Mike Shuster

Mike Shuster is an award-winning diplomatic correspondent and roving foreign correspondent for NPR News. He is based at NPR West, in Culver City, CA. When not traveling outside the U.S., Shuster covers issues of nuclear non-proliferation and weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, and the Pacific Rim.

In recent years, Shuster has helped shape NPR’s extensive coverage of the Middle East as one of the leading reporters to cover this region – traveling in the spring of 2007 to Iraq to cover the increased deployment of American forces in Baghdad. He has traveled frequently to Iran – seven times since 2004 – to report on Iran's nuclear program and political changes there. He has also reported frequently from Israel, covering the 2006 war with Hezbollah, the pullout from Gaza in 2005 and the second intifada that erupted in 2000. His 2007 week-long series "The Partisans of Ali" explored the history of Shi'ite faith and politics, providing a rare, comprehensive look at the complexities of the Islamic religion and its impact on the Western world.

Shuster has won numerous awards for his reporting. He was part of the NPR News team to be recognized with a Peabody Award for coverage of September 11th and its aftermath. He was also part of the NPR News teams to receive Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards for coverage of the Iraq War (2007 and 2004); September 11th and the war in Afghanistan (2003); and the Gulf War (1992). In 2003, Shuster was honored for his series "The Middle East: A Century of Conflict" with an Overseas Press Club Lowell Thomas Award and First in Documentary Reporting from the National Headliner Awards. He also received an honorable mention from the Overseas Press Club in 1999, and the SAJA Journalism Award in 1998.

Through his reporting for NPR, Shuster has also taken listeners to India and Pakistan, the Central Asian nations of Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan, and the Congo. He was NPR's senior Moscow correspondent in the early 1990s, when he covered the collapse of the Soviet Union and a wide range of political, economic, and social issues in Russia and the other independent states of the former Soviet Union.

From September 1989 to June 1991, Shuster was stationed in England as senior editor of NPR's London Bureau. For two months in early 1991, he was assigned to Saudi Arabia to cover the Gulf War. While at the London Bureau, Shuster also covered the unification of Germany, from the announcement of the opening of the Berlin Wall to the establishment of a single currency for that country. He traveled to Germany monthly during this time to trace the revolution there, from euphoria over the freedom to travel, to the decline of the Communist Party, to the newly independent country's first free elections.

Before moving to London, Shuster worked as a reporter and bureau chief at NPR New York, and an editor of Weekend All Things Considered. He joined NPR in 1980 as a freelance reporter covering business and the economy.

Prior to coming to NPR, Shuster was a United Nations correspondent for Pacifica News Service, during which he covered the 1980 election of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe. He traveled throughout Africa as a freelance foreign affairs reporter in 1970 and again in 1976; on this latter trip, Shuster spent five months covering Angolan civil war and its aftermath.

Pages

Middle East
1:55 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

In Iran's Election, Not All Candidates Are Welcome

Women sit at a bus stop under election posters in Qom, about 75 miles south of Iran's capital, Tehran, on Tuesday. Iran's parliamentary elections on Friday are expected to be a contest between various conservative factions. Many candidates seeking change have been barred from running.
Raheb Homavandi Reiters/Landov

Originally published on Thu March 1, 2012 5:10 pm

Iran holds parliamentary elections on Friday, the first since the disputed, and many believe fraudulent, presidential election in 2009.

But unlike that presidential poll, candidates seeking to take on the country's conservative rulers will not be taking part Friday; they are mostly under house arrest or have been in prison for years now.

The focus will be on which conservatives end up on top and how many votes are cast.

Read more
Middle East
3:31 pm
Wed February 15, 2012

Iran Ups The Ante With More Nuclear Moves

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (right) listens to a nuclear expert during a tour of the Tehran Research Reactor on Wednesday. Iran announced that for the first time it has produced the fuel plates that power that reactor.
Iranian Presidency AFP/Getty Images

Iran has unveiled significant developments on two important components of its nuclear program: the centrifuges used to enrich uranium and the uranium used to fuel a research reactor.

The country has made no secret of its work in these areas. But the news on Wednesday suggests that Iran may be making progress in its nuclear program.

Iran also announced that it is cutting off oil sales to several European nations, only to reverse itself hours later.

Read more
National Security
4:38 pm
Wed February 8, 2012

A New Weapon Against Nukes: Social Media

This satellite image provided by DigitalGlobe, taken in 2010, shows the Yongbyon nuclear complex in North Korea. The Institute for Science and International Security monitors satellite images for updates to nuclear facilities.
DigtialGlobe AP

Here are two things you don't often hear mentioned in the same sentence: social media and nuclear weapons.

Rose Gottemoeller, acting undersecretary of state for arms control, quickly links those two unlikely partners in conversation. She's behind a campaign to discover how new communications tools can help rid the world of some of the dangers of nuclear weapons.

