Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Friday said that his country will not import COVID-19 vaccines from the United States and Britain, citing trust issues. Khamenei, during a televised speech, said that import of COVID-19 vaccines from the US and UK are forbidden, calling them "untrustworthy". Khamenei further highlighted the HIV contaminated blood supplies from France in the 1980s to justify Tehran's decision.
Iran is one of the worst affected countries in the world with over 1.2 million cases and 56,000 COVID-19 deaths so far. Iran's decision to not import vaccines from the United States and Britain is also the outcome of deteriorating relations between Tehran and the West, which has only worsened since President Donald Trump's White House takeover in 2017. According to The Guardian, Khamenei also added that Iran is in no hurry in renegotiating the 2015 nuclear deal with the new Biden administration as he mocked the recent Capitol Hill riots in Washington DC.
Khamenei said that if the United States decides to lift the economic sanctions from Iran, his country would think of restarting talks with Washington. The issue of compensation for sanctions could be taken up in the future. This comes days after the Trump administration imposed fresh sanctions on Iran, targetting the key steel sector, which Washington said was helping fund the "corrupt regime" in Tehran and their ambition to develop weapons of mass destruction.
As far as the vaccines are concerned, Iran is developing its own COVID-19 treatment. Human trials have been launched by the country in December 2020. Experts also suggest that for the time, Iran may procure the COVID-19 vaccine from China, which has developed the Coronavac drug with the help of state-run pharmaceutical company Sinopharm and is said to be 70 per cent effective.