Iran Coverage

Updated at 3:50 p.m. ET

Iranian authorities have arrested an undisclosed number of people over the accidental shootdown of a Ukrainian airliner. The move comes as Iranians continue to protest against the government over the tragedy. Hours after the arrests, a new video emerged that purportedly shows two missiles hitting the passenger jet.

The 2015 Iran nuclear deal, already teetering after the U.S. withdrawal and subsequent breaches by the Iranian government, has suffered yet another grave blow.

The conflict between the United States and Iran has flared dangerously in Iraq — and in few places more so than a remote desert air base, more than 100 miles northwest of Baghdad. Iran fired at least 10 ballistic missiles at the sprawling Ain al-Assad base last week in response to the Jan. 3 U.S. drone strike in Baghdad that killed top Iranian commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani and an Iraqi paramilitary leader.

NPR international correspondent Jane Arraf and freelance photographer Alexander Tahaov were among a group of journalists invited to tour the base earlier this week.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper talks with All Things Considered host Ari Shapiro at the Pentagon about the U.S. killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani and about the constitutional authority to strike Iranian proxies in Iraq and Iran on its home soil in retaliation for attacks on American forces.

Ari Shapiro: Secretary Esper, thank you for speaking with us today.

Secretary Mark Esper: Well, thank you, Ari. Thanks for inviting me onto the show.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

We begin our Jan. 13 show  with U.S. Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado.  A former Superintendent of Schools in Denver and co-sponsor of the Green New Deal, with a keen interest also in immigration reform, Bennet is running on a platform that includes a public option for helath care, expanding tax credits for the middle class, and repairing the country's infrastructure.   

F-16s Virginia with KC-135R New Hampshire via Wikimedia Commons

As relations between the United States and Iran remain tense, New Hampshire's military personnel and veterans are also considering the implications for the two nations.

New Hampshire veteran Kevin Grady spent 25 years in the Air Force. He says nobody dislikes going to war more than those in uniform.

"Because we're the ones who have to go out and do the actual fighting" Grady says. "So we always are big fans of somebody figuring out a way that the shooting doesn't start, and we get by our differences and move on. We're big fans of that."

Updated at 2:45 p.m. ET

Satellite photos taken Wednesday show that an Iranian missile strike has caused extensive damage at the Ain al-Assad air base in Iraq, which hosts U.S. and coalition troops.

The photos, taken by the commercial company Planet and shared with NPR via the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, show hangars and buildings hit hard by a barrage of Iranian missiles that were fired early Wednesday morning local time.

Ali Oshinskie/NHPR

Washington's escalating conflict and crisis with Iran has become a central focus of the presidential race. Voters are expressing concern, and the Democratic candidates are talking about it on the campaign trail in New Hampshire.

Nasser Nasser / AP

President Trump is scheduled to speak to the nation at 11 a.m. today following attacks on military bases in Iraq where U.S. troops are stationed.

Trump tweeted on Tuesday night that "All is well!" and that an assessment of the casualties was underway. Iran said the missiles were launched as an act of self-defense after the U.S. killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Iraq.

Updated at 5 p.m. ET

President Trump said that Iran appears "to be standing down" after Tuesday night's missile attack in Iraq and that "the American people should be extremely grateful and happy no Americans were harmed."

Trump, in a nationally televised address from the White House, also announced a new round of what he termed "punishing economic sanctions" against the Iranian government. And he called on NATO to become "much more involved in the Middle East process."

Updated at 10:03 p.m. ET

Iran has launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles against U.S. military and coalition forces, targeting at least two military bases in Iraq, the U.S. Defense Department announced late Tuesday.

The strikes on military and coalition personnel at the Ain al-Assad air base in Anbar province and in Irbil — at the center of Iraq's Kurdistan region — began at approximately 5:30 p.m. ET, according to a statement.

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif defended the strike, saying it was an act of "self-defense."

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tells NPR that the U.S. "will pay" for a drone strike that killed the commander of the country's elite Quds Force, which he described as an act of "both terrorism and war."

Speaking with All Things Considered host Mary Louise Kelly in Tehran, Zarif said last week's assassination of Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani was "a cowardly armed attack" that "amounts to war."

"[We] will respond according to our own timing and choice," he said.

