January 10, 2023 | Press Release

FDD Releases “Strategy for a New Comprehensive U.S. Policy on Iran”

New guide outlines 231 recommendations for U.S. government to “roll back” repressive regime and support a “free Iran.”
January 10, 2023 | Press Release

FDD Releases “Strategy for a New Comprehensive U.S. Policy on Iran”

New guide outlines 231 recommendations for U.S. government to “roll back” repressive regime and support a “free Iran.”

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 10, 2023 –The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) published today a strategic plan that lays out specific and actionable recommendations that U.S. government departments should take to support the Iranian people and confront the ongoing threats from the Islamic Republic of Iran.

As Iran’s nuclear weapons program advances and its regime brutalizes peaceful protesters, the U.S. must do more 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.

FDD is a nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy.

Strategy for a New Comprehensive U.S. Policy on Iran,” edited by FDD CEO Mark Dubowitz and Senior Fellow Orde Kittrie, includes 231 practical steps for the U.S. government to support the Iranian people, prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, and stop the regime’s regional aggression and assistance to Russia.

FDD’s recommendations are organized by the federal department or another institution that has the authority to implement them, including: 73 recommendations for the State Department, 50 for the Treasury Department, 30 for the Defense Department, 13 for the Justice Department, 12 for the Department of Homeland Security, nine for the National Security Council, five for the Commerce Department, and four for the Energy Department.

The new strategy aims to achieve the following:

  • Support the Iranian Protesters – recommendations for providing direct support to the protests now entering their fourth month, working with allies to hold human rights abusers accountable, facilitating the Iranian people’s access to information, and offering a clear vision of how relations could change if Iran were free and democratic.
  • Credibly Threaten to Halt Iran’s Nuclear Program Militarily if Necessary – recommendations for ensuring the United States and Israel have the capacity to use decisive military force to prevent the regime from developing nuclear weapons, and for communicating to the regime the U.S. has the capacity and resolve (including through presidential statements and military exercises).
  • Decrease the Iranian Regime’s Financial and Material Capacity to Advance its Nuclear Program, Oppress its People, and Support Terrorist Groups –recommendations for more vigorously enforcing current economic sanctions; expanding economic sanctions to additional malign regime actors and their front companies; further disconnecting the regime from the international financial system; cracking down on the regime’s procurement networks; facilitating collection of the over $53 billion in outstanding U.S. court judgments against Iran; making it harder and more expensive for the regime to support Syria, Hezbollah, and other proxies; and increasing efforts to detect and interdict the regime’s illicit transfers at sea, in the air, and on land.
  • Minimize the People’s Republic of China (PRC) Support for the Islamic Republic –recommendations for deterring, thwarting, and penalizing PRC purchases of Iranian oil, PRC investments in Iran, and PRC exports to Iran of nuclear and missile program components and surveillance technology.
  • Minimize Russian Support for the Islamic Republic and Iranian Support for Russia – recommendations for deterring, preventing, and penalizing Iranian sales of drones and missiles to Russia, and Russian sales of advanced weaponry to Iran.

“The Biden administration has a historic opportunity to constrain, deter, and, over time, reverse the Islamic Republic of Iran’s capacity and will to threaten the United States, our allies and interests, and the Iranian people,” the report states. “This should include a presidential directive to help achieve President Biden’s stated objective of a ‘free Iran.’”

A core element of the FDD plan is that America should adopt a “roll back” strategy to intensify the existing weaknesses of the regime and to support the Iranian protesters. To accomplish this, the Biden administration should take a page from the playbook President Ronald Reagan first used against the Soviet Union. In the early 1980s, Reagan seriously upgraded his predecessors’ containment strategy by implementing coercive policies designed to roll back Soviet expansionism.

The cornerstone of Reagan’s strategy was the recognition that the Soviet Union was an aggressive and revolutionary yet internally fragile state that Washington could defeat. Reagan’s policy was outlined in 1983 in National Security Decision Directive 75 (NSDD-75), a comprehensive strategy that called for the use of multiple instruments of overt and covert American power. The Reagan plan included economic warfare, support for anti-Soviet proxy forces and dissidents, a military buildup, and an all-out offensive against the Soviets’ ideological legitimacy.

  • “The Biden administration should develop a new version of NSDD-75,” the report states. “The administration should address every aspect of the Iranian menace, not merely the nuclear program.”
  • “Ronald Reagan showed how this can be done against a much more formidable and dangerous regime when he directed American power against the Soviet Union. These recommendations provide a road map for achieving that objective against the Islamic Republic of Iran,” said Dubowitz.
  • “The U.S. has for two years tried to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons program through negotiations, but those negotiations are dead now, and Iran is still advancing rapidly towards a nuclear arsenal,” Kittrie says. “The U.S. government needs a plan B, a strategy for increasing leverage over the regime in Iran and halting its nuclear weapons program, oppression of the Iranian people, and support for aggression by Russia, Hezbollah, and others. This document provides a comprehensive plan B.”

To arrange an interview with Mark Dubowitz or Orde Kittrie, please contact FDD media relations at [email protected].


About the Foundation for Defense of Democracies:

FDD is a Washington, DC-based, nonpartisan policy institute focused on national security and foreign policy. Connect with FDD on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.