Former US secretary of state John Kerry on Tuesday denied allegations he leaked sensitive information about Israeli military operations to Iran after a leaked audio recording of the country’s foreign minister appeared to claim he had.

The accusation surfaced in a leaked audio recording in which Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif recounted an interaction with Mr Kerry in which the then secretary of state said Israel had hit Iranian targets in Syria over 200 times – to Mr Zarif’s “astonishment”.

The accusation has led to a backlash against Mr Kerry, who now serves as President Joe Biden’s envoy for climate.

“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,” he 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.
– John Kerry (@JohnKerry) April 26, 2021

Mr Zarif did not reveal when Mr Kerry made the alleged disclosure.

Related Story: Calls for John Kerry to be investigated for what he told Iran

Former US president Donald Trump’s UN envoy Nikki Haley tweeted that the claim was “disgusting on many levels” and said Mr Biden and Mr 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.”

In the Senate, politicians also took aim at Mr Kerry.

“People are talking about treason – and I don’t throw that word around a lot,” Senator Dan Sullivan said, according to Politico. Several other Republicans also condemned the alleged remarks and called for Mr Kerry’s resignation as well as an investigation.

Senator Rick Scott also demanded an explanation.

The allegations involving @JohnKerry are deeply disturbing. If true, he must resign. My full statement below:
— Rick Scott (@SenRickScott) April 26, 2021

While the State Department did not comment on the leaked audio file, spokesman Ned Price appeared to suggest the information about Israeli strikes against Iran in Syria was already publicly available.

“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,” Mr Price said on Monday.

“And governments that were involved were speaking to this publicly, on the record.”

Mr Price did not specifically address whether Mr Kerry had made such comments to Mr Zarif, but implied that no sensitive information had been shared if the interaction took place.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham appeared to lend Mr Kerry the benefit of the doubt, saying that Mr Zarif was not a reliable source.

“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,” Mr Graham said.

“I don’t know if we should trust that tape or not. If it’s true, it’s very damaging,”

There are regular air strikes on Iranian, Syrian and Hezbollah forces in Syria and although Israel does not often comment on specific strikes it has claimed responsibility in general.

But in 2018, Israeli Intelligence Minister Israel Katz made one of the first public acknowledgements of the scale of Israeli strikes.

“In the last two years, Israel has taken military action more than 200 times within Syria itself,” he said.

“Understand the significance of this matter in terms of preserving the red line, preventing the things that Iran has done, is doing and is trying to do against Israel from Syria.”

Israel has repeatedly said it will take action to prevent high-tech weapons transfers to Syria and to stop threats to its borders or the occupied Syrian Golan Heights.

Mr Zarif’s comments came during a seven-hour conversation with economist Saeed Leylaz in March, as part of an oral history project. Three hours of audio from the conversation were leaked to the public on Sunday.

The Iranian foreign minister commented on the leak on Tuesday, writing on Instagram that, “We should not work for history. Don’t worry about history, worry about God and the people.”
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