Crowdsourcing Nuclear Problems

Gottemoeller is an avid user of Twitter, and it made her wonder how Twitter and other methods of crowdsourcing a problem can help her in her work.

Read more
Middle East
3:01 pm
Fri January 27, 2012

U.N. Atomic Agency To Visit Iran For New Probe

The International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, is sending a team to Iran on Sunday to further look into the country's nuclear program. Here, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's ambassador to the agency, is shown at an IAEA meeting in Vienna on Nov. 18, 2011.
Ronald Zak AP

Originally published on Fri January 27, 2012 5:19 pm

A senior delegation from the International Atomic Energy Agency visits Iran on Sunday in a renewed attempt to probe aspects of Iran's nuclear program that could be connected to nuclear weapons work.

For years, the IAEA has been trying to get answers to some very uncomfortable questions about Iran's nuclear program.

Iran insists it has only a peaceful, civilian nuclear program, and so far it has refused to discuss evidence that it is engaging in some nuclear weapons work. But international pressure on Tehran is growing.

Read more
Middle East
11:01 pm
Wed January 25, 2012

Growing Pressures Prompt Plunge In Iranian Currency

An Iranian man counts banknotes after exchanging a gold coin for cash in Tehran on Monday. Gold coins were being exchanged for over 10 million rials as the Iranian currency continues to lose value against the U.S. dollar.
Atta Kenare AFP/Getty Images

The value of Iran's currency — which had been sliding steadily for months — took another plunge this week. Faced with new economic sanctions from the U.S. and Europe, the rial now seems to be in free fall.

But at least part of the dive could be linked to currency manipulation by the government itself in an effort to fund candidates in upcoming elections.

In images posted on the Internet, hundreds of Iranians are seen gathered outside the headquarters of the Bank Melli in Tehran Monday. They wanted to buy dollars, but there were no dollars to be had.

Read more
World
5:01 am
Sat January 21, 2012

China Hedges Mideast Oil Bets Amid Iran Tensions

China appears to be rethinking its reliance on oil from Iran. Here, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (right) visits with the members of the Saudi Arabia-China Friendship Association on the outskirt of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, earlier this month.
Liu Weibing Xinhua /Landov

Originally published on Sat January 21, 2012 9:35 pm

China's premier, Wen Jiabao, was in the Persian Gulf this week talking about oil.

China has become increasingly concerned about all the threats of conflict with Iran in the Persian Gulf, which supplies China with a great deal of its oil.

In fact, China is Iran's biggest customer. But Iran was not a stop on the Chinese itinerary — Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were.

Read more
NPR Story
2:00 pm
Tue January 10, 2012

South Korea Takes Political Turn To The Left

When the current president of South Korea Lee Myung-bak took office four years ago, he turned a cold shoulder to engagement with North Korea. The conservative wing in South Korea opposed improving relations with Pyongyang. But that has proven to be an unpopular policy, and now Lee finds himself in the difficult position of appealing for closer ties in this unpredictable transition period in North Korea. Lee goes to Beijing Monday to seek Chinese backing for this policy shift.

Asia
4:38 am
Fri January 6, 2012

Nations Want N. Korean Politics To Remain Stable

Originally published on Fri January 6, 2012 9:37 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

The death of Kim Jong Il in North Korea and the rise of his son Kim Jong Un have threatened to undermine the delicate balance of political forces in northeast Asia. It's a complicated part of the world, involving the interests of a still-divided Korean peninsula along with China, the U.S., as well as Japan and Russia. NPR's Mike Shuster has more from Seoul.

Read more
North Korea In Transition
4:35 pm
Mon December 19, 2011

How Will A New Leader Handle North Korea's Nukes?

Perhaps Kim Jong Il's most enduring legacy was to turn North Korea into a nuclear weapons state. The country successfully tested a nuclear bomb underground in 2006, and a second test followed in 2009.

With Kim's death, which was announced Monday, his presumed successor is his son, Kim Jong Un. But little is known about him or his thinking on the country's nuclear program.

Read more
Middle East
3:14 pm
Wed December 14, 2011

Mysterious Events Leave Tehran Feeling Under Siege

A picture released by the official website of Iran's Revolutionary Guard on Dec. 8 shows Iranian Revolutionary Guard Brig. Gen. Amir-Ali Hajizadeh (right) looking at a U.S. spy drone that crashed in Iran on Dec. 4.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 14, 2011 6:12 pm

It's never easy trying to figure out just what is going on in Iran.

But it has been especially difficult of late — after an explosion that reduced a missile base to rubble, another blast that was heard but not seen, and the mysterious case of the downed American stealth drone.

These events have left a slew of questions and very few answers.

The huge explosion at the missile base outside Tehran on Nov. 12 was heard in the capital, about 30 miles away, and, satellite pictures show, it devastated the base.

