Three Republican members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee demanded Wednesday that the inspector general at the U.S. Department of State investigate Special Envoy John Kerry to determine the validity of recently surfaced allegations that he shared sensitive information about Israeli military operations with Iran.
Reps. Andy Barr (R-KY), Ann Wagner (R-MO), and Lee Zeldin (R-NY) made the demand for an immediate, impartial probe in a letter sent Wednesday to Diana Shaw, the acting IG who oversees the State Department, asking her to “investigate Special Envoy Kerry’s relationship with Iranian Foreign Minister [FM Mohammad Javad] Zarif and determine whether his security clearance should be revoked or not.”
Congressman Andy Biggs (R-AZ) made a similar request in a letter sent to President Joe Biden Tuesday, urging him to investigate Kerry and suspend his security clearance over the same issue.
The U.S. State Department oversees Obama-era Secretary of State Kerry’s position under the current administration — Special Presidential Envoy for Climate — which allows him to sit on the White House National Security Council.
In leaked audio that surfaced Sunday, FM Zarif alleged that Kerry, who served as Secretary of State during the Obama-Biden administration, told him about over 200 Israeli operations against Iranian interests in Syria.
Congressman Barr declared in a statement:
If this report is true, Secretary Kerry severely undermined the American-Israeli alliance to provide intelligence about one of our most trusted allies to the world’s largest state-sponsor of terrorism. John Kerry and Joe Biden have proven to be pro-Iranian before by championing the failed Iran Nuclear Deal, but this type of betrayal of a staunch ally is simply unconscionable.
Congresswoman Wagner added:
The claims against Special Envoy Kerry are of grave concern, and the Biden Administration must conduct a full investigation into his potentially dangerous relationship with Iranian leaders. A leak of this nature threatens our national security and betrays our allies. The Biden Administration must take decisive action to determine whether Special Envoy Kerry should continue to serve in his current role, and whether or not allies can trust him to safeguard our shared interests.
The leak has triggered calls among several other Republicans for investigations into Kerry, and for his resignation.
On Monday, Ned Price, a spokesperson at the State Department, defended Kerry, suggesting that the information he allegedly shared with Zarif was already widely known to the public at the time.
Via Twitter, Kerry also denied sharing any secrets about Israeli military activities with Zarif, “either when I was secretary of State or since.”
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. https://t.co/BTOdFE1khW
— John Kerry (@JohnKerry) April 26, 2021
It is unclear from the news reports on the audio leak if Kerry, who kept in touch with Zarif after the end of his term as Secretary of State, shared the alleged Israeli secrets with Iran while serving as the top U.S. diplomat, after, or both.
Critics, including the authors of the letter to the IG, accuse Kerry of meeting with Zarif during the Trump administration to undermine the former president’s Iran policy in a possible violation of U.S. law.
Iran considers Israel a major enemy with no right to exist. Currently, the Biden administration is engaged in indirect negotiations with Iran in Vienna to revive the 2015 nuclear deal between the Islamic Republic and U.S.-led world leaders. Trump pulled out of the pact.