Sadegh Kharrazi, who was Iran's ambassador to France and Hossein Shariatmadari, editor-in-chief of Kayhan Newspaper debated a potential Iranian return to the JCPOA in light of the new American administration in a show aired on channel 1 (Iran) on January 23, 2021. The hardliner Shariatmadari, who is a veteran of the IRGC and is considered to be a confidant of Supreme Leader Khamenei, said that Iran should not say "yes" to Biden just because it said "no" to Trump. Kharrazi, who belongs to the pragmatist-reformist camp, said that he believes that President Biden would return to the JCPOA, and that the relationship between the U.S. and Israel would slowly wane. Shariatmadari said that he has yet to see a senior American official saying that he would rein Israel in, and that President Biden has been quoted saying he was a Zionist. He added that President Biden said that he would return to the JCPOA only if Iran's missile industry and "regional presence" are incorporated into the JCPOA, while these were the reasons Trump had left the agreement. He added that Biden is not talking about removing sanctions, rather about adding "smart sanctions."
Hossein Shariatmadari: "When we say 'no' to Trump, it does not mean that we should say 'yes' to Biden. He is more of the same. We must open our eyes and our ears. Dr. [Kharrazi] talked about the Arab lobby [in Washington]. What has the Arab lobby in America accomplished?
"The court of the Saud clan is America's stables. They call them 'cash cows.'
"The conspiracy of 2009 [following the presidential elections] was an American-Israeli conspiracy. I've said this before. One piece of evidence for that is that we, at Kayhan Newspaper, had anticipated all the [conspiracy] phases. How did we do it? We are not fortune tellers."
Sadegh Kharrazi: "With this perspective and this kind of thinking, you are leading our society and our country to destruction. Every day, you get together and you say that Israel has infiltrated here and America has infiltrated there... Your head of counter intelligence in the state's security agency turned out to be an Israeli spy, and you expect there to be no spies in the Kayhan newspaper?
"I wanted to make a certain point and was embarrassed, but tonight I will say it and I can provide the relevant documentation within 2-3 days. The same Kayhan newspaper ran a story in 1994 about [the West's] cultural invasion. This piece was connected to the Screw magazine – a porn magazine that disparaged verses of the Quran.
"You mention the reformist leaders and say that they were leading the strife. How are the lackeys [of the West]? Who are these reformist leaders? Name names. Who is like that?"
Shariatmadari: "Who isn't a lackey? Shall I mention names?"
Kharrazi: "And I can say that your voice is the voice of Netanyahu."
Shariatmadari: "If so then why did Netanyahu say that [Mousavi and Karroubi] were their best investments? Shimon Peres, who is now in Hell, said: 'They are our representatives who confront the Islamic Republic.'"
Kharrazi: "Netanyahu said about the [Ahmadinejad] government that enjoyed your support that it was a gift from heaven, and that the government of Iran serves the national interest of Israel."
Kharrazi: "With regard to the JCPOA – my professional opinion is that Biden will return to the JCPOA. Biden's team is a team of negotiations, a team of tough bargaining. This team can give rise to sanctions as well as to opportunities. It depends on the negotiations. All the declarations on the margins are worthless political statements that are meant to create psychological warfare.
"My impression is that U.S.-Israel relations will slowly wane. Israel no longer has the priority that it had under the [Trump] administration."
Shariatmadari: "We have yet to see a senior American official saying that the U.S. will rein Israel in. Mr. Biden himself, whom you cite, said the following sentence: 'I am a Zionist. I'm not Jewish, but my father said, you don't have to be Jewish to be a Zionist.'
"[Biden] says: we are returning to the JCPOA on the condition that Iran's missile industry and its regional presence will be included. Why did Trump say that he was leaving the JCPOA? He left because he said that Iran's missile industry and regional presence should be included in the JCPOA. We refused and so he left.
"[Biden] says that the maximum pressure was ineffective. Why? Because smart sanctions must be added to it. He is not talking about removing the maximum pressure, but about adding smart sanctions to it."