Khamenei said the comments by Mohammad Javad Zarif in an interview published by a dissident, London-based news channel last week were “shocking,” and that they shouldn’t be repeated. The leader added in his statement on state TV on Sunday that Iran’s Foreign Ministry was mostly responsible for executing diplomatic policy, rather than designing it.
Khamenei’s criticism comes at a time when Iran is in the grip of negotiations with world powers, including the U.S., over reviving a nuclear deal that Zarif supports and helped broker in 2015. It also means he’s now very unlikely to attempt a bid to run for president in elections in June.
In the tape Zarif said that he was often in the dark about many of General Qassem Soleimani’s plans and that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps often carried out policies that worked against his efforts to forge better ties with the West and secure the 2015 nuclear deal. He said military policy always trumped diplomacy in the Islamic Republic’s foreign affairs.
Shortly after Khamenei’s speech, Zarif published a renewed apology on his Instagram account, expressing regret for “personal comments that weren’t meant to be published” and said the supreme leader’s views on policy represented the “final word.”