Politics Kerry faces calls to step down over leaked Iran tapes
Doing business with Iran will help Central Asia stabilize the region
The U.S. can always strongarm the smaller states to shun Iran, but it should instead explicitly signal that it favors stability.Iran is paying attention to Central Asia, and its diplomats have visited the five states in recent months as part of its "Look East" policy. In April 2021, Iran and Tajikistan agreed to promote military cooperation.
U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change John Kerry is facing calls for his resignation from Republican lawmakers and pundits for reportedly discussing Israeli military operations with Iran's foreign minister when he served as then-President Obama's secretary of State.
Republican blowback is running the gamut from calling for Kerry to leave his position as the top official addressing climate change to calling for an investigation and his prosecution. Biden administration officials are dismissing the allegations, saying the information Kerry allegedly shared was widely known at the time.
Iran's top diplomat speaks bluntly on nuclear deal, Gen. Qassam Soleimani in leaked recording
The release of the comments by Mohammad Javad Zarif, seen as a potential presidential candidate, set off a firestorm within Iran.The release of the comments by Mohammad Javad Zarif set off a firestorm within Iran, where officials carefully mind their words amid a cut-throat 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.
Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) called for Kerry's resignation in a floor speech, one of several senators to do so Monday.
"I don't do this lightly. In my entire time in the Senate, I've never called for anyone's resignation," Sullivan said. "But his record, John Kerry's record of undermining working families and working against American national security interests was too much to bear. He needs to go."
"When I read this today, I was astonished as well, that a former secretary of state, now a member of President Biden's National Security Council...would reveal the secrets of one of our most important and enduring allies in the region to an avowed enemy," he added.
and other outlets reported on Monday that leaked audio recorded in March captured Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif saying that Kerry told him Israel had attacked Iran's interests in Syria at least 200 times.
GOP tears into Kerry amid Iran debacle
Leaked audio of Iran's foreign minister claiming that John Kerry acknowledged secret Israeli airstrikes has Republican hawks up in arms.According to leaked audio revealed Sunday by The New York Times, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said Kerry told him that Israel attacked Iranian assets in Syria “at least 200 times.” Zarif added that he was surprised that Kerry would reveal that sensitive information to him, according to the audio.
Zarif reportedly expressed astonishment at the revelation. Zarif did not say when Kerry, who served as secretary of State between 2013 and 2017, made the admission.
State Department spokesperson Ned Price would not comment on the contents of the reportedly leaked audio, but appeared to dismiss that the Iranian's foreign minister's astonishment was genuine.
"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, and governments that were involved were speaking to this publicly, on the record," he said in response to a reporter's question at a briefing on Monday.
An Israeli official in 2018 in Syria, the first public admission of a covert campaign that was long suspected to be carried out by Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011, had raised alarm that Iran was exploiting the conflict to expand its own operations in the region and publicly stated, frequently, that Israel would act to prevent weapons transfers to Lebanese-Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran.
Kerry denies allegations from leaked Iran tapes
John Kerry, the U.S. special envoy for climate change, is denying allegations that he discussed Israeli military operations with Iran's foreign minister when he served as secretary of State under then-President Obama, calling the claims "unequivocally false.""This never happened - either when I was Secretary of State or since," Kerry wrote on Twitter on Monday night.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. https://t.co/BTOdFE1khW- John Kerry (@JohnKerry) April 26, 2021The leaked audio in question was recorded last month.
As early as 2013, Netanyahu emphasized that Israel's policy would be to act to protect its own defense and self-interest, considered a thinly-veiled admission of responsibility for a number of covert airstrikes that had occurred in Syria against Iranian-backed activity at the time.
The revelations in the leaked audio come as the U.S. is participating in indirect discussions with Iran over ways for both sides to return to compliance with the 2015-Obama era nuclear deal, formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Israel is opposed to the U.S. reentering the deal saying it does not prevent Iran from ever attaining a nuclear weapon and is a risk to Israel's survival.
Republicans attacked Kerry as betraying Israel, America's closest ally in the region.
Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) said in a tweeted statement that President Biden should remove Kerry from access to briefings on national security until the truth comes out as to whether Zarif's reported statements are accurate.
"The allegations involving @JohnKerry are deeply disturbing. If true, he must resign," Scott said.
Arizona Republican calls on Biden to revoke John Kerry's security clearance
Arizona GOP Rep. Andy Biggs on Tuesday asked President Biden to revoke the security clearance of Special Envoy for Climate John Kerry's in the wake of allegations that Kerry revealed Israeli military secrets to Iran.The Biden administration has defended Kerry, saying he discussed facts that were widely known at the time, and Kerry himself denied he had ever revealed Israeli secrets, "either when I was Secretary of State or since."TheThe Biden administration has defended Kerry, saying he discussed facts that were widely known at the time, and Kerry himself denied he had ever revealed Israeli secrets, "either when I was Secretary of State or since.
The allegations involving- Rick Scott (@SenRickScott) are deeply disturbing. If true, he must resign. My full statement below:
On the other side of Capitol Hill, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, called for Kerry to be prosecuted.
"This is a criminal act and John Kerry must be immediately investigated and PROSECUTED. President Biden must immediately remove John Kerry from any government or advisory position," she tweeted.
This is a criminal act and John Kerry must be immediately investigated and PROSECUTED.
President Biden must immediately remove John Kerry from any government or advisory position.- Elise Stefanik (@EliseStefanik)
Nikki Haley, who served as U.S. ambassador to the U.N. in the Trump administration and is considered a potential 2024 Republican presidential candidate, called Kerry's reported discussion with Zarif "disgusting."
"This is disgusting on many levels. 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 tweeted.
This is disgusting on many levels. 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.- Nikki Haley (@NikkiHaley)
Kerry currently serves as a special envoy for climate, taking the lead role on the country's diplomatic efforts on climate change. He serves under the direction of Secretary of State Antony Blinken but also holds a seat on President Biden's Cabinet, signifying the administration's high priority on addressing the effects of a warming planet.
Kerry recently oversaw the U.S. hosting a two-day virtual summit on climate change, virtually hosting 40 world heads of state for several sessions on what steps need to be taken to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.
Grassley asks Blinken to provide potential conflicts involving John Kerry .
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) on Monday requested additional information regarding potential conflicts of interests related to John Kerry, President Biden's special envoy for climate, and his previous involvement in finance and energy investing after he left his last government post as secretary of State.In a letter to current Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Grassley wrote that it is "unclear exactly what matters Mr. Kerry has been barred from working on and whether he has received any waivers for specific matters that he would otherwise be recused from," according to Axios, which obtained a copy of the letter.