Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry allegedly informed Iran that Israel had carried out at least 200 covert strikes against Iranian targets, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif revealed in a leaked recording obtained by the New York Times.
According to the Times, Zarif revealed he was often kept in the dark regarding security matters “sometimes to his embarrassment,” and that “to his astonishment,” Kerry, who continued meeting with Zarif even after leaving office, told him that Israel had attacked Iranian interests in Syria at least 200 times.
— Noah Pollak (@NoahPollak) April 26, 2021
The recording, described by the Times as “a conversation in March between Mr. Zarif and an economist named Saeed Leylaz,” was first leaked to the UK-based, Saudi-owned Farsi-language news channel Iran International, which is seen as hostile to Iran.
The recording suggests that Zarif, and others within the Iranian regime, might privately have been glad that the U.S. killed terrorist General Qasem Soleimani, leader of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, last year.
Zarif says “the United States delivered a major blow to Iran, more damaging than if it had wiped out an entire city in an attack,” the Times reported. “But he said some of Mr. Suleimani’s actions also damaged the country.”
(The attack on Soleimani was universally criticized by Democrats at the time, including then-candidate Joe Biden.)
Zarif also suggested that government matters in Iran are often dictated by the IRGC, and that Russia had worked with Soleimani to thwart the 2015 nuclear deal.
“In the Islamic Republic the military field rules,” Zarif said. “I have sacrificed diplomacy for the military field rather than the field servicing diplomacy.”
Zarif also criticized Soleimani for allowing Russian warplanes to fly over Iran on their way to bomb Syria, and for moving military equipment and personnel to Syria on the state-owned Iran Air.
During the recording, Zarif mentions several times that the interview was never intended for publication.