Jul 29, 2019

Iran nuclear deal crisis talks held amid U.S.-Tehran tension

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi (2nd L) after talks in Vienna, Austria. Photo: Askin Kiyagan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Diplomats from Iran, Germany, France, Britain, China, Russia and the European Union recommitted Sunday to saving Tehran's 2015 nuclear deal after "constructive" talks in Vienna, a senior Iranian official said, according to AP.

Why it matters: The talks come at a time of heightened tension between the West and Iran, after the U.S. withdrew from the deal and hit Tehran with sanctions. Hours before the talks, the U.S. and Israel said they tested a missile defense system in Alaska. The goal is to intercept long-range missiles from Iran, Barak Ravid writes for Axios.

What they're saying: Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araghchi told reporters after that while not every issue was resolved, those present were "determined to save this deal," per AP.

The big picture: The United Nations' nuclear watchdog confirmed this month that Iran has followed through on its threat to enrich uranium beyond the purity limit set under the 2015 nuclear deal.

What's next: There was a general agreement at Sunday's talks to organize a higher-level meeting of foreign ministers soon, though no date had been set, according to AP.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Top Israeli officials alarmed by possible U.S.-Iran talks

Netanyahu and Trump at the White House. Photo: Jabin Botsford/Washington Post via Getty

The Israeli government is deeply concerned about the possibility of new U.S.-Iran nuclear talks, which President Trump discussed today alongside President Emmanuel Macron of France, 3 Israeli Cabinet ministers and 2 senior Israeli officials involved in Iran policy tell me. 

Why it matters: The pressure campaign against Iran has been the main point of collaboration between the Netanyahu government and the Trump administration, and Netanyahu saw Trump's withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal as a signature foreign policy achievement. A loosening of Trump's "maximum pressure" campaign on Iran could create tension with Israel.

Go deeperArrowAug 26, 2019

U.S. sanctions on Iran are becoming an end, not a means

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. Photo: Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images

The Trump administration's decision to put Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s mellifluous foreign minister, on the Treasury Department’s sanctions list makes clear that the means of pressure and sanctions have increasingly become the end goal of the U.S.' Iran policy.

The big picture: When President Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal last May, he insisted he could negotiate a much better agreement. More than a year later, however, the U.S. is no closer to such talks, dangers across the Middle East have escalated and the man who would have led Iran's negotiations has been sidelined — at least from the Trump administration's point of view.

Go deeperArrowAug 1, 2019

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif makes surprise visit to site of G7

Photo: Stian Lysberg Solum/AFP/Getty Images

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif arrived on Sunday at the site of the G7 summit in Biarritz, France, at the invitation of French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, officials confirmed.

Why it matters: Zarif is viewed as the "international face" of Iran's government and was sanctioned by the U.S. last month amid a recent escalation of tensions between the 2 countries. Zarif is not expected to meet with President Trump or any U.S. officials, though Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Fox News that the president has previously stated his willingness to sit down for talks with Iranian officials with "no preconditions."

Go deeperArrowAug 25, 2019