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. Bush or Kerry? Makes no difference to Iran
TEHRAN (AFP) Oct 21, 2004
With Iran's nuclear ambitions part of the US presidential debate, Tehran is indifferent to whether Republican incumbent George W. Bush or Democrat contender John Kerry wins November's elections, a senior official has said.

"It makes no difference for us which of the two parties wins the elections," Iran's top national security official, Hassan Rowhani, said in an interview on state television.

Rowhani, who is also in charge of Iran's nuclear programme, was reacting to US press reports that the Islamic republic would rather see Kerry win than Bush.

"We have not seen any good coming from the Democrats, so we won't be happy if the Democrats win," he said.

While Bush wants to haul Iran in front of the UN Security Council over allegations that Tehran is seeking nuclear technology for military purposes, Kerry has proposed supplying Iran with fuel in exchange for an end to its nuclear fuel cycle work.

"We should not forget that most sanctions and economic pressures were imposed on Iran during Clinton's administration," Rowhani added, referring to former Decmocrat president Bill Clinton.

The 1996 Iran-Libya Sanctions Act was passed unanimously by US Congress and signed into law by Clinton, and initially provided for sanctions on any company in the world that invested more than 40 million dollars a year in the Iranian oil and gas sectors.

That sum was lowered to 20 million dollars in 1997, and a further Clinton-era law forbade US businesses having any commercial contact with Iran.

Clinton did make some efforts at rapprochement following the election of reformist President Mohammad Khatami, but without visible success.

"We are not afraid of the US even if the Republicans win since, at least in the region, they have found out that aggression and bullying will only result in their interests being threatened," he added.

"We also should not forget that while under Bush there were some harsh, void and baseless slogans, there were no real practical steps taken against Iran," Rowhani said.

Shortly after the 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan, Bush labelled Iran as part of an "axis of evil", along with Iraq and North Korea, despite discreet help from Tehran in eliminating the hardline Taliban regime.

"Historically, Iranian leaders have always had better relations with the Republicans," said analyst Said Leylaz.

"Relations between the United States and its faithful ally Iran were bad under (Democrat Presidents John F.) Kennedy and Jimmy Carter."

"After the revolution, (Republican Ronald) Reagan initiated the Iran-Contra affair, supplying Iran with weapons."

Under the deal, Iran was supposed to arrange the release of American hostages held in Lebanon in exchange for arms sales from Washington.

In 1981 the nascent Islamic Republic's leaders supported the Republicans against the outgoing Carter, freeing US hostages held at the Tehran embassy barely hours after Reagan was sworn in.

Iran and the United States broke diplomatic relations in 1980 after the 52 diplomats were taken hostage.

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