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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The Biden administration is slowly ratcheting up its diplomatic pressure on Iran ahead of a potential resumption of the nuclear talks.

Why it matters: After months of contemplating how to respond to Iran's foot-dragging, with talks now frozen since June, the Biden administration in recent days started taking steps that some of its European allies, Israel and the Gulf states were waiting for.

Driving the news: Iran's chief nuclear negotiator has said the country will return to the talks by the end of November, but senior officials in Washington are skeptical about the prospects for those talks.

  • On Friday, the U.S. announced new sanctions on Iranian officials and entities affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' drone unit, which has been engaged in attacks against U.S. forces in Syria and Iraq as well as Israeli-owned ships.
  • Israeli officials say those sanctions were ready several weeks ago but were finally implemented after the latest drone attack on the U.S. base in al-Tanf, Syria.
  • On Saturday, President Biden and the leaders of the "E3" — France, Germany and the U.K. — met at the G20 and issued a joint statement to show they are aligned on the Iranian issue and warn the Iranians of a “dangerous escalation” if they don’t return to the 2015 deal.

That same day, the U.S. took another step to signal its impatience.

  • A U.S. Air Force B-1 strategic bomber went on what U.S. Central Command called a “presence patrol” over the Red Sea, Israel, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.
  • Fighter jets from Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain escorted the U.S. patrol over their respective airspaces. “The patrol was intended to deliver a clear message of reassurance," U.S. CENTCOM commander Gen. Frank McKenzie said in a statement.
  • Israeli officials tell me the B-1 overflight was exactly the sort of “power projection” they urged the Biden administration to show in the region as a signal to Iran.

What they're saying: Secretary of State Tony Blinken also went further than any previous top Biden official in telling CBS’ Margaret Brennan — who had asked about potential military action if Iran continues to accelerate its nuclear program — that "every option is on the table."

  • Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian tweeted on Tuesday that Iran was "closely examining Mr. Biden's behavior" as the U.S. president imposed new sanctions while calling for diplomacy.

Go deeper

Dec 2, 2021 - World

U.S., EU, U.K. and Canada impose new sanctions on Belarus

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in Grodno in November. Photo: Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The United States, European Union, United Kingdom and Canada imposed a new round of coordinated sanctions on Belarus "to raise the cost on Alyaksandr Lukashenko and his regime," Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Thursday.

Why it matters: They are the first sanctions since EU officials accused Lukashenko of waging "hybrid warfare" by allowing thousands of migrants to travel from the Middle East to Minsk and then forcing them to Poland's border.

Axios Visuals Deep Dive: Pandemic eating

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A food revolution began pre-pandemic and COVID has only accelerated that. See how America's food industry is transforming, from farm to your table.

Abrams’ campaign manager rules out 2024 run if she wins governor's race

Photo: Jessica McGowan/Getty Images

In her first major interview since the official announcement, Stacey Abrams' campaign manager Lauren Groh-Wargo quashed speculation that the Georgia Democrat would interrupt a theoretical gubernatorial term to run for president in 2024.

Why it matters: Abrams' name has come up repeatedly as a top 2024 Democratic contender given President Joe Biden's age and Vice President Kamala Harris's low favorability rating.