Iran Can Produce 'Multiple Nuclear Weapons Within Days,' Foreign Policy Leaders Say, Underscoring 'Urgent Need' for Action

America's next president must 'develop credible military options for preventing Iranian acquisition of a nuclear bomb'

(Vahid Reza Alaei/AFP via Getty Images)
July 11, 2024

Iran is quietly accelerating its nuclear program "to a point where the regime can now produce enough weapons-grade uranium for multiple nuclear weapons within days," according to a broad coalition of think tanks and advocacy groups. America's next president, those groups say, must quickly "develop credible military options for preventing Iranian acquisition of a nuclear bomb."

With the world focused on Israel's war against Hamas and the upcoming 2024 U.S. presidential election, Tehran has steadily increased its nuclear enrichment activity, increasing the likelihood of a direct confrontation in the coming years. American policymakers and the winner of this year's election will soon be faced with a potentially globe altering decision point, the organizations warn in a new policy brief.

Iran has "taken advantage of a distracted world to double down on its nuclear program, moving closer than ever to potential weaponization," wrote the Vandenberg Coalition and Foundation for Defense of Democracies, two leading think tanks comprised of foreign policy experts and former government officials, in a policy briefing released Thursday. "These threats require a comprehensive response from U.S. policymakers."

The "joint call to action" is backed by nine other think tanks and foreign policy groups, including Veterans on Duty, United Against a Nuclear Iran, Christians United for Israel, the National Union for Democracy in Iran, Advancing American Freedom, the Republican Jewish Coalition, and the Zionist Organization of America. It signals growing concern among a broad section of the U.S. foreign policy community about America's hesitance to confront Iran as the Islamic Republic pushes toward a nuclear bomb and foments terrorism across the Middle East.

"Iran's advancing nuclear program, coupled with the full spectrum of its destabilizing activities, underscore the urgent need for a cohesive and comprehensive strategy in response to counter these threats," the groups write. "We can be distracted no longer."

The Biden administration's policies toward Iran have long been a source of tension with Republican leaders on Capitol Hill. Illicit Iranian oil sales have reached more than $90 billion under President Joe Biden, and other forms of sanctions relief have allowed Tehran to access around $10 billion in once-frozen revenues.

Should Biden win a second term, his administration will likely have to adopt a more hardline policy to prevent Tehran's march toward a nuclear bomb, according to the advocacy groups.

"It is impossible to predict the outcome of the 2024 elections on either end of Pennsylvania Avenue; however, Americans of both political parties have a unique opportunity and the responsibility to develop a comprehensive plan against a leading American adversary, Iran," the groups write. "We must set the agenda for a future American president to shut down Iran’s nuclear development, target its proxy terrorist network, and ensure the survival of the state of Israel."

Any new policy should include rallying other Western nations to sanction Tehran's nuclear activity and reimpose a series of economic measures that were originally lifted by the United Nations as part of the 2015 nuclear accord, the groups say.

America must also be prepared to deal with a worst-case scenario, according to the policy brief. This scenario means providing the Pentagon "with adequate resources to rapidly execute military contingencies if deterrence fails, including sufficient protection for U.S. personnel, assets, bases and embassies, and the ability to project sufficient force to prompt Iran to de-escalate following a U.S. strike response."

The United States must also deal with Iran's foreign influence campaign.

"Declassify and disseminate information on regime activities to maximize transparency and expose the regime's activities," the groups urge in the brief. "This includes its planning, support, and execution of proxy activity, potential false flag operations, disinformation operations, etc. Condemn, prosecute, and designate all Iranian officials involved in the regime's ongoing efforts to kill Iranian dissidents and current and former American officials."

The U.S. government should also place more focus on Iran's terrorist proxy groups, including Hamas, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen, jihadi groups in Iraq, and militant organizations in Syria.

"Affirm publicly that it is the policy of the United States to hold the regime accountable for the actions of the terrorist proxies it trains, equips, and funds, and implement a detailed plan, including information operations and military actions, to demonstrate to Tehran that it will enforce such policy," the brief states.

Anti-regime forces in Iran should receive greater public backing from the United States and its allies, including through the creation of "a strike fund to support Iranian workers who are willing to stand up to the regime at great personal cost."