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President Trump speaks alongside Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on March 25, 2019. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

A new interpretation of U.S. intelligence by some senior officials shows that Iran's leaders engaged in a military buildup because they believed the U.S. planned to attack them first, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters: The Iranian buildup caused the U.S. to increase its military assets in the region and order non-essential staff to leave its embassy in Iraq this week, spurring fears that the tension could burst into outright conflict.

Yes, but: The WSJ notes that "there are sharply differing views within the Trump administration over the meaning of intelligence showing Iran and its proxies making military preparations." Senate Intelligence Committee member Angus King (I-Maine) told CNN this week:

“I don’t think there’s faulty intel here necessarily. I think the intel may be accurate. ... But the unanswered question, again, is: Are they reacting to our assertions of action in the Middle East or are we reacting to them? That’s an unanswered question for me.”

The bottom line: Despite the fears of conflict, President Trump has expressed his reluctance to enter into a military conflict with Iran to top advisers, according to reports by the New York Times and Washington Post.

Go deeper: Why war with Iran is suddenly on the table

Go deeper

D.C.-Beijing tensions are shifting markets

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

U.S. markets stand to lose $2 trillion in value if D.C. and Beijing drift further apart.

Why it matters: Political chasms are showing up in new securities regulations that put companies and investors in a bind. The rules are also another reflection of how much relations between the world’s largest economies have cooled, even as they remain economically interdependent. 

44 mins ago - Health
Axios Investigates

Documents reveal the secrecy of America's drug pricing matrix

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

American businesses spend hundreds of billions of dollars a year on prescription drugs, and the bills keep getting bigger. But some of the companies promising to help rein in those costs prevent employers from looking under the hood.

Why it matters: Documents provided to Axios reveal a new layer of secrecy within the maze of American drug pricing — one in which firms that manage drug coverage for hundreds of employers, representing millions of workers, obscure the details of their work and make it difficult to figure out whether they're actually providing a good deal.

Congress' chip-funding pause raises alarms

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Despite bipartisan support in the Senate, a plea by the Commerce Secretary and growing desperation from industry officials, Congress still can't get a key bill that funds the U.S. chip business over the finish line.

Why it matters: With the global chip shortage continuing to crimp the economy, the semiconductor industry has ramped up pressure for funding of U.S.-based manufacturing facilities as one remedy.