Iran rejects claim Ukraine’s plane shot down intentionally

Ukraine is trying to gain political points by making assertions over its downed plane in Tehran, Iran says.

Rescue teams are seen on January 8, 2020 at the scene of a Ukrainian airliner that crashed shortly after take-off near Imam Khomeini airport in the Iranian capital Tehran. - Search-and-rescue teams we
Ukraine International Airlines flight was shot down with two missiles fired from an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp battery in January 2020 [File: AFP]

Tehran, Iran – Iran’s foreign ministry has “strongly rejected” the Ukrainian security chief’s assertion that the shooting down of a passenger plane last year was intentional, accusing him of politicising the issue.

Foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said on Saturday it is unfortunate that Ukrainian officials continue to publicly air “personal and bespoke hypotheses” despite technical reports offered by Iran.

He said it appears Ukraine is not after resolving the case of Flight PS752, whose downing killed all 176 people on board, and wishes to make political gains by “linking this painful accident with its local issues or foreign affairs with other countries”.

The comments come after Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s national security and defence council, said the incident was a “conscious attack” that may have been aimed at preventing the United States from attacking Iran.

The Ukraine International Airlines flight was shot down with two missiles fired from an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp air defence system in early January 2020, hours after Iran fired missiles at two US bases in neighbouring Iraq.

The attack on US interests was in response to the assassination of Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s top general, in a drone strike ordered days earlier by then-President Donald Trump.

Iran’s final technical report on the downing of the plane said last month “human error” was responsible as a surface-to-air missile defence system near the Imam Khomeini International Airport had not been recalibrated after being moved shortly before the incident, so it mistook the plane for a “hostile object”.

Even as all flights to Iraq and those scheduled to fly over the western parts of the country had been cancelled, the report said, the risk of misidentification of commercial flights, and flights from the Tehran airport was deemed to be low.

Ukraine at the time called the report a “cynical attempt to hide the true reasons for the downing of our plane”.

Tehran ready for talks

The Iranian foreign ministry spokesman also said in his statement Iran is ready to hold more talks with all aggrieved sides within the framework of international law and called on them to refrain from “exiting the framework of logic and law” in their remarks.

A spokesman of Iran’s National Security Council also rejected Danilov’s claim, saying he met Iran’s security chief Ali Shamkhani shortly after the incident and was presented with “comprehensive technical explanations”.

Keyvan Khosravi said several investigations conducted by Iranian authorities have since “decisively refuted any other possibilities or theories” except the accidental shooting down of the plane.

Iran’s government in January set a compensation of $150,000 for each victim’s family.

Earlier this month, a military prosecutor said 10 unnamed officials who were involved in the incident have been indicted and will head to court soon.

Source: Al Jazeera