Iran has invited Boeing experts and US and Ukrainian aviation investigators to participate in the probe into the crash of a commercial Ukrainian jetliner just outside Tehran on Wednesday killing all 176 passengers on board.
The state-run IRNA news agency today quoted a foreign ministry spokesman as saying Iran “has invited both Ukraine and the Boeing company to participate in the investigations.” The spokesman, Abbas Mousavi, said it will also welcome experts from other countries whose citizens died in the crash.
The National Transportation Safety Board, the US accident investigation agency, said it will be sending “an accredited representative”. However, it is unclear how involved the American manufacturer and investigative body will be in the crash probe in light of US sanctions placed on Iran and the growing political tensions following the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and the subsequent Iranian missile strikes in retaliation.
The move follows Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s statement that Ottowa’s intelligence and other agencies from “multiple sources” believe the Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 plane departing from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport was unintentionally struck by an Iranian surface-to-air missile. Initial reports stated that Western intelligence saw no signs the plane was brought down by a missile.
The plane crash occurred several hours after Iran commenced missile strikes against two US bases in Iraq, which were launched from Iran’s western Kermanshah province, however there is speculation that the missiles were fired from Russian-made Iranian air defence systems.
The New York Times said it had obtained and verified a video that appeared to show an Iranian missile hitting a plane near Tehran airport.
Exclusive: Video verified by The New York Times shows a Ukrainian airliner being hit over Tehran on Wednesday https://t.co/brU9ZRmRX9
— The New York Times (@nytimes) January 9, 2020
Iranian authorities believe the plane crash was caused by technical difficulties shortly after taking off and PressTV cited Iran’s top aviation official, Ali Abedzadeh, who said that the reason for the crash will be determined after opening the plane’s black box but did say that “we can state it with certainty that no missile has hit this airplane. The plane was flying for over 1.5 minutes while it was on fire, and the crash site shows the pilot had decided to return [to the airport].”
Abedzdaeh: Any comment on what happened before the information came out of the black box is non-expert but what is clear to us and we can say for sure That is, no missiles hit the plane.
🔴Where the plane crashed shows, the pilot decided to return to the airport. pic.twitter.com/Jf1DjtJxWO
— Mehrdad Faramehr (@MFaramehr) January 10, 2020
Dismissing Western intelligence claims, Iranian government spokesperson Ali Rabiei said: “It is unfortunate that the psychological operation of the US government, and those supporting it knowingly and unknowingly, are adding insult to the injury of the bereaved families and victimising them for certain goals by propagating such fallacies.”
AP reports that a preliminary Iranian investigative report released yesterday said that the airliner pilots never made a radio call for help and that the aircraft was trying to turn back to the airport when the burning plane went down.
The airliner was destined for the Ukrainian capital Kiev, the victims included 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, 11 Ukrainians, twn Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans and three British nationals, according to a tweet from Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko. Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, warned against “speculation or unchecked theories regarding the catastrophe” until official investigations are concluded.