Iran has been shaken by a leaked tape of the Foreign Minister’s interview with the London-based Persian language news channel, Iran International. It was heard that in the three-hour leaked part of the interview, the Iranian Foreign Minister criticized the elite Revolutionary Guards’ influence in foreign and nuclear affairs.
In the interview, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif complaint that he had no influence over Iran’s foreign policy. “I have never been able to tell a military commander to do something in order to aid diplomacy,” he added.
According to the statements of the Iranian FM, the extent of the IRGC’s influence on foreign policy is high enough to hamper any rapprochement with the West. According to the statements of the Iranian FM, the extent of the IRGC’s influence on foreign policy is high enough to hamper any rapprochement with the West.
In the leaked recording, it was heard that Zarif accuses the IRGC of attempting to break the 2015 nuclear agreement by colluding with Russia. According to Zarif, Russia did not want to see any appeasement between Iran and the Western states and considered the nuclear agreement in this direction. Therefore, Russia spent efforts to undermine the JCPOA, according to the Iranian top diplomat.
Touching upon the visit of the late IRGC’s commander Soleimani’s visit to Russia in 2015, Zarif stated that Putin convinced Soleimani to intervene in Syria contrary to a widely known narrative telling the reverse.
Javad Zarif particularly highlighted the late IRGC commander Qassem Soleimani’s influence over Iranian foreign policy, saying that “He, referring to Soleimani, asked me to make this or that concession or point almost every time I went to negotiate with world powers.”
According to Zarif, success in the military field is more important than in the diplomatic field in Iran, and he had to exert efforts for the sake of success in the military field.
On the Ukrainian plane crisis, Zarif said that he was forced to deny that the plane was hit by a missile despite the world asserting the contrary. “They told me: no, go, go tweet and deny it,” he said.
Speaking at the weekly press conference, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh told journalists that the leaked recording is only a portion of a seven-hour interview and described the release of it as illegal. Khatibzadeh also said that it was “selectively” edited.
The incident came while the negotiations to restore the 2015 nuclear deal are proceeding in Austria’s capital, Vienna. Officials who are familiar with the talks reported that some progress has been made in the talks.