A new report backs up news accounts that the Iranian official who was caught on a leaked audio tape saying John Kerry told him about Israeli attacks on Iranian interests in Syria insisted Kerry was his first source of information about the attacks.
Last week, The New York Times reported that Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told an interviewer conducting an oral history project that Kerry had told him Israel had struck around 200 Iranian targets in Syria. A tape of the interview was leaked.
According to the translation published by The Times in a follow-up report, the comment came in the context of Zarif complaining Iran’s military did not give him enough information.
“Kerry has to tell me that Israel has attacked you 200 times in Syria?” Zarif, said, as quoted by The Times.
“You did not know?” the interviewer then asked twice.
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“No, no,” Zarif said both times.
In a report published Thursday, the Washington Free Beacon said it subjected the tape to an independent translation, and also found that Zarif insisted Kerry was the original source of the information.
That pushes back against the State Department narrative that defends Kerry, who was secretary of state for former President Barack Obama’s second term and is currently a climate adviser to President Joe Biden.
“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,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said last week.
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Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Israeli’s attacks in Syria “were all reported in the press at the time, so it is utter nonsense.”
Kerry has denied telling Iran what Israel was up to in Syria.
“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,” Kerry tweeted last week.
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
But as the administration defended Kerry, its critics said The Times report was troubling.
“If this tape is verified, it would signal catastrophic and disqualifying recklessness by Envoy Kerry to Foreign Minister Zarif that endangered the safety of Americans and our allies,” Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas said in a news release, according to Breitbart.
Republican Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana said with this cloud over him, Kerry cannot continue to represent the U.S.
“John Kerry must resign immediately,” he said, according to the Free Beacon. “The investigation should be retrospective.”
In an opinion column on Fox News, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Kerry’s dealings with Iran damaged the U.S., regardless of how much inside information he shared.
“John Kerry owes the American people an explanation of what exactly he discussed with the Iranians. The legacy of the Obama administration’s Middle East policies is failure. The same people who presided over those failed policies (Kerry, Wendy Sherman, Robert Malley and Jake Sullivan) are back in charge now, and they seem wholly committed to repeating their past mistakes,” Pompeo wrote.
“Their goal is not to ensure of the safety of the American people, but to continue down the path of Iranian appeasement either because they simply want to reverse every tenet of President Trump’s foreign policy or cannot admit that the JCPOA is a fatally flawed agreement,” he wrote, using an acronym referring to the Iran nuclear deal by its formal name — Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
“John Kerry also used these backdoor channels to undermine our closest ally in the region, Israel (which was perhaps the most consistent policy objective of the Obama administration) by discussing Israeli military operations in Syria with those same Iranian officials. Kerry owes the American people an explanation here as well, to explain why he would discuss the military operations of an American ally with one of our stated adversaries and a state sponsor of terrorism,” Pompeo wrote.
“These activities of John Kerry are characteristic of the Obama and Biden administrations – their contempt for the views of ordinary Americans, and their disregard for the constitutional limits on their authority all combine to work against the wishes of the American people and undermine our national security, as well as the security of our allies,” he wrote.
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