A stampede in south-central Iran at the funeral of Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani has killed at least 32 people and injured scores, temporarily suspending the burial of the slain commander of the Quds Force who was killed last week in a U.S. airstrike.

Iranian television said the stampede took place in Kerman, Soleimani's hometown, where he was to have been buried following a two-day funeral in which his casket traveled to several cities, where hundreds of thousands of Iranians paid respects.

Iran's cultural heritage is suddenly a topic of urgent global interest, after President Trump threatened to strike such sites if the country retaliates for the United States' killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani last week.

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Updated at 7:43 p.m. ET

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper announced on Monday that some forces are being repositioned inside Iraq, not leaving the country.

Two other U.S. officials told NPR that some are going to Kuwait temporarily.

Updated at 7:19 p.m. ET

Congressional Democrats are promising to act this week to limit President Trump's ability to unilaterally order military action against Iran.

In a letter to House Democrats, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called last week's drone airstrike against Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani "provocative and disproportionate," saying the strike "endangered our servicemembers, diplomats and others by risking a serious escalation of tensions with Iran."

Updated at 11:45 a.m. ET

Vast crowds thronged the streets of Tehran on Monday to pay respects to Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran's elite Quds Force who was killed last week in a U.S. drone strike in Baghdad.

In a eulogy, Soleimani's daughter appeared to threaten U.S. forces in the region, and the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, wept for the fallen general.

Updated at 7:49 p.m. ET

Iran will no longer honor its commitment to limit its enrichment of uranium, stepping away from a key component of the landmark nuclear deal it agreed to with six nations, including the United States, in 2015.

The announcement was reported Sunday in Iranian state media. It marks the latest in the country's retreat from the limitations agreed to in the agreement, known as the JCPOA.

Updated at 8:05 p.m. ET

Iraqis turned out in droves Saturday to mourn Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, just a day and a half after both men were killed in a U.S. airstrike that has prompted vows of revenge from leaders in Tehran.

Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, killed in a drone strike early Friday, is getting the vast majority of the media attention. But several others were also killed in the attack, including militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. For years, Muhandis has been one of the most important military figures in Iraq, as the deputy commander of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces.

Updated at 11:50 p.m. ET Sunday

As thousands of mourners flooded the streets of Iran on Sunday to mourn the death of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, a series of dizzying developments convulsed the Middle East, generating new uncertainty around everything from the future of U.S. forces in Iraq to the battle against ISIS and the effort to quell Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

Amid the fallout of the U.S. drone strike on Friday that killed Soleimani, Sunday saw the following whiplash-inducing developments unfold almost simultaneously:

Updated at 3:46 p.m. ET

A U.S. service member and two Defense Department contractors were killed Sunday when the terrorist organization al-Shabab attacked a Kenyan airfield used by both Kenyan and U.S. forces.

Two Defense Department members were also injured in the attack, according to United States Africa Command. They are said to be in stable condition.

The U.S. killing of a top Iranian military leader, Qassem Soleimani, in an airstrike in Baghdad this week has raised thorny legal questions. Experts disagree over whether the U.S. had the legal authority to launch the deadly strike.

President Trump stated that Soleimani was plotting "imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and American personnel, but we caught him in the act and terminated him."

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Updated at 3:15 p.m.

President Trump, in his first public remarks in the wake of a U.S. strike that killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, defended the action as necessary to protect national security.

"We took action last night to stop a war. We did not take action to start a war," Trump said Friday afternoon from his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

Less than a day after the U.S. killed a top Iranian military commander, assassinating Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani in an overnight drone strike outside Baghdad International Airport, the questions eddying around the world can be simplified to just one: How will Iran respond?

Updated at 1:07 p.m. ET

President Trump ordered a bold strike against Iran this week that jangled the Middle East and Washington, drawing praise from allies, skepticism from critics and, most of all, questions about what comes next.

As President Trump's impeachment trial approaches, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, is under close scrutiny from Democrats and her fellow Republicans ahead of a vote that could once again test her reputation for centrism and independence.

The spotlight on Collins has come a bit earlier than expected.

In the narrowly divided Senate, just four Republicans could force Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to reconsider his vow for a speedy acquittal and "total coordination" with the Trump White House.

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