Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Photo: Fars News Agency via AP

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s military nuclear program, is a new height in the maximum pressure campaign led by the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government against Iran.

Why it matters: It exceeds the capture of the Iranian nuclear archives by the Mossad, and the sabotage in the advanced centrifuge facility in Natanz.

  • Israel didn’t take responsibility for the assassination, but the New York Times reported it was Israeli agents who killed Fakhrizade, citing intelligence officials.
  • Iran blamed Israel for the assassination and threatened revenge. But unlike the almost immediate retaliation against U.S. bases in Iraq for the U.S. killing of Quds force commander Qassin Soleimani, this time the Iranians will need more time to prepare their response.

The big picture: The physicist Fakhrizade was to the Iranian nuclear program what
Soleimani was to Iran’s covert activity in the region. Taking him out could
have a similar effect.

  • Iranian army commander Mohammed Bagheri admitted the assassination was a huge blow to the Iranian defense establishment.
  • Israeli officials briefed several media outlets in Israel that without Fakhrizade it will be hard for Iran to continue its nuclear program.

The other side: The Iranian nuclear program has made huge progress and is not dependent on one person.

  • Fakhrizadeh had special organizational and management skills and was very dominant inside the Iranian defense establishment, but the Iranian nuclear program will continue after his death.

Between the lines: The killing of Fakhrizadeh comes as part of what seems as an effort by the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government to use the time left until President-elect Joe Biden assumes office for more pressure on Iran.

  • The Trump administration hasn’t concealed its ambition to make it harder for Biden to renew talks with Iran and rejoin the 2015 nuclear deal. Sanctions, covert operations and threats for military strikes are part of this effort.
  • The trilateral meeting between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman in Saudi Arabia on Sunday was also part of the effort to raise the pressure on Iran and send a message to the Biden administration.

What’s next: The tension with Iran, which is high in normal days, is expected to rise ahead of January 20th. After the killing of Fakhrizadeh and possibly more actions against Iran by the U.S. and Israel, the Biden administration is expected to find a much more complicated reality that might make it harder to reengage with Tehran.

Go deeper

Jan 28, 2021 - World

Israel's chief epidemiologist creates diplomatic incident with UAE

Israeli travelers arrive in Dubai. Photo: Karim Sahib/AFP via Getty Images

A remark by Israel’s chief epidemiologist suggesting the opening of direct flights from Dubai to Tel Aviv had led to COVID-19 deaths in Israel resulted in diplomatic protests from the UAE, Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: Direct flights were one of the main fruits of the Israel-UAE peace treaty, and around 130,000 Israeli tourists have taken advantage by flying to Dubai since December.

A city's catharsis

A view outside the Hennepin County Courthouse after yesterday's verdict. Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Celebration and catharsis filled the streets of Minneapolis yesterday. After weeks on edge, many breathed a sigh of relief upon hearing Judge Peter Cahill read the sweep of guilty verdicts against Derek Chauvin.

What they're saying: "George Floyd isn't coming back to life, but this is the justice we were looking for," Jaqui Howard, who joined the crowds outside the courthouse yesterday, told The Star Tribune.

What to expect from Derek Chauvin's sentencing

Screenshot via CNN

Derek Chauvin was whisked away to prison after after two weeks of testimony and about 10 hours of jury deliberations, but his sentencing will move much slower — about eight weeks.

What's next: There's still plenty of wrangling left over how much time the former Minneapolis cop will spend behind bars.