The Iranian president questioned the timing of the leak as the country was engaged in talks to revive the nuclear deal.
Tehran, Iran – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has warned of the division sown by the country’s “enemies” after an audio leak revealed that his top diplomat was discussing internal power struggles, causing a political storm in the country.
More than three hours of what is said to be a seven-hour tape by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaking on various issues was released earlier this week by Iran International, a London-based Farsi-language media network. and funded by Saudi Arabia.
The president said in a televised cabinet meeting on Wednesday that the classified tape, which was part of an oral history project aimed at documenting the work of his administration, had been “stolen” by elements the ministry of intelligence was responsible for finding.
“It was leaked exactly when Vienna is at the height of its success,” said Rouhani, referring to the talks underway in the Austrian capital to restore the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the Iranian nuclear deal from 2015 with world powers as the United States. abandoned in 2018.
“They want to create a division inside the country. How to succeed? How to lift the sanctions? With unity and integrity. “
A meeting of the JCPOA Joint Committee was held on Tuesday between Iran, China, Russia, Germany, France and the United Kingdom, during which representatives agreed to accelerate efforts to lift US sanctions and curb Iran’s nuclear program in accordance with the agreement.
In the audio tape, among other things, the diplomat explains how sometimes diplomacy has had to be “sacrificed” for what he calls “the field” – the military operations and politics carried out by the powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps ( IRGC), and in particular its outward-facing Quds Force which was led by Qassem Soleimani until his assassination by the United States in January 2020.
Zarif also explained how Russia was against the JCPOA because it did not benefit from the normalization of its relations with the West by Iran, and how Russian President Vladimir Putin convinced Soleimani to increase the Iranian ground presence in the civil war in Syria and flights to the country.
The Foreign Secretary’s comment that his then counterpart John Kerry first heard that Israel carried out 200 airstrikes against Iranian interests in Syria created a political storm in the United States, with many Republicans calling for Kerry’s resignation for leaking sensitive information.
Under pressure from conservatives, Zarif said on Wednesday he was in favor of a “smart adjustment” between the military and diplomacy, in his first public reaction to the gang’s leak.
Zarif posted a video earlier this week of his visit to the place where Soleimani was assassinated in Baghdad, and wrote that his comments were meant to be part of a “confidential theoretical discussion around the need for diplomacy and mutual reinforcement ground”.
Praising Soleimani for his character and trying to establish peace in Afghanistan and Iraq, in addition to fighting the armed group ISIL (ISIS), Zarif said his comments should not be interpreted as personal criticism of the late general.
President Rouhani also said on Wednesday that “the field” and diplomacy go hand in hand, that Soleimani was a diplomat besides being a fighter, and that some of the things Zarif said were personal opinions and not official position. of its administration.
Iranian security chief Ali Shamkhani tweeted on Tuesday that “there is no duality” in the implementation of policies on the ground and in diplomacy as they all stem from “defined principles of the revolution. Islamic ”which gave birth to the current theocratic establishment in 1979.
Meanwhile, diehard government opponents harshly criticized Zarif and pointed out the administration’s inability to keep the gang safe.
Speaker of Parliament Mohamad Bagher Ghalibaf tweeted a photo of Soleimani among fighters taking selfies with him, suggesting that some were trying to use him “to achieve their political goals”.
The Parliament’s National Security Committee invited Zarif to explain his comments and said it aimed to find out who leaked the tape.
The Hardline Vatan-e-Emruz newspaper devoted its entire front page on Tuesday to this issue, writing “Miserable” on a half-blackened image of Zarif.
The ultra-conservative Keyhan wrote that, in an attempt to save itself, the “pro-Western” administration Rouhani [Zarif] commit suicide ”.