Former Sec. of State John Kerry admitted Wednesday to having met with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif “three or four times” since leaving office in 2017.
Kerry, who helped negotiate the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran (JCPOA), says he has also had “conversations” about the deal with European leaders. His comments Wednesday confirm other reports about this behind-the-scenes attempts to save the JCPOA.
“What I have done is try to elicit from him [Zarif] what Iran might be willing to do to change the dynamic of the Middle East for the better,” said Kerry. “How does one resolve Yemen, what do you do to try to get peace in Syria? These are the things that really are preoccupying him because those are the impediments to Iran’s ability to convince people its ready to embrace something different.”
Kerry insists his meetings with Zarif and other world leaders do not represent “negotiation” nor do they “interfere with policy,” but it’s easy to see what he’s doing:
1) Kerry is in cahoots with world leaders who are ‘waiting out’ Trump’s presidency in hopes that the next US president will rejoin the JCPOA in 2021.
2) Kerry’s actions are a clear violation of the Logan Act, which bans private citizens from negotiating on behalf of the federal government without authorization.
“John Kerry is out giving advice to Iran about how to maneuver around what Donald Trump is doing; it’s insidious,” argues former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer. “I don’t know if it’s legal or illegal, I don’t care about that side of it. It’s wrong.”
Kerry’s so-called “conversations” threaten to undermine President Trump’s Iran policy – in which the JCPOA is viewed as a contributor to Iran’s aggressive position in the Middle East.
“The United States does not need John Kerry’s possibly illegal Shadow Diplomacy on the very badly negotiated Iran Deal,” tweeted Trump on Monday. “He was the one that created this MESS in the first place!”
The signing of the JCPOA in 2015 sent billions of dollars flowing to the Iranian regime, which has continued to spend it on military efforts in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen while its people struggle with inflation and other economic problems.
Trump’s May decision to pull out of the JCPOA halted those payments and exacerbated civil unrest.
Meanwhile, Iranian officials have threatened to ramp up the enrichment of nuclear material and Israel has vowed to respond to a renewed Iranian nuclear program with a “military response.”
At the end of the day, Iran can either negotiate with the Trump Administration or watch its economy fall apart. Full US sanctions are set to hit Iran in November, and Trump has warned other nations they will incur sanctions if they continue to purchase oil from Iran after November 4th.