The big picture

Biden and Netanyahu are on a collision course over Iran

Netanyahu has personally started campaigning against any return to the Iran deal

Dec 9, 2020 - World
Iran's nuclear dilemma: Ramp up now or wait for Biden

Biden's team has refused to comment on the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.

Dec 2, 2020 - World
How Biden might tackle the Iran deal

His election wouldn’t necessarily save it.

Oct 30, 2020 - World
Iran's proxies in the Middle East

Iran could likely use one of its many proxies to strike American military assets.

Jan 18, 2020 - World

All Iran stories

Apr 10, 2021 - World

Iran says it's testing new advanced nuclear centrifuge

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaking in Tehran on April 10. Photo: Iran Presidency/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

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.

Dave Lawler, author of World
Apr 9, 2021 - World

U.S. unsure of Iran's "seriousness of purpose" after Vienna nuclear talks

The setting for the talks, in Vienna's Grand Hotel. Photo: EU Delegation in Vienna via Getty

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.

Apr 7, 2021 - World

Israel risks tensions with Biden by striking Iranian ships

Netanyahu at a Cabinet meeting. Photo: Abir Sultan/Pool/AFP via Getty

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.

Apr 2, 2021 - World

U.S. and Iran to hold nuclear talks in Vienna, but in separate rooms

The U.S. and Iranian delegations during 2015 talks in Vienna, including Zarif (Right side, at center) and Malley (Left side, at front). Photo: Siamek Ebrahimi/Anadolu Agency/Getty

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.

Mar 30, 2021 - World

U.S. struggling to engage with Iran over nuclear deal

Secretary of State Blinken in Brussels. Photo: Olivier Hoslet/Pool/Anadolu Agency via Getty

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.

Mar 27, 2021 - World

Iran, China sign 25-year cooperation agreement

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif posing for a photo in Tehran, Iran, on March 27. Photo: Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

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.

DOJ charges Iranian nationals for evading U.S. sanctions

Attorney General Merrick Garland speaking in the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., on March 11.

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.

Mar 17, 2021 - World

Scoop: Inside the U.S.-Israel talks on Iran

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

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.

Mar 15, 2021 - World

Jared Kushner praises Biden's Iran strategy

Jared Kushner at the White House. Photo: Chris Kleponis/Polaris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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.

Mar 10, 2021 - World

Biden administration aims to avoid public feud with Israel over Iran

Rob Malley. Photo: Riccardo De Luca/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

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.

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