Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Iran of using “agents of terror” disguised as diplomats to carry out assassinations and engage in bomb plots across Europe on Thursday amid reports citing US intelligence that an Iranian hit squad was behind the death of a dissident Iranian journalist in Turkey late last year.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi has shot back at Secretary of State Pompeo over his claim that Iran’s diplomats are really “agents of terror” in disguise.

“Undisputed fact: US ‘diplomats’ have long been in the business of coups, arming terrorists, fueling sectarian violence, supporting narcotics cartels, bullying governments and companies, spying on even US allies, flirting with dictators, butchers and terrorists, etc.,” Mousavi tweeted Saturday, accompanying the tweet with a screenshot of Secretary Pompeo’s claims.

“But Secretary Pompeo (Mr. CIA aka Secretary of Hate) and his masters have taken the ‘job’ to a whole new level: Medical terrorism,” the spokesman added, referring to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s recent characterization of Pompeo after he accused Iran of “mishandling” the COVID-19 pandemic and said that the US was ready to offer Iranians aid.

Mousavi’s comments are the latest shot across the bow following a Reuters report earlier this week alleged, citing an unnamed ‘senior administration official’, that the US believed that Iranian intelligence was responsible for the suspected assassination of Iranian journalist, dissident and IT expert Masoud Molavi Vardanjani in Istanbul, Turkey in November 2019.

Vardanjani worked in cybersecurity at Iran’s defence ministry in the mid-to-late 2000s before leaving the country and becoming a fierce critic of the government, with some Turkish media reporting that he may have served as a cyber-spy, collecting intelligence for the United States. Iran has denied any involvement in Vardanjani's death, accusing Washington of “spreading disinformation” against Iranian diplomats, and suggesting that “no one is fooled” by US lies.

Iranian officials have repeatedly blasted the US for ramping up its sanctions pressure amid the Islamic Republic’s efforts to deal with the coronavirus crisis. Iran was one of the first countries to be severely affected by the outbreak, which hit members of the country’s political elite as well as the general population. Iran has reported 55,000+ cases of COVID-19 to date, with over 3,400 people said to have died of virus-related complications.