Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has banned his country from importing American Pfizer-BioNTech and Britain’s AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines on Friday, news agency AP reported.
The AP report further adds that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that the import of American and British vaccines was “forbidden,” referring to the surging death tolls from the virus in both countries.
“I really do not trust them,” Khamenei said of those nations. “Sometimes they want to test” their vaccines on other countries, adding, “I am not optimistic (about) France,” either.
Iran has struggled to stem the worst virus outbreak in the Middle East. Khamenei’s statement reflects decades of tense relations between Iran and the West which have not abated in the waning days of President Donald Trump’s presidency.
Concerns ran especially high in the weeks leading up to the Jan. 3 one-year anniversary of the U.S. killing of a top Iranian general in Iraq.
A series of moves this week appeared aimed at increasing Iran’s leverage before Democrat Joseph Biden Jr. becomes president on January 20.
During his 50-minute speech Friday, Khamenei addressed the transition of power in the U.S. by mocking American politics after a violent mob loyal to Trump overran the Capitol building in Washington.
“This is their democracy; this is their elections’ situation,” Khamenei said, smirking, during his address. He suggested the U.S. was being paid back for inciting tensions in Iran in 2009, after its election.
Khamenei also said the West should bring the end to ‘hostile and traitorous’ sanctions against Iran and supported Iran’s regional influence and missile program.