An Iranian official has dismissed President Donald Trump’s offer of help in fighting the coronavirus, which on Monday claimed the life of a senior aide to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Abbas Mousavi said Monday that the U.S. is seeking to use the virus outbreak as part of its propaganda campaign against Iran to undermine national unity.
“Since the outbreak of the virus in Iran, we have been observing the U.S.-led anti-Iranian propaganda campaign and know about the measures the Americans have taken to reduce Iranian nation’s morale,” Mousavi told reporters, according to the Mehr News Agency.
Mousavi added that Tehran is “doubtful” about the U.S. offer of help and accused Washington of hiding its political motives behind the proposed cooperation. “We do not need them,” Mousavi said.
Iran is one of the nations worst affected by the coronavirus outbreak so far, with 1,501 confirmed cases and the highest death toll outside of China at 66, according to the country’s health ministry. Worldwide, more than 89,000 infections have been confirmed with more than 3,000 deaths.
Iranian regime officials are among those dying. On Monday, it was confirmed that 71-year-old Mohammad Mirmohammadi, a member of the Expediency Discernment Council that advises the ayatollah, had died at a hospital in Tehran.
Several other high-level officials have been infected, including Vice President Masoumeh Ebtekar, who serves as President Hassan Rouhani’s deputy for women’s affairs and the highest-ranking woman in the government. Ebtekar’s infection was confirmed the day after she attended a cabinet meeting sitting just yards from the president.
Others infected include Mojtaba Zolnour, a lawmaker from the city of Qom and head of the Iranian parliament’s national security and foreign policy committee; Dr. Mohamad Reza Ghadir, who was heading up coronavirus management in Qom and is the director of the city’s state medical university; and Iraj Harirchi, the deputy health minister who had been leading the fight against the spread of the virus.
Harirchi confirmed he had contracted the virus soon after appearing at a press conference about the coronavirus spread, in which he was exhibiting symptoms of the illness.
Iran—a regional transport hub—has emerged as a global hotspot for the virus. Trump said Saturday he was willing to help Iran fight the spread of the disease. Speaking at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference near Washington, the president said the U.S. is “certainly willing…All they have to do is ask.”
The U.S. offer of assistance was sent via Switzerland, which represents American interests in Iran. Washington and Tehran have not had diplomatic relations since 1980 when President Jimmy Carter severed ties amid the U.S. Embassy hostage crisis.