Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Sunday that because the Republican presidential candidates make such “laughable” statements during debates “the people of Iran look at them as a form of entertainment.”
He said that when he has the time he watches the live broadcasts of the GOP presidential debates, and he has found many of the comments by the GOP candidates “quite laughable” because despite the vehemence of their opposition to the nuclear deal with Iran, some of them could hardly find the Middle Eastern country on the map or its capital city Tehran on a map of the country.
“Some of them didn’t know where Iran was geographically, not distinguishing that one is the capital of the other.”
He said that because the GOP candidates often expressed views about Iran that were “far away from the truth,” Iranians found it difficult to take them seriously and thus often looked forward to the GOP debates for the purpose of entertainment.
“The people of Iran were looking at it as a form of entertainment, if you will, and found it laughable.”
Rouhani then used the opportunity to emphasize that contrary to the impression he believed the GOP candidates often gave, the nuclear agreement was not just between the U.S. and Iran but with five other nations as well.
Referring to statements by some GOP presidential candidates that they would rescind the nuclear deal with Iran if they become presidents, Rouhani asked, “Can a government become a signatory to an international agreement and then the subsequent government tear it to shreds?”
“This is something that only the likes of Saddam Hussein would do,” he continued. “So, any government that replaces the current government must keep itself committed to the commitments given by the previous administration. Otherwise, that government, that entire country, will lose trust internationally… So finally, I think most of these are political slogans at best.”
Rouhani’s comments come after Senate Democrats successfully blocked a move by Republicans to scuttle the nuclear deal with Iran. Although the Republicans hold a majority in the Senate, they were unable to achieve the 60 votes needed to push the legislation through.
And although designed to ridicule, Rouhani’s comments reveal that the Iranians had watched the moves to kill the nuclear deal in Congress with concern. His comparison of statements by GOP candidates that they would rescind the nuclear deal with “something that only the likes of Saddam Hussein would do” reflects deep concerns that a Republican president could take seriously his campaign promise to “tear up the deal.”
For instance, the Republican presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) promised in the recent CNN debate to “rip to shreds this catastrophic Iranian nuclear deal.”