Iran is “testing limits to gauge the response of the U.S. and the other key stakeholders,” said Suzanne Maloney, an Iran scholar at the Brookings Institution. “It’s a very effective way to try to read a mercurial U.S. administration and inject some greater urgency among the other parties to the deal.”
A U.S. official familiar with the issue told POLITICO on Sunday that the Trump team hopes for three things: that Europe imposes some sanctions on Iran to keep it from further violating the deal; that a financial mechanism the Europeans have set up to help Iran obtain non-sanctioned goods succeeds; and that recent U.S. military maneuvers in the Middle East are enough to deter Iran from further military escalation.
“Fundamentally, we want them to stay in the deal,” the U.S. official said, when asked why the Trump administration wants the European financial mechanism, known as INSTEX, to work. There’s no desire to engage in an all-out war with Iran or see it build a nuclear weapon, the official said.