Searching for smart, safe news you can TRUST?

Support safe, smart, REAL journalism. Sign up for our Axios AM & PM newsletters and get smarter, faster.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Searching for smart, safe news you can TRUST?

Support safe, smart, REAL journalism. Sign up for our Axios AM & PM newsletters and get smarter, faster.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on 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!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on 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!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Minneapolis-St. Paul

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa-St. Petersburg news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa-St. Petersburg

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!

French President Macron with his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani. Photo: Ludovic Marin/AFP via Getty Images

Since the U.S.' exit from the Iran nuclear deal, Iran has doubled down on its diplomatic strategy to pressure Europe into offsetting the effect of American sanctions, which are slated to return by November. But Iran also appears to be hedging its bets, claiming to remain committed to the limited restrictions on its nuclear program while professing interest in boosting its enrichment capabilities and centrifuge manufacturing.

The big picture: Iran — along with the EU, China and Russia — wants to keep the accord to remove the stigma surrounding its nuclear program and put the Islamic Republic on a path toward reintegration into the global economy. But large businesses, including energy, shipping and manufacturing firms, are already winding down operations in the country and will have to terminate their investments absent a waiver.

To stop this trend, Iran has responded by leveraging fear, stating its intent to incrementally increase its nuclear capacity so that European politicians, banks and businesses provide Iran with sufficient incentives to abide by the deal. However, it's not clear how successful Europe’s initial efforts have been, as most banks remain risk-averse.

What's next: Iran will likely wait at least until the 90- and 180-day sanctions-implementation dates before taking any drastic action. The U.S., gearing up to enforce sanctions, will likely continue threatening secondary sanctions while adding other parties involved in, or supportive of, Iranian malign activities to the Specially Designated Nationals list.

The bottom line: Iran’s highly public interest in expanding its nuclear capacity is its way of responding to diplomatic and economic withdrawal. A form of graduated escalation, it signals the path Iran might take should the deal fail.

Behnam Ben Taleblu is a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: The good and bad news about antibody therapies — Fauci: Hotspots have materialized across "the entire country."
  2. World: Belgium imposes lockdown, citing "health emergency" due to influx of cases.
  3. Economy: Conference Board predicts economy won’t fully recover until late 2021.
  4. Education: Surge threatens to shut classrooms down again.
  5. Technology: The pandemic isn't slowing tech.
  6. Travel: CDC replaces COVID-19 cruise ban with less restrictive "conditional sailing order."
  7. Sports: High school football's pandemic struggles.
  8. 🎧Podcast: The vaccine race turns toward nationalism.
Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Updated 3 hours ago - Economy & Business

Dunkin' Brands agrees to $11B Inspire Brands sale

Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Dunkin' Brands, operator of both Dunkin' Donuts and Baskin-Robbins, agreed on Friday to be taken private for nearly $11.3 billion, including debt, by Inspire Brands, a restaurant platform sponsored by private equity firm Roark Capital.

Why it matters: Buying Dunkin’ will more than double Inspire’s footprint, making it one of the biggest restaurant deals in the past 10 years. This could ultimately set up an IPO for Inspire, which already owns Arby's, Jimmy John's and Buffalo Wild Wings.

Ina Fried, author of Login
5 hours ago - Technology

Federal judge halts Trump administration limit on TikTok

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A federal judge on Friday issued an injunction preventing the Trump administration from imposing limits on the distribution of TikTok, Bloomberg reports. The injunction request came as part of a suit brought by creators who make a living on the video service.

Why it matters: The administration has been seeking to force a sale of, or block, the Chinese-owned service. It also moved to ban the service from operating in the U.S. as of Nov. 12, a move which was put on hold by Friday's injunction.