April 26, 2021
Then-US Secretary of State John Kerry (left) and Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attend a bilateral meeting in Vienna, Austria, on May 17, 2016. (LEONHARD FOEGER / POOL / AFP)
Tape reveals subjugation of Iran's diplomatic service to military amid talks on US rejoining nuclear accord.
John Kerry, former US State Secretary and the current special envoy on climate change, informed Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif of Israeli attacks on Iranian targets in Syria, the New York Times reported on Sunday.
The report cited a three-hour-long conversation between Zarif and an Iranian academic recorded as part of a history project and not intended for publication.
According to the NYT and the Iran International, which obtained the tape, Kerry told Zarif that Jerusalem had conducted at least 200 attacks on Iranian assets in Syria.
The news came in as a surprise for Zarif, who is taped revealing that he is oftentimes kept out of the loop on Iran's own political course, saying that it is largely set by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
The recording also captures Zarif stray off the official line on the late Brig. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, head of IRGC's Quds Force, killed in a US drone strike early last year.
Zarif reveals he had clashed with the general on a number of occasions and accused him of working with Russia, which sought to prevent a thaw between Iran and the West, to jeopardize the 2015 nuclear deal.
With the tape's authenticity uncontested by Iran's Foreign Ministry, the leak comes at a sensitive time, resulting in calls for Zarif's ouster as Iran's presidential elections draw closer.
It also sheds light on the relative impotence of Iran's diplomatic service, undermined by the country's military and the Supreme Leader's office, amid intense talks on the US rejoining the 2015 agreement.