On Friday, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei announced a ban on vaccines from the U.S. and Britain, suggesting that the Western countries may be testing their vaccines on other nations. Shortly after his announcement, Iran’s Red Crescent Society, a non-governmental humanitarian organization, announced it had canceled an order of 150,000 Pfizer vaccines.
“The import of U.S. and British vaccines into the country is forbidden,” Khamenei said in a press conference, according to journalist Hanif Jayazeri’s translation. “I have said this to the officials, and now I am saying it publicly. If the Americans had managed to manufacture a vaccine this coronavirus fiasco would not be taking place in their country.”
Khamenei noted that in one day, the U.S. had 4,000 deaths. “If they really know how to manufacture vaccines, if the Pfizer factory can manufacture vaccines, why do they want to give it to us? Let them use it themselves so they won’t have such a high number of deaths. The same goes for the UK. We don’t trust them. I really don’t trust them,” he said.
Then the supreme leader accused the U.S. of testing vaccines on foreign governments rather than using them at home.
“Sometimes they even want to test their vaccines on other nations to see if they work or not,” he argued.
Khamenei formally announces a ban on the import of all US & UK Coronavirus vaccines to Iran.@JZarif @tparsi & the rest of the regime's apologists claim US sanctions are blocking import of #COVID19 vaccines to Iran. Not true. Listen for yourself.
— M. Hanif Jazayeri (@HanifJazayeri) January 8, 2021
This seems a bizarre position to take, given the fact that Congressmen and various American officials have already publicly taken the Pfizer vaccine. While the rollout has been dogged with problems, Americans are hankering to take the vaccine. Khamenei’s suggestion that the U.S. is using foreign countries as guinea pigs before distributing the vaccine at home is blatantly false.
Shortly after the announcement, Mohammad Hassan Ghosian Moghaddam, a spokesman for the Iranian Red Crescent Society (IRCS), announced that the humanitarian organization had canceled a large order of the Pfizer vaccine.
IRCS had ordered 150,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, but Moghaddam announced that order will be canceled.
“If Iran’s Ministry of Health and Medical Education demands, the IRCS is ready to import the vaccine from eastern countries if needed,” Moghaddam told the government-run outlet the Islamic Republic News Agency.
The coronavirus pandemic has hit Iran particularly hard. Satellite images from space showing mass graves appear to have confirmed the opposition’s claims that Tehran has vastly under-reported the death count from the coronavirus pandemic.
In recent weeks, Iran has grown increasingly desperate around the anniversary of the death of Quds Force General Qassem Soleimani.
Iran-backed militias besieged the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad late last year, sparking a series of events that culminated in the Soleimani assassination. Soleimani led Iran’s terrorism efforts in the Middle East and has been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American soldiers. His death arguably cleared the way for Trump’s historic deals between Israel and Arab states like the United Arab Emirates.
After the strike, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei vowed “severe revenge,” but the regime’s efforts have failed. Iran fired missiles at U.S. assets, but the country also shot down a Ukrainian plane, killing its 176 passengers (82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, 11 Ukrainians, 10 Swedes, 7 Afghans, and 3 British citizens), sparking protests in the streets of Tehran. Iran petitioned INTERPOL to demand an arrest warrant for Trump over Soleimani’s death, but INTERPOL refused. An Iranian issued an $80 million bounty on Trump’s head, to no avail as yet.
U.S. intelligence reports have suggested that Iran is planning to assassinate U.S. Ambassador to South Africa Lana Marks, and in September, a former general of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps warned that the IRGC planned to assassinate Trump. At the beginning of the year, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said President Trump’s life will end in a few days.
The anniversary of Soleimani’s death came and went, but a desperate and isolated Iran remains.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.