Iran leader refuses US help, citing virus conspiracy theory

Ali Khamenei
Posted at 6:03 PM, Mar 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-22 18:03:51-04

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Iran's supreme leader is refusing U.S. assistance to fight the new coronavirus, citing an unfounded conspiracy theory that the virus could be man-made by America.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made the comments in a speech in Tehran broadcast live Sunday across Iran marking Nowruz, the Persian New Year.

He had called off his usual speech at Imam Reza shrine in Mashhad over the virus outbreak.

He relied on the conspiracy theory to refuse assistance.

His comments come as Iran has over 21,600 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus amid 1,685 reported deaths.