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- We're diving in tonight (1,619 words, 6 minutes) on a key pre-election question: Would a President Biden be able to salvage the nuclear deal with Iran?
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Welcome back to Axios World.
New arrival? Subscribe here.
Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Four more years of President Trump would almost certainly kill the Iran nuclear deal — but the election of Joe Biden wouldn’t necessarily save it.
The big picture: Rescuing the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is near the top of Biden's foreign policy priority list. He says he'd re-enter the deal once Iran returns to compliance, and he'd use it as the basis on which to negotiate a broader and longer-lasting deal with Iran.
Breaking it down: Trump withdrew the U.S. from the deal in 2018, restoring U.S. sanctions and piling on new ones under a “maximum pressure” campaign that has devastated the Iranian economy.
The European signatories to the deal — France, Germany and the U.K. — have been desperately trying to save it.
But the Trump administration is attempting to finish off the deal, in part by adding a thicket of sanctions that Biden might find politically painful to remove.
Iran's domestic politics may prove more challenging still. The "reformist" administration of President Hassan Rouhani has been badly burned, and hardliners are expected to take over following presidential elections next June.
Where things stand: “There are obstacles — demands that Iran might make, our own politics, the more complicated relationship that the U.S. now has with Russia and China — so this is not going to be smooth sailing," Malley says.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
It took Iran about six months to come into compliance with the JCPOA the first time says Ernest Moniz, the former energy secretary who played a key role in negotiating that deal.
That means the earliest Iran could return to compliance would be right around the time its next administration takes office.
The big picture: Moniz says a revitalized JCPOA would provide the world with confidence that Iran is not building a nuclear weapons program — its original purpose — but would be insufficient.
In future negotiations, Moniz adds, "regional concerns will have to be more front and center."
Photo: Jim Bourg-Pool/Getty Images
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was one of the loudest and most influential critics of the 2015 deal.
The Trump administration has demanded Iran negotiate on all of those fronts as part of any deal — and claims it will be forced to if Trump is re-elected.
What to watch: Biden envisions almost precisely the opposite path to a broader deal with Iran, but acknowledges there's no guarantee Iran will even return to compliance with the JCPOA.
Go deeper: Biden's allies-first approach to China
Protests in Krakow. Photo: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty
1. Facing record-high coronavirus cases, France and Germany are both closing bars and restaurants nationwide while keeping schools open — a reversal of the approach taken by many parts of the U.S.
2. Massive protests over a court ruling banning abortion in nearly all cases have shaken Poland’s conservative and Catholic authorities.
3. Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp were all blocked on the eve of Tanzania’s presidential election, which President John Magufuli is expected to win.
4. The U.S. was the “sole remaining country to voice opposition” to the appointment of former Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as chief of the World Trade Organization on Wednesday, WSJ reports.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Most of Africa has done surprisingly well in terms of COVID-19 cases and deaths. The bad news is that the pandemic has greatly exacerbated a continent-wide economic crisis, Axios' Felix Salmon writes.
Why it matters: There's not remotely enough money to help finance a recovery.
Breaking it down: The U.S. might be behind epidemiologically, but it has a huge advantage economically. Like other rich virus-hit countries in Europe, it can respond to the crisis by borrowing as much money as it needs.
The lack of money means a lack of growth.
Mnuchin arrives in Israel from the UAE. Photo: Matty Stern/U.S. Embassy Jerusalem/Handout via Getty
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin was confronted by Yitzhak Rabin's daughter last week after a speech in which he gave a historical overview of the Arab-Israeli peace process but seemed to overlook the role of the late Israeli prime minister, Axios' Barak Ravid scooped in his Axios from Tel Aviv newsletter.
Between the lines: Rabin is quite a major figure to leave out. He's remembered for making peace with Jordan, sealing the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians, and establishing relations with Morocco, Oman and Tunisia.
What they're saying: Mnuchin didn't realize he was speaking with Rabin's daughter, according to assistant secretary of the Treasury for Public Affairs Monica Crowley.
Worth noting: Next week, Israel will commemorate the 25th anniversary of Rabin’s assassination by an Israeli terrorist who opposed the Oslo Accords.
Under the volcano, in Cholula, Mexico. Photo: Hector Vivas/Getty Images
"By attacking Islam, clearly without having any understanding of it, President Macron has attacked & hurt the sentiments of millions of Muslims in Europe & across the world."— Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on what he considers an Islamophobic French response to recent terror attacks.
"They came to help us when we were at rock bottom, and so we are really grateful to the Chinese government."— Khan in January, when pressed as to why he had refused to criticize China for the mass internment of Uighur Muslims. He previously said he didn't know much about the situation in Xinjiang.