WASHINGTON — The head of the National Institutes of Health said Tuesday that a political ad that describes the next disease to come under the N.I.H. as coming from Donald Trump’s feud with Iran is “completely out of context” because the president has not yet accepted Iran’s offer to seek a compromise on its nuclear program.
In a speech on National Public Radio, Dr. Francis Collins said the ad, which says the U.S. will now study how a North Korean missile could carry a deadly virus “like Ebola” is “such a gross misrepresentation” of his statement.
“[Iran] has said they would halt their weapons-related activities, including ballistic missile development,” Dr. Collins said in the interview. “They’ve said they’d accept a verifiable regime that would end their uranium enrichment and reprocessing program. And we have said we are willing to talk to them.”
The ad, which was made by pro-Trump super PAC, Keep America Safe, was released last week ahead of Wednesday’s debate between Mr. Trump and Hillary Clinton.
The ad says the N.I.H. would now study how a North Korean missile could carry a deadly virus “like Ebola.”
It cites Dr. Collins saying that a “2015 terror plot against the White House,” would be studied if the Iran nuclear deal “didn’t proceed.” The Iranian deal began in July 2015, and in 2016 the terror plot against the White House was not mentioned by Dr. Collins, who oversaw the creation of a counterproliferation department within the N.I.H.
The advertisement asks: “Has President Trump given national security a higher priority than his presidential campaign?”
Aides to Dr. Collins have disputed that claim, saying that the White House was doing studies of a wide variety of national security issues.
Read the full story on The New York Times.