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Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen. Photo by Martin Sylvest/AFP via Getty Images

The EU added two Iranian nationals and one branch of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence on Tuesday to its terror sanctions list in response to foiled terror plots, stigmatizing the targets as well as freezing their assets. EU officials recently met their Iranian counterparts to convey that their obligations under the nuclear deal do not inhibit them “from addressing other hostile and destabilizing activities.”

The big picture: The new penalties are the first sanctions not related to human rights the EU has collectively levied against Iran since agreeing to the nuclear deal in 2015. For this reason alone, no matter how marginal their economic impact, the asset freezes are a symbolic victory for the Trump administration, which has been trying to get Europe to join its pressure campaign.

Background: The penalties follow a November briefing by French and Danish foreign ministers to the EU seeking sanctions against Iran for thwarted terror attacks in their countries in the fall of 2018. In 2015 and 2017, Dutch nationals of Iranian origin were killed in Iranian-backed assassination schemes. Despite the EU’s efforts to find a way around U.S. sanctions to keep Tehran in the 2015 nuclear deal, the Islamic Republic has done little to restrain its terror activities on European soil.

What’s next: Iranian officials have condemned the sanctions, chastised the EU for failing to deliver on their alternate payments system, and pledged to respond to the EU penalties. It remains to be seen if the EU will take any further collective action against Tehran, or even if member states will escalate matters by removing their ambassadors or dispelling Iranian officials from their countries.

The bottom line: The trans-Atlantic community continues to be divided over Iran policy. While these sanctions represent collective action against Iran and set an important precedent, the EU has yet to punish other Iranian malign activity such as the regime’s involvement in Syria or ballistic missile tests.

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

Go deeper

Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults

A vaccination center installed at the Barbara Chapel of St Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, Austria. Photo: Alex Halada/AFP via Getty Images

Austria's lower house of parliament voted on Thursday in favor of making COVID-19 vaccinations compulsory for most adults from next month.

Why it matters: The bill is expected to soon pass the upper house and be signed by President Alexander Van der Bellen in order for the law to take effect Feb. 1, per Reuters. It'd make Austria the first EU nation to impose such a sweeping mandate.

Hope King, author of Closer
Updated 6 hours ago - Economy & Business

Peloton pumps its brakes

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Peloton’s popularity is falling as swiftly as it shot up.

Why it matters: Not all pandemic habits stick around. Peloton's trajectory over the past two years exemplifies how challenging it's been for companies to gauge shifts in consumer demand — particularly in sectors heavily altered by the pandemic.

Mitch McConnell's remarks on Black voters raise ire

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell during a Capitol Hill news conference earlier this year. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has been widely criticized for comments he made this week about Black American voters.

Driving the news: When asked by a reporter Wednesday about concerns among voters of color, McConnell said "the concern is misplaced, because if you look at the statistics, Black American voters are voting in just as high a percentage as Americans."