Sullivan came across Kerry in an earlier Senate speech, accusing him of “arrogantly killing American jobs … in the name of climate change goals,” and said it was his first time calling for resignation. Other GOP legislators quickly followed suit.
“It is unfathomable that a past or present US diplomat should be giving information to the world’s leading sponsors of terrorism at the expense of one of our strongest allies,” added Wisconsin MP Mike Gallagher, an aspiring Republican on national security.
Kerry – the former Secretary of State, Massachusetts Senator and Democratic presidential candidate – serves as Biden’s climate envoy at the NSC and was negotiator for the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. His role in that deal has despised him by Republicans and several other Hawk Democrats.
Importantly, Zarif’s version of events has not been independently confirmed. His remarks to an Iranian academic were published by a London-based media company. It is also unclear whether Kerry Zarif allegedly disclosed the Israeli operations before they were publicly reported by Israel itself in 2018.
Kerry denied Zarif’s account in a tweet Later on Monday he wrote, “I can tell you that this story and these allegations are clearly false. That never happened – neither when I was foreign minister and I was. “
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) Appeared to be defending Kerry and urged caution about Zarif’s reliability.
“I don’t know whether or not to trust this tape. If it is true, it is very harmful,” said Graham. “I like John Kerry, but that would not be helpful and it would be very problematic if it were true. But let’s see how authentic that is. “
Before his tweet, Republicans urged Kerry to look into the fire allegation.
“It is very worrying and there needs to be full transparency to understand exactly what has been done, by whom, for what purpose, and keep records of what has happened,” said Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee. “We have a recording from an Iranian official, but this needs to be assessed and investigated.”
“You don’t want your climate envoy to undermine your closest ally in the region,” added Senator Todd Young, R-Ind., A member of the foreign affairs committee. “Hopefully he’ll explain himself soon.”
Senator Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Chairman of the Senate’s GOP campaign arm, said Biden should revoke Kerry’s classified access while the matter is investigated.
The episode comes as the Biden administration tries to revive the nuclear deal that Republicans have been unanimous against. Former President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the deal in 2018.
Republicans have criticized Biden’s nuclear diplomacy and urged him not to lift harsh US sanctions against the Iranian regime, many of which were re-imposed under Trump. Elsewhere in the leaked audio, Zarif said his country was effectively run by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the most powerful branch of the Iranian military.
Senate minority chairman Mitch McConnell said Zarif’s remarks underscore why the US should not give up its sanctions against Iran.
“We know that preventive concessions neither ensure better business nor make America or our allies safer,” McConnell said Monday.
If Zarif’s accounts are correct, it would not be the first time a top American official has disclosed classified information to a foreign opponent. Trump reportedly discussed information from Israeli intelligence agencies during an Oval Office meeting in 2017 with senior Russian officials.