19:05 GMT01 December 2020
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    The long-awaited US presidential and congressional election formally kicked off on Tuesday, with more than 99 million of the nation’s estimated 233.7 million eligible voters already having cast their votes early by mail, according to US Elections Project data.

    Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has mocked US President Donald Trump and the American electoral system in a televised speech, saying that the outcome of the race won’t affect Tehran’s policy toward Washington.

    “If you look at their situation, it’s interesting to watch. The incumbent President, who is supposed to hold the elections, says this is the most-rigged US election throughout history. Who says this? The sitting President, who is arranging the elections himself. His opponent says Trump intends to cheat massively. This is American democracy,” Khamenei said, his comments quoted by the Associated Press, which clarified that state officials, not the federal government, organise the vote.

    “The US regime suffers from severe political, civil and moral deviations. This is what their own analysts say. Such a regime won’t last long. Of course, if certain people hold office, they speed up its destruction, whereas with others it may take a little longer,” Khamenei added.

    Suggesting that Iran’s policy toward the US is “calculated and clear,” the supreme leader, who serves as head of state and carries the highest political and religious authority in the Islamic Republic, emphasised that this policy would not be affected by “this or that one [being] elected.”

    “No matter who wins the US election, it won’t affect our policy toward the US. Some people talk about what will happen if this or that [person] is elected. Yes, certain events may happen but they don’t concern us,” Khamenei said.

    Khamenei’s speech, coming on the eve of the 41st anniversary of the 1979 Iran hostage crisis and the commemoration of the birth of the Prophet Muhammad under the Iranian calendar, coincided with Election Day in the US.

    Which Candidate Does Iran Prefer?

    On Monday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif cautiously suggested that the “statements made by the Biden camp have been more promising” than those of President Trump vis-à-vis Iran, but added that US behaviour, not election promises or slogans, is what really counts. “If the US decides to stop its malign behaviour against Iran, then it will be a different story no matter who sits in the White House,” Zarif said.

    Zarif also emphasised that Biden’s pledge to ‘renegotiate’ the Iran nuclear deal was not acceptable to Tehran. “We can find a way to re-engage, obviously. But re-engagement does not mean renegotiation. It means the US coming back to the negotiating table.”

    The Trump administration unilaterally scrapped the 2015 Iran nuclear deal in May 2018, slapping the Islamic Republic with crushing economic sanctions. Negotiated by the Obama administration, in which Biden served as vice-president, the nuclear deal promised Iran sanctions relief in exchange for a commitment to reduce its nuclear activities and a pledge to refrain from pursuing nuclear weapons.

    Election-Rigging Claims

    Khamenei’s remarks come in the wake of months of complaining by President Trump about the prospect of “out of control” postal ballots being fertile ground for voter fraud, with Trump and his allies citing the alleged ease with which unscrupulous people may steal, forge or alter mail-in ballots, which are not as closely supervised by election officials as votes cast in person or through registered absentee ballots.

    The President has been criticised for refusing to commit himself to a peaceful transition of power should his Democrat rival Joe Biden claim victory based on the results of mail-in votes. Biden has previously said that he firmly believed the US military would “escort” Trump “from the White House” should he refuse to relinquish power after losing. In September, former President Bill Clinton claimed that Trump would be “stacking sandbags in front of the White House” if he lost.

    On Tuesday, Axios reported, citing Biden campaign sources, that the Democratic candidate would address Americans as if he were the nation’s new president if news organisations declared him the mathematical winner of the election. On Monday, Trump dismissed opinion polls forecasting that he would lose the presidential race, saying he doesn’t trust “fake polls” and pointing to wildly inaccurate polling which predicted his loss to Hillary Clinton in 2016.

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    Iran Says Does Not Care Who Wins US Election, Will Judge Winner by His Actions
    IRGC Weighs in on US Vote, Says ‘US Hostility Toward Iran’ Unchanging Whether GOP, Dems in Office
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