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University Of Tehran Professor Gives View From Iranian Capital


We are processing the implications of last night's missile strike by Iran on U.S. military bases in Iraq. Those attacks came in retaliation for the killing of a top Iranian military official, Major General Qassem Soleimani. Joining us now for a view from Tehran is professor Seyed Mohammad Marandi at the University of Tehran. Professor, thanks for being here.

SEYED MOHAMMAD MARANDI: Thank you for having me.

GREENE: I just wanted to start, can you tell me about your general position? Have you supported the Iranian government in - during these tensions with the United States overall?

MARANDI: What exactly do you mean? Because it's like saying, do you support the government in the United States? There are different political parties here, and there are different policies. But if you mean with regards to foreign policy, do I support Iran's foreign policy with regards the United States? Yes, I do.

GREENE: Tell me then what you make of this move by Iran, this - these missile strikes in retaliation for Soleimani's killing.

MARANDI: Well, the Americans carried out an act of war against Iran. And they murdered a high-ranking Iranian official of a foreign country. This is unprecedented in contemporary human history. I don't see how, if it's - if an American is killed and a senior officer, World War III would start. But if another - a foreign official is murdered by the Americans, then it's a perception of whether it's an act of war or not.

GREENE: The United States argument, of course, is that Soleimani has - basically has the blood of innocent people on his hands in the past and that he was involved in planning attacks potentially on U.S. troops and that this gave the president no choice. That's the argument of President Trump. What, in your mind, is wrong with that argument?

MARANDI: Well, I think if we use that argument, then all U.S. leaders over the past few decades should have been murdered or assassinated based upon that argument because they carry out war after war. Obama destroyed Libya. Bush invaded Iraq. And the list goes on. Is the United States the judge, jury and executioner, or is there going to be the rule of law anyway?

GREENE: Do you think Iranians are prepared for a possible all-out war with the United States here?

MARANDI: It depends on Trump. If Trump continues to behave the way he does, if he wants to carry out a further attack, the Iranians will have no option but to respond to offensive measures. The Iranians have already stated that.

GREENE: I'm just listening very carefully to what you're saying because I wonder, if the United States does not take further action, do you feel like that what Iran has done here is sufficient in terms of a response?

MARANDI: Well, it depends on how you look at it. But the Iranians sent a message to the United States that your air defenses are incapable of intercepting our missiles. That's an important message sent to the United States and therefore, by extension, all American bases in the Persian Gulf region, as well as all installations of those countries that provide the Americans with bases are vulnerable to Iranian missiles and drones.

GREENE: Those missiles were fired at bases that include both U.S. forces and also coalition forces in the fight against the Islamic State. Are you worried that this sort of action could actually encourage a resurgence of ISIS in Iraq?

MARANDI: The Iranians believe - and so do many Iraqis - that the United States has not really been very serious in the war of ISIS from the very beginning and only became somewhat involved when the Syrian government was taking territory rapidly from ISIS.

GREENE: Thanks so much for your time. We really appreciate it.

MARANDI: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.