April 27, 2021
The Iranian government says an investigation has been ordered into the “conspiracy” of leaked audio in which Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says the military and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) are too influential in diplomacy.
President Hassan Rohani ordered the investigation to identify who leaked the “stolen” three-hour-long recording, government spokesman Ali Rabiei told reporters on April 27.
Zarif’s comments in the recording have sparked harsh criticism from conservative media and politicians in the country since its publication by the London-based Iran International Persian-language satellite news channel late on April 25.
Among other things, Zarif complains about the extent of influence that late Major General Qasem Soleimani had over foreign policy, hinting that the top IRGC commander tried to spoil Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers by colluding with Russia.
Solemani was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Baghdad in January 2020, at the time bringing the United States and Iran to the brink of war.
“This theft of documents is a conspiracy against the government, the system, the integrity of effective domestic institutions, and also against our national interests,” Rabiei told reporters, adding that Rohani “has ordered the Intelligence Ministry to identify the agents of this conspiracy.”
The day before, a Foreign Ministry spokesman described the recording as “selectively” edited and said it represented just a portion of a seven-hour interview that included “personal opinions.”
Zarif did not comment on the controversy.
The leak comes ahead of a presidential election on June 18 that will see the moderate Rohani step down after two terms in office and after conservatives fared well in parliamentary elections last year.