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Leaked audio tape of Iranian Foreign Minister triggers stir, probe ordered

A leaked interview in which Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif frankly discusses behind-the-scenes has stirred fierce conversation and debate ahead of the country’s presidential elections in June.

More than three hours of audio from an interview in March with government-aligned journalist and economist Saeed Leylaz was anonymously leaked to Farsi-language media outside Iran on Sunday.

Foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said the original interview was seven hours long, part of an oral history project that also includes interviews with other ministers, and urged people to analyse it with caution as it may have been leaked for political purposes.




In the interview, Zarif repeatedly uses “the field” in reference to military operations and politics driven by the outward-looking Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), and its then-leader Major-General Qassem Soleimani – who was assassinated in an American-ordered drone strike in Iraq in January 2020.

According to the foreign minister, “field operations” never budged to give way to diplomacy, even as Iran was in talks that ultimately led to its landmark 2015 nuclear deal with world powers that lifted multilateral sanctions.

Instead, diplomacy was, on many occasions, “sacrificed” for the advancement of field operations across the region.



PROBE ORDERED

Iran’s president has ordered a probe into the “conspiracy” of leaked audio.

President Hassan Rouhani ordered the investigation to identify who leaked the “stolen” three-hour-long recording.

“We believe this theft of documents is a conspiracy against the government, the system, the integrity of effective domestic institutions, and also against our national interests,” government spokesman Ali Rabiei told reporters.

“The president has ordered the intelligence ministry to identify the agents of this conspiracy,” he added.

The file was “stolen for clear reasons”, he said, without elaborating further.t