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US think tank calls for ‘Plan B’ on Iran

Iran’s nuclear program has “expanded massively” since President Joe Biden entered office, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies said.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (left) and head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi near the Bushehr nuclear plant. Credit: Hossein Heidarpour/Wikimedia Commons.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (left) and head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi near the Bushehr nuclear plant. Credit: Hossein Heidarpour/Wikimedia Commons.

The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) has published a 53-page document advocating for a new U.S. strategy on Iran.

The document contains 231 actionable recommendations for the U.S. government and calls for decisive pressure on the Iranian regime and intensive support for the Iranian people.

According to Orde Kittrie, co-editor of the report and a senior fellow at FDD, “A major theme of our recommendations is how the Biden administration could drastically reduce the Iranian regime’s financial and material capacity to advance its nuclear and missile programs, oppress its people and support terrorist groups.”

Mark Dubowitz, co-editor of the report and CEO of FDD, said, “The Iranian nuclear program has expanded massively since the election of President [Joe] Biden and his decision to abandon a campaign of coercive pressure.

“Meanwhile, we are four months into yet another round of large-scale protests against the regime, and the administration still has not provided meaningful support to the Iranian people. This needs to change rapidly or the regime will soon complete its work-around warhead design and become a nuclear weapons power. Washington needs a plan to credibly threaten, and in important ways implement, all instruments of national power in close coordination with Israel and other allies.”

The report’s principal policy goal is to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

“According to the latest IAEA report, Iran could now produce, in just one month, enough weapons-grade uranium for four nuclear weapons,” stated Kittrie. “We recommend that the Biden administration credibly threaten Iran that any move towards a nuclear bomb will not succeed because the U.S. or Israel would stop it militarily. The Biden administration should communicate its willingness to act militarily through statements by the president, high-profile military exercises, and more forceful responses to aggression by Iran and its proxies against the U.S. and its allies.”

Iran’s ballistic missiles

Another goal outlined in the report is for the U.S. to “deter, hinder and defend against Iran’s ballistic missile program,” according to Kittrie. “Our recommendations include tightening existing sanctions and imposing new ones on Iranian persons and entities involved in the program, and also more aggressively sanctioning Chinese, North Korean and other foreign persons and entities that supply the program.”

Additional recommendations include having the U.S. Treasury Department lead a broad interagency review to identify companies and state-owned entities that support Iran’s ballistic missile program, and having the U.S. continue to expose Iranian-North Korean cooperation on ballistic missile development.

Countering Hezbollah is also a top priority of the proposed strategy.

“We recommend that the U.S. more aggressively target Hezbollah’s global financial and economic networks, and the foreign banks and companies that support those networks,” stated Kittrie. “We also recommend that the E.U., U.K., Canada and Australia designate the IRGC [Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps] as a terrorist organization in its entirety, and that the E.U. designate the ‘civilian’ wing of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization as well.

“We also advise that the U.S. statutorily increase resources for the State Department’s ‘Rewards for Justice’ program to target key Hezbollah and Quds Force officials operating outside Iran, with an emphasis on Latin America and Europe.”

The document also includes other recommendations for cracking down on Hezbollah activity in Latin America and Africa, where the Lebanese terrorist group is particularly active. The report also recommends that the U.S. work with its allies to blacklist officials who work with Hezbollah, and that the Treasury Department review Israel’s list of Lebanese companies that provide Hezbollah with production support for precision-guided munitions (PGMs or smart bombs).

“With regard to Palestinian terror groups, we urge the U.S. to start imposing sanctions on the Al-Nasser Salah al-Din Brigades, the third-largest terror organization in the Gaza Strip,” stated Kittrie. “We also urge the U.S. government to increase financial pressure on Hamas and Islamic Jihad by more aggressively targeting people and entities who provide them with material support or assistance.” This includes sanctioning companies and individuals that generate revenue for Hamas, which could aid in uncovering more illicit activity in countries such as Turkey and Malaysia.

The strategy document’s goal is to encourage and inform a U.S. “Plan B” on Iran, according to Kittrie.

“We need a coordinated, new U.S. strategy to support the Iranian people’s goal of establishing a government that abandons the quest for nuclear weapons and is neither internally repressive nor regionally aggressive. While the Biden administration has stated that it is developing a ‘Plan B’ to address the full spectrum of Iranian threats, it has yet to roll this out. Our policy paper is designed to inform both the Biden administration and Congress of a viable, robust set of recommendations for rolling back the Iranian threat,” he said.

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