U.S. policy toward Iran hardened further in Poland this week, as U.S. officials demanded that Europe abandon the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and suggested that Iranians rise up and overthrow their government.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Vice President Mike Pence at the Warsaw conference on the Middle East on Feb. 14. Photo: Xinhua/Jaap Arriens via Getty Images

The big picture: To Washington's frustration, both Iran and the rest of the world have stuck with the deal nearly a year after the Trump administration withdrew unilaterally. Even as its oil exports have more than halved since the U.S. restored sanctions in November, Iran has remained compliant with the deal's restrictions on its nuclear program.

Background: When it withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in May 2018, the Trump administration said the intention was to bring the Islamic Republic back to the negotiation table. U.S. officials said they sought a more comprehensive agreement that would cover Iran's regional interventions, ballistic missile program and imprisonment of dual nationals.

  • But the underlying motivation appeared to be a hope that Iran would also quit the JCPOA, making it easier to convince the rest of the world to abandon it.

What's new: European countries, far from quitting, have come up with a payment mechanism intended to facilitate humanitarian trade with Iran at a time when Western banks are too terrified of U.S. sanctions to attempt even authorized business with Tehran.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Warsaw conference was intended to create a coalition for "war" against Iran — a comment that was later softened to "confrontation."

  • Yes, but: This pressure does not have broad international support. Although Israel and Iran's Arab rivals attended the gathering, Russia, China, Turkey and most European foreign ministers declined.

Where it stands: Iran is facing a bleak immediate future, with its economy expected to shrink 6% in 2019, on the back of falling oil exports, high inflation and unemployment. Even still, Iranians are not raring for another revolution, as Secretary Mike Pompeo has continued to suggest. They keenly recall how the last one turned out, and how chaotic a process regime change has been for their neighbors Afghanistan and Iraq.

The bottom line: Current U.S. policy will neither bring Iran back to the negotiating table nor kill the JCPOA.

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

Go deeper

43 mins ago - World

Ethiopia's Nobel Peace laureate cracks down on ethnic violence

The image of a Nobel Peace laureate in military fatigues encapsulates the moment in which Ethiopia finds itself — on the verge of a transition to democracy, a descent into violence or, perhaps, a precarious combination of the two.

Driving the news: At least 166 people were killed after an iconic musician, Haacaaluu Hundeessaa, was murdered last Monday in Addis Ababa, the capital. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed responded to the violence by sending in troops and shutting off the internet. High-profile opposition leaders were arrested, along with some 2,300 others.

Updated 2 hours ago - Health

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms tests positive for coronavirus

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said on Monday that she has tested positive for the coronavirus after displaying no symptoms.

Why it matters: Bottoms, one of several Black women on the shortlist to be Joe Biden's running mate, has risen to national prominence in recent months as part of mass protests over racism and police brutality — driven in part by the killing of Rayshard Brooks by Atlanta police.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7:30 p.m. ET: 11,565,541 — Total deaths: 536,658 — Total recoveries — 6,258,697Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7:30 p.m. ET: 2,922,000 — Total deaths: 130,208 — Total recoveries: 924,148 — Total tested: 36,032,329Map.
  3. Public health: Case growth outpacing testing in hotspots.
  4. States: West Virginia becomes latest state to mandate facial coverings in public.
  5. Politics: Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms tests positiveCuomo accuses Trump of "enabling" the coronavirus surge — Sen. Chuck Grassley opts out of attending GOP convention over coronavirus concerns.