FILE – In this Feb. 23, 2021 file photo, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif addresses in a conference in Tehran, Iran. Iran’s top diplomat expressed regret Wednesday, April 28, 2021, that a recording leaked out of him making frank comments about the limits of his power in the Islamic Republic, while the country’s president describing the incident as a means to derail ongoing talks with world powers over Tehran’s tattered nuclear deal.
FILE – In this May 14, 2018, file photo, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif smiles as he speaks to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during their meeting in Moscow, Russia. A recording of Iran’s foreign minister offering a blunt appraisal of diplomacy and the limits of power within the Islamic Republic has leaked out publicly, providing a rare look inside the country’s theocracy.
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s president on Thursday replaced the head of a government think tank after a recording of a conversation with the country’s foreign minister leaked out this week. The tape, meant for government records, provided a rare glimpse into the theocracy’s power struggles and set off a firestorm in Iran.
The conversation took place as an interview with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif by Saeed Leilaz, an economist. The tape was to be kept by the Strategic Studies Center, the think tank associated with Iran’s presidency.
In the recording, Zarif offers a blunt appraisal of diplomacy and his constricted role in the Islamic Republic.
Iran’s presidency announced Thursday that Hessameddin Ashena, head of the Strategic Studies Center, had resigned and that Cabinet spokesman Ali Rabiei replaces him. Ashena was also reportedly present during the interview with Zarif.
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.