Former Secretary of State John Kerry reportedly disclosed to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif that Israel, one of America's closest allies, was behind more than 200 attacks on Iranian interests in the Middle East.
The stunning detail was buried deep within a New York Times story reporting on leaked audio that surfaced Sunday, revealing the "behind-the scenes power struggles of Iranian leaders," according to the Times.
More from the Times:
The recording, of a conversation in March between Mr. Zarif and an economist named Saeed Leylaz, an ally, was not meant for publication, as the foreign minister can repeatedly be heard saying on the audio. A copy was leaked to the London-based Persian news channel Iran International, which first reported on the recording and shared it with The New York Times.
What are the details?
Buried at the bottom of the Times' story, the newspaper reported the audio revealed that Kerry had disclosed sensitive intelligence about Israel to Zarif. The report did not provide additional context.
However, the story indicated that Zarif was astonished that Kerry would provide him with such information.
"Former Secretary of State John Kerry informed him that Israel had attacked Iranian interests in Syria at least 200 times, to his astonishment, Mr. Zarif said," the Times reported.
Israel's attacks on Iran are no surprise. After all, routinely sabotaging Iran's military and government projects is a matter of survival for Israel, a country that Iranian leaders routinely vow to demolish.
In fact, it is no secret that Israel is behind many strategic attacks on Iran, such as the recent targeting of Iran's Natanz nuclear facility or the surprise assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, one of Iran's top nuclear scientists who played a critical role in Iran's nuclear weapons program.
What is surprising, though, is that Kerry would disclose details about Israel's secret military missions to Iran, an enemy of both Israel and the U.S. The behavior raises eyebrows especially considering Kerry has rejoined the government, this time as Biden's special envoy on climate.
Among other spicy details disclosed by the audio is that Zarif is a relatively weak figure.
In fact, Zarif himself admitted that Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps is the real force of power in Iran, whose leaders "call the shots, overruling many government decisions and ignoring advice," according to the Times.
This revelation underscores the significance of the U.S. killing Qassem Soleimani, the leader of the Quds Force, last January.
But the leaked audio was also published at a critical time for Iran, whose diplomats are currently engaged in negotiations to re-enter a nuclear deal with the U.S. and American allies. The audio could undermine the negotiations.
"This ties the hands of the negotiators," Sina Azodi, a nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council, told the Times. "It represents Zarif as someone who is not trustworthy domestically, and overall paints a picture that Iran's foreign policy is dictated by theater policies of the military and Zarif is a nobody."