has already launched a campaign to hack into American voter data and state election websites.

In response, the Department of Homeland Security has unveiled its most complex and comprehensive operation ever to defend against foreign influence and maintain a free and fair election.

"I anticipate possibly thousands of local election officials coming in to share information in real time, to coordinate, to track down what's real and what's not, separate fact from fiction on the ground," DHS senior cybersecurity adviser Matt Masterson told the Washington Post. "We'll be able to sort through what's happening and identify: Is this a typical election event or is this something larger?"