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

Feb 24, 2021 - World

Scoop: U.S. and Israel to convene strategic forum on Iran

Biden and Netanyahu in Jerusalem in 2016. Photo: Debbie Hill/AFP via Getty

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.

Feb 21, 2021 - World

UN nuclear watchdog reaches temporary agreement with Iran on inspections

The head of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi. Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images

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.

Feb 19, 2021 - World

Israel sounds alarm after U.S. backs nuclear talks with Iran

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photos: Eric Baradat (AFP), Gali Tibbon (AFP)/Getty Images

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.

Feb 17, 2021 - World

Qatar wants to mediate between U.S. and Iran

Qatar's emir (C) meets with Iran's supreme leader (R) in Tehran in January. Photo: Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty

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.

Biden's Iran envoy Rob Malley quietly reaches out to China

Photo: Riccardo De Luca/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

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.

Feb 12, 2021 - World

U.S. and Israeli national security advisers hold call on Iran

Meir Ben Shabbat. Photo: Mazen Mahdi/AFP via Getty

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.

Iranian spying operation targets dissidents

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

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.

Biden administration at standstill with Iran over nuclear talks

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran, Iran on July 31, 2020. Photo: IRANIAN SUPREME LEADER PRESS OFFICE / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

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.

Feb 3, 2021 - World

Blinken wants Iran team with range of views on nuclear deal

Malley (L) in negotiations with the Iranians in Vienna in 2015. Photo: Siamek Ebrahimi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

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.

Jan 29, 2021 - World

Biden picks Rob Malley as envoy for Iran

Malley (L) during Iran deal negotiations in Vienna, 2015. Photo: Siamek Ebrahimi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Image

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.

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