August 21, 2009
Anna Christopher, NPR




August 21, 2009; Washington, D.C. – Two months after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was named to a second term following a highly-contested election, many questions remain about the stability and motives of the country’s government, and particularly its ambitions for nuclear enrichment. All next week, NPR News examines the state of Iran's weapons program, and the potential ramifications of a nuclear-armed Tehran, in "The Challenges of a Nuclear Iran," a multipart series airing August 23-27 across all NPR newsmagazines and available online at To find local stations and broadcast times for all programs, please visit

Leading NPR's reporting is foreign correspondent Mike Shuster, who has covered Iran extensively and traveled to the country a dozen times since 2004, most recently for the election in June 2009. Shuster will introduce the series on Weekend Edition on August 23; later, he reports on the debate over deterrence, and whether the United States would have an obligation to defend Gulf states against Iranian armament. Joining Shuster to report “The Challenges of a Nuclear Iran” are Pentagon correspondent Mary Louise Kelly, who examines military options should Iran field a bomb; diplomatic correspondent Michele Kelemen, on the state of U.S. policy toward Iran; Mideast correspondent Peter Kenyon, who outlines worries among Iran’s neighbors; and, in Jerusalem, Lourdes Garcia-Novarro, on Israel's position when it comes to nuclear armament and Iran.

A complete outline of the series and detailed story descriptions follow. All reports will be available at, where there will also be interactive maps of Iran's nuclear and missile facilities and the range of Iran's current and projected missile systems, along with a photo timeline of the history of U.S.-Iran relations and milestones in Iran's nuclear development.

With 17 foreign bureaus and offices, more than any other major U.S. broadcast network, NPR News offers daily in-depth international coverage that is consistently recognized for broadcast excellence. In the region, NPR maintains permanent bureaus in Kabul, Baghdad, New Delhi, Cairo and Jerusalem; its newest international bureau, in Islamabad, Pakistan, opened in April 2009.

NPR News Reports: "The Challenges of a Nuclear Iran"
August 23-27, 2009
PLEASE NOTE: Series topics and order are tentative and subject to change.

Part 1: Intro to "The Challenges of a Nuclear Iran"
Sunday, August 23: Weekend Edition
Foreign correspondent Mike Shuster talks with host Liane Hansen about what listeners can expect to hear during "The Challenges of Nuclear Iran."

Part 2: Military Option
Monday, August 24: Morning Edition
If Iran were on the verge of fielding a nuclear weapon, the Obama administration would be faced with a choice: can it accept a nuclear-armed Iran, or must it use any means to stop it? Pentagon correspondent Mary Louise Kelly examines the military options, including possible targets; challenges to the U.S. military and intelligence communities; and how Iran might retaliate against any show of force.

Part 3: Nuclear Capability
Monday, August 24: All Things Considered
Mike Shuster examines the current state of Iran's nuclear capability: how far away is Iran from a bomb; how much uranium have they produced, and how close are they to industrial-scale enrichment; and what is Iran's long-range missile capability?

Part 4: Deterrence
Tuesday, August 25: Morning Edition
Deterrence, the military strategy employed against the Soviet Union during the Cold War, is often raised as an option when discussing the problem of a nuclear Iran. Mike Shuster explores both sides of the debate over deterrence and Iran.

Part 5: Diplomacy
Tuesday, August 25: All Things Considered
NPR’s diplomacy correspondent Michele Kelemen examines the state of U.S. policy toward Iran in the wake of the disputed president election there. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the window for engagement is still open, but time is quite limited. Can the U.S. engage with a government whose legitimacy is called into question by millions, and what other choices are on the table?

Part 6: Nuclear Umbrella
Wednesday, August 26: Morning Edition
Should Iran become armed with nuclear weapons, would the U.S. have an obligation to defend non-nuclear allied states in the region? Mike Shuster looks at what countries a nuclear umbrella would hypothetically cover – Saudi Arabia? Egypt? All Gulf states? – the many issues involved and whether the U.S. would need to station nuclear weapons in the Persian Gulf.

Part 7: Israel
Wednesday, August 26: All Things Considered
Jerusalem correspondent Lourdes Garcia-Navarro takes a closer look at the position of Israel position, as a nuclear weapons state. Would deterrence work between Israel and Iran? Could – and would – Israel attack Iran on its own?

Part 8: Politics
Thursday, August 27: Morning Edition
Excerpts join Morning Edition to discuss whether the domestic political uncertainty in Iran is a game changer when it comes to nuclear weapons. If the hardliners retain control, does the political conflict in Iran speed the acquisition of nuclear capability, or does it interfere with and slow down that process?

Part 9: Regional Response
Thursday, August 27: All Things Considered
What do Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the other Gulf states think about the issue of a nuclear Iran? Middle East correspondent Peter Kenyon examines the relationships between Iran and its neighbors, and the escalating tensions over nuclear armament, politics and oil.