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Audio of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif reveals he did not have knowledge about secret Israeli military operations until former Secretary of State John Kerry disclosed details about the operations.
The new detail directly contradicts State Department's defense after the bombshell allegation surfaced this week in the New York Times.
What is the background?
According to leaked audio of Zarif that surfaced last weekend, Kerry disclosed to him that Israel was responsible for more than 200 covert operations against Iranian interests in the Middle East. The New York Times did not provide additional context beyond what Zarif had claimed, aside from the detail that Kerry's admission left Zarif astonished.
"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.
What are the new details?
The Washington Free Beacon commissioned a translation of the Zarif audio. They learned Zarif confirmed on the audio that he did not know Israel was responsible for certain military operations against Iranian interests until Kerry disclosed that fact.
From the Free Beacon:
[A]n independent translation of the audiotape commissioned by the Washington Free Beacon shows that Zarif went on to clarify that he had no prior knowledge of these Israeli strikes before Kerry told him.
"Kerry told me that Israel had launched 200 airstrikes against you [Iran]," said Zarif. "You didn't know?" asked his interviewer. "No, no," he replied.
How did Kerry and the State Dept. respond?
Both Kerry and the State Department denied the allegation — but invoked different explanations.
Kerry outright denied having disclosed the sensitive information, while the State Department claimed the information that Kerry allegedly disclosed was not secret, but available publicly.
"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," Kerry said.
"If you go back and look at press reporting from the time, this certainly was not secret, and governments that were involved were speaking to this publicly on the record," State Department spokesman Ned Price said.
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Chris Enloe is a staff writer for Blaze News