Author: Michael Crowley, Nicholas Fandos and Farnaz Fassihi
This post originally appeared on NYT > U.S. News
But it was not clear that the alleged disclosure would have revealed any secrets.
Israel has made little effort to deny years of strikes attributed to it by Syria’s government, news outlets and nongovernmental organizations tracking the Syrian conflict, whose chaos Iran has sought to use to establish a foothold that could threaten Israeli security.
A New York Times article from 2019 included similar information on the number of Israeli strikes. And Mr. Kerry’s tweet cited a Washington Post reporter’s tweet of a 2018 Reuters article, sourced to a senior Israeli official, reporting that Israel had mounted 200 attacks on Iranian assets in Syria.
The recording in question captures Mr. Zarif speaking for hours to an interviewer producing an oral history of the current Iranian administration.
“Kerry has to tell me that Israel has attacked you 200 times in Syria?” says Mr. Zarif, who complains in the recording that Iran’s military has long kept him in the dark on crucial matters. “You did not know?” the interviewer asks twice. Both times, Mr. Zarif replies, “No, no.”
In the recording, Mr. Zarif does not specify when Mr. Kerry was supposed to have made the comment.
A State Department official noted on Monday that Mr. Kerry had a record of supporting Israel’s security and that many of the Republicans outraged by Mr. Zarif’s remarks had said previously that his words could not be trusted.
Earlier in the day, the State Department spokesman, Ned Price, told reporters at a daily briefing that he would not comment on “purportedly leaked material” and could not “vouch for the authenticity of it or the accuracy of it,” or what motives might be behind its emergence.
Mr. Price did not specifically address whether Mr. Kerry had made such comments to Mr. Zarif, but implied that they would not have constituted an improper disclosure.
“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. “And governments that were involved were speaking to this publicly, on the record.”