STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Iran says it's keeping its nuclear deal with the U.S. and other powers, and it expects the United States to live up to that deal, too. President Trump this month refused to certify Iran's compliance, although the U.S. also admits Iran is complying. Trump threatened to break the deal if it's not strengthened. We called Iran's ambassador to the United Nations, Gholamali Khoshroo, who says his country will abide by the agreement so long as the United States does.
GHOLAMALI KHOSHROO: Every word and every letter of that should be observed. Otherwise, Iran will not remain a party to that deal. I mean, it is not renegotiable. Nobody can add something to it or delete something from it.
INSKEEP: Well, as you know, Ambassador, Americans - some anyway - would like to add something to this deal. Is Iran open to changes in the agreement?
KHOSHROO: You know, America did its best during the negotiation. It was not America. It was Iran. It was other parties that wanted to add more in this deal. But this deal is a result of the deal - not only preference of one party.
INSKEEP: But that is, in fact, the position of the president of the United States, who is saying, I think it's a bad deal. There are other critics of the deal who, for example, would like more access in Iran - access to Iran's military sites. Is that something you can discuss?
KHOSHROO: The referee here is IAEA.
INSKEEP: The International Atomic Energy Agency, right.
KHOSHROO: IAEA has reported eight times from the time that deal was done that Iran has fulfilled all its commitment. Also, the head of IAEA said that we have access to places that we have asked for. No, America is not observing. It's not respecting what IAEA is doing and wanted to replace him.
INSKEEP: You just said that America is not quite following the deal. I guess I should ask that question directly. We've asked on the United States side, is Iran following the deal? American officials acknowledge that Iran is. But the president is still unhappy with the terms of the deal. Do you consider the United States to be following the deal right now?
KHOSHROO: The United States, particularly this administration, is looking after pretexts, threatening the imposing of sanctions. You know, this kind of action is inconsistent to the letter and to the content of the deal.
INSKEEP: So you have some objections to U.S. behavior. But you want to resolve them within the deal, rather than backing out of the deal.
KHOSHROO: Yes. We have a lot of objections - when they are creating the atmosphere of uncertainty regarding investment - foreign investment - trade interaction, economy relations. You know, all these actions that America is doing all contravene.
INSKEEP: One objection to this deal by many Americans is that it only covers nuclear issues. And they have concerns about Iran that go beyond nuclear issues. At the same time, I know that your president, Hassan Rouhani, was re-elected some months ago while promising to get more sanctions - non-nuclear sanctions - lifted on Iran. Is there room for some wider accommodation between Iran and the United States?
KHOSHROO: The United States has some preferences in the region - that many, many in the world is not happy with that. Even inside America, many are unhappy about what America has done in Iraq, in Syria, in Yemen. It has been so costly, so risky. And why Iran should obey America in the region?
INSKEEP: Why is it that, for some time after the deal, for years now in some cases, Iran has continued to hold a number of Iranian-Americans in Iranian prisons.
KHOSHROO: You know, the judicial system of Iran - they will do their job. In America, also, there are - many Iranians have been indicted by American judicial system. And they are in prison regarding the violation of sanction.
INSKEEP: Well, that will make people wonder, are you holding Americans in hope that there will be a trade?
KHOSHROO: No, the judicial system is separate from the government. No, there is no relationship between this and that.
INSKEEP: One other thing, Ambassador - what is the level of communication right now between Iran and the Trump administration - the United States government?
KHOSHROO: To the extent that I know, there is no relationship between Iran and America. On the deal, we had a lot of talks in the past. But no, all have been stopped.
INSKEEP: Gholamali Khoshroo is the Iranian ambassador to the United Nations. He's in New York. Ambassador, thanks very much.
KHOSHROO: Thank you very much. Thank you.
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