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Top Iran Ayatollah Denies Agreeing To Coronavirus Vaccine From Israel

Grand Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi. FILE PHOTO
Grand Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi. FILE PHOTO

A top Shi'a cleric in Iran has denied approving the purchase of a possible anti-coronavirus vaccine from Israel, which Islamic Republic considers as its top enemy.

In a statement on March 14, the office of an officially-recognized "Grand Ayatollah", Nasser Makarem Shirazi, reiterated that he was never asked about an anti-coronavirus vaccine produced by Israel.

"The Q&A on the subject never took place, and it is absolutely fake news," the office asserted.

Following reports on Israeli scientists' progress toward producing an anti-novel coronavirus vaccine, a daily in Iran, Hamdeli (Empathy), published the opinions of Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi and parliament’s Legal Committee Chairman Jalil Rahimi Jahanabadi.

Affiliated with the so-called pragmatic conservative camp in the clergy-dominated Iran, Hamdeli cited Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi as approving the purchase of a vaccine from Israel, if it is the only vaccine on the market.

"Is it permissible to use a coronavirus vaccine discovered and manufactured by Israel?" Hamdeli claimed to have asked the Ayatollah on March 11.

Makarem Shirazi responded, "It is forbidden to purchase or sell the vaccine if we know for certain that the profit made by the companies [producing it] will go to the Zionists and Israel unless this is the only medicine [available] and there is no other alternative."

A few days after the article, the ayatollah’s office issued the denial.

Nonetheless, the statement has stopped short of reflecting Makarem Shirazi's opinion on the initial case, whether it is permissible for the Islamic Republic of Iran to buy vaccines manufactured by Israelis or not.

Meanwhile, Hamdeli also published the response of Rahimi Jahanabadi, to the same question.

"Not only we but everyone, will be delighted when some country manages to [develop a vaccine] and save human lives. If some country, including America, with whom we have no relations, and the 'Zionist' regime, which we do not [even] recognize as a state, discovers the vaccine, it will surely [place it] on the global market, and we too will be able to purchase it via go-betweens or other countries", the parliamentarian said.

Rahimi Jahanabadi has not denied his comments, so far.

During the deadly and destructive eight-year war between Iran and Iraq (1980-88), the Islamic Republic, on several occasions, managed to clandestinely by Israeli manufactured weaponry.

The Jerusalem Post (JP) reported on February 28 that scientists at the Galilee Research Institute, known as MIGAL, were adapting its vaccine against the avian coronavirus infectious bronchitis virus, or IBV, to work for the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19.