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
The United States and Israel have elected to reconvene a strategic working group on Iran, with the first round of talks on intelligence surrounding the Iranian nuclear program expected in the coming days, Axios has learned.
Why it matters: President Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have sharply contrasting views of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, but the resumption of the working group is a signal that their governments are starting with a serious and professional dialogue rather than a political fight.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reached an agreement with Iran that allows UN inspectors to continue necessary verification and monitoring of Iran’s nuclear facilities for up to 3 months.
Why it matters: The understanding buys more time for more diplomacy between the U.S. and Iran. The Biden administration announced last week it was formally ready to meet with Iran and other world leaders and discuss ways to reinstate the 2015 nuclear deal.
The Israeli government has raised concerns about Secretary of State Tony Blinken's announcement on Thursday that the U.S. is willing to open discussions with Iran about returning to the 2015 nuclear deal.
What they're saying: “Israel believes that going back to the old nuclear agreement will pave Iran’s path to a nuclear arsenal. We remain committed to preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said in a statement.
Qatar is trying to facilitate a dialogue between the U.S. and Iran, advocating that both sides return to the 2015 nuclear deal and reduce tensions, Qatari officials say.
Why it matters: In 2012 and 2013, it was Oman that facilitated the secret talks between the U.S. and Iran that paved the way to the nuclear deal. It seems the Qataris want to play a similar role.
U.S. special envoy to Iran Rob Malley had an "in-depth exchange of views on the Iranian nuclear issue" with a Chinese vice minister on a call initiated by Malley, China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Feb. 10. The Biden administration has not spoken publicly about the call.
The big picture: Renewing multilateral diplomatic efforts to stop Iran's nuclear program is Malley's mandate under Biden.
Israeli national security adviser Meir Ben Shabbat discussed Iran with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan on a secure video call on Thursday, according to two Israeli officials.
Why it matters: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appointed Ben Shabbat to lead Israel's talks on Iran with regional partners and world powers — most importantly, with the Biden administration, the Israeli officials say.
An Iranian cyber spying group nicknamed Domestic Kitten has “targeted over 1,200 individuals with more than 600 successful infections” since 2017, according to new research by Check Point, an Israeli-U.S. security firm.
Why it matters: Repressive regimes around the world, including Iran, devote significant resources to targeting individuals and organizations they view as potential challengers to their rule or internal stability. Revelations about campaigns like these can help show who precisely these regimes believe are their greatest threats.
President Biden told "CBS Evening News" in an interview set to air Sunday that the U.S. will not lift sanctions against Iran unless the country first stops enriching uranium.
Driving the news: The comments were revealed hours after Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a televised address that the U.S. must first lift all sanctions for Iran to comply with the commitments under the 2015 Iran nuclear accord, which President Trump withdrew the U.S. from in 2018.
Secretary of State Tony Blinken has asked newly appointed Iran envoy Rob Malley to form a negotiating team made up of diplomats and experts with a range of views on the path forward with Iran, U.S. officials tell me.
Why it matters: Those instructions indicate the Biden administration is attempting to avoid groupthink when drafting its policies on Iran, while also signaling to critics that a diversity of views will be taken into consideration.
Rob Malley will serve as the Biden administration's special envoy for Iran, working out of the State Department, White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced on Friday.
Why it matters: Malley, a former Middle East adviser to Barack Obama, took part in the negotiations over the Iran nuclear deal and is a strong supporter of a U.S. return to the agreement. Reports of his likely selection led to sharp criticism from opponents of the deal like Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), while former colleagues from the Obama administration rallied to Malley's defense.