Secretary of State Pompeo speaks about the Iran deal at the Heritage Foundation May 21, 2018, in Washington, DC. Photo: Win McNamee via Getty Images

Since taking office, the Trump administration has been challenging Iran to break the terms of the nuclear deal by denying its full economic benefits and casting uncertainty over the reimposition of sanctions. Now that the U.S. has withdrawn unilaterally, Washington still appears to be counting on Iran's eventual withdrawal to apply a policy of maximum pressure on Tehran.

The big picture: Conversations with individuals familiar with administration thinking suggest that there's no real strategy for renegotiating the deal. Secretary of State Pompeo’s recent “Plan B” was a political mission impossible that Iran — absent radical regime change — could never accept. And so far, the maximum pressure strategy has met with resentment from the United States' European and Asian allies.

It's telling that no Trump administration official has been named to lead the alleged renegotiation effort, as Wendy Sherman did under Obama. Talk of building a new coalition against Iran beyond Israel, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE remains just talk.

What's next: With the U.S. focused on the possible June North Korea summit, Iran is decidedly on the back burner. The Trump administration has yet to fully specify how it will reimpose sanctions. Countries that import Iranian oil are unsure to what extent they will need to reduce purchases, especially in a tight market with rising prices. Interestingly, their deadline to trim imports by a “significant amount” is November 12, a week after the U.S. midterm elections could overturn GOP congressional control.

The bottom line: Iran, which has threatened to withdraw from the nuclear deal following U.S. action, should stick with the deal at least until November. Then it will be better able to gauge the Trump administration's power and the international community's willingness to continue to buy Iranian oil.

Barbara Slavin directs the Future of Iran Initiative at the Atlantic Council.

Go deeper

Markets swell as the economy shrinks

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The economy is sputtering, but the markets are thriving — a highly unusual event that shows how the coronavirus has thrown all bets off.

Why it matters: The disconnect adds to the wealth gap. The richest 10% of households — who own 84% of stocks — are getting richer, while millions of out-of-work Americans cross their fingers that pandemic unemployment benefits will be extended.

Updated 9 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 10,836,500 — Total deaths: 520,605 — Total recoveries — 5,723,808Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 2,735,554 — Total deaths: 128,684 — Total recoveries: 781,970 — Total tested: 33,462,181Map.
  3. Public health: The states where face coverings are mandatory Regeneron stops trial after drug fails to help patientsWhat we know about the coronavirus immune response — Fauci says it has been a "very disturbing week" for the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S.
  4. Business: Top business leaders urge the White House to develop mandatory mask guidelines.
  5. Politics: Herman Cain hospitalized for COVID-19 after attending Trump Tulsa rally — Biden downplays jobs number, rebukes Trump for ignoring health crisis.
  6. Economy: The economy may recover just quickly enough to kill political interest in more stimulus.
  7. States: Texas mandates face masks in public spaces Florida reports more than 10,000 new coronavirus cases, and its most-infected county issues curfew.
10 hours ago - Health

Fauci: Coronavirus surges mark a "very disturbing week" in the U.S.

Fauci testifies to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on June 30. Photo: Al Drago/AFP via Getty Images

NIAID director Anthony Fauci told medical journal JAMA on Thursday that it has been a "very disturbing week" for the spread of the novel coronavirus in the U.S.

What's happening: The number of coronavirus cases increased in the vast majority of states over the last week, and decreased in only two states plus the District of Columbia, Axios' Caitlin Owens reports.