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Factsheet #52 on Middle East and Iran

March 5, 2010

Ten Steps to a Free Iran

1. Impose and enforce the strongest sanctions. The U.S. should push other concerned countries to enforce targeted sanctions on the Iranian regime and its internal security organs; ban all foreign investment, loans and credits, subsidized trade, and refined petroleum exports to Iran; and deny visas to its officials.

2. Drop opposition to U.S. gasoline sanctions. Both houses of Congress voted by large bipartisan majorities to impose sanctions against firms that export refined petroleum products to Iran. Yet the White House is dragging its feet, arguing such sanctions will impede diplomatic efforts at the U.N., even though the U.N. is unlikely to approve crippling sanctions.

3. Target public diplomacy to expose the regime's human rights abuses. Such a campaign should document the abuses and aid victims, step up broadcasting and support for independent Iranian broadcasters outside the country to expose corruption of officials and the regime's aid to terrorists, and educate Iranians about genuine representative democracy.

Protecting America in the New Missile Age4. Facilitate communications among dissidents. The U.S. government should help opposition groups communicate privately with each other using Web-based groups outside Iran and Bluetooth technology that can evade government surveillance and censorship.

5. Aid opposition groups. U.S. intelligence services should provide covert financial and material assistance to democratic opposition groups to strengthen opposition to the regime, similar to the help extended to the Polish Solidarity movement during the Cold War.

6. Reduce Iran's meddling in Iraq. The U.S. should maintain the strongest troop presence Iraq would permit to aid in containing and reducing Iran's influence. A stable and democratic Iraq offers Shiites an alternative model that helps de-legitimize Iran's Islamist system.

7. Target covert actions to discredit the regime. Intelligence services should distribute printouts of Iranian officials' foreign bank accounts and other assets and pictures of their mansions and villas outside Iran to drive a wedge between the corrupt regime and the people.

8. Modernize the U.S. nuclear arsenal. The U.S. should develop and deploy a new generation of nuclear weapons to convince Tehran that any attempt to use nuclear weapons will likely fail to achieve whatever political and military objectives they have in mind.

9. Expand U.S. military capabilities to defend U.S. interests and allies. Targeting and holding at risk the regime's top leaders, its nuclear weapons program, and its internal security forces would protect the U.S. from Iranian aggression.

10. Deploy a robust and comprehensive missile defense system. Land-based, sea-based, and ultimately space-based systems that can defend against Iranian ballistic missiles would minimize the ability of Iran to threaten the U.S. and its allies.

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