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NPR News Interview with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani

Preview available today on Weekend Edition Sunday.

Full interview airs on Morning Edition on Monday, September 28.

September 27, 2015; Washington, D.C. – In an extensive interview with NPR News, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani tells Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep that "it is our religious duty" to abide by the nuclear deal, that his country is ready to discuss the Syrian crisis with the U.S. "right now," and that the Iranian government should "render all possible aid" in resolving cases of dual citizens held in Iranian prisons, such as Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian.

Advanced excerpts and further details are included, below. A preview airs today on Weekend Edition Sunday. The full interview airs on Monday on Morning Edition. A complete advanced transcript will be available today (Sunday, September 27) upon request. Find local stations and broadcast times at npr.org/stations.

On skepticism that Iran would allow nuclear inspectors onto military bases, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says: "Well, my country, my nation, if it accepts an agreement, if it signs an agreement, if it gives its commitment to live up to the terms of an agreement, it will certainly do so. In Iran, throughout the history of Iran, whenever, whether it was a financial economic agreement or a security agreement, anything that Iran has signed up to it has always lived up to. We have never broken our commitment. This is our cultural framework. This is our comportment. This is our religious duty."

On whether Rouhani has advocated for the release of Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian, he says: "Of course, my advice that I give on a daily basis, on a continuous basis, to the judiciary, is never about a specific individual. I have given different sets of advice. And I do believe that the prisoners who have dual citizenship – even though, let's remember that according to the laws of my country, my nation, we do not accept dual citizenship – however I have proposed that the folks who have dual citizenship and are in Iran, the government must render all possible aid in resolving their issues, and, simultaneously, there would be a natural expectation from the United States government to take reciprocal actions in order to carry forward the same legal files of the Iranians who have been unfairly incarcerated here."

On whether or not Iran is ready and willing to work with the United States on a common strategy to resolve the war in Syria, Rouhani says: "Lack of security in neighboring countries not only harms all of the surrounding countries and creates lack of stability, but it creates instability as a whole in the region, which always comes back to our borders and frontiers as well, since we do reside in that region. So the security of Syria or Russia and the stability in those two countries is of utmost importance for us, and that same reasoning goes for any country in the region, and any solution that can lead to peace stability and security – we will pursue that solution."

On comments from Iran's Supreme Leader that the country won't cooperate with the U.S. beyond the nuclear issue, Rouhani says: "The other issue is that the Supreme Leader touched upon what you quoted him, within the framework of a speech, which consisted of, 'We will wait and see how the United States performs in the adherence to this agreement.' You do know that, in Iran, there are two differing viewpoints. Some of them have a very negative viewpoint; they say that our counterparts, including the United States, will not live up to their commitment. You do know that some of the Congressmen and women, some of the Senators here in the United States have said very clearly or written letters to that effect, that after the end of the Obama administration, [they] will not keep the government's commitment to this agreement. So, all of these are things that preoccupy and worry some folks back in Iran, as well. They question whether a real political will to adhere to the letter of this agreement does exist over the long term or not. So, during his speech, the Supreme Leader announced clearly that if the nuclear issue, the nuclear agreement is adhered to and lived up to, and implemented, and we see that the United States remains committed to the letters of the agreement, perhaps we can put other topics on the table for discussion. So, assuming, God-willing, that everything moves forward in a positive manner, there are opportunities in the future for us to hold a dialogue in the very least to hold dialogue about other topics."

Asked if anything can be done now to help resolve the Syrian crisis, Rouhani says: "It's not that we are indifferent. We do care about the situation in Syria. We do worry about the people of Syria. We do worry and our hearts bleed for so many people that are killed on a daily basis that driven from their homes. And you do know that archeological and cultural remains in Syria have been destroyed on an almost daily basis by the terrorists, so all of this worries us. Iran has always and will continue to do everything it can to create stability and security and return it to Syria."

Asked if Iran is open a discussion with the United States, Russia and others, to determine what the formula might be in the event that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad might go, Rouhani says: "Yes, that is not a problem for us from right now, to start holding discussions and dialogues, so as to determine and reach the conclusion of the next plan of action after the terrorists are driven out that territory. But we must all act in unison and have a formula that is required to drive out the terrorists, immediately."

He continues: "Absolutely, we should speak about the upcoming options. And the Syrian government can also step in and give its opinion so that we have all of the interested parties expressing their opinions so that, in aggregate, we can reach a plan of action. But, of course, we do believe that, at the end of the day, the last word and the most important word is spoken by the people of that nation."

All excerpts from the interview must be credited to "NPR News." Broadcast outlets may use up to sixty (60) consecutive seconds of audio from the interview and must include on-screen chyron to "NPR News" with NPR Logo.

NPR Media Relations: Cara Philbin
Email: mediarelations (at) npr.org

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Cara Philbin