WH National Security Adviser Likens China’s Coronavirus Response To Chernobyl

US National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien is seen on the front driveway of the White House following an interview on May 24, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien drew comparisons between China’s coronavirus outbreak response to the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster during Sunday morning interviews.

When asked by CBS’ Margaret Brennan whether a COVID-19 vaccine developed by China would be made available to the American public, O’Brien replied that he believes that the U.S. would develop a vaccine first before accusing China of espionage.

“Now, there’s a chance, and it’s been reported, that the Chinese have been engaged in espionage to try and find the research and the technologies that we’re working on both for a vaccine and a therapy,” O’Brien said. “So, look, they’ve got a many, many year history of stealing American intellectual property and knocking off American technology. And I wouldn’t be surprised if they did that with vaccines.”

After claiming that the U.S. is “moving out very quickly” on therapies and a vaccine for COVID-19, O’Brien pivoted to how the novel coronavirus was “unleashed by China.”

“There was a cover-up that someday they’re going to do an HBO show like they did with Chernobyl on this virus,” O’Brien said. “But we’re going to be part of the solution to the virus.”

Asked to clarify what a “cover-up” means, O’Brien said that China covered up its handling of the novel coronavirus by giving “false information” to the World Health Organization.

Watch O’Brien’s remarks on CBS below:

O’Brien made similar remarks during an interview on MSNBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday morning after saying that “we’ll see” whether China can “live up” to its trade deal with the U.S. after it “unleashed” the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re in a very different world. The cover-up that they did of the virus is going to go down in history along with Chernobyl,” O’Brien said. “We’ll see an HBO special about 10 or 15 years from now, and so we’re in a different place with China as we speak today.”

Watch O’Brien’s remarks on MSNBC below:

Dear Reader,

When we asked recently what makes TPM different from other outlets, readers cited factors like honesty, curiosity, transparency, and our vibrant community. They also pointed to our ability to report on important stories and trends long before they are picked up by mainstream outlets; our ability to contextualize information within the arc of history; and our focus on the real-world consequences of the news.

Our unique approach to reporting and presenting the news, however, wouldn’t be possible without our readers’ support. That’s not just marketing speak, it’s true: our work would literally not be possible without readers deciding to become members. Not only does member support account for more than 80% of TPM’s revenue, our members have helped us build an engaged and informed community. Many of our best stories were born from reader tips and valuable member feedback.

We do what other news outlets can’t or won’t do because our members’ support gives us real independence.

If you enjoy reading TPM and value what we do, become a member today.

TPM Staff
Latest News
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Director of Audience:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: