Netanyahu has personally started campaigning against any return to the Iran dealDec 9, 2020 - World
Biden's team has refused to comment on the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.Dec 2, 2020 - World
Iran said Saturday it's testing a new and advanced nuclear centrifuge to more effectively enrich uranium, AP reports.
Why it matters: The announcement by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani comes as Tehran and Washington hold indirect talks in an attempt to bring the U.S. back into the 2015 nuclear deal.
This week's nuclear talks in Vienna "met expectations" but did not assuage U.S. doubts about Iran's willingness to negotiate in good faith over the 2015 nuclear deal, a senior State Department official told reporters on Friday.
The state of play: Iran refused to meet directly with the U.S. but held three days of talks with the nuclear deal's other signatories, while the U.S. — represented in Vienna by Iran envoy Rob Malley — communicated indirectly through envoys, primarily from the European Union.
Israel could be risking escalation with Iran and tensions with the Biden administration by continuing to strike Iranian ships — a risk that is exacerbated by Israel's political crisis and dysfunctional interim government.
Why it matters: An Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps ship was attacked in the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen on Tuesday, the same day the Vienna talks opened.
The U.S. and Iran are expected to hold indirect “proximity talks” in Vienna next Tuesday to try and break the deadlock over a potential return to the 2015 nuclear deal, Western diplomats tell me.
Why it matters: At the moment, next week’s talks are not expected to include U.S. and Iranian diplomats sitting in the same room, but it's a small step forward when it comes to U.S.-Iran engagement.
The Biden administration's efforts to re-engage with Iran over its nuclear program are coming up against three major obstacles: a lack of direct channels of communication, divisions within the leadership in Tehran, and looming Iranian presidential elections, U.S. officials involved in the talks tell me.
Why it matters: Putting Iran’s nuclear program “back in the box” is one of the Biden administration’s top foreign policy priorities, but the sides have yet to hold direct talks.
China and Iran, both subject to U.S. sanctions, signed a 25-year cooperation agreement in Tehran on Saturday.
Why it matters: China agreed to invest $400 billion in Iran's economy over that time period in exchange for a steady and heavily discounted supply of oil from the country, according to a draft of the agreement obtained by the New York Times.
The Justice Department announced charges against 10 Iranian nationals on Friday for running a nearly 20-year-long scheme to evade U.S. sanctions on the government of Iran.
Why it matters: The DOJ said the defendants, who are believed to be outside the U.S., helped the country evade sanctions by disguising more than $300 million worth of transactions through front companies in the U.S., Canada, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates.
In the first round of U.S.-Israel strategic talks on Iran last week, senior national security and foreign policy officials laid down all they know about Iran's nuclear program, three senior Israeli officials familiar with the talks tell me.
Why it matters: Amid President Biden’s push for diplomatic reengagement with Iran, the U.S.-Israel strategic dialogue is intended to hash out differences in approach and coordinate on the path forward.
Former White House senior adviser Jared Kushner praised the Biden administration for its Iran strategy, writing in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that Biden's refusal to remove sanctions before Iran returns to compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal is a "smart diplomatic move."
Why it matters: Kushner led Middle East peace talks on behalf of the Trump administration. Former President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Iran deal in 2018, and many Republicans have called on President Biden not to return to the agreement.
State Department Iran envoy Rob Malley tells Axios the U.S. and Israel want to avoid the sort of public confrontation over Iran that took place during the Obama administration.
Why it matters: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly campaigned against Obama's attempts to reach an agreement with Iran between 2013 and 2015 — including in a highly controversial speech to Congress. This created a rift that scarred both sides.