Read more
Middle East
3:20 pm
Mon November 21, 2011

In Iran, Secret Plans To Abolish The Presidency?

A power struggle between Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (right) and the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (left, in portrait) is growing. There are signs that Khamenei may want to eliminate the presidency and replace it with the less powerful position of prime minister.
Joseph Eid AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon November 21, 2011 8:27 pm

The next presidential election in Iran is scheduled for 2013, but doubts are emerging about whether it will actually take place.

A conservative member of Iran's Parliament recently claimed that a secret committee convened by Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has been working on a plan to do away with the office of the presidency.

Meanwhile, the conflict between the supreme leader and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad continues to sharpen.

Read more
World
11:01 pm
Tue November 8, 2011

U.N. Raises Questions On Iran's Nuclear Program

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad unveils a sample of the third generation centrifuge for uranium enrichment during a ceremony in Tehran on April 9, 2010. Iran says its nuclear ambitions are peaceful.
Behrouz Mehri AFP/Getty Images

The International Atomic Energy Agency released its much-anticipated report on Iran's nuclear program, but failed to conclude definitively that the Islamic republic is engaged in a full-scale weapons program.

Still, the U.N. nuclear watchdog's report raised some serious questions about what Iran is really doing in connection with nuclear weapons.

Read more
National Security
1:09 am
Sat October 29, 2011

U.S. Dismantles The Biggest Of Its Cold War Nukes

This undated photo provided by the National Nuclear Security Administration shows the last B53 nuclear bomb. It was dismantled this past week, just outside Amarillo, Texas. It's a milestone in efforts to reduce the number of nuclear weapons.

National Nuclear Security Administration AP

Originally published on Sun October 30, 2011 12:10 pm

This past week, the U.S. dismantled the last of its largest nuclear bombs, the B53.

This was a Dr. Strangelove bomb, conjuring up images of armageddon and apocalypse. At the same time, one of the smallest warheads was also removed from the nuclear arsenal.

These are steps the U.S. is taking apart from its arms control agreements with Russia. And thousands more American nuclear weapons are slated for destruction in a process that could take a decade or more.

Read more
Middle East
1:26 pm
Wed October 26, 2011

Iran's Largest Banks Swindled Out Of $2.6 Billion

The banking scandal has political implications in Iran, and the president's top adviser, Rahim Mashaei, has come under criticism. He's shown here in a 2007 photo.

Paul White AP

Originally published on Thu October 27, 2011 4:41 am

A bank fraud scandal of unprecedented proportions is shaking domestic politics in Iran.

Several of Iran's largest banks have been swindled out of an estimated $2.6 billion. The scandal has sparked a widening investigation with more than 30 arrests so far. It has also led to charges that some of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's closest advisers were involved.

On its face, it appears it was easy for some of Iran's most important bankers to steal so much money.

Read more
Middle East
3:36 am
Sat October 15, 2011

WikiLeaks Cable Hints At Motive For Alleged Iran Plot

An alleged Iranian plot to assassinate Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the U.S., Adel al-Jubeir (shown here in 2004), may have been motivated by tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia, but also could underscore an internal power struggle.

Paul J. Richards AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun October 16, 2011 5:23 am

The disclosure of an alleged Iranian plot to kill the Saudi ambassador in the U.S. is certain to worsen relations between Riyadh and Tehran, despite the baffling and improbable details that have emerged so far.

Relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia have been deteriorating for some years now, however, with growing hostility bubbling just below the surface. In that context, the plot may make more sense than is immediately apparent.

Read more
Middle East
11:01 pm
Thu October 6, 2011

Iran Charges Student Who Was In the U.S.

Omid Kokabee, an Iranian who was studying physics at the University of Texas, Austin, was arrested when he returned home to Iran for a family visit. He went on trial in Tehran this week on charges related to espionage.

Courtesy of The Daily Texan

An Iranian who was studying physics in Texas went on trial in Tehran this week on charges related to espionage.

Omid Kokabee, 29, a graduate student at the University of Texas, Austin, went home to Iran to visit his family back in February. When Kokabee failed to return to Austin, his friends discovered he had been jailed and charged in Iran with communicating with a hostile government and taking illegal funds.

His case is only now becoming public knowledge, just a few weeks after Iran released two young Americans accused of espionage and held for more than two years.

Read more
Middle East
3:16 pm
Fri September 30, 2011

Sale Of U.S. Bombs To Israel Raises Questions

With all the recent turmoil in the Middle East, one piece of news that has been overlooked is the revelation that the Obama administration approved the sale of 55 deep earth penetrator bombs to Israel in 2009.

The two-year-old transaction was recently reported by Newsweek. No U.S. officials have talked openly about why the bunker busters were provided to Israel but speculation falls most heavily on a single target.

Read more

Pages