State Department Warns John Kerry Not to ‘Compromise’ Iran Strategy

Then-Secretary of State John Kerry in 2016. (David Mdzinarishvili/Reuters)

The State Department on Thursday warned former Secretary of State John Kerry against holding diplomatic talks with Iran behind the current administration’s back, possibly compromising the government’s Iran strategy.

“It’s unfortunate if people from a past administration would try to compromise the progress we’re trying to make in this administration,” the assistant secretary of state for economic and business affairs, Manisha Singh told the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

“I don’t have personal knowledge of those meetings, but if that is happening, again, I would find it very inappropriate,” the senior State Department official said.

Kerry has admitted to meeting “three or four times” with his counterpart Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif after leaving his position as secretary of state. The two were key players in negotiating former President Barack Obama’s Iran nuclear deal, which the Trump administration scrapped in May.

“Every secretary of state, former secretary of state, continues to meet with foreign leaders,” Kerry told Fox News on Wednesday. “We don’t negotiate. We’re not involved in interfering with policy, but we certainly have reasonable discussions about nuclear weapons, the world, China, different policies, obviously.”

Kerry said he has talked to Iran about “their behavior” and the way forward to a new security arrangement for the region. The former secretary of state said that he too objects to Iran’s troublesome ventures such as its terrorist initiatives in Yemen and activities in Syria.

“We object as much as anybody to those activities, but we differ in how you’re going to control them,” Kerry said. “We believe by pulling out unilaterally the president has actually made it harder for an Iranian leader to deal with them.”

The current State Department is determined to protract crippling pressure on Iran’s economy and government until the country ceases its aggressive behavior toward the surrounding areas, Singh said. Some of its specific goals are preventing Iran from developing a nuclear program, securing the release of political prisoners, and obtaining on-site inspections in the country. Iran must also stop its terrorist activities in Yemen, threats toward Israel, and pull its support for Syrian President Bashar Assad’s brutal regime, the Department said.

“We remain focused on our new Iran strategy,” Singh said. “We have specific steps that we’ve outlined.”

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Demagoguery Is Not Leadership

The government of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in New Zealand has, with the support of the opposition, decided to enact fundamental changes in the nation’s firearms laws less than a week after the massacre at two Christchurch mosques. This is the opposite of leadership. It is also an example of why ... Read More
White House

The Media’s Disgrace

There will soon enough be an effort to memory-hole it, but the media coverage of the Russia investigation was abysmal and self-discrediting — obsessive and hysterical, often suggesting that the smoking gun was right around the corner, sometimes supporting its hoped-for result with erroneous, too-good-to-check ... Read More

Political Theatrics

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is Jonah Goldberg’s weekly “news”letter, the G-File. Subscribe here to get the G-File delivered to your inbox on Fridays. Dear Reader (Including all you whippersnappers under the age of 50), I’m writing this from somewhere over the Atlantic. At least I hope that’s ... Read More
Politics & Policy

What Was Trump So Annoyed About?

One of the stranger arguments that I heard throughout the Mueller saga -- and am hearing today, now that it's turned out to be a dud -- is that Donald Trump's irritation with the process was unreasonable and counterproductive. This tweet, from CNN's Chris Cilizza, is a nice illustration of the genre: Donald ... Read More