Engaging in “blame games is the US typical way of escaping accountability,” Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani tweeted on Wednesday.
“Instead of falsely accusing Iran and China, US officials need to respond to international inquiries about America’s role in creating and spreading the coronavirus,” he added.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed during a press conference in Washington D.C. on Tuesday that “the Wuhan virus is a killer and the Iranian regime is an accomplice,” alleging that Iran was “trying to avoid responsibility.”
Pompeo also accused China of running a “disinformation campaign,” which he said was “designed to shift responsibility” over the virus. The US official, meanwhile, deflected questions about the quality of Washington’s performance in controlling the virus.
The virus emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year. It has so far killed more than 8,000 people and infected over 200,000 others globally. More than 3,200 have died and above 81,100 others been infected in China, while Iran has reported 988 fatalities and 16,169 cases of infection.
The US and China have been engaged in a war of words over the origin of the coronavirus, with Pompeo and President Donald Trump repeatedly referring to the disease as the “Wuhan” virus, “Chinese” or “foreign,” while Chinese officials speculate that the US army might have brought the coronavirus to China.
In a tweet last week, Lijian Zhao, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman asked Washington to come up with precise information concerning the extent and the starting point of the outbreak inside the American borders.
“When did patient zero begin in US? How many people are infected? What are the names of the hospitals?” he asked.
The Chinese official also said, “It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make public your data! US owe us an explanation!”
2/2 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! pic.twitter.com/vYNZRFPWo3— Lijian Zhao 赵立坚 (@zlj517) March 12, 2020
‘US must be answerable for criminal anti-Iran bans’
Elsewhere in his remarks, Pompeo repeated an earlier claim that the US was prepared to help Iran in the face of the virus.
Responding to that claim, Shamkhani said the US needs to be answerable for its “continued crimes” against the Iranian people as part its so-called maximum pressure campaign, which has seen Washington impose the “harshest ever” sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
The US reinstated its sanctions against Iran in May 2018 after leaving a United Nations-endorsed nuclear agreement with Iran and five other countries.
Tehran sued Washington at the International Court of Justice afterwards. The tribunal ruled that the US should lift its sanctions on humanitarian supplies.
Washington claims that it has exempted foodstuffs and medicine from the bans. Tehran roundly rejects the claim as a “brazen” lie.
Iran has written to the United Nations and all international organizations, urging the removal of the draconian measures that have come in the way of the country’s fight against the virus.