(CNSNews.com) – Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei explained Sunday why his regime is rejecting repeated U.S. offers to help the Iranian people deal with the coronavirus outbreak: The U.S., he said, may send drugs secretly designed to spread the disease further.
Breathing life into yet another anti-U.S. conspiracy theory surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, Khamenei said in a televised speech that the U.S. cannot be trusted.
“You’re accused of having created coronavirus,” he said in comments directed at the U.S. government, alluding to unfounded claims promoted by the Chinese foreign ministry, among others. “I don’t know how true it is. But when there’s such an allegation, can a wise man trust you?”
“You could be giving medicines that spread the virus or cause it to remain,” Khamenei said. “Experience shows you can’t be trusted and you do such things.”
Excerpts of the speech were posted on the official website of the office of the supreme leader, under the headline, “The Leader: U.S. authorities lying, brazen and cruel terrorists.”
Reports on the speech by state media outlets contained additional comments fleshing out the conspiracy allegations, including the bizarre insinuation that the U.S., when supposedly manufacturing the coronavirus, had used genetic data to target Iranians in particular.
“[P]art of this virus is said to have been made for Iran by using genetic backgrounds which they have collected from Iranians, which of course is part of their hostility,” the Mehr news agency and Iran Daily quoted him as saying. “Our 40 years of experience shows that Iran has the capacity to counter any challenges and problems at any level.”
The Tasnim news agency said Khamenei also suggested the U.S. may be wanting to send personnel to Iran to monitor how effectively the scheme was working.
“The Leader also noted that the U.S. medical teams might be also seeking to gather information about the damages caused by the coronavirus and complete their data on the destructive power of the disease among Iranians,” it said.
“You may send physicians for treatment so they can see the effects of the virus in Iranian society and complete their information and increase their hostility,” Tehran Times quoted Khamenei as saying. “It is said that part of the virus was produced against the Iranian people.”
Trump: U.S. is ‘open’ to helping Iran, others
Iran has been severely affected by the outbreak, and for a time accounted for the largest number of confirmed cases and deaths outside of China – and that’s according to official figures, which some observers believe are significantly lower than the actual ones.
The Trump administration began offering Iran COVID-19-related assistance almost a month ago, at a time when there were fewer than 250 confirmed cases and 26 deaths – again, according to official numbers.
Today, according to official data Iran has at least 21,600 confirmed cases and 1,685 deaths have been reported by health authorities.
Khamenei’s televised speech marked Eid al-Mab’ath, the day Muslims remember Mohammed’s receiving of his first revelation in 7th century Arabia.
In the same way as Mohammed had many enemies, he said, “We shouldn’t be surprised at having enemies.”
“The most vicious enemy is the U.S. government. They are lying, brazen, avaricious charlatans, and cruel, merciless terrorists.”
Meanwhile President Trump reiterated on Sunday U.S. willingness to help the people of Iran – and North Korea and other countries – deal with the crisis.
“We are open for helping other countries,” he said during a briefing of the White House coronavirus taskforce. “And this is a very serious time. And North Korea is going through something. Iran is going through something very, very strong.”
“Iran is really going through a very difficult period with respect to this, as you know,” Trump continued. “So I’ve put the – it’s really a glad hand, that’s all it is – to North Korea, to Iran, and to many other countries.”
“I have let it be known that we will help people, including North Korea, including Iran, and including many other countries,” he said later during the briefing. “It’s very important to do that.”
The exiled National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) said Sunday it believes the actual number of COVID-19 deaths in Iran had risen to 9,600 – more than five times the official toll – with especially high numbers in the cities of Tehran and Qom.
“According to numerous reports from sources in hospitals, local officials, and the main cemetery of Qom, the number of victims in this city has surpassed 1,300,” said the group, which advocates the overthrow of the regime.
NCRI leader Maryam Rajavi slammed the supreme leader’s speech.
“Khamenei’s drivel about the production of the virus by the U.S. is a desperate attempt to cover up the regime’s incompetence in confronting the disease and the mullahs’ criminal role in the explosive spread of the virus nationwide and to divert the people's anger, and disgust towards the U.S.,” she said. “But these justifications no longer work and only exacerbate the people’s rage.”
NCRI says coronavirus infections are reported to be rife in Iranian prisons, and that inmates in two prisons in Lorestan province south-west of Tehran, in the cities of Aligudarz and Khorramabad, tried to break out late last week.
It said some prisoners in both facilities disarmed guards and managed to escape, but others were killed or injured by guards and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) personnel.