The U.S. offer to help Iran fight the Chinese coronavirus pandemic is strange, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Sunday, citing an unfounded conspiracy theory that the virus was made by America.
The 80-year-old Khamenei chose to traffic in the same propaganda increasingly used by Chinese officials about the epidemic to deflect blame for its origins, as Breitbart News reported.
“Possibly your (offered) medicine is a way to spread the virus more,” Khamenei said, in coments carried by the official IRNA agency. “Or if you send therapists and doctors, maybe he wants to see the effect of the poison, since it is said that part of the virus is built for Iran.”
“Our number one enemy is America. It is the most wicked, sinister enemy of Iran … its leaders are terrorists … Liars and charlatans.”
There is zero scientific proof offered anywhere in the world to support Khamenei’s anti-U.S. comments.
That did not stop Chinese government spokesman Lijian Zhao who earlier this month repeated allegations from the Chinese Foreign Ministry that the Wuhan coronavirus originated in America and was intentionally spread to China by the U.S. military.
This article is very much important to each and every one of us. Please read and retweet it. COVID-19: Further Evidence that the Virus Originated in the US. https://t.co/LPanIo40MR
— Lijian Zhao 赵立坚 (@zlj517) March 13, 2020
He offered no evidence to support his allegation although Quartz noted the articles Zhao is pushing were created by Global Research, a firm founded by “a Canadian economist who has espoused conspiracy theories linked to the H1N1 swine flu epidemic and 9/11 in the past.”
Quartz also noted the irony of Zhao pushing this ugly rumor on Twitter, a platform long ago banned by the Chinese government, which puts on a great show of using its immense censorship apparatus to halt the spread of scurrilous “rumors” and “misinformation.”
For his part, Khamenei made the comments in a speech in Tehran broadcast live Sunday across Iran marking Nowruz, the Persian New Year. He had called off his usual speech at Imam Reza shrine in Mashhad over the virus outbreak.
His comments come as Iran has over 20,600 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus amid 1,556 reported deaths.
Iran is one of the hardest-hit countries in the world by the new virus, as Breitbart News reported. Across the Mideast, Iran represents eight of 10 cases of the virus and those leaving the Islamic Republic have carried the virus to other countries.
AP contributed to this story