Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered Iran’s military on Friday to expand its role in fighting the Chinese coronavirus outbreak in the country “due to the increased likelihood of the coronavirus being a biological attack.”
Iran – which sources inside the country have accused of severely underreporting the number of coronavirus cases in the country – was the first nation to vocally accuse the United States and Israel of manufacturing the Chinese coronavirus in a laboratory and unleashing it on China to diminish its ability to challenge Washington internationally. Chinese Communist Party officials have since joined the fray, openly accusing the United States of causing the outbreak.
The Chinese coronavirus first appeared in central Wuhan, China. Studies have since found the first cases began circulating in November 2019, but the Communist Party failed to notify the public until January 20, allowing mass public events that helped facilitate the spread of the outbreak. Chinese police then began to detain doctors treating coronavirus patients who attempted to warn the public to take safety precautions.
China has responded to criticism that it exacerbated the outbreak through communist censorship by speculating that the U.S. army unleashed it on China.
Khamenei made a similar case in a letter to the Chief of the General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, Major General Mohammad Bagheri, published Friday. Khamenei ordered Bagheri to create a “health and treatment base” operated by the Iranian military to stop the spread of the virus.
“This measure may also be regarded as a biological defense exercise and add to our national sovereignty and power given the evidence that suggests the likelihood of this being a ‘biological attack,'” Khamenei wrote.
“With appreciation for the services that the Armed Forces have provided to the dear people so far in the fight against Coronavirus, and with emphasis on the need to continue and expand these services, it is necessary to organize these services into a Health and Treatment Base,” Khamenei’s letter read. “In addition to treating the sick and establishing medical centers such as field hospitals, places of quarantine, etc., the spread of the disease should also be prevented using the necessary methods. The division of duties and missions of the organizations and departments of the Armed Forces is one of the tasks of this Base. This Base must work in full coordination with the government and the Ministry of Health.”
Khamenei did not offer any “evidence” that the Wuhan virus is a biological attack on Iran and China, nor have any other Iranian officials making the case. Brigadier General Gholam Reza Jalal of Iran’s Civil Defense Organization was the first to raise the possibility last week, stating plainly that the global pandemic may be a “biological attack.”
Major General Hossein Salami, the head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), said the next day that Iran was “engaged in biological warfare” against “the enemy,” without naming any such enemy.
“Today, we are involved in biological warfare, but the country is resisting,” Salami said. “The enemy is still focusing on economic pressure and psychological operation (against Iran) and uses every opportunity to toughen the conditions for our people. The enemy is seeking to shape the regional developments in its own favor.”
The IRGC is a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, but Khamenei has tasked it with leading the charge on medical containment of coronavirus cases. The IRGC also claims to be developing a vaccine against the virus, despite not being a medical or scientific research group in any capacity.
By this week, Iranian authorities began openly accusing “Zionists,” meaning Israel and the American government, of having created the Chinese coronavirus to attack foreign powers. On Tuesday, former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sent an open letter to the World Health Organization (WHO) demanding it reveal the “laboratory” that created the virus.
“I have no doubts that with the public mobilization of the nations and governments, and the human society, the criminals will be isolated and this will immune [sic] the humans from the ill-wishers of transgression and hegemony,” Ahmadinejad wrote. “Needless to say that transparent, public, and unbiased dissemination of information regarding the perpetrators of the anti-human crime is an important factor in controlling the anti-human weapon.”
Khamenei made the move to empower the military against biological warfare following Iran’s declaration that it has officially confirmed 10,000 cases. Whistleblowers within the country and dissident groups helping them have for weeks accused Iran of suppressing the true number of cases, particularly of people dying from the Chinese coronavirus. Tehran claims only 429 deaths among the 10,000 cases; the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), Iran’s largest dissident organization, puts the death toll at over 3,650, citing medical sources on the ground.
Last year, Iranian authorities accused the United States of inventing Lyme disease and weaponizing ticks by infecting them with the pathogens that cause it.