Leaked audio counters State Dept take on Kerry allegedly telling Iran about Israeli air strikes

Amid growing calls for John Kerry to resign as the Biden administration’s climate envoy over allegations he informed Iran of covert Israeli military strikes — a claim Kerry has gone on record categorically denying —  leaked audio has surfaced capturing Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif saying he did not have knowledge of the strikes before Kerry provided him with the information.

The audio contradicts the narrative that the former secretary of state didn’t tell Iran anything that wasn’t already known.

“Many conservatives attacking John Kerry for discussing with Iran that Israel covertly struck 200 Iranian targets in Syria, per leaked audio,” The Washington Post’s John Hudson tweeted Monday. “@StateDeptSpox notes that those strikes had already been disclosed by a gov’t in the region (i.e. Israel).”

On the same day, Kerry tweeted that the allegations “never happened.”

“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,” he tweeted.

 

Hudson was referencing a remark from State Department spokesman Ned Price on Monday, with Price noting that even if Kerry had mentioned the Israeli strikes, they were public knowledge.

“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,” he said. “And governments that were involved were speaking to this publicly, on the record.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken dismissed the story, accusing Republicans of trying to “play politics with this.”

“These things were so secret that they were all reported in the press at the time, so it is utter nonsense,” he said.

The newly acquired audio features Zarif being interviewed in March by an economist named Saeed Leylaz, and the Iranian foreign said Kerry told him that Israel attacked Iranian assets in Syria 200 times, the Washington Free Beacon reported.

“Kerry has to tell me that Israel has attacked you 200 times in Syria?” Zarif said.

“You did not know?” Leylaz asked, after Zarif complained that Iran’s military wasn’t forthcoming with him on security matters.

“No, no,” Zarif replied.

Kerry served as Barack Obama’s chief negotiator in the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal and has maintained a close relationship with Zarif over the years.

Among the calling for Kerry’s scalp is Nikki Haley, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.

She tweeted: “This is disgusting on many levels. Biden and Kerry have to answer for why Kerry would be tipping off Iran, the No. 1 sponsor of terror, while stabbing one of our greatest partners, Israel, in the back.”

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, responded to the report of leaked audio to say that, if true, President Biden “must fire” Kerry immediately.

Here’s a sampling of other responses to the story from Twitter: (** Language warning)

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Tom Tillison

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