State Department climate envoy John Kerry late Monday denied reports that he shared information about covert Israeli military strikes with top Iranian officials, with the former secretary of state trying to blunt growing calls for his resignation from leading Republicans.
In a brief Twitter post Monday evening, Mr. Kerry pushed back on claims that he told Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif about at least 200 Israeli strikes against Iran-backed militia targets inside 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,” Mr. Kerry said.
The reports originated with leaked audio of Mr. Zarif speaking with an Iranian journalist for a government-sponsored Iran history project. Mr. Zarif expressed “astonishment” at the revelation of hundreds of Israeli strikes on Iranian targets in Syria, according to The New York Times, which reviewed the audiotape that was first released by the London-based Iran International media outlet.
Iranian officials have not denied the authenticity of the recordings but have said they were selectively edited.
Republicans say that the revelations, if true, should lead to Mr. Kerry’s resignation.
“If this is true, I certainly hope other members of this body, Democrats and Republicans, will join me in calling for the resignation of John Kerry. Enough is enough,” Sen. Dan Sullivan, Alaska Republican, said on the Senate floor. “The red line that was crossed, if this is true, revealing secret information to one of America’s most sworn enemies, with the blood of thousands of American military members on its hands, undermining the interests of one of our most important allies, the state of Israel, if this is true, John Kerry needs to go.”
Mr. Kerry and Mr. Zarif appear to have had a working relationship for years. The two men worked closely together crafting the Obama-era Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement that limited Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions.
Even after Mr. Kerry left the State Department and former President Trump came to power in January 2017, Mr. Kerry and Mr. Zarif remained in contact. By Mr. Kerry’s own admission, they met in person several times, though Mr. Kerry has denied that there was anything inappropriate about their discussions.
But that’s not enough for Republicans who say it’s clear the former Massachusetts senator is far too close with top Iranian officials.
“This is disgusting on many levels,” tweeted Nikki Haley, former ambassador to the United Nations during the Trump administration.
President Biden “and Kerry have to answer for why Kerry would be tipping off Iran, the number one sponsor of terror, while stabbing one of our greatest partners, Israel, in the back,” she said.
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