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 Treasury Department on Friday announced sanctions against "financial facilitators" and companies connected to Iranian-backed Hezbollah.
Why it matters: The three people — Adel Diab, Ali Mohamad Daoun and Jihad Salem Alame — and 10 companies targeted by the new sanctions helped Hezbollah obtain funds through global "networks of companies that disguise themselves as legitimate businesses," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement on Friday.
U.S. envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking traveled to the Gulf on Wednesday in the aftermath of an attack by Houthi rebels that killed three people in Abu Dhabi.
Why it matters: Lenderking's trip was previously planned but became much more urgent after the attack threatened new escalation in the fighting in Yemen and more broadly in the region. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin also spoke Wednesday with Emirati Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed.
To get a deal, Iran will have to either accelerate its pace at the negotiating table or slow down the pace of its nuclear program to buy more time for diplomacy, a senior U.S. official involved in the Vienna nuclear talks tells Axios.
Why it matters: Biden administration officials have set the end of January or beginning of February as an unofficial deadline for the talks, in large part because they believe Iran's nuclear advances will soon render the 2015 deal ineffective.
With the Iran nuclear talks reaching a critical moment, the White House plans to focus much of its public messaging in the coming weeks on attacking former President Donald Trump for leaving the 2015 deal, two sources briefed on the White House plans told me.
Why it matters: The Biden administration thinks it's now just a matter of weeks before the critical decision point: Either a deal will be reached and the U.S. will return to the nuclear deal or talks will break down and the administration will move to put more pressure on Iran, the sources said.
Iran on Saturday sanctioned more than 50 U.S. officials over the 2020 assassination of Qasem Soleimani, one of the regime's most powerful military figures.
The big picture: The additional sanctions announced by the Iranian Foreign Ministry on Saturday come after the second anniversary of the Jan. 3, 2020, drone strike that killed Soleimani, the commander of Iran's regional network of proxies and international intelligence and terror operations.
National security adviser Jake Sullivan told Israeli officials during his recent visit to Jerusalem that the threat of “snapback” UN Security Council sanctions should be used as a means to deter Iran from enriching weapons-grade uranium, three Israeli officials with direct knowledge of the issue told me.
Why it matters: Snapback was the most significant mechanism built into the 2015 deal to punish Iran if it violates the agreement. According to the deal, any party to the agreement can trigger the sanctions.
The head of Israeli military intelligence told ministers during a Security Cabinet meeting on Sunday that Israel will be better off if the Iran nuclear talks lead to a deal rather than collapsing without one, two Cabinet ministers who attended the meeting tell me.
Why it matters: While Israel campaigned vigorously against the 2015 nuclear deal, and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett continues to take hawkish positions on diplomacy with Iran, the statements from Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva reflect a broader shift in the thinking of the Israeli defense establishment.
Four senior Israeli officials who attended meetings in Jerusalem with national security adviser Jake Sullivan tell Axios they came away reassured that the U.S. is ready to take a harder line on Iran if necessary and to take Israel’s views into account.
The big picture: Sullivan sketched out three possible near-term scenarios on Iran’s nuclear program in the meetings, two officials say:
White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan will meet Wednesday with Israeli officials including Naftali Bennett, with Iran "very high on the agenda," a senior Biden administration official told reporters on Monday evening.
Why it matters: The senior official said "time is running out" for the Iran nuclear talks in Vienna, and "we will talk with the Israelis on what is going to happen in the coming weeks." Sullivan is also expected to travel to Ramallah and meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Senior European diplomats briefed reporters on Friday that they were disappointed by Iran's decision to request a pause in the nuclear talks in Vienna amid what they described as “technical progress."
Why it matters: The U.S. and the deal's European signatories — France, Germany and the U.K — have stressed several times in the nearly three weeks since talks resumed that Iran is dragging its feet and taking maximalist positions. They insist the time for negotiations is running out.