Iran's Supreme Leader banned the government from importing COVID-19 vaccines from the United States and Britain on Friday (January 8) .
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei labeled the Western powers as "untrustworthy," and raised the possibility they were seeking to spread the infection to other countries.
"Imports of U.S. and British vaccines into the country are forbidden. I have told this to officials and I'm saying it publicly now. If the Americans were able to produce a vaccine, they would not have such a coronavirus fiasco in their own country."
He added however that Iran, the Middle East’s hardest-hit country, could obtain vaccines "from other reliable places."
He gave no details, but China and Russia are both allies of Iran.
Iran launched human trials of its first domestic COVID-19 vaccine candidate late last month, saying it could help the country defeat the pandemic, despite U.S. sanctions that affect its ability to import vaccines.
Tensions between Washington and Tehran have risen since 2018, when outgoing President Donald Trump abandoned the 2015 nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions.
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, who takes office on January 20, has pledged to rejoin the agreement, if Iran also returns to full compliance.