Photo Credit: U.S. Mission to International Organizations in Vienna UNVIE
Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, November 23, 2014.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has claimed in a recording of a conversation leaked to The New York Times and other news outlets that during the Obama Administration, then-US Secretary of State John Kerry revealed to him information about covert Israeli military operations in Syria.

An astonished Zarif said Kerry informed him of more than 200 Israeli operations in Syria, according to a report Monday by Fox News.

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This is not the first time there have been questions about the reliability of the US government vis a vis intelligence-sharing.

Israel Defense Officials Worried US Leaking Israeli Special Ops Info to the Press

Earlier this month, The New York Times reported that an anonymous US official claimed Israel was behind an operation in the Red Sea against Iran’s IRGC Navy reconnaissance vessel and floating military base, the Saviz. The report said the attack was in retaliation for an earlier Iranian attack on an Israeli cargo ship, and described how the ship had been damaged.

A few weeks earlier, a separate report in the Wall Street Journal claimed that Israel attacked multiple Iranian ships transporting oil and equipment from Iran to Syria, since 2019.

If this report is true, this may jeopardize future intelligence-sharing between the United States and Israel, in light of the fact that Iran regularly calls for the annihilation of the Jewish State and has carried out numerous attacks on Israel and Israelis through its proxy terror groups in the region, and through terrorist operatives elsewhere around the world.

Once the recording became public, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Sa’eed Khatibzadeh did not deny the leak, which he claimed was “selectively” edited.

Khatibzadeh called the release of the audio “illegal” according to the London-based Farsi-language Iran International satellite news channel. He told journalists Monday the leak was just a small portion of a seven-hour “conversation” that Zarif gave “for posterity,” and which was intended to be held by a think tank associated with the Iranian presidency.

Some of the leaked interview was aired first overnight on Iran International satellite news channel.

Iran International also shared some three hours of audio from the interview on Monday with a UAE-based correspondent from The Associated Press.

In the interview, Zarif also griped about his lack of power in comparison to that of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps military force and its Quds Force leader, Qassem Soleimani. Both answered solely to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

However, Zarif complained of his lack of control over the setting of Iranian foreign policy, which he said was really set by Soleimani, who was assassinated by the United States in a drone attack in Iraq in January 2020, and Khamenei.

“I have sacrificed diplomacy for the military field rather than the field servicing diplomacy,” Zarif said.

Zarif also described Russia as wanting to block the JCPOA nuclear deal, saying “because it was not in Moscow’s interests for Iran to normalize relations with the West” — information about an issue so sensitive that he warned in the leaked recording: “You definitely can never release this part.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.
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