John Kerry, the United States’ Special Climate Envoy, dismissed claims that he told the Iranian foreign minister of Israeli operations in Syria while serving as Secretary of State under Barack Obama.
Kerry called the allegations detailed in leaked audio obtained by several media outlets “unequivocally false” in a tweet, Fox News reported.
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. https://t.co/BTOdFE1khW
— John Kerry (@JohnKerry) April 26, 2021
In leaked audio obtained by the London-based Iran International and shared with the New York Times, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that Kerry told him about Israeli operations in Syria “to his astonishment,” Breitbart News reported.
Referring to Kerry’s alleged conversation with Zarif, The Times paraphrased the top Iran’s diplomat as saying that “former Secretary of State John Kerry informed him that Israel had attacked Iranian interests in Syria at least 200 times, to his astonishment.”
Iranian International added a little more details.
“It was former U.S. Foreign Secretary John Kerry who told me Israel had launched more than 200 attacks on Iranian forces in Syria,” Zarif reportedly said in the leaked audio.
Israel is one of the most important allies of the U.S. in the region, while Iran, in contrast, is the most sworn enemy of the state and is usually referred to as the largest state sponsor of terrorism. Iran and Israel are arch enemies, with Iran once threatening to wipe Israel ‘off the face of the Earth’, the Irish Times reported.
Kerry currently serves as President Joe Biden’s special representative on climate change on the National Security Council. The State Department oversees Kerry’s envoy position.
The leak may affect indirect talks between the Biden Administration and Iran in Vienna, which aims to revive Iran’s 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers. Former President Donald Trump backed out of the deal in 2018.
Saeed Khatibzadeh, a spokesperson for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, labeled the audio’s leak “unethical politics,” but he did not question the tape’s authenticity.
When asked whether Kerry and Zarif talked about “Israeli operations in Syria that were not supposed to be discussed,” State Department spokesman Ned Price refused to comment on the validity and accuracy of the Iranian official’s statements.
Price contended that his department does not comment “on reportedly leaked material.”
“This is purportedly leaked material. Can’t speak to the authenticity, can’t speak to the accuracy of it, can’t speak to any motives that may be behind its dissemination,” he told reporters.
Nonetheless, he added, “I would just make the broad point that if you go back and look at press reporting from the time, this certainly was not secret, and governments that were involved were speaking to this publicly on the record.”
Republicans have slammed the reports as a betrayal of Israel, a crucial American ally in the area, with some even calling for Kerry’s resignation from the Biden administration.
.@NYTimes & others are reporting John Kerry disclosed covert Israeli operations to Iran, the largest state sponsor of terror with the blood of thousands of US soldiers on its hands.
If this is true, it’s traitorous and Kerry needs to go. pic.twitter.com/RW2OPBPjUO
— Sen. Dan Sullivan (@SenDanSullivan) April 26, 2021
— Rick Scott (@SenRickScott) April 26, 2021
This is a criminal act and John Kerry must be immediately investigated and PROSECUTED.
President Biden must immediately remove John Kerry from any government or advisory position.https://t.co/lO7ReFVCZS
— Elise Stefanik (@EliseStefanik) April 26, 2021
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. https://t.co/ZLWnQRZkrG
— Nikki Haley (@NikkiHaley) April 26, 2021
Biden administration officials, including John Kerry and Robert Malley, met with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif during the Trump administration in order to discredit President Biden’s predecessor, according to a recent article from The Washington Times.
Washington Times cited an unidentified former senior US official who said that Zarif has met with Obama administration veterans who could return to power “to devise a political strategy to undermine the Trump administration” and usher in softer diplomacy between the US and Iran.
The official was considering face-to-face meetings between Zarif and prominent Democrats in 2017, 2018, and 2019, the Times reported.
Kerry has been transparent about meeting with Zarif at least twice during the Trump administration, leading Trump to say the meetings could result in him being charged under the Logan Act.