Correspondence With National Public Radio

Point Austin
In response to this week's weeklong National Public Radio series on "Iran and the Bomb," I sent some brief questions to the NPR reporters and editors. Posted here are the questions and the response from Anna Christopher, senior manager for media relations at NPR.

Austin Chronicle: I'm working on a column for The Austin Chronicle on media coverage of Iran's nuclear program, with the hook of the Morning Edition series this week.

I've got a couple of questions for the editor or reporters on the Iran series – please forward. ...

1) Thus far (Sunday-Tuesday) the series has neither addressed nor raised the question of the legality (or morality) of any U.S. (or other) preemptive military action against Iran. Will those questions be addressed or sources on these issues be included in the discussion?

2) Should that question of legality/international law have any place in NPR's coverage of this question of war against Iran?

3) Are the editors and reporters concerned that an exclusively policy/politics-oriented discussion of this issue might contribute to a public sense that preemptive war is simply one more policy option among many?

Anna Christopher: Here is a response to your questions, explaining the ideas behind the NPR series, and addressing our overall coverage of Iran.

Mary Louise Kelly in her reporting on Morning Edition on Monday looked at the political and practical challenges and consequences of hypothetical military action. We did not set out to examine the legality (or morality) of any US (or other) pre-emptive military action against Iran in this series.

This series set out to harness to the reporting strengths of the Foreign Desk and National Security team. It brought together a group of experienced correspondents with expertise on Iran, US defense and foreign policy and the Middle East. The series aimed to examine how close Iran is to acquiring a nuclear bomb if it decided to pursue that capability, and what military and diplomatic options, and their effectiveness, the US has at its disposal to dissuade Tehran from attaining that goal.

These nine reports and interviews on the main newsmagazines and online are a part of NPR's overall coverage of Iran. We have done more than 150 stories on-air on Iran in the past six months. No American news organization has been more thorough in its coverage of Iran, despite the considerable obstacles that exist in reporting on that country.

We believe this series can contribute to a better understanding of one of the many foreign policy and military challenges facing the United States at this time. And we will continue to closely follow Iran in the coming weeks and months.

Online Intro to the NPR series “Iran and the Bomb”

Posted online with the NPR series is the following ongoing introduction – this is the passage given a potential alternate version in "Point Austin":

Iran's leaders say the country's nuclear program exists only for the purpose of generating electricity. Western intelligence agencies say the Islamic republic aims to produce nuclear weapons and intimidate its neighbors. How close is Iran to getting the bomb? How might it be stopped? And what are the implications for the United States and the rest of the world if Iran succeeds? This week, NPR looks at Iran and its suspected nuclear weapons programs in a series.

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