Washington [US], April 27 (ANI): John Kerry, the U.S. special envoy for climate change, is facing calls for his resignation from Republican lawmakers and pundits for reportedly discussing Israeli military operations with Iran's foreign minister when he served as then-President Barack Obama's secretary of state.
Lawmakers from the GOP (Grand Old Party -- another name for Republicans) calling for Kerry to leave his position as the top official addressing climate change to calling for an investigation and his prosecution. Biden administration officials are dismissing the allegations, saying the information Kerry allegedly shared was widely known at the time.
According to The Hill, Senator Dan Sullivan from Alaska called for Kerry's resignation in a floor speech, one of several senators to do so Monday.
"I don't do this lightly. In my entire time in the Senate, I've never called for anyone's resignation," Sullivan said. "But his record, John Kerry's record, of undermining working families and working against American national security interests was too much to bear. He needs to go."
"When I read this today, I was astonished as well that a former secretary of State, now a member of President Biden's National Security Council ... would reveal the secrets of one of our most important and enduring allies in the region to an avowed enemy," he added.
The New York Times and other outlets reported on Monday that leaked audio recorded in March captured Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif saying that Kerry told him Israel had attacked Iran's interests in Syria at least 200 times.
Zarif reportedly expressed astonishment at the revelation. Zarif did not say when Kerry, who served as secretary of State between 2013 and 2017, made the admission.
Kerry denied the allegations in a Monday evening tweet, saying, "This never happened - either when I was Secretary of State or since."
The Hill further reported that State Department spokesperson Ned Price would not comment on the contents of the reportedly leaked audio but appeared to dismiss that the Iranian foreign minister's astonishment was genuine.
"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, and governments that were involved were speaking to this publicly, on the record," he said in response to a reporter's question at a briefing on Monday.
According to the news outlet, an Israeli official in 2018 confirmed that Israel had struck 200 Iranian targets in Syria, the first public admission of a covert campaign that was long suspected to be carried out by Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011, had raised an alarm that Iran was exploiting the conflict to expand its own operations in the region and publicly stated, frequently, that Israel would act to prevent weapons transfers to Lebanese Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran.
Members of the GOP attacked Kerry as betraying Israel, the US's closest ally in the region.
Sen. Rick Scott from Florida said in a tweeted statement that Biden should remove Kerry from access to briefings on national security until the truth comes out as to whether Zarif's reported statements are accurate.
"The allegations involving @JohnKerry are deeply disturbing. If true, he must resign," Scott said.
Speaking with reporters, Mitt Romney from Utah called for "transparency." "This can't be swept aside. This has to be evaluated. We need the kind of transparency associated with this kind of an apparent breach of a commitment to one of our key allies," Romney said.
Nikki Haley, who served as U.S. ambassador to the U.N. in the Trump administration and is considered a potential 2024 Republican presidential candidate, called Kerry's reported discussion with Zarif "disgusting."
"This is disgusting on many levels. Biden and Kerry have to answer for why Kerry would be tipping off Iran, the number one sponsor of terror, while stabbing one of our greatest partners, Israel, in the back," she tweeted. (ANI)