The U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, has slammed the Islamic Republic Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei for accusing Washington of having a role in bioengineering the deadly novel coronavirus.
"Supreme Leader Khamenei's fabrications regarding the Wuhan virus are dangerous, and they put Iranians and people around the world at greater risk," Pompeo said on Monday, March 23.
Meanwhile, in a series of tweets, Pompeo has presented a list of facts, insisting that facts matter.
“FACT: In February, Iran's chief terror airline, Mahan Air, continued to fly at least 55 times between Tehran and China, spreading the #WuhanVirus. At least five countries' first cases of #COVID19 were a direct result of the Iranian regime's disregard for everyone's health”, Pompeo tweeted.
In a follow-up tweet, the top U.S. diplomat said, "FACT: The Iranian regime ignored repeated warnings from its own health officials, and denied its first death from the #WuhanVirus for at least nine days. The regime continues to lie to the Iranian people and the world about the number of cases and deaths."
The series of tweets is a response to Khamenei, who on Sunday, blamed Washington for "producing" the deadly virus.
Rejecting the U.S. offer to help Tehran contain the novel coronavirus, the Supreme Leader of clergy-dominated Iran described Washington's proposal as "strange," and joined some Chinese officials in accusing the U.S. of "nefarious motives."
In his televised speech on Sunday, Khamenei maintained, "No wise person would request help from the U.S. when such untrustworthy government is accused of being behind the creation of COVID-19."
Khamenei went even further, claiming that the novel coronavirus was produced to target Iranians, "There are reports that a strain of the virus has been created to target the Iranian genome and people as part of the hostility that the U.S. and the West show towards the Iranian nation."
However, Khamenei stopped short of presenting any evidence supporting his accusation.
The United States has repeatedly offered humanitarian assistance to the people of Iran as the epidemic rages in the country. The offer has been rejected by the Islamic Republic Supreme Leader, president and its foreign minister.
"The United States stands with the people of Iran during the public health crisis caused by the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The U.S. Government is prepared to assist the Iranian people in their response efforts," Mike Pompeo noted last February.
Furthermore, he asserted, "This offer of support to the Iranian people, which has been formally conveyed to Iran through the Government of Switzerland, underscores our ongoing commitment to address health crises and prevent the spread of infectious diseases."
Responding to Khamenei's Sunday comments, Pompeo reminded on Monday that Iran was more interested in ideology than fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. "The regime continues to lie to the Iranian people and the world about the number of cases and deaths", he said.
He also added that U.S. sanctions against Iran "do not target imports of food, medicine, and medical equipment, or other humanitarian goods" and that Iranian health companies "have been able to import testing kits without obstacle from U.S. sanctions."
Moreover, Pompeo affirmed on Monday, "It is important to note that since 2012, Iran has spent over $16 billion on terror abroad and used sanctions relief from the [Iran nuclear deal] to fill up its proxies' coffers," Pompeo said on Monday. "Regime officials stole over a billion euros intended for medical supplies, and continue to hoard desperately needed masks, gloves, and other medical equipment for sale on the black market."
The secretary of state also said U.S. scientists "are working tirelessly to develop a vaccine" and pointed out that the U.S. offered over $100 million in medical assistance to foreign countries, including Iran.