Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif claimed former Secretary of State John Kerry — who's currently serving as the Biden administration's special envoy for climate — revealed more than 200 operations carried out by Israel against Iranian interests in Syria, according to a leaked audio recording.
The recording, obtained by The New York Times, captured a 3-hour conversation that detailed the inner workings of the Iranian government and the Islamic Republic's rarely discussed internal politics. It also caught a brief moment in which Zarif said he was surprised at what Kerry revealed about Israel.
"Former Secretary of State John Kerry informed him that Israel had attacked Iranian interests in Syria at least 200 times, to his astonishment, Mr. Zarif said" on the recording, according to the Times.
Zarif noted that Russia wanted to stop the Obama administration from completing the nuclear deal with Iran, and said that "If Iran hadn’t become [former President Donald] Trump's priority, China and Russia would have become his priority. If, because of hostility with the West, we always need Russia and China, they don’t have to compete with anyone, and also they can always enjoy maximum benefits through us."
Zarif also said "On the night that Iran decided to retaliate against the United States for the killing of [Maj. Gen. Qassim Soleimani, the commander of the Guards’ elite Quds Force], two Quds Force commanders went to see the Iraqi prime minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi, to inform him that, in about 45 minutes, Iran would be firing missiles at a military base where U.S. troops were stationed, Mr. Zarif said. The Americans knew about the strike before he did."
He added, "I believe that the U.S., by hitting martyr Soleimani, dealt a blow to Iran that would not have been as bad even if they had hit one of our towns."
Iranian foreign ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh said in a statement that the recording "was by no means an interview from the beginning, nor was it supposed to be an interview ... it was part of a routine and confidential dialogue that takes place within the administration."
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