United States Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry on Monday denied ever giving Iran information about Israeli attacks in Syria, as claimed by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in his recently leaked, explosive audio recording.
The recording was revealed by Iran International, a London-based, Farsi-language satellite news channel on Sunday and it apparently contains a discussion between Zarif and Iranian economist Saeed Leylaz.
In the recording, Zarif is heard saying that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps dictates government decisions and Russia worked with slain Iranian general Qassem Soleimani to thwart the 2015 nuclear agreement.
Iran's foreign minister is also heard expressing his "astonishment" at being informed by Kerry about Israeli attacks on Iranian interests in Syria on at least 200 occasions, which took place during his tenure as Obama's secretary of state.
Since the publication of the leak, several members of the Republican Party have lambasted Kerry, while some are even pressuring U.S. President Joe Biden to fire the former state secretary if the claims turn out to be true.
Kerry issued a statement on Monday via Twitter, vehemently denying Zarif's claims. "I can tell you that this story and these allegations are unequivocally false. This never happened - either when I was Secretary of State or since,” said the statement.
State Department has not yet directly addressed the claims but said the strikes in question had already been disclosed by a government in the region (i.e. Israel). The comment apparently referred to a speech by Finance Minister Israel Katz in 2018, in which he claimed that "in the last two years, Israel has attacked more than 200 times within Syria itself.”
“This is disgusting on many levels. Biden and Kerry have to answer for why Kerry would be tipping off Iran, the number one sponsor of terror, while stabbing one of our greatest partners, Israel, in the back,” wrote Former U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley on her Twitter page.
Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan called on Kerry to resign in a speech to the Senate.
“It’s unclear why John Kerry would relay such information to the leaders of the largest sponsored terrorism in the world. The secret information was given to one of America’s most sworn enemies….undermining the interests of one of our most important allies, the State of Israel. If this is true, John Kerry needs to go,” said Sullivan.
The most explosive part of the recording appears to be Zarif's criticism of slain Iranian general Qassem Soleimani - killed in a U.S. strike in January of 2020.
“In the Islamic Republic the military field rules. I have sacrificed diplomacy for the military field rather than the field servicing diplomacy,” Zarif says on the tape.
Zarif also said the Quds Force commander took actions that damaged the country, including working with Russia to scupper the nuclear deal.
The Times quoted former Iranian vice president Mohammad Ali Abtahi as saying that the publication of the comments was “tantamount to Israel stealing the nuclear documents” from Iran in 2018.