Iran's foreign minister says John Kerry told him about Israeli covert operations in Syria
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Kerry has previously been accused of colluding with Iranian leaders to undermine the Trump administration. Kerry is now a part of the Biden administration and has a seat on the National Security Council as the special presidential envoy for climate.
Zarif also spoke frankly about his limited power compared to Ayatollah Ali Khameini and the blow the U.S. dealt to Iran by killing Gen. Qassem Soleimani in January 2020.
Kerry faced criticism on Monday over Zarif's claim.
"John Kerry was ratting out Israeli covert operations in Syria directly to the Iranian foreign minister. Let that sink in. Wow," Noah Pollak of the foreign policy-focused Democratic Alliance Group wrote on Twitter.
The release of the comments by Zarif set off a firestorm within Iran, where officials carefully mind their words amid a cutthroat political environment that includes the powerful paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, ultimately overseen by the country's supreme leader. Zarif has been suggested as a possible candidate for Iran's June 18 presidential election as well.
In this September file photo, Secretary of State John Kerry, left, meets with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
Outside of Iran, Zarif's comments could also affect talks in Vienna aimed at finding a way for Tehran and the U.S. to both come into compliance with Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. Already, sabotage targeted Iran's nuclear facility at Natanz during the talks as Tehran has begun enriching a small amount of uranium up to 60% purity, which edges the country closer to weapons-grade levels.
After the leak became public, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh did not dispute the tape's authenticity. He told journalists on Monday that the recording represented just a portion of a seven-hour interview Zarif gave to a well-known economist that was to be held for posterity by a think tank associated with the Iranian presidency.
Khatibzadeh called the release of the recording "illegal" and described it as "selectively" edited, though he and others did not offer opinions on how it became public. Zarif, visiting Iraq on Monday after a trip to Qatar, took no questions from journalists after giving a brief statement in Baghdad.
Fox News' inquiry to the State Department was not returned at the time of publication.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.