Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the country’s coronavirus outbreak could be part of a biological attack on the Islamic Republic, Bloomberg reported. Khamenei called on Iran’s armed forces to help the government fight against the disease, according to a statement published by the semi-official Fars News agency.
A spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry echoed Khamenei’s words, tweeting, “It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan.”
Khamenei isn’t the first high-ranking Iranian to talk biological weapons. Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been tweeting sympathy to the people of China for the “#Corona lab-made virus,” suggesting the virus was created deliberately as a biological weapon by China’s enemies to halt the country’s progress.
A former Chinese diplomat, Zhao Lijian is deputy director-general of the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s information department. He’s known for his Twitter outbursts and heated online confrontations with China’s critics. He was once branded a “racist disgrace” by a former Obama administration official, South China Morning Post reported.
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On Thursday, Zhao tweeted, “CDC was caught on the spot. When did patient zero begin in US? How many people are infected? What are the names of the hospitals? It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make public your data! US owe us an explanation!”
In a letter addressed to the Chief of Staff of Iran’s Armed Forces, Khamenei said he wants the military to work closely with Iran’s health ministry and establish a base dedicated to countering the virus. Coronavirus has claimed a reported 429 lives in Iran and sickened 10,075 people there.
“Given that there’s evidence that raises the possibility of this event being a biological attack, this initiative can also be an exercise in biological defense,” Khamenei said in the statement, according to Bloomberg.