Iran’s Khamenei Dismisses ‘Strange’ US Offer to Help Fight Virus
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Sunday that a US offer to help fight the new coronavirus was “strange” and that American leaders were “charlatans and liars.” The US has offered humanitarian assistance to the Islamic Republic, which has been hit hard by COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus. Iran has reported around 22,000 confirmed coronavirus cases – more than 245 per million people – and 1,685 deaths. “Several times Americans have offered to help us to fight the pandemic. That is strange because you face shortages in America. Also you are accused of creating this virus,” said Khamenei. The two countries have been bitter enemies since the 1979 Islamic revolution that overthrew the Shah of Iran, a US ally, and relations took a sharp downturn in 2018, when US President Donald Trump pulled his country out of the nuclear deal negotiated between Iran and six world powers and reimposed crippling economic sanctions on the country. And US-Iranian tensions worsened when, on January 3, Trump ordered a drone strike that killed the commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Quds Force, Qasem Soleimani. “I do not know whether it is true. But when there is such an allegation, can a wise man trust you and accept your help offer? … You could be giving medicines to Iran that spread the virus or cause it to remain permanently,” the country’s supreme leader said. “Our number one enemy is America. It is the most wicked, sinister enemy of Iran. … Its leaders are terrorists … liars and charlatans,” said Khamenei. The supreme leader asserted that “the Islamic Republic has the capability to overcome any kind of crisis and challenges, including the coronavirus outbreak,” and urged citizens to stay at home in an effort to curb the spread of the virus.