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The reactor building at the Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern Iran. Photo: Majid Asgaripour/AFP/Getty Images

The Trump administration last week renewed 5 of 7 sanctions waivers to continue permitting international civil nuclear cooperation with Iran — a selective approach that appears to acknowledge concerns of European allies.

Why it matters: Keeping most waivers in place risks signaling irresolution on the part of an administration that has made “maximum pressure” against the Islamic Republic a centerpiece of its foreign policy.

Flashback: On November 5, Washington granted waivers to select nuclear projects that were envisaged by the 2015 nuclear accord. Those waivers were set to expire in early May.

Details: The waivers the administration is revoking — for exporting surplus heavy water and for exchanging excess low-enriched uranium for natural uranium — increase the costs for Tehran should it domestically overproduce either.

  • Revoking these waivers commits Washington to responding to, rather than grandfathering in, future Iranian violations.
  • Washington is also circumscribing international efforts to further develop Iran’s nuclear program at the Bushehr nuclear power plant.

Yes, but: At least 2 waivers the administration renewed could be seen as validating the regime’s claim that its nuclear program was purely peaceful.

  • Keeping open Fordow, an underground facility once part of Iran’s illicit enrichment plans, reflects Iran’s negotiating successes with parties to the nuclear deal that had wanted to shutter it.
  • Waiving sanctions on Arak undercuts, rather than reinforces, nonproliferation norms. Iranian officials have bragged about offsetting restrictions on the facility through illicit procurement of components they had to destroy.

What to watch: The length of the waivers was cut from 180 days to 90. A shorter timeline will likely bring these facilities and projects under closer and more frequent scrutiny. This affords Washington additional opportunities to consolidate the various tracks of its Iran policy, especially as Tehran is reportedly set to limit its adherence to the nuclear deal.

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

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California's death toll from COVID-19 surpassed 50,000 on Wednesday, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: It's the first state to record more than 50,000 deaths from the coronavirus.

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Facebook said on Wednesday it would ban the rest of the Myanmar military from its platform.

The big picture: It comes some three weeks after the military overthrew the civilian government in a coup and detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi, causing massive protests to erupt throughout the country. Military leaders have been using internet blackouts to try to maintain power in light of the coup.

It's harder to fill the Cabinet

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It's harder now for presidents to win Senate confirmation for their Cabinet picks, an Axios data analysis of votes for and against nominees found.

Why it matters: It's not just Neera Tanden. The trend is a product of growing polarization, rougher political discourse and slimming Senate majorities, experts say. It means some of the nation's most vital federal agencies go without a leader and the legislative authority that comes with one.