U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry denied a claim made by Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, saying the former secretary of state discussed Israeli airstrikes in Syria with him.
The New York Times reported on Sunday that Zarif said in a recording Kerry told him Israel had attacked Iranian interests in Syria at least 200 times.
Kerry took to Twitter on Monday to dismiss the claim.
“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,” Kerry tweeted.
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, 2021
Zarif was reportedly surprised by the disclosure, “Kerry has to tell me that Israel has attacked you 200 times in Syria?”
The interviewer asked Kerry twice, “You did not know?”
Iran’s foreign minister responded, “No, no.”
According to the recording, Zarif does not say when Kerry supposedly made the comment.
State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters he would not comment on “purportedly leaked material” and could not “vouch for the authenticity of it or the accuracy of it.”
He also did not directly address whether Kerry made the statement to Zarif.
“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,” Price said.
He added, “And governments that were involved were speaking to this publicly, on the record.”
Several Republicans tore into Kerry following the report.
Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) tweeted on Monday, “The allegations involving [John Kerry] are deeply disturbing. If true, he must resign.”
— Rick Scott (@SenRickScott) April 26, 2021
Former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley called the revelation “disgusting on many levels.”
She continued, “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.”
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. https://t.co/ZLWnQRZkrG
— Nikki Haley (@NikkiHaley) April 26, 2021
Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) said in an interview, “People are talking about treason — and I don’t throw that word around a lot. John Kerry does all kinds of things that I can’t stand. But this is the one that broke the camel’s back.”
Other Republicans stressed the importance of an investigation into the matter.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said, “I don’t know if we should trust that tape or not. If it’s true, it’s very damaging. I like John Kerry, but that would not be helpful and it would be very problematic if it were true. But let’s wait and see how authentic this is.”
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) suggested, “We have one recording by an Iranian official, but this is something that has to be evaluated and looked into.”
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