Iran: Shakeup in Presidential Office After Leaked Zarif Tape
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has replaced the head of a think tank that recorded an interview with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif that leaked out this week.
In the recording of the conversation between Zarif and an economist at the Strategic Studies Center, the think tank associated with Iran's presidency, Zarif offers a blunt appraisal of diplomacy and his constricted role in the country.
Iran's presidency announced the former chief of Strategic Studies Center resigned and Ali Rabiei, who already serves as the Cabinet spokesman, would replace him.
The audio tape, leaked earlier this week to London-based, Farsi-language news channel Iran International, set off political controversy across Iran ahead of the country’s June 18 presidential election. While Zarif has said he does not want to run in the election, some have suggested him as a potential candidate to stand against hard-liners in the vote.
Zarif’s leaked remarks included cutting references to the limits of his power and those of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, a top commander in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard who was killed in a US drone strike in Baghdad.
Earlier this week, Zarif expressed regret that the recording had leaked out as the country's president portrayed the breach as an incident intended to derail ongoing talks in Vienna over the return to Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers