I Have Been Meeting With Senior Iranian Officials, Says John Kerry
In a radio interview this week to promote a new book, former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged that he has been meeting senior Iranian officials over the past two years.
One of those senior officials is Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who Kerry claims to have met three or four times after his term as Secretary of State ended.
Kerry added that he was only advising Javad Zarif, not trying to undermine the foreign policy of Donald Trump, and requested that Iran focus on steps it can take to improve relations between Middle Eastern countries, end the war in Yemen and bring about peace in Syria.
Donald Trump reacted to John Kerry’s revelation with fury, tweeting, “John Kerry had illegal meetings with the very hostile Iranian Regime, which can only serve to undercut our great work to the detriment of the American people.”
Others criticizing Kerry for meeting Iranian officials have suggested he might have violated the Logan Act, which prohibits private citizens from negotiating on behalf of the U.S. without authorization. Violation of the Logan Act is a felony with a potential penalty of three years in jail.
Donald Trump is a strong critic of former U.S. President Barack Obama’s foreign policy as well as the Iran Nuclear Deal that sought to curb Iran’s nuclear program. He recently pulled America out the Nuclear Deal and reinstated the previously suspended sanctions on Iran.
In the same interview, Kerry said he also urged Zarif to understand the international community’s opposition to Iran’s ballistic missile program and its support of the Lebanese political and paramilitary group Hezbollah.
The Trump Administration severely opposes Iran’s ballistic missile program as it fears that the missiles could be used to deliver atomic warheads, and cites Iran’s continued construction of missiles as a reason America pulled out of the Nuclear Deal.
Iran refuses to be subject to any restrictions on the program, citing national defense as the reason for its inflexibility on the matter. Iran claims it was defenseless against Saddam Hussein’s air raids and missile attacks during the brutal Iran-Iraq War from 1980 to 1988, and needs missiles in order to prevent the same loss of Iranian life that occurred thirty years ago.
Alongside China and Russia, the U.K., France and Germany are very keen to keep the Nuclear Deal alive. Additionally, the three European countries wish to continue trade with Iran, but the new U.S. sanctions, which in November will include restrictions on importing Iranian oil, will make the maintenance of economic ties with Iran difficult.
In order to bypass U.S. sanctions on trade with Iran, the U.K., France and Germany intend to set up a “special purpose” financial company that, according to one European Union official, would effectively function as an accounting firm, providing a loophole to keep trade flowing between EU countries and Iran. If Italy wants to buy Iranian oil, it could wire money to the firm, which would handle the rest of the transaction. Iran, similarly, could wire money for the purchase of European products.